CAIR Advice for Smooth Hajj Travels

Santa Clara, CA: The Council on American Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (CAIR-SFBA) encourages Bay Area Hajj pilgrims to review their rights and responsibilities as airlines passengers, in order to facilitate efficient traveling and to avoid unnecessary delays.
On Monday, December 11, CAIR-SFBA met with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as a proactive effort to educate law enforcement officials on the Hajj experience, and to discuss safety tips for passengers. CAIR-SFBA has also reached out to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to ensure safe and hassle-free traveling for Hajj pilgrims. Please be sure to report any positive or negative experiences to CAIR-SFBA.
Following the CBP meeting, CAIR-SFBA is advising those going on pilgrimage to note the following tips:
1. Know your rights: Please remember that there are certain procedures that law enforcement officials conduct simply as protocol. However, in case of any undue hassling or discrimination, know your rights as an airline passenger.
In its "Your Rights and Responsibilities as an American Muslim" pocket guide, CAIR states: "As an airline passenger, you are entitled to courteous, respectful and non-stigmatizing treatment by airline and security personnel. You have the right to complain about treatment that you believe is discriminatory. If you believe you have been treated in a discriminatory manner, immediately:
a. Ask for the names and ID numbers of all persons involved in the incident. Be sure to write this information down
b. Ask to speak to a supervisor.
c. Ask if you have been singled out because of your name, looks, dress, race, ethnicity, faith, or national origin.
d. Ask witnesses to give you their names and contact information.
e. Write down a statement of facts immediately after the incident. Be sure to include the flight number, the flight date, and the name of the airline.
f. Contact CAIR to file a report. If you are leaving the country, leave a detailed message, with the information above at 408-986-9874."
2. Know before you go: Read the CBP “Know Before You Go” brochure to be aware of the rules of bringing back items from your trip. When returning from Hajj:
a. Check in any ZamZam water that you bring back with you. Airlines will NOT allow you to carry liquids in large quantities as hand luggage.
b. If you are bringing back dates, make sure they are processed and sufficiently dry.
c. When packing, ensure that your shoes are cleansed of any soil to avoid having your luggage opened at the airport. CBP has strict rules for allowing any soil, chemicals, etc. into the country.
d. If you are bringing back items (gold, etc.) worth more than $800 (per person) declare them using the CBP Declaration Form, made available by airline staff when landing.
e. Fingerprinting and photographing may be conducted for those traveling on a non-immigrant visa (i.e. non-US citizens or non-US residents).
"Given the increase in the number of complaints CAIR has received alleging airport profiling of American Muslims, we believe it is important that all those taking part in this year's Hajj be aware of their legal and civil rights," said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
Hajj is one of the "five pillars" of the Islamic faith. (The other pillars include a declaration of faith, daily prayers, offering regular charity, and fasting during the month of Ramadan.) Pilgrimage is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for those who have the physical and financial ability to undertake the journey.
When the main portion of the pilgrimage is completed, Muslims worldwide gather for communal prayers on the first day of Eid ul-Adha (eed-al-ODD-ha), the second of the two major Muslim holidays.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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