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Muslim mayor, others sue U.S. govt after White House event disinvitation

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In a federal court in Boston, Mohamed Khairullah, a prominent Muslim American mayor, along with 11 other Muslim individuals, have initiated legal action against the U.S. government.

They allege ongoing victimization, even after having their names removed from a terror blacklist.

This lawsuit comes in the wake of Mr. Khairullah’s unexpected and unexplained disinvitation to an Eid gathering at the White House in May.

Mr. Khairullah, who has served two terms as mayor of Prospect Park in New Jersey, claimed he only learned of his exclusion from the White House event shortly before it was scheduled to take place.

The Secret Service, responsible for the revocation, stated, “We were not able to grant entry to the Mayor at the White House, and we regret any inconvenience that may have caused.”

However, they did not provide a reason for the disinvitation.

Speculating on the motive, Mr. Khairullah believes his removal from the guest list was due to his previous inclusion on the terror watchlist, a status he held between 2019 and 2022. The lawsuit, filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim advocacy group, lists Mr. Khairullah and 11 others as plaintiffs and asserts that records of his past watchlist status are still being used against him.

The lawsuit names 29 defendants, including the Secret Service, the FBI, and Customs and Border Protection. It contends that the plaintiffs have faced discrimination solely because of their religion, which was the primary reason for their inclusion on the terror list.

CAIR lawyer Hannah Mullen explained, “All of them have been placed on the federal watchlist even though they have never been investigated or convicted of a terrorism-related crime and even though the federal government has no reason to suspect that they’re terrorists except for their Muslim faith, their Muslim-sounding names, their countries of origin from Muslim-majority countries, and other markers of their identity as Muslims.”

During a press conference, Mr. Khairullah recounted the events that led to his inclusion on the terror list. His 2019 trip to Syria, his home country, to document the dire situation under Bashar Assad’s regime, triggered his placement on the list. Although his name was eventually removed, Mr. Khairullah asserted that life had not yet returned to normal for him.

He expressed concern for his children’s future, stating, “If I don’t do something now, my children and their children will probably be second-class citizens based on their ethnic and religious background.”

The CAIR lawyer emphasized that Mr. Khairullah is not the only person facing this predicament and that past watchlist status has harmed others similarly. This lawsuit sheds light on the complex issues surrounding national security, religious discrimination, and the long-lasting consequences of being placed on a terror watchlist.

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