FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SECRET SERVICE BARS MUSLIM GUARD FROM DC HOTEL FLOOR
Security officer told 'Muslims and Arabs' not allowed in area with Israeli
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/14/04) - A prominent national Islamic civil rights and
advocacy group today called on the Secret Service to explain why a Muslim
security officer at a Washington, D.C., hotel was denied access to a floor
in the building because of his faith and ethnicity.
The Muslim guard at The Madison hotel, a native of Ethiopia and a U.S.
citizen, told the Maryland office of the Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR) that his supervisor said he could not go to a floor
occupied last month by a visiting Israeli official because "you are Muslim
According to the guard and a top hotel official, that order came directly
from the Secret Service, the agency charged with guarding the Israeli
guest. The hotel's general manager cited the "Patriot clause," an apparent
reference to the USA Patriot Act, as justification for the agency's
request. Another Muslim employee, a housekeeper, allegedly told the Muslim
guard that she too was barred from the floor based on the same Secret
"We are concerned that an American citizen may have been singled out for
discriminatory treatment based solely on his religion and ethnicity," said
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad called for an investigation and an
apology to the Muslim employees.
Last year, the Secret Service took responsibility for sending an
Arab-American waiter home from his job at a Baltimore hotel before a
presidential fundraiser. The waiter said he was sent home by a manager who
asked him just one question: "Is your name Mohamad?"
Awad noted that the alleged discrimination by the Secret Service would
contradict recent government actions in defense of American Muslims and
their religious rights. Just this week, the Justice Department was allowed
to join a lawsuit supporting a Muslim girl in Oklahoma suspended for
wearing an Islamic head scarf to school.
In today's Oklahoman newspaper, CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper
praised the Justice Department for its support of religious accommodation.
"The government is sending a message that it will defend its Muslim
citizens," said Hooper.