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The Story Behind One of the Most Ironic Religious Freedom Lawsuits Ever Filed
Marilyn Nieves
The Story Behind One of the Most Ironic Religious Freedom Lawsuits Ever Filed

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is being sued for religious discrimination. On Monday, Safiya Ghori-Ahmad's case against the USCIRF took another step closer to trial. It is now in the hands of a federal judge to decide whether to dismiss some of Ghori-Ahmad's complaint or allow the entire religious discrimination case to go to trial.

Ghori-Ahmad's case against the USCIRF goes back to 2009, but it literally took an act of Congress for it to become a federal lawsuit. Congress created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 1998 as a watchdog to investigate violations of religious liberty worldwide. But before last December, the USCIRF remained exempt from civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on religion. According to a lawsuit filed in June, the commission had a history of discrimination against Muslims, including retracting an employment offer to a researcher because of her Muslim faith and her work with a Muslim organization.

Safiya Ghori-Ahmad's Complaint

According to the lawsuit, Safiya Ghori-Ahmad applied for a position as a South Asia policy analyst at USCIRF. Ghori-Ahmad was one of 300 applicants for the position, and she was unanimously recommended for the job and approved by the executive director. Ghori-Ahmad earned a masters degree in international development and a law degree; has native-speaker proficiency in Urdi and Hindi and is proficient in Arabic (she was born in the U.S.); and worked on religious issues for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

Ghori-Ahmad says in her complaint that she was warned by some members of the staff that her "background" would be controversial for a couple of the commissioners. ...

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