Muslim men on no-fly list can sue FBI, Supreme Court rules

Muslim men on no-fly list can sue FBI, Supreme Court rules
The three men allege the FBI placed them on the no-fly list after they refused to spy on Muslim communities.
2 min read
11 December, 2020
The men can now sue individual FBI agents for damages [Getty]
Three men who accuse the FBI of placing them on a no-fly list after refusing to spy on fellow Muslims can sue the law enforcement agency, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

The United States' highest court upheld a lower court judgement in a unanimous ruling, allowing the men to sue several FBI agents for monetary damages under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah and Naveed Shinwari say they were placed or kept on the US no-fly list after they refused alleged requests by FBI agents to spy on Muslim communities.

New York residents Tanvir and Algibhah and Connecticut resident Shinwari allege that the inclusion kept them from visiting family members abroad and cost them their reputations and job opportunities.

All three have since been removed from the list, and none were ever suspected of illegal activity.

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 2018 ruling by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals that said the men could sue individual federal agents for damages.

The Trump administration had challenged that judgement, fearing it could open the gates for a host of lawsuits against government officials.

The ruling could deter federal employees from carrying out their duties, the Justice Department claimed.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling, the FBI agents could still argue that they should be shielded from judgement due to qualified immunity.

That doctrine protects officials as long as their actions did not break established laws or consitutional rights.

There is no guarantee Tanvir, Algibhah and Shinwari will win their case, then.

"I feel extremely happy and content. All praise belongs to Allah. This is a great victory for every voiceless Muslim and non-Muslim against hate and oppression," Shinwari was quoted as saying by NPR. "I hope that this is a warning to [the] FBI and other agencies that they will be held responsible for... traumatising people and ruining their lives."

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