The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has filed charges of discrimination on behalf of a Minneapolis woman who was physically escorted out of an event because of her religion.
"The retreat organizers engaged in discrimination when they denied a Muslim woman from participating in the event while opening it up to the rest of the public," said CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya.
In a release, the organization said it acted on behalf of Rania Elsweisy, a Muslim woman who was physically escorted out of the Annual Hibbing Area Women's Retreat at the request of the event speaker, who allegedly said she did not want a Muslim in the audience.
The event was promoted to the public, and a feature article in the Hibbing Daily Tribune stated: "All women are invited."
Elsweisy wore her religious headscarf to the event on Sept. 28, was initially welcomed by the event organizers; however, when speaker Cynthia Khan, director of Human Care and Community Development at People of the Book Ministries, saw her, she asked that she be removed from the premises, the group contends.
Prior to traveling to the event from Minneapolis, Elsweisy completed the registration and paid the entry fee. She also called the listed number for the event to say she was coming, got directions, and said she was told by event organizers that they looked forward to her arrival.
Despite her preparation and advanced notice, Khan approached volunteers as Elsweisy entered the auditorium and ask them to remove her. CAIR-MN said Elsweisy had not attended the event before and did not have any interaction with either Khan or her organization prior to that day.
Although Elsweisy explained she only intended to listen and would not interrupt either the speech or the event, Khan insisted that she did not want a Muslim in the audience because videos and materials "offensive" to Muslims would be shown and distributed as she spoke.
Although Elsweisy objected to being ejected due to her religion, she was physically escorted outside.
"The only reason I was kicked out of the event was because of my religion, Islam," said Elsweisy. "It is truly hurtful to be treated like you are lesser than somebody or that you don't qualify to be talked to and treated equally as others."
Now, the organization is citing the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Section 363A.02 as proof that her removal was a violation of state's discrimination law.