WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Minnesota and Florida chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization, said today they have asked the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the systematic closure of accounts held by Muslims at Chase, SunTrust and TCF Bank.
In Minnesota, the account closures began with those belonging to Iranian students studying at the University of Minnesota.
SEE: TCF Bank's Closing of Iranian Students' Accounts is Questioned (Star Tribune)
'Your Account is Closed' — Banking While Muslim in Minnesota
TCF then closed the accounts of Minnesota Muslims of Somali, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and European origin. The account closures are apparently not based on transactions, as none of the accounts closed displayed extraordinary activity.
In letters sent to the DOJ, Treasury Department Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Minnesota Attorney General, CAIR's Minnesota chapter (CAIR-MN) wrote in part:
"The only similarity among the clients whose bank accounts were closed, starting with the Iranian University of Minnesota Students, Somali American patrons, and Americans of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and European origin, is their religious affiliation of Islam and the fact that they have Muslim sounding first names and/or surnames. . .
"As a civil rights organization we are deeply disturbed by the apparent discrimination and religious profiling of loyal TCF Bank customers. We want to ensure that TCF Bank is not engaged in discrimination and is not targeting people who are Muslim or come from predominantly Muslim countries."
In February, CAIR-MN asked for an investigation by the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights (MDCR), which issued a Director's Charge on behalf of Muslim clients whose accounts were closed by TCF Bank without explanation.
SEE: CAIR Welcomes Minneapolis Civil Right Director's Probe of Muslim TCF Bank Account Closures
CAIR's Florida chapter (CAIR-FL) sent a request to the DOJ asking that it launch an investigation into the unexplained closures of bank accounts held by Muslims in that state.
CAIR-FL said that in some cases, the account holders were called into their local bank and questioned extensively about their religion and ethnicity. Shortly after these interviews were completed, the banking institution arbitrarily chose to close the accounts without offering a explanation or reason.
In the complaint sent to the DOJ, CAIR-FL Legal Counsel Wilfredo A Ruiz Esq., wrote: "It appears that the basis for the actions of these financial institutions are because on the account holders' nation origin, ethnicity; and religious backgrounds."
He asserted that this practice is a direct violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and United States Constitution.
The banking institutions that were named in the CAIR-FL complaint included Chase and SunTrust.
Other CAIR chapters in Texas, Ohio, California, Washington state, and Michigan are also addressing the issue of unexplained closures of Muslim bank accounts.
Video: CAIR-MI Asks Feds to Investigate Closing of Muslims' Bank Accounts
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya, 612-327-6700, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-FL Chief Executive Director Hassan Shibly, 813-541-4321,Email: email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, Email: email@example.com
SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations