Many of these testimonies are mostly anonymous – constrained by fear of retaliation. These are the lived experience of several dozen people. The list begins with several claims that are on record.
“The amount of women who have been reaching out to us who are like, ‘I used to work for CAIR. Thank you so much for finally doing this and speaking out,’ ” Shbat said in an interview. “So many women have basically told us that they experienced a lot of the same sexism and misogyny.”Jinan Shbat, interview with NPR’s Leila Fadel
@CAIRNational has a history of turning a blind eye to many incidents over the years, and the information is coming out. No NDA will save them from what's to come. I hope they're ready to answer to their donor base and the larger community.— Jinan Deena (@j_deena) January 7, 2021
In 2019, an employment discrimination lawsuit was filed against CAIR-California for gender discrimination. The lawsuit alleges official organizational policies that discriminate against certain employees, as well as a pattern of long-tolerated abuse. This case appears to have been settled, and the CAIR-San Diego executive director is no longer employed.
When employees in CAIR’s national office tried to assert their workplace right to unionize, CAIR blocked them. The SEIU Local 500 union tried to help employees – as this tweet by the union shows: “Disappointed that a civil rights group like #CAIR is trying to stop it’s employees from even voting on having a union @RepAndreCarson”.
“We notified management (CAIR NATIONAL) that the majority of employees signed and submitted union cards to the SEIU union and that we agreed to have them represent us to have a collective bargaining agreement…Following (2) weeks- THE STAFF MEETING WAS CANCELED – clear that [CAIR leader] and management did not want to face the staff or listen to any questions…[Union organizers] were fired or forced to resign.”
The head of CAIR’s Florida chapter has been accused of spousal abuse by his wife – and others have stepped forward to allege a long pattern of womanizing via temporary religious marriages.
“I have multiple friends he’s [CAIR leader] tried to engage in secret marriages to (all while still being married to the woman accusing him of domestic violence). He’s traveled to conferences and pressured women to come into hotel rooms with him. And when he has been told no or even confronted, he gets aggressive and will try to gaslight people into thinking nothing happened. There’s times he’s flown cross country in attempts to confront people over his aggressions.”
“My names is [omitted] and my children and I desperately need your help! Many of you know me as [CAIR leader’s] wife. I got married at a very young age. However, when I was 9 months pregnant with my first born; my marriage became volatile and abusive. What I assumed was ‘just a disagreement’ turned into screams. What would have been annoying remarks suddenly became violent blows. I have covered my husbands flaws and indiscretions because I love him and because I felt like I had to. My husband hurt me mentally, emotionally and physically behind closed doors and openly in front of my children…I pray no woman has to endure what I have had to. I pray no child sees their mother in the state that I am. I pray no family goes through the trauma my children and I are in.”
“You guys should probably ask why [CAIR leader] uses his religious belief that men can have 4 wives to manipulate women into having affairs with him behind his legal wife’s back…[CAIR leader] had an affair behind his legal wife’s back. I have all the evidence. Photos, messages.”
“[CAIR leader] fooled me majorly into a love affair. I wonder if he’s good at fooling clients on the job…he told me confidential info regarding a lawsuit with an imam and a little girl, got to listen to conference calls, etc.”
“We were not allowed to investigate [CAIR leader’s] alleged secret marriages after a victim repeatedly contacted CAIR for help. CAIR blocked her on social media, but he was allowed to go all over the country to fundraise for CAIR. This man even flew to Hawaii to give a ‘Know Your Rights’ presentation there.”
“Immediately after a Muslim activist published [victim’s] fund me letter giving details of domestic abuse by [CAIR leader], the director of another major CAIR office called him and asked him to take down the postings. It is believed that [CAIR leader] had called him to approach this activist and to convince him that [victim] was a liar and [CAIR leader] was a saint. The said friend of [CAIR leader] tried to suggest that he knew all the facts. He, however, pleaded ignorant of other allegations against other CAIR leaders.”
CAIR temporarily lost is 501c3 tax-exempt status several years ago for failing to file its 990 forms with the IRS over several consecutive years, suggesting basic failures of financial due diligence. There is also a lack of transparency around the Washington Trust Foundation that receives international donations to funnel to CAIR.
“In 2011 when CAIR National lost its nonprofit status, our local chapter board president came with a $20,000-dollar check from some donor who owns a [country] company and wanted to donate to CAIR National – but because they wanted the tax exemption… [CAIR leader] had him (donor) write the check to [CAIR chapter] so we would funnel the money back to CAIR National.”
“[CAIR leaders] feel they are the owners of CAIR. They feel entitled to donor money. They have big salaries and lots of benefits. When the Muslim travel ban happened a lot of donation money came in; more than CAIR ever raised at one time. It bothered me that [CAIR leaders] had been banking their holiday for years and years. In most companies that’s not allowed, but the board had allowed them to. So when [donor] money came, they tried to cash in. They wanted to cash the entire vacation accumulated.”
“I’ve seen the gender discrimination (paying male counterparts who were far less qualified than female counterparts absurdly more)….We saw nepotism- board members hiring unqualified relatives for positions…”
“[While traveling for a work trip, [the executive director] told me he wanted to meet. I thought it was odd that we were having a work meeting in a hotel lobby at midnight. I quickly realized what was going on. He said to me with a smile, ‘Do you know that they [other employees] think there is something going on between us?’ I decided that night that I was done working there.”
“[CAIR leader] contacted me while I was working for [omitted] and began to pursue me into a sexual relationship. I was 22 years old and he was 42. He groomed me slowly over the phone and told me not to tell anyone. He came to my home often and tried to convince me to stay with him regardless of age differences.”
“[My supervisor] informed me that he wanted to ask which sect of Islam the [intern] applicants were from. I told him that he would have to do that section because I did not feel comfortable putting that on the application. I believe this is where he discovered that my background is Shia and from this point his attitude changed towards me.”
“A [CAIR] chapter head was found to be sexually harassing a member of staff and other women also complained about his behavior – when we as the local [CAIR] governing board tried to remove him the national leadership stepped in and tried to intervene and protect him. It was disgusting that they sided with him and did not believe the women. In the end after a huge battle we defied the national leadership and we kicked him out.”
“I was patronized and verbally abused…. A board member justified his micromanagement by claiming community members did not trust me because I was young and a woman.”
“A senior director frequently made sexist comments and said that he didn’t like the internship program because it brought ‘non-Muslim women in short skirts’ to the office.”
“I am one of CAIR’s many victims. They owe me in excess of $25,000 in back pay and reimbursements from out-of-pocket expenses. They…ignored the theft of [CAIR chapter’s] bank account and funds by an ex-board member who criminally used those funds for a personal trip to [country]. All of this is very well documented.”
“My supervisor, the executive director, acted inappropriately towards me, including taking only me out to lunch and asking me to put my notebook away, insisting on giving me rides to my hotel, and grabbing my hand in the stairwell.”
“When I worked and interned at [CAIR chapter] the male leadership at the office would often make comments about myself and other female employees or interns regarding our physical appearance.”
“In violation of nationwide CAIR consensus on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), [CAIR chapter leaders] acknowledge filing a request to receive a controversial CVE grant from the Department of Homeland Security….[CAIR leader] informed [name] that they will keep the application in place…”
“I submitted a complaint detailing issues of sexual harassment and sexual abuse inside CAIR. They did a sham internal investigation and cleared the men without even speaking to me.”
“I am shocked and saddened to receive this email regarding [omitted] situation with [CAIR chapter]. [W]e are equally disturbed to hear of … the gross mistreatment of her by CAIR in this process. How can an organization that stands for fair treatment and human rights act in this way? It is appalling and requires explanation for those of us who…consider CAIR a partner in the work of peace and justice.”
“In response to my gender discrimination complaint, they wrote: ‘CAIR have [sic] never engaged in any sort of discrimination of any kind.’ How do you get justice and change a toxic culture when there is such outrageous, convenient denial?”