Associated Press: Group sues Ill. police over Muslim chaplain flap

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CHICAGO — A Muslim advocacy group filed a federal discrimination lawsuit Monday over an Illinois State Police decision to revoke the appointment of the agency’s first Muslim chaplain.

Kifah Mustapha, a Chicago-area imam, was named a chaplain in December along with chaplains of other faiths. He underwent training, passed a background check and was issued state identification. But shortly after, the appointment was criticized by the Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, which said Mustapha was a “radical fundraiser” and alleged he had links to Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Mustapha hasn’t been charged with any crimes and denied wrongdoing.

The lawsuit claims the think tank is known for “anti-Muslim views” and alleges religious, national origin and racial discrimination on the part of police. Mustapha is a Lebanese Muslim of Palestinian descent. It also alleges Mustapha was denied his First Amendment right to freedom of association, which prohibits the government from imposing guilt by association.

“Imam Kifah is an upstanding citizen who has served this country and his community time and again,” said Christina Abraham, the council’s civil rights director in Chicago. “It is time to put an end to the fear-mongering and anti-Muslim rhetoric that has senselessly engulfed our nation.”

The lawsuit seeks damages, attorneys fees and the reinstatement of Mustapha to the chaplain post.

In December, community and religious groups hailed Mustapha’s appointment as a nod to the growing diversity among the agency’s nearly 2,000 officers.

Since 2002, Mustapha has been an imam and director at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, one of the Chicago area’s oldest and largest mosques. He also served as a designated chaplain with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, helping to counsel Hurricane Katrina victims.