MLFA files Complaint on Behalf of Halil Demir, the Executive Director of the Zakat Foundation

MLFA’s Legal Division filed a new lawsuit today, on behalf of our client Halil Demir. Mr. Demir, the Executive Director of the Zakat Foundation, approached MLFA seeking help with the extreme travel difficulties he experiences, and the lack of answers the government will provide him.

Mr. Demir’s Complaint, attached, outlines a slew of contradictions. He has no criminal record, record of mental illness, or charges of any kind pending against him. And he travels frequently, reaching premier status easily with his airlines of choice. Yet each time he travels, he has difficulty printing his own boarding pass, and usually encounters numerous TSA agents who meet him at his gate and extensively search him again, even after he has already cleared standard security checks.

And even the government recognizes the value of his humanitarian work: Mr. Demir speaks as the guest of various government agencies and entities, and with members of Congress, regularly. Yet even when invited by the TSA to speak to its workers, Mr. Demir endured extreme scrutiny and delays by the very agency that invited him to speak. He never receives a reason, and his many attempts to seek redress through the only administrative avenue available to him have yet to result in any substantive response from the government.

Most recently, Mr. Demir appeared by invitation of the Vatican to participate in the inaugural Faith and Philanthropy Summit; yet despite carrying his invitation specifically articulating Pope Francis’ hope that he and the other select invitees attend, Mr. Demir once again endured lengthy delays and extensive searching at the airport, with once again no reason given to him.

“The United States government owes Halil Demir an explanation,” observed MLFA’s Civil Litigation Department Head Christina A. Jump, who serves as the lead attorney on this lawsuit and is joined on the pleadings by Civil Litigation Staff Attorney Samira Elhosary. “The fact that Mr. Demir regularly receives invitations to meet with dignitaries, and clears the security requirements to do so, demonstrates just how illogical and contradictory the government’s treatment of him when he travels really is. And with the frequency that he travels and the degree of delay and targeting he endures each time, no one believes this to be random. The government both targets Mr. Demir, and exalts him as the valuable member of society that he is. At the very least, he deserves an explanation and the chance to respond. Yet the government refuses to give him that chance.”

MLFA’s Legal Division hope that turning to the courts for resolution will lead to more answers for Mr. Demir, as well as a change to the black box policies still utilized by the United States government that deprive Mr. Demir and others like him of their constitutional rights to due process.