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EL TORO : Marine’s Suit Alleges Anti-Muslim Bias

A 29-year-old convert to Islam filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Friday, charging that while serving as a sergeant at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station he was required to work “under conditions where bias and prejudice” against members of his religion existed.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by Samir G. Jerez, names as defendants the secretary of defense, secretary of the Navy, the El Toro base commander, four other individuals and the Naval Investigative Service.

A spokeswoman for the Marine Corps declined comment on the suit, saying officials had not yet had an opportunity to study it.

Jerez, who filed a similar, 200-page complaint against the Marines in March, charged in Friday’s suit “that because of this discriminatory atmosphere, he was harassed and treated poorly.”

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In particular, Jerez objected to the training film, “American Expose: Target U.S.A.,” which he said “contained false information and depicted Muslims as a main terrorist threat to America.”

“If you’re going to have a training film that teaches people to hate Muslims, and these people happen to be going to countries armed, the inferences made in the film will have an effect,” Jerez said in a telephone interview.

After 7 1/2 years in the Marine Corps, Jerez left the service June 18 on a medical discharge unrelated to his complaint. He now lives in Santa Ana.

A specialist in public affairs and community relations, Jerez also alleged in his suit that after approving an article on the Islamic faith and community for the base newspaper, “Flight Jacket,” officials did not publish the article.

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Later, when he applied for the editor’s position he was declared ineligible. He was passed over for another position, he charged, in favor of non-Muslims of lower rank.

Jerez said that as a result of his suit, “I’m hoping there will be more efforts to obtain a Muslim chaplain in the Department of Defense, hoping Marines will be retrained to look at Muslims objectively, despite the training that they’ve had before.”


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