Muslim Advocates announced Tuesday civil rights attorney Omar Farah, who sued the Justice Department over its surveillance of the Black Lives Matter movement, as the group’s new executive director.
Farah, who takes the role Sept. 26, was previously a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. He focused on litigation and advocacy on unlawful policing practices and counterterrorism practices.
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy group working on issues like religious discrimination, hate crimes, and law enforcement bias against Muslim communities and other marginalized groups.
Farah told Bloomberg Law that he plans to take a methodical and accountable approach in his new role. He’ll work to build an ongoing dialogue with partners who are working at a much more expansive view of the challenges facing Muslim and other marginalized communities.
“It’s pretty clear, for example, that some bedrock issues that I think are unfortunate legacies of post-9/11 and the human rights crisis, will continue to be essential issues for Muslim Advocates, including surveilling and policing and prisons, but as far is an approach, the work is really about a values-based engagement with front line communities, organizers and community partners to dictate where we go and the kind of interventions that we make,” Farah said.
“One of the really profound responsibilities that comes with being a national organization with the reach of Muslim Advocates is that we do have some capacity and expertise to lend to these kinds of questions,” he said. “So, if we’re not doing that in a way that’s narrowly tailored to what our communities are asking of us, then not only are we not helping, but we could actually being doing some harm.”
Farah was part of a CCR legal team that sued the DOJ in 2016, seeking to force the department to disclose information about alleged surveillance of Black Lives Matter protestors. A court initially ruled against the group and the case was later settled, according to CCR.
Muslim Advocates was founded in 2005 after the Patriot Act was passed to ensure that “American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation,” according to the group.
“Omar Farah fought against injustice when he and Muslim Advocates helped end an unconstitutional NYPD surveillance program that targeted American Muslims, including ones that have long lived in my district,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). “As the new head of Muslim Advocates, I know he will fight with the same passion and get the same kinds of results on behalf of targeted communities across the nation.”