Who is there to turn to for help if your civil rights have been violated? Or you’ve been treated unfairly while searching for housing? Or you’re embroiled in a divorce and child custody battle?
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is offering assistance in navigating these and other dilemmas as part of a free legal clinic on Saturday at the annual “Day of Dignity” event in north Minneapolis.
The clinic is being held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Masjid An Nur mosque at 1729 N. Lyndale Av. and will provide legal advice in such areas as civil rights, housing, family law, immigration and employment, said Lori Saroya, executive director of CAIR-MN.
Attorneys participating in the legal clinic are not only reaching out to Muslim and other immigrants but also people already established here, who may be struggling financially and don’t know how to maneuver within the legal system.
“For Muslims, if they’re coming from a different country, it might be not knowing what the process here looks like,” Saroya said. “Anyone who hasn’t really dealt with the system … they don’t know who to turn to, which attorney to connect with. So just having someone there who can talk to them, giving them an overview … then kind of point them in the right direction, I think helps.”
The legal clinic is just one of the services offered at the Day of Dignity event at the mosque, which seeks to help the impoverished and needy in the neighborhood. People from homeless shelters will be given bus rides to the event. Social service providers offer a variety of free services, including food, medical aid, clothing, haircuts and more.
CAIR-MN has created a network of 50 Minnesota Muslim attorneys and law students, and the group plans to organize more free legal clinics and seminars in the community, Saroya says.
“We talk about at CAIR trying to eliminate Islamophobia, and this is really one of the best ways to do it. Just showing people that we are out there offering services … and we’re contributing members of the community.”