Fahad and Amina Tirmizi Suing Empire State Building after Family Ejected for Reciting Muslim Prayers
A New York family has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit alleging they were “forcibly removed” from the Empire State Building for reciting Muslim prayers last summer.
Fahad Tirmizi and his wife Amina, from Farmingville, Long Island, are suing the iconic Manhattan skyscraper for $5 million, claiming their constitutional rights were violated when they were “assaulted, battered and forcibly removed” from the building’s observation deck last July 2 after they began peacefully reciting their evening prayers.
“We weren’t doing anything wrong,” Fahad told the New York Post. “We just wanted to enjoy the view like everybody else.”
But unlike everybody else, the Tirmizis, devout Muslims, found themselves 86 floors above street level and far from the nearest mosque shortly after 11pm, a time when their “religious beliefs require them to recite the evening prayers wherever they may be at the time,” according to the lawsuit they filed in Manhattan District Court on Tuesday.
Fahad, Amina and the couple’s two young children found a quiet area of the observation deck and silently knelt in prayer. A security guard approached the family and “menacingly poked” Fahad “with his hands and feet several times in various parts of his body,” according to court documents.
The guard told the family they couldn’t pray there and, according to the lawsuit, “forcibly” escorted them out of the building.
“They weren’t bothering anybody, they were out of the way, and for them to be thrown out of the building is just an ignorant and shameful exercise in discriminatory conduct,” Philip Hines, an attorney for the family, told CNN.
Hines alleged “an unwritten rule or policy was being enforced by security when they removed these people.”
“To most, the Empire State Building is one of the great landmarks of this city, but for my client and his family it is a building of ignorance and injustice,” Hines told the New York Daily News.
Empire State Realty Trust spokesperson Brandy Bergman countered that the Tirmizis’ claims “are totally without merit.”
“We will respond to them in court,” Bergman told CNN.