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CAIR-Georgia, Palestine Legal File Civil Rights Complaint Against Emory University for Hostile Anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic Environment

CAIR-Georgia, Palestine Legal File Civil Rights Complaint Against Emory University for Hostile Anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic Environment

CONTACT: Azka Mahmood, CAIR-Georgia Executive Director, [email protected] | Palestine Legal, [email protected]

(ATLANTA, GA, April 5, 2024) – The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) and Palestine Legal today announced the filing of a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) demanding an immediate investigation into the hostile environment of anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic discrimination at Emory University. 

The complaint was filed on behalf of Emory Students for Justice in Palestine (ESJP), a student organization that advocates for Palestinian human rights and equality and whose members are majority Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students. The complaint highlights the months of severe discrimination, harassment and intimidation of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students on Emory’s campus by faculty, fellow students, alumni, and Emory administrators. 

Emory Students for Justice in Palestine (ESJP) said: “The last 6 months at Emory University have been difficult for Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students. We want the Department of Education to do what Emory failed to- which is investigate our reports of bias properly, listen to our voices, and hold Emory accountable, so we can safely advocate for Palestinian rights without fearing for our safety on campus. No student should ever feel marginalized, intimidated and unsafe like we have been feeling. We are here to learn, and we should be able to do so in peace without being threatened, harassed and doxed simply for being Palestinian, Muslim, Arab or a supporter of Palestinian rights.”

“Emory’s deafening silence and absolute failure to protect its Palestinian, Muslim, and Arab students and provide them with the same learning environment as other students on campus over the last six months has prompted us to now turn to the Department of Education for recourse. We hope that this complaint will result in an investigation into Emory’s complacency and complicity with the growing Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian environment and bring justice and accountability for the Palestinian, Muslim, and Arab students,” said Javeria Jamil, CAIR-Georgia legal director.

“Emory cannot persist in its racist, bigoted treatment of its Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students. It is against the law. Universities may not punish students taking a principled stance against the genocide in Gaza,” said Palestine Legal staff attorney Sabiya Ahamed. “Your students are harbingers of how future generations will view this historical moment and your role in it.”  


The complaint describes numerous incidents of students facing anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab and Islamophobic harassment. They have been followed on campus and filmed by their peers. They have been called terrorists, fake Muslims, and have been sent graphic photos. They have had their flyers, noting the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, ripped out or thrown in the trash. ESJP students have also been individually targeted and doxed on social media and harassed on campus. 

This complaint follows CAIR-Georgia and Palestine Legal’s letter to Emory University administrators sent on January 24th, alongside a coalition of civil rights and community organizations, warning Emory of the hostile anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic environment on campus. In the letter, the organizations asked Emory to address the hostile environment created by bigoted doxing and harassment of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students or those perceived to be Palestinian or Muslim and to reaffirm Emory students’ right to advocate for Palestine on campus. However, Emory dismissed these warnings and failed to take measures to protect students. 

The complaint also explains how students have submitted numerous reports to Emory through the university’s bias incident report process about the majority of these incidents. Nonetheless, to date, Emory has failed to act on a majority of these reports of anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, Islamophobic, or otherwise racist harassment and discrimination, and Emory has instead cultivated an environment in which these acts can thrive.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin by institutions that receive federal financial assistance. This includes the right of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students to a learning environment that is free from discrimination. In November 2023, the Department of Education reaffirmed this right in a “Dear Colleague” letter. ESJP, CAIR-Georgia, and Palestine Legal are urging the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice to swiftly investigate Emory’s failure to protect its Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students and ensure Emory is held accountable for their unequal treatment of these students. 

Emory’s actions are emblematic of a larger wave of intimidation and repression that Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students, those perceived as such, and their allies are experiencing across the country. And this repression is taking place against the largest wave of anti-Muslim hate recorded in the United States, with hate crimes and violence directed towards Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims surging. 

CAIR-Georgia’s mission is to protect civil rights, promote justice, empower American Muslims, and enhance the understanding of Islam.

Palestine Legal’s mission is to bolster the Palestine solidarity movement by challenging efforts to threaten, harass and legally bully activists into silence and inaction.


Photo: Emory University Admissions – Top Tier Admissions