Media Contact

CAIR Maryland Director Zainab Chaudry,, 410-971-6062; CAIR Maryland Outreach Coordinator Kim Syuardi,, 202-850-9293

June 13, 2024

The Maryland office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today announced that it has joined the ACLU of Maryland, Howard County for a Free Palestine, and others organizations in calling on the Howard County Human Rights Commission to follow up on the status of an investigation into complaints of censorship and discrimination against students in the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS).

Over the past seven months, Arab and Muslim students at River Hill High School have reportedly faced multiple instances of censorship by their school administrators, including a student group allegedly being forced to remove social media posts related to Palestine, and banning of the words “Palestine,” “Gaza,” or “siege” during a planned peaceful demonstration.

“The commission has an obligation to follow up on growing community concerns. School systems should not be censoring or discriminating against students and educators based on political viewpoint, nationality or religion,” said CAIR’s Maryland director Zainab Chaudry.

“The lack of action on this critical issue is deeply concerning,” said CAIR Maryland Outreach Coordinator Kim Syuardi. “The students who reported their experiences of censorship deserve to have their voices amplified effectively and immediately and not be silenced.”

“The ACLU-MD is optimistic Howard County Public Schools is ready to do the right thing and ensure that student political speech in support of Palestine is protected. But in order for the students and their families to feel whole again, accountability is key. Arab and Muslim students’ voices matter,” said ACLU of Maryland Senior Staff Attorney Nick Taichi Steiner.

On June 4, the ACLU of Maryland published a press release announcing a letter outlining some of these cases and giving notice to HCPSS to demand that the school system protect First Amendment rights of Arab and Muslim students and work to repair the harm caused by their school administration.

On June 11, CAIR joined the ACLU of Maryland and others in signing on to a letter by Howard County for a Free Palestine calling on the Howard County Human Rights Commission to provide an update on the status of its investigation into these complaints in HCPSS.

The Maryland office of CAIR has recorded hundreds of requests for assistance and reports of censorship, harassment and discrimination in the state since October 2023. Many of these reports and complaints include school related incidents targeting students, educators and staff advocating for Palestinian human rights.

In a recent report ‘Hostile’ released by CAIR, the civil rights group outlines how universities have smeared and silenced students speaking in support of Palestinian human rights. The report documents free speech violations and rising Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism at colleges and universities to over 400 school leaders across the country. CAIR is calling on universities to start engaging in good faith negotiations with students protesting the Gaza genocide and stop enabling bigotry against Palestinian, Muslim and Arab students, faculty and staff.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.