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Employee accuses circuit court of anti-Muslim harassment

23 June 2011 General 8 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Child care attendant told she was not a ‘good Christian,’ lawsuit says

June 22, 2011|By Manya A. Brachear, Tribune reporter

A former child care attendant for the Cook County Circuit Court has sued the court, its chief judge and her former supervisor for allegedly harassing her because she is Muslim.

Fozyia Huri, 45, a Muslim of Saudi Arabian origin, alleges that Sylvia McCullum, executive director of the Cook County court’s children’s advocacy rooms, bullied her because she was not a “good Christian.”

According to the suit, McCullum repeatedly referred to herself, other employees and Chief Judge Timothy Evans as “good Christians,” indicating that the two went to the same church.

Also according to the suit, in 2009 McCullum asked several child care attendants including Huri to hold hands while she prayed out loud in the name of Jesus Christ, and told another child care attendant who requested to work with Huri that she should work with a “good Christian,” not with Huri who was “evil.”

Huri said she complained to the office of the chief judge multiple times between 2002 and 2009. When the office took no action and the alleged harassment continued, she filed a religious discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in May 2010.

She was transferred to the court reporter’s office last November and in March received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice granting her the right to sue.

The case has not been fully investigated by the EEOC or Department of Justice, her attorney said.

Through her attorney, Kamran Memon, Huri declined requests for an interview.

“She had been suffering for a while,” he said. “She just felt like she had to do something to move the process along.”

He added that McCullum’s conduct was “motivated by anti-Muslim hostility.”

“Sylvia McCullum made it clear that she was a good Christian and that she was evaluating people or judging people based on whether they were good Christians,” Memon said. “That’s part of the anti-Muslim hostility that we see to a large extent on the religious right in America. There are a lot of right-wing Christians who are very hostile to Islam and Muslims.”

Evans and McCullum are represented by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, which declined to comment.

Memon also represents Safoorah Khan, a Muslim math teacher in Berkeley who quit her job and filed a religious discrimination complaint with the EEOC when school administrators denied her request for leave to make hajj, the annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca. In December, the Justice Department filed a suit on her behalf.

Twitter @TribSeeker

Original post: Employee accuses circuit court of anti-Muslim harassment


  1. religious people are funny. well it would be funnier if they didn’t go around persecuting and killing people in the name of their god. all those who claim to know “the truth” are discriminatory by the very nature of the claim.

  2. The article states that “Fozyia Huri, 45, a Muslim of Saudi Arabian origin” I think whoever wrote the article is mistaken, she is definitely not of saudi arabian origin, she may have lived for a while in saudi or born there but she is definitely not a saudi arabain woman. You may ask why am I so sure of this, the reason is that we saudis do not need to live in a country like the USA where muslims are hated and harrassed. We are very proud of our selves and our religion and like to live in dignity and freedon in our own country and do not put our selves in the hands of someone who will harrass us or humiliate us. I wish all good luck to sister Fozyia and advice her to leave the USA if she wants to live a free and dignified life.

  3. salem,

    you make an excelent point. saudi arabian sounds like the most free and dignified place on earth. really dude? can you explain how a woman’s freedom and dignity is maintained by outlawing her from driving, or beating her if her ankle is exposed in public or allah forbid and ear? how much hair is dignified to show in public?

  4. Mike,

    First of all who ever told you that a Saudi woman is beaten if she shows her ankle or hair in public is mistaken. There is law and order here in Saudi and any thing like that can not be tolerated. So please try to be precise and not repeat any thing you hear. There is a massive spear campaign going on in America against Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere is full of hate towards Saudis and muslims in general so you hear lots of wild stories about what muslims and Saudis do to their women and so on and so forth. Women driving in Saudi is a social issue and it has nothing to do with government or religion. Not driving a car may cause discomfort to women but definitely does not affect their dignity. I do not want to make judgements on the USA or any other country, every country or society has its own problems and challenges and its not right to point to these difficulties as a way of shaming or degrading that society. I lived in the USA for several years and I experienced life among the american society and fully aware of the challenges and difficulties there. Yet I do not point to the negatives and ignore the positives. Always in my conversations with people here in Saudi I try to correct the negative steriotypes some people have toward the USA, through my previous knowledge of the USA, I point to the positive as well as the negative in a non biased way. At the end I give you one advice, and that is to seek the truth about any subject, especially if what you may say could have consequences on others.

  5. meant smear campaign not spear

  6. salem,

    thank you for your response. i’m always open to being corrected. i have always heard that there are “moral police” who patrol saudi arabia. do they not enforce a dress code for women? perhaps i have the punishment wrong? please correct me and this wiki site if it is spreading disinformation.

    “Perhaps the most serious and widely criticized incident attributed to them occurred on March 11, 2002, when they prevented schoolgirls from escaping a burning school in Mecca, because the girls were not wearing headscarves and abayas (black robes), and not accompanied by a male guardian. Fifteen girls died and 50 were injured as a result. Widespread public criticism followed, both internationally and within Saudi Arabia.”

    as for the driving thing. i don’t follow how outlawing something has nothing to do with the government. did not the government pass the law. nothing to do with religion? i remeber seeing king addullah on 60 minutes saying he wish women could drive, but it’s the clerics who are against it. maybe that was only for american consumption. i’m also confused as to how that doesn’t limit a woman’s freedom? as for dignity, well our differences in cultural upbring has instilled differing views as to what is undignified. you may find being called an animal, as very insulting and undignified, to me it makes me laugh. to me it shows a simple mindedness in he who wished to insult me. but it does strike me as insulting and sexist to women to say they aren’t allowed do something men are allowed, based on their sex. and very limiting to their freedom of movement. as would having to have a male escort everywhere you go.

    as for america, feel free to make all the judgements about us as you wish. you seem to have already made at least one. (“advice her to leave the USA if she wants to live a free and dignified life”) as for usa faults, feel free to point them out. the first step to solving any problem is identifying said problem.

    hope to hear what the truth is about life in saudi arabia.

  7. From the diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment. (
    “The Religious Police epitomize what is wrong with my country at present. They combine religious fanaticism and intolerance with the apparatus of a police state. They are recruited from the dregs of society, yet they presume to tell other God-fearing people how to conduct their religious lives. They killed innocent young lives in Makkah, yet they were never held to account.”

  8. kaatib,

    are u muslim?

    btw, tell ur boy in london that’s its spelled mecca. lol.

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