NEW YORK — A Muslim family has filed a $5 million dollar lawsuit against the owners of the Empire State Building after they were allegedly ejected from the landmark for praying in the 86th floor observatory.
Fahad Tirmizi, 32, and his wife Amina, 30, claim that they were visiting the Empire State Building on July 2nd of last year with their two children when they were approached by an unidentified security guard.
As it was 11 p.m. at night, the Tirmizi’s decided to kneel in an isolated area of the observatory for their evening prayers. In a complaint filed in Manhattan this month, they state that their “religious beliefs require them to recite evening prayers wherever they may be at the time.”
However, the Tirmizi’s claim that as they knelt, the guard “menacingly poked” Fahad “with his hands and feet several times in various parts of his body.” He and his wife and children were then advised that they could not pray on the observation deck and were escorted out of the building.
The Tirmizi’s assert in court documents that they were targeted because they are Muslim, and because they were dressed in Islamic attire.
“We weren’t doing anything wrong,” Fahad told the New York Post. “We just wanted to enjoy the view like everyone else.”
He stated that he had prayed on the Staten Island Ferry earlier that day and was told that doing so would be permissible.
“I needed to pray the afternoon prayer and wanted to make sure I’m not in the way,” Tirmizi explained to the publication. “I confirmed with a police officer who was standing right there to make sure it was a good spot. The officer responded, ‘Go for it. It’s not illegal to pray.’”
Therefore, the Tirmizi’s obtained legal counsel and recently sued both Empire State Building owner Malkin Properties and the security company Andrews International, among others. They are asking for $5 million dollars in damages, and are claiming that their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution were violated.
However, officials are denying the Tirmizi’s accusations.
“The claims are totally without merit and we will respond to them in court,” a representative from Empire State Realty Trust told reporters last week without providing further details.
Pamela Geller of the Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America also decried the suit, stating that it is a front to obtain Islamic supremacy.
“This public prayer on the observation deck of the Empire State Building was a provocation. It had nothing to do with piety or religiosity. It is political and supremacist,” she wrote in a recent article about the matter. “You don’t see this in Muslim countries. … They go to the mosque or stay at home to pray. There are no prayer breaks in Iran and Dubai at workplaces. No prayers on the streets.”
“It is a direct act of defiance against the host culture,” Geller continued. “It is a prelude to conquest according to Islamic texts. They always prayed in front of their enemy’s gates before they invaded.”
Muslims pray five times a day, including once in the evening and once late at night.