Civil Rights Groups Protest Closures Of Muslims’ Bank Accts.

A Minneapolis-based bank has been closing the accounts of its customers in the Islamic community for years, but nobody can figure out why.
By @katierucke |
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    MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.– For years, Twin Cities’ residents who identify as members of the Islamic community say they have had their bank accounts closed unnecessarily and without reason by the Minneapolis-based TCF Financial Corp.

    In one case, an American citizen — born and raised in Minneapolis — had his bank account closed, along with his sister’s account. The client used the account he opened in 2002 for his dental practice.

    He reportedly did not have any international transactions on his account, nor did he ever bounce a check or fail to keep a minimum balance. But he says that didn’t stop TCF from issuing a letter notifying him that the bank was “exercising its right under the terms of your account contract to discontinue our banking relationship.”

    “A letter notified me that my account is closing, then after visiting and calling them I was notified by phone that TCF will not keep me as a customer even if I open a new account,” the former TCF customer told MintPress News.

    Another Minneapolis resident says his TCF account was closed after a 12- to 15-year banking relationship. A doctor and practicing Muslim, the appellant says he learned his account was closed when he “received an unregistered/uncertified envelope at my doorstep that contained a check for the balance of my entire account with TCF bank and a letter stating that my account had been closed.”

    According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota chapter, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, the closure of bank accounts belonging to Minnesota Muslims of Somali, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin, largely occurred between 2012 and 2013.

    CAIR-MN says it first got involved after it was reported in January 2013 that several Iranian students at the University of Minnesota had their accounts closed.

    As the group’s Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla told MintPress, “None of these individuals have been charged with any crimes or engaged in any transaction that violates U.S. law. The only thing these individuals have in common, aside from TCF abruptly and without explanation closing their bank accounts, is that they have Muslim names.

    “All of the clients are American citizens,” she added. “Some are converts to Islam, others were born into a Muslim family; they are various ages and professions; different ethnicities and races.”

    Concerned that the accounts were closed not because these individuals had negative transactions or suspicious activity on their accounts, but solely because the individuals identified with the Islamic community, CAIR-MN wrote a letter to TCF Bank.

    “As a civil rights organization, we are deeply disturbed by these allegations of discrimination and religious profiling of loyal TCF Bank customers,” the letter said. “We want to ensure that TCF Bank is not engaged in discrimination and is not targeting people who are Muslim or come from predominantly Muslim countries.”


    Civil rights violation?

    But it wasn’t just CAIR-MN that was concerned about the bank closures that the former TCF clients were not even able to contest. In February 2014, the director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights filed a civil rights complaint on behalf of Muslim clients whose accounts were closed by TCF Bank without explanation.

    In response to the accusations, Mark Goldman, senior vice president and director of corporate communications for TCF Financial Corporation, said, “TCF is disappointed the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights has chosen to file an ambiguous claim that prevents the bank from responding more specifically to a serious allegation. We believe that the facts will show that this issue is about compliance with federal law and is in no way an issue of discrimination.”

    Abd Alla said CAIR-MN approached TCF Bank before filing the complaint, hoping to resolve the issue, but says the bank has “denied any wrongdoing despite the evidence in the case.”

    But Goldman stressed that “TCF is committed to providing quality banking services to all of its customers regardless of gender, race, religion or nationality,” as required by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and said that the bank was taking the allegations seriously.

    He added that TCF is not able to respond to the allegations made by the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights “because the complaint does not specifically identify any of the individuals or the specific facts related to their claims.”

    With that being said, Goldman explained, “TCF does not close a customer account unless it has a legitimate reason to do so.

    “For example, TCF has obligations under federal laws that require the bank to obtain additional information about specific account transactions for a variety of reasons, including protecting against the use of funds for illegal activities. If a customer fails to provide required information, insufficiently responds to the request or provides information that does not comply with the law, TCF is compelled to close the account. There may also be other reasons under the applicable federal laws that would leave no alternative but for TCF to close an account.”

    Because TCF isn’t aware of the identities of those who filed the claim, Goldman says he isn’t able to determine why their accounts were closed.

    However, as the Star Tribune reported last year, the U.S. government has “a long list of rules and procedures governing transactions that involve Iran as part of its sanctions over the country’s alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapons program and state sponsorship of terrorism.”

    The fact that these individuals are Palestinian-American, Syrian-American, Iraqi-American, Indian-American, Pakistani-American and Somali-American may mean that their bank accounts are watched more intensely than others, and there may have been stricter guidelines set in place regarding what the federal government viewed as appropriate transactions.

    Talking to the Star Tribune after it was discovered several University of Minnesota students were issued letters, Professor William Beeman, a Middle East expert and Chair of the University of Minnesota’s anthropology department, said the bank’s explanation was “implausible,” and said the only irregularity that the bank may have seen is that the students were Iranian.

    “The students have compared notes,” he said. “Many of the students have had no money transfers at all. They have not had their accounts overdrawn. Their banking record is spotless.”


    Nationwide trend?

    Though it’s not known how many denial-of-banking letters have been issued nationwide, according to CAIR’s Michigan office, several members of the Islamic community have had their accounts closed by Chase Bank, which is why Abd Alla says CAIR-MN is “collaborating with other CAIR chapters to bring a national complaint against TCF, Chase and other banks who have violated civil rights laws.”

    In addition to the civil rights complaint and a director’s charge with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, Abd Alla said CAIR-MN is considering filing a national complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, and is working with Congressman Keith Ellison and other elected officials to push back against the unjust treatment of certain groups of people — in this case, Muslims and those of Arab descent.

    “CAIR-MN is also increasing its efforts to educate the Muslim community on their civil rights and empowering them to report cases of discrimination,” she said.

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    • Mark McDonald

      If they had a legal case, I am very sure that CAIR would have had their legal team file against TFC a long time ago. And if they come here as refugees, why are they sending our money back to their country? Aid should be crackers and water, stop giving them money and the problem is solved.

      NOTE: To: CAIR/Islam/Muslim/Liberals/Media and all other associated sites for projects, links, News, Publications, or Evidence – You do not have permission from me to use any of my information in current and future. If you have or do, it will be considered a violation of my privacy and will be subject to legal action. (I suggest the rest of you post this notice).

      • CAIR are nothing more than mendacious grievance-mongering takiya artists.

      • DesertFox-1A

        March 13, 2014, 19:35

        Hey, Dipweed! (“NOTE: To: CAIR/Islam/Muslim/Liberals/Media and all other associated sites for projects, links, News, Publications, or Evidence – You do not have permission from me to use any of my information in current and future. If you have or do, it will be considered a violation of my privacy and will be subject to legal action.”) Do you really think your little disclaimer there will keep someone from using your “information”? Once you post something on a public web site, it becomes part of the public domain and any body can use it. So if you want nobody to use your information, which is there free for them to use, don’t write things to the internet. As well as anything else that is part of the public records. Besides your incoherent writing style makes it really worthless. If I choose to write an article about your attempts at cyber-stalking, I can use anything that I can find on the internet or other sources to use write that article, and I do not think there is a lot you can do to stop it, as long as it is part of the public domain.

        By the way your little stunt of emailing me that little note with that ladies work information in it, didn’t intimidate me one bit. However it just pissed me off to the point that I have contacted her and warned her and the local LEO’s of the threat that you pose. If you really want to come get me try again. I will let you know this, I am a combat veteran and I know how to defend myself both lethally and non-lethally if necessary.

        To all of you who think this jerk-off is so neat because he disses Muslims, Democrats, the President and anybody who doesn’t think like he does, well, you are really mistaken about him. He is a stalker, a cyber-bully, and a cyber-stalker. I would be very careful around him, as he might turn on you as well.

        Shelly Ann, LPN/ret,
        Et secundum diversitatem unitatis pro scientiam.
        HM2c(FMF)/USN, Sgt/USAR, ACM/olc, CWVet, VNeVet, GWVet, DAV/VFW Life Member

        P.S. You might find this note on other sites that you spew your filth onto. Just to give you any idea of how it feels to be cyber-stalked.

        • Mark McDonald

          you claim to be a person of our military; I bet your commander would enjoy this post, and at what age will you stop name calling and lying?

          go read the terms and conditions for posting messages on this web site, that is, if you can read instructions.

          • DesertFox-1A

            Well, Markie, in what part are you suggesting that I am lying? In the part about you sending a message to intimidate me, or that I consider you a dangerous individual or are you just upset that I would bring up something you did and posted it for the world to see. Or is it because I called you a Dipweed, you are upset, so maybe I should put it down more bluntly you are a stinking POS, now, do I need to spell that out for you? So, far I believe that I have presented truths about and to you. You just cannot except truthful comments of another person or that person calling you out. What I said about your little disclaimer, is 100% true as well. What I described you as was truthful, you would bully any person you would think was weaker than you, as I assume you were going to try because I am a woman. I have lived too long to let petty little wannabe dictators bother me. What you don’t like is somebody calling you out for what you are or have done. If I was in such violation of the terms of agreement, then Disqus would have banned me long ago. So far I do not believe I have over exceeded those terms. Besides I see a lot worse name calling than what I have said about you. My warning to you about harassing that woman back in Minnesota stands and like I said I have told her and the local police about you. That way they know what you have done and can be prepared.

            When I served there was no hatred in the military for the Muslims nor were we faced with those hate mongers like you, other than the triple K. So I do not believe any of the commanders that I served under, back then, would be all that upset by what I wrote. While I served, the one thing that the military was concerned about was defending the rights of the citizens and the constitution from foreign aggression. I do not believe the military was all that interested in any particular religion or what they taught in their “churches” during that period. I have served with Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Pagan service members. As far as I know they would still serve this country, if they could. Just as my family has done since we came to America in the 1670’s, then it was known as British North America. We have had family involved in every war that America has been in and in two of them on both sides.

            Most of the hate, we see today comes from loudmouths like you, who like to stir up trouble just to be stirring up trouble. Then there are those groups out there that are making a profit off of the odium that they stir up. But then it takes a weak mind to fall so far for this type of trash. I am not saying an uneducated mind but a weak mind. These hate groups depend on the weak minded to spread their propaganda. So if it wasn’t the followers of Islam, it would be the Negros or the Jews or the Native Americans, they would always have someone to abhor.

            Most of the Muslims that I know are citizens that have stood up for the rights of everybody and have served this country honorably, with out being influenced by the radical right of the Islamic world. Many of them are now to old or are disabled or they would be willing to continue to defend this country. If it wasn’t for people like you there would probably not be so much hatred towards the USA by the Islamic and other countries. If you had served, which I kind of doubt, you would be one of those service members stationed overseas, who would say “I’m an America, I don’t have to follow their laws or honor their customs.” Served with a few of them, they were always getting into trouble with the locals.

            Just reading your hate filled comments and others like you, sickens me. I do not believe this country needs people like you and the others that are so hate filled. I might suggest that you and your kind move to a country that would accept your rhetoric, say, like Russia or North Korea. You might fit in a whole lot better there.
            So, Markie, I am not inclined to withdraw anything I said in my last reply to you.

            Shelly Ann, LPN/ret,
            Et secundum diversitatem unitatis pro scientiam
            (Unity through diversity and knowledge (for those who do not know Latin))
            HM2c(FMF)/USN, Sgt/USAR, ACM/olc, CWVet, VNeVet, GWVet, DAV/VFW Life Member. (every bit of this is true)

    • Ishmael_137

      Unfortunately for the complainants, having a bank account is not a civil right, but a convenience to the customer and a business matter to the bank. These Muslims are not alone in having their accounts closed. Banks must take into consideration the nature and commerce of depositors lest they either cause trouble for shareholders or run afoul of Federal law…it is not good business for any institution to be connected to either terrorism or trafficking of any kind. Even the hint of impropriety is reason enough to cut ties and let the customer find some other bank willing to take the risk. While just being Muslim does not prove a link to terrorism, going through CAIR does not help their case since CAIR is deeply involved in financing and enabling terrorism here and abroad and has a membership that is very vocal about overthrowing the United States government and sympathizing with those who seek to kill us.

      • Sylvia

        CAIR has no intentions to overthrow anyone. Its sad how ignorant and paranoid American’s have become. Thanks to the likes of Glenn Beck, and the rest of the ignorant Islamophobes. This is a clear cut case of discrimination based on nothing but fear.

        • The Voice of Reason

          Holyland Trial….check into it…then get back to us with your “ignorance and paranoid Americans,” OK?

        • Ishmael_137

          Ibrahim Hooper, national director of CAIR, has openly stated his goal is to abrogate the US Constitution and depose the American government, replacing it with “a system that is more sharia compliant.” He’s foolish, but probably not a liar. And his statements are fairly mild compared to the rank and file of CAIR, who frequently and loudly advocate tyranny, suppression and murder. Since most people are decent at heart, I doubt most Muslims have the same goals, but as long as they let themselves be defined by CAIR and other jihadists they will be seen as fifth columnists. America has been and still is all about tolerance, but that generally does not extend to rattlesnakes.

          • DesertFox-1A

            If what you are saying about them is true, why hasn’t the government shut them down, like they do with other organizations involved in un-American activities? I do not just mean under this administration, but under bush’s administration as well. Inquiring minds want to know!

            • Ishmael_137

              What antI-American organizations have any administration shut down lately? If they had, then seditious groups like CAIR wouldn’t be as strong or as well-infiltrated as they are.

              • DesertFox-1A

                I will not comment on what the current administration has done, that information is harder to find at this time.

                As for Un-American activities that have been investigated, groups like the KKK, the Neo-Nazis, had been investigated and shut to down to one extent or another. So I guess if these types of organizations can re-invent themselves so that they may preach their hate doctrine, then CAIR can continue to support the Muslims in this country when they complain about their rights being infringed on. If those rights are not truly guaranteed rights, then they help to right these perceived wrongs, by providing legal representation. Not much different than some Christian or Jewish organizations would do for their people.

                Over the past couple of decades there has not been much in the news about charges of Un-American Activities, being charged since the last big crime family boss was arrested and tried for his crimes. I normally do not follow crime stories unless they directly affect me.

                Like I said earlier, if the activities of CAIR were so un-American, then the government would be building a case against them. If they are, then they are not making it known to the public so as to not harm or jeopardize their case.

                As-salaamu ‘alaikum

                Shelly Ann, LPN (ret)
                Et secundum diversitatem unitatis pro scientiam (Unity through diversity and knowledge)

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