Indian-Origin Man Files Suit After Malaysian Flag is Mistaken for ISIS Symbol in U.S.

Kansas-based Malaysian man Munir Zanial says his celebration of his country's independence and Eid-Al-Adha was reported to the FBI for being an ISIS event.


A Malaysian Muslim man has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Spirit Boeing Employees’ Association in Kansas after an employee of the organization reported his celebration of Malaysian independence and Eid-al-Adha as an Islamic State group (ISIS) meeting.

The Malaysian flag was mistaken for “an American flag desecrated with IS symbols” by the owners of the property, the Spirit Boeing Employees’ Association (SBEA), where the celebration was taking place in Wichita, Kansas, according to the lawsuit filed on March 18 by the Kansas chapter of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in U.S. District Court in Kansas City on the behalf of aero-engineer Munir Zanial.

The SBEA filed a complaint with Spirit Aerosystems, the employers of Zanial, the Malaysian of Indian origin who organised the party. The firm then filed a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Even after the FBI cleared him when they recognized the “desecrated American flag” to be a Malaysian flag, the SBEA hired private investigators to look into Zanial’s background and terminated his rental benefits.

“On Sept 2, 2017, Mr Zanial (Munir) hosted a party to celebrate Eid-al Adhara at the SBEA Recreational Lake in Wichita, Kansas. Following the party, SBEA reported Mr Zanial to the Spirit Aerosystems security team based on a concern that Mr Zanial was affiliated with radical Islamic terrorism and alleged that he had used the SBEA lake to hold an ISIS meeting. SBEA alleged that Mr Zanial and his guests had an American flag that had been ‘desecrated by ISIS insignia’ and were wearing ‘Muslim garb’,” the suit said, the Kansas City Star reported. It accuses the firm of engaging in “act of egregious racial profiling and blatant religious discrimination.”

The celebration was attended by 45 guests, most of whom were Malaysians of Indian ancestry, with some female guests wearing the hijab.

It was several weeks later that Zanial was contacted by an FBI agent who recommended they would close the investigation against him. Despite this, he was barred from using SBEA’s property in January this year because of the previous meeting.

“At no point in time did the SBEA personally discuss the allegations with (Munir) Zanial before terminating those benefits, and he was not notified of the termination until he again tried to reserve the recreational facilities at a later date. The ordeal has caused Zanial to experience a great deal of stress and anxiety,” the complaint said.

It added: “He is concerned that the investigation could affect his lawful permanent residence status. He also feels distress and humiliation based on this experience of being singled-out because of his ethnicity, race and religion.”

Zanial has been living in Wichita, Kansas, with his wife and two young children since 2011.

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