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Muslim civil rights group demands apology after being forced to pray, break fast outside San Bruno City Hall

San Bruno Councilman Rico Medina speaks with Mayor Jim Ruane during a break in the NTSB hearings on the 2010 PG&E pipeline blast in Washington DC, on Tuesday, August 30, 2011. (Photo By Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
Then-San Bruno Councilman Rico Medina, left, speaks with Mayor Jim Ruane in 2011. A Muslim civil rights group filed a complain letter to Medina, now mayor. (Carlos Avila Gonzalez/Getty Images)

The nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization is demanding action and an apology from the city of San Bruno after Muslim constituents were not allowed to break fast or pray inside San Bruno City Hall while attending a City Council meeting.

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a formal complaint letter to San Bruno Mayor Rico Medina on Thursday, expressing concern over the city’s actions on the night of March 12. Medina did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Numerous Muslim constituents attended the meeting to advocate for the addition of a resolution calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war to an upcoming council agenda, according to a news release from the Bay Area organization. The meeting coincided with the second night of the holy month of Ramadan, during which many Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.

Attendees requested accommodations in advance to break fast and pray in the City Hall lobby, said the complaint letter from Musa Tariq, policy coordinator at the Bay Area group.

According to Tariq, city staff denied their request hours before the meeting, citing a policy against food in the lobby even though the space includes a vending machine, a snack kiosk and an area to congregate.

Muslim constituents were forced to break fast and pray outside “in the cold,” surrounded by cones and police, the letter said.

“The actions taken at the March 12 meeting appear targeted and rooted in intimidation tactics to silence Palestinians, Muslims, Arabs, and their allies in San Bruno,” Tariq wrote. “Actions like these send a message that the city of San Bruno does not value or welcome these constituents.”

Residents have raised other concerns that the city is restricting civic engagement by placing partitions in City Hall and increasing uniformed police presence, according to the letter.

The Bay Area group is calling on the city to issue a public apology, explain which city policies were used to justify the city’s actions, commit to rejecting Islamophobia and participate in Islamophobia training.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.