Eric Treene

Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE


Eric Treene serves as Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination in the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. He graduated from Harvard Law School and worked as the Litigation Director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty before serving for the DOJ. Treene’s job at the Justice Department was created partly to deal with the flood of religious discrimination complaints immediately after September 11. He has written and lectured widely on the First Amendment and religious freedom.

He manages the Justice Department’s efforts to protect Muslims, Sikhs, Arab-Americans and Asian-Americans from discrimination and bias crimes resulting from 9/11 and the war on terror. In 2017 Treene testified before the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary to discuss the enforcement of Federal hate crime laws. He speaks regularly with various faith-based organizations about hate crimes issues. He has advised on cases in which the government defends the right of Muslim students and employees to wear head scarves or caps in school or on the job.



Why We’re Honoring Him



An Advocate for Hate Crimes Enforcement

In his oral and written testimonies, Treene highlighted the statistics demonstrating a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes, as well as the stories of American Muslims directly impacted by this rise in hate. He linked the struggle against the rise in hate crimes among members of all faiths, while also identifying the cause of the more dramatic uptick in hate crimes against American Muslims.

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Protects American Muslims’ Right to Build Community

As part of his work with the Department of Justice, Treene has defended American Muslims’ right to build mosques and houses of worship in the face of bad faith attacks. In doing so, he has warded off anti-Muslim smears and been instrumental in welcoming American Muslims into the fabric of the broader American community.

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A Reliable Defender Against Harassment

Treene has also defended American Muslims against anti-Muslim harassment and abuse. He has been a particularly strong advocate throughout his career with DOJ, which began in 2003 amid a rise in hate crimes post-9/11 and which has continued up through this most recent uptick in anti-Muslim hate crimes.

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Developed Resources for Our Community

With Treene, the DOJ took a crucial step in the direction of better hate crimes reporting and enforcement. As part of the website’s development, they also consistently sought after input from the many directly impacted communities.

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Securing our houses of worship

In this political climate, one of the most pressing issues facing American Muslims is that of the safety and security of their houses of worship. Treene has used his platform within the Department of Justice to provide vital resources to help the American Muslim community do just that. He has also solicited input from the American Muslim community at every step of the way, thereby ensuring that policies about American Muslims are not crafted without American Muslims.

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Religious freedom is a right that belongs to all people and is not a privilege bestowed by one class of persons upon another. It is a right that all governments have a duty to respect.

Eric w. Treene