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CAIR Asks Attorney General Holder to Defend U.S. Muslim Rights

posted on: Feb 26, 2009

A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on Attorney General Eric Holder to protect the right of American Muslims to participate fully in the political process and to practice their faith without fear of government intrusion.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued that appeal following a number of recent government-related incidents targeting Islam, American Muslim lobbying efforts, American mosques, and Muslim religious practices.

In a letter to Attorney General Holder, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote:

“Today in Congress, taxpayer funds are being used for the screening of a virulently anti-Islam film and to promote the Islamophobic views of its producer. Despite appeals to offer a balancing perspective to the closed-door screening, elected officials and congressional staff will hear only anti-Muslim invective, without an opportunity for response from American Muslims.

“Today in Florida, there is a report that the leader of that state’s House Republicans is attempting to block a ‘Florida Muslim Capitol Day.’ In an e-mail to more than a dozen Jewish lobbyists, Rep. Adam Hasner wrote: ‘By now, I can’t imagine you haven’t heard about this upcoming lobbying day for Muslims in Tallahassee…Do you all intend to be part of an information campaign in opposition to it?’

“Yesterday, the ACLU issued a news release exposing a Texas fusion center alert stating that it is ‘imperative for law enforcement officers to report’ the legal activities of Muslim lobbying and civil rights groups in their areas.

“In a recent news article, a former FBI agent in Washington, D.C., was quoted as making the bizarre claim that every major American Muslim organization is engaged in an effort to ‘overthrow America and establish Islamic law’ through religious accommodation. He advocated ‘stepping on these people.’

“Today in California, the Los Angeles Times reports that the FBI employed a person with a criminal past to infiltrate mosques in that state, re-enforcing fears by Muslim leaders about religious profiling.

“In Minnesota, Somali Muslims have expressed concern about FBI tactics that they say amount to religious profiling.

“In Oklahoma, legislation has been introduced that would prevent Muslim women from obtaining driver’s licenses while wearing religiously-mandated head scarves, or hijabs. That legislation was prompted by a recent decision to allow a Muslim driver to take her license photograph while wearing hijab.

“Based on these and other recent incidents and initiatives targeting the Muslim community nationwide, we are concerned that the right of American Muslims to participate fully in our country’s political process and practice their faith free of government intrusion is under assault.

“It is our belief that these incidents are based on a desire by Muslim-bashers and other extremists who seek to use guilt by association to marginalize and disenfranchise the American Muslim community. This is contrary to the positive outreach efforts to Muslims that President Obama has made since taking office. American Muslim voices are critical to the success of the president’s outreach initiatives.

“We therefore respectfully request that you use the authority of your office to protect the political and religious rights of American Muslims. We also ask you to meet with representatives of the American Muslim community to discuss these troubling issues.”

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.