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CAIR Urges Voting as a Positive Response to Anti-Muslim "Hysteria"

posted on: Oct 31, 2008


A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on American Muslim voters to turn out in large numbers at the polls on November 4th as a positive response to Islamophobic bias and stereotyping in political campaigns.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations also urged candidates, public officials and opinion leaders to emulate former Secretary of State Colin Powell in speaking out against the rising level of anti-Muslim rhetoric in our society.

In a statement, CAIR said:
“At a time when we need to improve our relations with and image in the Muslim world, our nation is ill-served by the continuing exploitation and promotion of anti-Muslim hysteria. Our nation’s leaders, whether at the local state or national levels, need to speak out clearly against rhetoric or actions that target any faith community. American Muslims can best respond to these smears by going to the polls on November 4th and voting for the candidates of their choice.”

In making its voter turnout call, CAIR cited recent Islamophobic incidents such as a New Mexico GOP leader who wrote that “Muslims are our enemies” in a letter to the editor, a Minnesota candidate who appeared to support an anti-Muslim e-mail, a death threat against a Muslim candidate in California, the controversy over Sen. John McCain’s declaration that his opponent is a “decent guy” after a campaign rally participant called Sen. Barack Obama an “Arab,” and the use of the false claim that the Illinois senator is a Muslim as a smear.

In a recent appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Powell said: “It is permitted to be said such things as, ‘Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?”

CAIR said American Muslims are particularly concerned about the recent distribution of 28 million anti-Muslim DVDs to voters in presidential swing states nationwide. The DVD campaign appears to be linked to an Israeli group.

The media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) recently identified a “dirty dozen” of Muslim-bashers who are actively promoting an Islamophobic agenda nationwide. One of those Islamophobes, David Horowitz, recently referred to the Arab people collectively as “barbaric.” Another person on FAIR’s “smearcasting” list, Daniel Pipes, was quoted as asking: “What does one do with people [Muslims] that look different, pray differently, eat differently? How does one create a nationality that includes them?”

In September, CAIR released its annual report on the status of American Muslim civil rights. That report, called “Without Fear of Discrimination,” outlined 2,652 incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment in 2007.

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