(ATLANTA, GA, 1/5/17) - The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-GA) today encouraged Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) to meet with Georgia Muslims leaders, as well as with a constituent who Rep. Spencer accused of treason after criticized House Bill 3, Spencer's withdrawn Islamophobic proposal to ban women from wearing veils.
Dana Sweeney, a college student who lives in the lawmaker’s district, wrote a letter to Spencer criticizing HB 3 and saying he responded to the anti-Islam bill by donating $10 to CAIR-Georgia, which opposed HB 3.
Rep. Spencer responded with a letter accusing Sweeney, who is not a Muslim, of engaging in treason and supporting terrorism. Spencer’s letter repeated anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, and in a January 3 Facebook post, he referred to Islam as a "malignant political ideology.”
"I am not surprised by Representative Spencer's anti-Muslim remarks, but I am surprised that a state legislator would accuse his own constituent of engaging in treason simply because the young man criticized bias-motivated legislation and donated ten dollars to a respected civil rights organization," said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR-GA. "Georgia's Muslim community has repeatedly invited Rep. Spencer to meet with us, clear the air, and build bridges. Despite the anti-Muslim sentiment Rep. Spencer has expressed over the past week, our invitation remains open. Outreach is better than outrage."
Mitchell sent a letter to Spencer, which read in part:
“I once again invite you to meet with us so that we can clear the air, build bridges, and dialogue. As you know, this is the third time that CAIR Georgia has invited you to meet and greet your Georgia Muslim neighbors since you introduced House Bill 3. We hope that you will accept this, our latest invitation. As Georgians, Americans, and human beings, we need not agree with each other in order to show respect for each other.”
In his letter to Sweeney, Rep. Spencer also indicated that he plans to eventually introduce another bill that would make it illegal for Georgia Muslim women to wear niqabs, which are religious face veils that a small minority of Muslim women choose to wear.
"If Rep. Spencer once again attempts to criminalize a woman's decision to wear the clothing of her choice, we stand ready to defend religious freedom," said Mitchell.
Mitchell noted that CAIR’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C., has reported an unprecedented spike in hate incidents targeting Muslims and other minority groups since the November 8 election.
Video: CAIR-GA Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell on CNN to Discuss Surge in Anti-Muslim Hate Incidents
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.
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