In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(WASHINGTON, D.C.,) The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on national Republican leaders to repudiate bigoted statements by Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-NC) who claimed the stress of living
near the Muslim civil rights group caused the breakup of his 50-year marriage.
In an interview with the Charlotte Observer newspaper, Ballenger said that proximity to CAIR "bugged the hell" out of his wife. He said his wife also objected to women "wearing hoods" going in and out of CAIR's Capitol Hill headquarters and he accused the group of raising funds for terrorists.
(NOTE: Many CAIR staffers wear religiously-mandated headscarves, or hijab. CAIR does not raise funds for any other group, whether in this country or
SEE: "Ballenger Grouses About Muslims, Lobbyist Limits" http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/news/politics/6929935.htm
"Congressman Ballenger's bizarre comments demonstrate the sheer lunacy of his political and religious views," said Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR's director of legal affairs. "Ballenger's statements are a perfect example of
Islamophobic hysteria at the highest levels of government. We view this incident as a direct byproduct of the campaign currently being waged by neoconservative opinion leaders to marginalize and disenfranchise the American Muslim community."
Iftikhar added that Ballenger, who serves on the House International Relations Committee, has angered African-American and women's groups with previous bigoted statements.
Last December, Ballenger said African-American Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney stirred in him "a little bit of a segregationist feeling. I mean, she was such a b-tch." In another incident, many people were offended by a black lawn jockey --long a symbol of racial insensitivity-- in Ballenger's front yard.
"Ballenger's comments and actions prove that he is not suitable to deal with foreign policy issues impacting the Muslim world," said Iftikhar. "To have him continue to serve on the International Relations Committee would be an insult to the American Muslim community and would further damage America's international image."
He added that CAIR will begin legal proceedings against Ballenger for his false and defamatory statements in the article.
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada.
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Ann Arbor, Mich. - As the government seeks greater power to track and arrest terrorist suspects, several federal and local officials have mustered counter efforts to guard citizens against unlawful investigations in judicial procedures.
Hoping to limit the scope of federal investigative agencies, two U.S. Congressmen have introduced a bill that would repeal several provisions of the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act. The act allows the government to police terrorist
suspects through secret searches, increased access to classified records and prolonged detentions.
Among lawmakers and activists who support the new bill -- known as the "Benjamin Franklin True Patriot Act" and authored by U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) -- U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) has pledged his sponsorship. Michigan branches of the American
Civil Liberties Union, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have also voiced their favor for repealing sections of the original Patriot Act...
"The Patriot Act ... has definitely affected our community because it has been used against some in our community," said national CAIR spokeswoman Rabiah Ahmed, referring to the Arab and Muslim community. "Many people have been arrested without evidence or any connection with criminal activity -- some have been deported..."
The White House - and America in general - may get an overseas image czar as one result of fresh findings that foreign opinion of the US has slumped to dangerous lows.
For more than a year, a string of private and government reports and independent polls has found that the battle to sway the world's hearts and minds to a favorable view of the US - especially in the Arab and Muslim worlds - is falling further behind.
Alarmed by its flagging image overseas, the United States pumped up its public- relations spending after the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks to more than $ 1 billion a year. But now a bipartisan advisory panel is warning that the issue reaches beyond a Madison Avenue image problem to a serious
national security threat.
The panel is calling for a "new strategic dimension" in what is called "public diplomacy" that treats the problem with warlike urgency. It's a war that will require more resources, more focused attention from the White House, and everything from many more fluent speakers of key foreign
languages in the foreign service to more points of contact for skeptical foreigners to meet and talk with Americans...