Congressman William “Mac” Thornberry, Chairman, House Armed Services Committee
Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee
Dear Chairman Thornberry and Ranking Member Smith:
On behalf of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, I am writing to express concern about amendment number 068, proposed by Congressman Trent Franks, to H.R. 2810, the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
This amendment would require the Department of Defense to conduct two strategic assessments, one to be conducted by governmental persons and the other conducted by non-governmental persons, on the use of “Use of Violent or Unorthodox Islam to Support Extremist or Terrorist Messaging.”
First and foremost, this amendment unfairly targets one faith, Islam. Moreover, this amendment is counter to the fundamental American principle that the U.S. government, and certainly not the Department of Defense, should have no authority in defining what constitutes “violent” or “unorthodox” religious practices and provide a list of associated key identifiers that would create more bias against Muslim individuals.
Such bias may result in further alienation of Muslim communities throughout the U.S., many of whom have been working with the U.S. to end violence.
The amendment also mandates identification of key Islamic leaders that practice any form of Islam. It is inappropriate for the United States government to create a list of individuals who have violated no laws, but strictly because of the religion they practice. Religious persecution should not be tolerated.
Finally, CAIR does not believe that the Trump Administration is capable of selecting unbiased government representatives or non-governmental experts on Islam - given that President Trump has stated that he thinks "Islam hates us," and called for a "total and complete shutdown" of the entry of Muslims to the United States.
The prospect of Trump asking one of his trusted Islamophobic advisors like Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller or Sebastian Gorka to provide such expertise or identify contributors to this assessment is frightful.
For these reasons I respectfully request that the House Armed Services Committee drop consideration of this biased amendment.
CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw
Franks has a history of Islamophobic rhetoric and associations. He once spoke at a conference called “The Enemy of Freedom: Islam” and has appeared with notorious Islamophobes like Robert Spencer.
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