Ashcroft asked to clarify offensive remarks on Islam
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today joined other Muslim and Arab-American groups in calling on Attorney General John Ashcroft to clarify offensive remarks he allegedly made in December about the faith of Islam.
According to an interview with syndicated columnist Cal Thomas published on the internet site crosswalk.com, Ashcroft said: "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you." Despite several requests from Muslim and Arab-American groups, Ashcroft has not responded publicly.
"If true, these remarks are inaccurate, offensive and are unbecoming of a law enforcement official who is currently initiating and administering policies that have a disproportionate impact on Muslims. His remarks are
also in direct contradiction to President Bush's repeated statements of respect for Islam," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. He called on the president and other public officials to distance themselves from Ashcroft's remarks.
Awad cited the hundreds of Muslim detainees held following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the "voluntary" interviews of legal Muslim visa holders, the closure of immigration hearings, and profiling of Muslim and Arab-American airline passengers as examples of policies impacting Muslims. He added that just last Friday, media reports indicated that law enforcement authorities will focus on apprehending illegal Muslim and Arab immigrants who have ignored deportation orders, despite the fact that the vast majority of 314,000 so-called "absconders" are not Muslim or Arab.
"It is hard to see how policies such as these, which after all are based on racial and religious profiling, can be administered in an unbiased manner given Mr. Ashcroft's apparent hostility toward Islam," said Awad.
There are an estimated seven million Muslims in America and some 1.2 billion worldwide. CAIR has received more than 1700 reports of anti-Muslim backlash since the September 11 terrorist attacks.