(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/14/2014) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, today applauded a resolution adopted by the Washington, D.C., city council "supporting religious tolerance toward people of all faiths in the District of Columbia" and rejecting anti-Muslim bigotry.
The resolution, which was supported by CAIR and Jewish Voice for Peace - DC Metro Chapter, was introduced after extremist blogger Pamela Geller's hate group American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) placed an Islamophobic advertisement on buses in Washington, D.C., falsely claiming that the Quran, Islam's revealed text, encourages Muslims to hate Jews.
"We thank Council Chairman Phil Mendelson for his leadership in passing this resolution reaffirming the District's long-standing tradition of religious freedom and respect for diversity," said CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw. "The resolution is a clear repudiation of anti-Muslim hate and sends a strong message to those who seek to promote divisions in our nation."
"Jewish Voice for Peace - DC Metro Chapter is proud to support this strong statement from the council affirming inclusion and diversity. As a Jewish organization, we vehemently oppose the targeting and scapegoating of American Muslims and oppose those voices that seek to pit us against one another," said Jewish Voice for Peace - DC Metro Chapter representative Rachel Roberts.
The resolution, which was adopted by unanimous consent today declaring the "sense of the Council of the District of Columbia," states in part:
"The Members of the Council of the District of Columbia find that:
(1) As a city with a diverse ethnic and religious population, the District of Columbia has a proud history of supporting individual religious freedoms and is strengthened by the diverse religious, political, and cultural traditions of its residents.
(2) The District is benefitted by the multiplicity of faiths whose tenets motivate humanitarian services, such as the provision of food to the hungry, shelter to the needy, and inexpensive or free health services.
(3) As such, the District should seek to promote religious tolerance and discourage efforts, such as the advertisements from the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) displayed on Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) buses that promote Islamophobia. These advertisements single out and disparage Muslims by associating the religion of Islam with Adolf Hitler and identifying its practitioners as anti-Semites.
(4) While respecting the First Amendment, we should discourage acts and expressions that disparage the religious or cultural beliefs and traditions of others. Such acts and expressions have been known to promote prejudice, incite fear and anger, and pose a threat to public safety.
(5) We believe that religious and cultural divides can be bridged through tolerant, civil, and respectful exchange of dialogue between disparate groups. This is the highest expression of our democratic principles.
(6) Collectively, we should choose to promote tolerance.
(7) The District should be a place where multiculturalism is celebrated and individuals can freely practice their faith without disparagement or fear of physical attack.
"…It is the sense of the Council of the District of Columbia that:
(1) Out of respect for the diverse religious, ethnic, and cultural makeup of this nation and the District, advertisements that disparage religious, ethnic, and cultural groups should be eliminated within the District.
(2) The government of the District of Columbia should continue to promote religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity and tolerance."
The resolution takes effect immediately.
In response to Geller's hate advertisements, CAIR produced a counter ad featuring a Christian, a Muslim and a Jew stating "this verse speaks for me" in reference to a verse from the Quran stressing Islam's respect for other faiths.
Video: CAIR Rolls Out Campaign to Counter Anti-Islam Hate (Channel 8)
Video: CAIR Fights Back Against Pamela Geller's Anti-Islam Ads (Fox News)
Video: Full CAIR News Conference on Campaign to Challenge Pamela Geller's Anti-Islam Hate Ads
Geller's organization, Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). SPLC also named Geller as a member of the "anti-Muslim inner circle."
She was the subject of a CAIR "Islamophobe profile" documenting the individuals and organizations involved in spreading anti-Muslim bias in the United States. CAIR also listed her as a member of the "inner core" of those promoting anti-Muslim bigotry.
Her group was denied a trademark after an appeals court ruled that the name disparaged Muslims.
In 2012, a broad-based coalition of 127 organizations sent a letter to the Washington Area Metro Transit Authority (WMATA) expressing concern about Geller's previous anti-Muslim advertisements. A CAIR ad placed to counter Geller's 2012 campaign featured a verse from the Quran stating: "Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant." (The Holy Quran, 7:199)
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.
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CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw, 202-999-8292, email@example.com; CAIR Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com