(ATLANTA, GA - 10/30/2018) The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) today criticized Secretary of State Brian Kemp's refusal to publicly disavow an anti-Muslim extremist who posed for a photograph with Kemp while wearing a T-shirt that read "Islam is of the Devil" on the back, and "Allah is not God, and Muhammad is not His Messenger" on the front.
CAIR-Georgia also thanked Rep. Rick Allen, who also took a picture with James Stachowiak during the same Kemp campaign event, for publicly and specifically repudiating the extremist in remarks to The Augusta Chronicle.
Left: Brian Kemp with James Stachowiak at an Augusta campaign event. Right: Rep. Rick Allen with Stachowiak.
During the campaign event in Augusta, Secretary Kemp and Rep. Allen posed for separate photographs with Stachowiak, who has previously called for Muslims to be killed, threatened to shoot Black Lives Matter activists, as well as "women and children" who "loot" during protests against police brutality, and trespassed upon a Georgia mosque to destroy a copy of the Quran while armed with a weapon.
In response to the photograph, CAIR-Georgia publicly and privately invited Mr. Kemp to meet with Georgia Muslim leaders. The Kemp campaign has not responded to those invitations, nor has the campaign specifically disavowed Stachowiak's support or condemned anti-Muslim bigotry.
According to news reports, a Kemp campaign spokesperson said on Saturday, Oct. 27th, “Brian Kemp takes hundreds of photos a day while traveling the state. It’s ridiculous to think he should be held responsible for the beliefs of every person who wants to snap a picture with him. Brian Kemp stands against hatred. He believes we should treat all people with respect.”
In a statement, CAIR Georgia executive director Edward Ahmed Mitchell rejected the Kemp campaign's comment as vague and insufficient:
"In the wake of violent attacks last week by a racist, a neo-Nazi, and a radical supporter of President Trump, Georgia's political leaders must not cozy up to dangerous extremists, much less take smiling photos with them.
"We thank Rep. Allen for clearly and unequivocally rejecting this bigot and the hatred he represents, and we encourage Mr. Kemp to do the same. Embracing a dangerous bigot was bad, refusing to disavow that bigot is worse, and ignoring an invitation to meet with those Georgians targeted by that bigot adds insult to injury.
"If Secretary Kemp opposes Mr. Stachowiak's violently anti-black and anti-Muslim rhetoric, he should specifically and publicly say so. That's what Congressman Allen did. If Mr. Kemp remains silent, the picture of him grinning alongside a virulent bigot will continue to speak for itself."
CONTACT: Edward Ahmed Mitchell, 404-285-9530, firstname.lastname@example.org