(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/21/10) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on Republican leaders to repudiate racist taunts by tea party opponents of health care reform targeting a Muslim congressman and another African-American lawmaker on Capitol Hill yesterday.
Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), one of two Muslims in Congress, reported that protesters chanted "the N-word, the N-word, 15 times" as he left the Cannon House Office Building with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a leader of the civil rights movement. Protesters also spat on and shouted bigoted slurs at other lawmakers.
SEE: Raucous, Ugly Buildup to House Health Care Vote (AP)
Black Members: Tea Partiers Used N-Word
"Vigorous debate on issues of importance to our nation is essential, but racist abuse like that used by the tea party protesters must be repudiated by all responsible leaders, no matter their political party," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "We call on all those Republican leaders who addressed the protesters to take a public stand against such racist tactics."
He said our nation must not let a vocal and bigoted minority "turn back the clock" on the Civil Rights Movement.
[UPDATE: Today, Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee's first African-American chairman, called the incidents "reprehensible."]
Awad noted that CAIR recently expressed concern about the reported rise in the number of anti-government and anti-immigrant extremist groups during the past year.
SEE: CAIR Concerned About Reported Rise in Militias, 'Patriot' Groups
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 National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com