In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(WASHINGTON, D.C.,) The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on national Republican leaders to repudiate bigoted statements by Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-NC) who claimed the stress of living
near the Muslim civil rights group caused the breakup of his 50-year marriage.
In an interview with the Charlotte Observer newspaper, Ballenger said that proximity to CAIR "bugged the hell" out of his wife. He said his wife also objected to women "wearing hoods" going in and out of CAIR's Capitol Hill headquarters and he accused the group of raising funds for terrorists.
(NOTE: Many CAIR staffers wear religiously-mandated headscarves, or hijab. CAIR does not raise funds for any other group, whether in this country or
SEE: "Ballenger Grouses About Muslims, Lobbyist Limits" http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/news/politics/6929935.htm
"Congressman Ballenger's bizarre comments demonstrate the sheer lunacy of his political and religious views," said Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR's director of legal affairs. "Ballenger's statements are a perfect example of
Islamophobic hysteria at the highest levels of government. We view this incident as a direct byproduct of the campaign currently being waged by neoconservative opinion leaders to marginalize and disenfranchise the American Muslim community."
Iftikhar added that Ballenger, who serves on the House International Relations Committee, has angered African-American and women's groups with previous bigoted statements.
Last December, Ballenger said African-American Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney stirred in him "a little bit of a segregationist feeling. I mean, she was such a b-tch." In another incident, many people were offended by a black lawn jockey --long a symbol of racial insensitivity-- in Ballenger's front yard.
"Ballenger's comments and actions prove that he is not suitable to deal with foreign policy issues impacting the Muslim world," said Iftikhar. "To have him continue to serve on the International Relations Committee would be an insult to the American Muslim community and would further damage America's international image."
He added that CAIR will begin legal proceedings against Ballenger for his false and defamatory statements in the article.
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada.
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