(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/24/05) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today applauded the decisions of both American Express and The Home Depot Supply to withdraw corporate sponsorship of a Florida convention that sought to honor an Indian official accused of complicity in the massacre of Muslim civilians. The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently issued a call for American Express to withdraw its sponsorship from the annual convention of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) that begins today in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., because of the scheduled participation of Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat.
(CAIR’s request for American Express to withdraw from the convention echoed that of the Indian Muslim Council-USA and the Coalition Against Genocide. SEE: http://www.imc-usa.org/ and http://www.coalitionagainstgenocide.org/ ) Following anti-Muslim riots in 2002 that left up to 2,000 civilians dead, senior officials in Gujarat said they had been directed by Modi to allow the massacres to run their course. Last week, U.S. officials denied a visa that would have allowed him to travel to the Florida convention. An e-mail sent to those who contacted American Express about the controversy stated: “Unfortunately, a conference that was intended to help promote travel and tourism has become the object of partisan political contention.
Therefore, we have chosen to withdraw from the conference.” Earlier this week, The Home Deport Supply, a business-to-business division of The Home Deport, informed CAIR of its decision to withdraw from the convention. “By withdrawing from this event, American Express and Home Deport demonstrate a commitment to corporate responsibility and respect for their customers’ concerns,” said CAIR Government Affairs Director Corey Saylor. CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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. To read CAIR’s Mission, Vision Statement and Core Principles, go to: http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page=About