(PHOENIX, ARIZ. – 3/7/16)Â – The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ) today called on Arizona lawmakers to oppose HB 2617, which requires that the stateâ€™s pension systems divest from any companies that boycott Israel, because the bill would restrict freedom of speech.Â HB 2617 would require companies that wish to do business with the state government to certify that they do not conduct boycotts against Israel.
Bills like HB 2617 are designed to counter and undermine boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) efforts that protest illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian land. Critics say implementation of HB 2617 would alienate a growing number of businesses, major church denominations, charitable foundations, university student governments, labor unions, and investors who have called to boycott or take other economic measures against companies and institutions
complicit in Israelâ€™s human rights abuses.Â
â€œThe proposed bill violates our right to engage in free speech,â€ said Imraan Siddiqi, CAIR-AZ's Executive Director. â€œIt would be un-American to deny constituents the right to work to change the illegal and discriminatory actions of a foreign government.â€
He noted that boycotts supporting civil and human rights such as the Montgomery Bus boycott against segregation or the boycott of companies enabling South African Apartheid have been revered throughout American history as an integral part of our political process and means by which to participate in democracy.
CAIR-AZ also recently hosted Arizona Muslim Capitol Day where Arizona Muslims met with state legislators to discuss their concerns with HB 2617 amongst other issues.
CAIR-Arizona is a chapter of America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialog, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-AZ Executive Director Imraan Siddiqi, 480-704-3786, firstname.lastname@example.org