(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/3/2009)- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today responded to what it termed “smears and misinformation” about the Bush administration’s decision to cut some ties between the Washington-based civil rights and advocacy group and FBI field offices.
Steven Emerson, a “notorious Islamophobe” who has attacked CAIR since its founding in 1994, recently circulated a story about letters sent by the FBI before the end of the Bush administration to many of the group’s chapters stating that they can no longer participate in the FBI’s community outreach activities.
SEE: Steven Emerson’s Crusade
The letters also stated that the FBI will continue to work with CAIR on civil rights issues impacting American Muslims.
Emerson and a number of anti-Muslim Internet sites have promoted the story as a means to smear CAIR and to harm its image as the nation’s leading Islamic civil liberties group. But even the Internet hate sites have been forced to admit that the Bush administration’s policy has not been fully accepted by local FBI officials. According to WorldNetDaily.com: “F.B.I. sources, however, say the new policy has not been uniformly followed since it was put into effect late last summer. They say there is still political resistance to the rule, which has generated complaints from some in the Muslim community.” (1/30/2009)
In a statement issued today responding to the smear campaign, CAIR said:
“This campaign of smears and misinformation is an unfortunate legacy of the Bush administration’s misguided and counterproductive efforts to marginalize mainstream American Muslim organizations. We look forward to better relations with the Obama administration.
“CAIR is a civil rights and advocacy group that often challenged Bush administration policies. It is not surprising that we would be targeted in a purely political move by those in the previous administration who sought to prevent us from defending the civil rights of American Muslims. It is also not surprising that this campaign is being pushed by a notorious Islamophobe like Steven Emerson.
“The true losers under this unfortunate policy are those FBI officials who will have their access to the mainstream American Muslim community restricted by the Bush administration’s directive that prevents them from taking part in the many public activities such as town hall meetings and diversity workshops sponsored by CAIR chapters.
SEE: What Law Enforcement Agencies Say About CAIR
“We hope the FBI will not be perceived as turning back the clock on the civil rights movement to a time when those who defended civil liberties were targeted, as was the case with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“It should be noted that even if the Bush administration’s politically-motivated policy remains in force, CAIR chapters nationwide will continue to work with local law enforcement agencies and the FBI on issues related to our core mission of defending the civil rights of all Americans.
“Going forward, we will do our utmost to work with the new administration to ensure that public officials and representatives of law enforcement agencies hear the voices of American Muslims.”
On Sunday, CAIR called on the FBI to investigate possible civil rights violations by a “biblical group” that allegedly harassed worshipers Saturday at a Florida mosque. More than 20 people used bullhorns to shout slurs against the faith of Islam and Islam’s Prophet Muhammad at those attending the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area. They also handed out anti-Muslim literature and, according to a mosque official, intimidated children attending weekend school at the facility.
SEE: CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Harassment of Florida Muslims
SEE ALSO: Super Bowl Super Brawl: Christians Attack Mosque
Yesterday, CAIR asked the U.S. Department of Justice to determine whether a California bank violated a Muslim woman’s civil rights when it denied her service because she was wearing a religiously-mandated head scarf, or hijab.
Video: Woman Claims Discrimination Over Muslim Scarf
As part of the smear campaign against CAIR, several right-wing members of Congress also circulated a “dear colleague” letter asking that elected officials not meet with the group’s representatives, even if they are constituents.
Also yesterday, CAIR sent a response to the sponsor of that letter, Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), which stated in part:
“We read the letter keeping in mind the troubling worldview you have previously displayed: ‘In remarks about domestic security threats, Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte said, ‘Look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country.’’ (Charlotte Observer, 2/06/2003) Revealingly, you have never attempted to communicate with us to learn both sides of the issue that you feel should cause Congressional offices to deny us our right to meet with them…
“That only five members of Congress chose to sign your Dear Colleague letter is significant. The names on the letter are also revealing.
“In early 2008, Rep. Broun invited David Yerushalmi to speak to congressional staff on Islamic Finance. Even Daniel Pipes, regarded as the nation’s leading Islamophobe, is on record distancing himself from Yerushalmi…
“In February of 2007, Yerushalmi’s group, the Society of American’s for National Existence (SANE), offered a policy proposal that stated in part: ‘We need to implement the Separation platform with a Search and Destroy Mission whenever Islam raises its ugly head.” SANE has advocated prison terms for ‘adherence to Islam.’”
SEE: CAIR’s Letter to Rep. Sue Myrick
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 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.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 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