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CAIR Decries Accession of Far-Right Islamophobe as Chairman of Major U.S. Religious Freedom Organization

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/19/19) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned the accession of Islamophobe Tony Perkins to become the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

USCIRF is an independent bipartisan U.S. commission that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. Perkins was appointed to the commission last year by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and will now serve a one-year term as chairman.

SEE: This Far-Right Activist Will Now Lead a Major U.S. Religious Freedom Body

In the past, Perkins has claimed that “those who practice Islam in its entirety” should not be afforded the same constitutional protections as other Americans because Islam is “incompatible with the Constitution.” He also claims that “only 16 percent of Islam is a religion.” His organization, the Family Research Council, has called for a ban on mosques.

In 2014, Perkins said: “We are a nation that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, that’s the foundation of our nation, not Islam, but the Judeo-Christian God.” (Washington Watch radio show, September 2014)

In a 2015 email, he wrote: “What most people either don’t realize or willfully ignore is that only 16 percent of Islam is a religion — the rest is a combination of military, judicial, economic, and political system. . .Sharia is not a religion in the context of the First Amendment.” (Family Research Council Email, December 2015)

SEE: New ”˜Religious Freedom’ Appointee Claims Islam ”˜is Incompatible with the Constitution’

Perkins: ”˜Only 16 Percent of Islam Is a Religion’ So Immigration Ban Not a ”˜Religious Test on Muslims’

Southern Poverty Law Center: Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins: Islam ‘Is Incompatible with the Constitution’

“It is unacceptable to have someone who does not even believe Islam is a religion lead a major religious freedom organization and arm of U.S. diplomacy,” said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw. “Some of the worst cases of religious persecution worldwide are impacting Muslim communities in Burma and China, and we must seriously question whether Mr. Perkins will be able to fulfill his role as USCIRF chairman to help protect those communities.”

The Washington-based civil rights organization has repeatedly expressed concern about Islamophobic and racist Trump administration policies and appointments, including the appointment of Perkins last year.

SEE: CAIR Urges U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to Drop Appointee Who Says Constitution Does Not Protect Muslims

Yesterday, CAIR decried the appointment of Islamophobe Katharine Gorka to become the press secretary of Customs and Border Protection.

SEE: CAIR Decries Appointment of Islamophobe Katharine Gorka to CBP Post

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.


CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,

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