(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/14/17) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today hailed the bi-partisan defeat of Congressman Trent Franks’ (R-AZ) Amendment Number 13 to H.R. 2810, the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
In a narrow vote of 208 “Yes” to 217 “No,” 27 Republicans and 190 Democrats voted against the amendment with no Democrats voting in support. The NDAA is an annual defense authorization act that provides valuable funding for the armed forces.
Franks’ amendment would require the Department of Defense to conduct two strategic assessments, one to be conducted by government employees and the other by non-governmental “experts” on the “use of violent or unorthodox Islam to support extremist or terrorist messaging.”
Congressional opposition against the amendment was led Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith (D-WA). Last night the amendment was debated on the House floor with Rep. Franks in support and Representatives Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) opposing.
“It’s a victory for the American people when the Congress stands by our nation’s crucial principle of not elevating or marginalizing any one faith community,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert McCaw.
CAIR opposed the amendment because it unfairly targeted one faith, Islam. Moreover, the amendment was counter to the fundamental American principle that the government should not have the authority to define what constitutes “unorthodox” religious practices, which could result in American Muslims being further targeted by bias.
CAIR issued an action alert opposing the amendment calling on Congress to “VOTE NO.” CAIR also wrote a letter to the House Armed Services Committee urging them to drop this biased amendment.
The amendment also would have mandated identification of key Islamic leaders that practice any form of Islam. CAIR voiced opposition to this because it is inappropriate for the U.S. government to create a list of individuals who have violated no laws, but strictly because of the religion they practice. Religious persecution should not be tolerated.
Finally, CAIR opposed the amendment because it does not view the Trump Administration capable of selecting unbiased government representatives or non-governmental experts on Islam – given that President Trump has stated that he thinks “Islam hates us,” and called for a “total and complete shutdown” of the entry of Muslims to the United States.
Rep. Franks has a history of Islamophobic rhetoric and associations. He once spoke at a conference called “The Enemy of Freedom: Islam” and has appeared with notorious Islamophobes like Robert Spencer.
In 2013, Rep. Franks agreed that President Obama was either a secret Muslim or acting just like one at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Restoration Weekend Conference.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, fomentar el diÃ¡logo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
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