CAIR-LA Calls on Candidates to Avoid Anti-Muslim Rhetoric
(ANAHEIM, CA, 10/10/06) – The Southern California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today called on politicians in that state to avoid “smear campaigns and fear-mongering” to target candidates of Muslim or Arab background or those who associate with the California Muslim community.
“We call on all Californians to repudiate attempts to spread fear of Islam and Muslims by falsely labeling Arab-American and Muslim candidates seeking office as extremists,” said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. “It is disturbing to see public officials exploit growing anti-Muslim prejudice and bias by using smear campaigns and fear-mongering.”
Ayloush cited the case of Bill Dalati, a Republican candidate for Anaheim City Council who has been the target of vicious attacks by former state Republican Party Chairman Shawn Steel. Steel supports Dalati’s opponent, incumbent Bob Hernandez.
SEE: Anaheim City Council Race Heats Up Over Mideast Politics (AP)
In a letter, Steel called Dalati a “Manchurian candidate” and questioned his patriotism for supporting elected officials who have been critical of President George W. Bush’s Iraq policies.
Steel also criticized Dalati’s participation at a rally this summer.
That rally was attended by Christians, Jews, Muslims and people of other faiths, and demanded an immediate cease-fire to the most recent outbreak of war in the Middle East.
Muslims say Steel has a history of Islamophobia. He once claimed Islam is a diseased religion.
In a separate race, 47th Congressional District incumbent Loretta Sanchez has been targeted using similar tactics.
Sanchez’s opponent Tan Nguyen has angered local Muslims with his offensive and inflammatory use of a photograph of a Middle Eastern terrorist to link the hot-button issues of illegal immigration and terrorism.
Sanchez has closely worked with all religious groups, including Muslims.
CAIR has 32 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.
CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Munira Syeda,
714-776-1847 or 714-851-4851; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org