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CAIR Letter to GOP Leaders: Remove Survey Question Attacking Religious Principles of U.S. Muslims

screenshot gop.com 2017 11 17 16 14 21 633(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/17/17) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties organization, today sent a letter to Republican Party leaders requesting a meeting and the immediate removal of the Republican National Committee online “Listening to America” survey question asking Americans if they “Are you concerned by the potential spread of Sharia Law?”

The term ”˜Sharia’ refers to Islamic religious teachings, comparable to Catholic cannon law and Jewish Halacha. Thousands of American Muslim families, youth and children practice these Islamic religious teachings everyday by giving back to our nation as volunteers in fire departments, PTAs, and foodbanks. 

SEE: RNC Listening to America Survey, Question 27

In a letter to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part:

On behalf of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, I write to seek the immediate removal of the Republican National Committee’s online “Listening to America” survey question: “Are you concerned by the potential spread of Sharia Law?”[1][2] It is one of many problematically worded questions in that survey.  I also write to request a meeting with you to discuss how we can work together to ensure that America’s promise of religious freedom remains true for our current and future generations.

The term ”˜Sharia’ refers to Islamic religious teachings, comparable to Catholic cannon law and Jewish Halacha. Thousands of American Muslim families, youth and children practice these Islamic religious teachings everyday by giving back to our nation as volunteers in fire departments, PTAs, and foodbanks.

American Muslims share the same American values and freedoms that we all cherish, and want to succeed in the traditional American way – by working hard and supporting their families.

Just as it would be widely condemned as extremely inappropriate and indecent for the RNC to ask Americans if they are concerned about the potential spread of Catholic cannon law and Jewish Halacha, posing questions about the religious teachings practiced by American Muslims should be likewise condemned by the Republican Party.

This GOP survey question about religious principles of American Muslims is comparable to the darker chapters of our nation’s history when Catholic and Jewish Americans were vilified and their loyalty to our nation was questioned. 

The Republican Party should not allow its resources to be hijacked by those who would seek to use its stature in American society to fuel the rise of un-American and anti-Muslim bigotry in our country. American Muslims deserve the same opportunities as all Americans – to build better futures for our families and children. However, just this week, the FBI released its hate crimes report for 2016, which shows American Muslims and Jews were the two most common targets of religiously-motivated hate crimes in the U.S.

According to the report, there were increases in reported hate crimes across the board compared to 2015. Anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by nearly 20 percent, anti-white by 17 percent, anti-Latino by 15 percent, and anti-Jewish by 3 percent.

CAIR calls on the Republican National Committee to commit itself to confronting this rise in hate and bigotry in the United States. Instead, the GOP should be surveying Americans to see how concerned they are about the threat of religiously-motivated hate crimes. Disappointingly, the Republican National Committee is rather asking Americans if they are concerned about the potential spread of the religious practices of American Muslims in the United States.

In 2012, CAIR, along with 10 other groups, took out a full-page ad in the Washington Times offering “an open invitation to reassess your party’s current relationship with American Muslims.”[3] Likewise, CAIR wrote an open letter in January 2015 to Republican presidential candidates encouraging them to engage Muslim voters and reject Islamophobia.[4] Unacceptably, American Muslim voters have seen very little efforts from Republican Party leadership to curb Islamophobic sentiment and rhetoric from within its own ranks.

The most recent example of RNC silence in the face of Islamophobia is its muted response to scandal plagued Alabama Senator Roy Moore’s bigotry towards Muslims, which includes him calling Islam a “false religion” in July, and previously claiming that Congressman Keith Ellison swearing his oath of office on the Quran is akin to taking an “oath on Mein Kampf” in 1943. Americans expect better from the Republican Party.

The Republican National Committee and its leadership in Congress must do better to confront all forms of hate and bigotry in the United States, including Islamophobia.

We hope that your offices will do the right thing by ensuring the removal of this bigoted and inappropriate survey question from the GOP website. Moreover, we ask that you recommit the Grand Old Party towards being a more inclusive political party that lives up to the ideal of being a big tent.

I look forward to meeting you and distributing your response to American Muslim communities and their allies.

CAIR notes that this problematic survey question also recently appeared in a Donald J. Trump campaign email.

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 misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

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CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, rmccaw@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

 

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