(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/26/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today issued an open letter to potential Republican presidential candidates urging them to reject Islamophobia and to reach out to American Muslim voters.
CAIR's appeal comes in the wake of a controversy over remarks by presidential hopeful Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana who was criticized for promoting the false claim that there are Muslim “no-go zones” in European cities.
The letter reads in part:
“The 2012 Republican presidential primaries were marked by a series of anti-Muslim statements made by nearly all candidates. For example, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich both said that Muslims would be required to take loyalty tests or oaths to serve in their administrations, with Cain saying that he would not require similar oaths from Mormons or Catholics 'because there is a greater dangerous part of the Muslim faith than there is in these other religions.'. …
“Islamophobic fear mongering during the 2012 campaign did not translate into a nomination for GOP presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum. Instead, the eventual Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, was able to distinguish himself from other GOP primary contenders by reaffirming that 'people of all faiths are welcome in this country.'
“Promoting Islamophobia and false anti-Muslim conspiracies to prove conservative bona fides and attract support from the GOP base in a presidential bid is a failing strategy. …
“American Muslims are one of the most racially and ethnically diverse religious groups in the United States, with African-Americans, Arab-Americans, and South Asians each making up roughly a third of the community. Muslims have deep ties to and are actively involved in their respective communities. If Republican candidates want minority voter support, they will have to approach the Muslim community with the same respect shown to any other community. …
“As advised by the 'Growth and Opportunity Project' report, Republican candidates in 2014 made far greater attempts to court Latino voters or at least avoid being antagonistic about the issue of immigration. This strategy paid off in a number of key races in Texas, George, and Kansas where nearly half of Latino voters supported Republican candidates for governor. This was quite an accomplishment considering Latinos had voted two-to-one for Democratic candidates in the previous mid-term elections.
“Republican candidates should invest similar resources in courting Muslim voters as they do other minority communities. The American Muslim community is well positioned to impact election results in key swing states such as Ohio, Virginia and Florida. …
“While Republicans have overwhelmingly been responsible for pushing anti-Islam prejudice during past elections, four separate incidents in 2014-15 showed that the GOP will, at times, act against Islamophobia. In January, the RNC Executive Committee voted to censure Michigan GOP National Committeeman Dave Agema for his repeated incendiary comments about Muslims and Islam. Continued Republican actions against Islamophobic remarks and acts inside and outside of the party can easily swing Muslim voters with a history of Republican Party support back toward the GOP. Â Â Â Â
“Further Republican gains in the Muslim community are possible if a sincere effort is made. Again, CAIR advises that by not giving a platform to Islamophobia, holding accountable those candidates that do use their campaigns to foster anti-Muslim sentiment and making a concerted effort to engage Muslim voters, your campaign and the Republican Party will be closer to its presidential aspirations.”
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.
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CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,Â firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,Â email@example.com