Press Releases

CAIR-MN Welcomes ‘Outpouring of Support’ Following GOP Chair’s Anti-Muslim Comments

MN-GOP-thumb(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 11/26/14) — The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today welcomed the “outpouring of support” from those who joined the state's Muslim community in repudiating Islamophobic comments by Big Stone County GOP Chair Jack Whitley.

Last week, Whitley posted comments on his Facebook page calling Muslims “parasites” and advocating “frag em” in Mecca. (“Frag” refers to a fragmentation grenade, a type of hand grenade. Whitley has since taken down his Facebook page.)

CAIR-MN called on Republican Party leaders to repudiate Whitley's comments.

The chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, Keith Downey, publicly condemned Whitley's comments. In an email to CAIR-MN, he wrote:

“I condemn the outrageous comments posted on Mr. Whitley's Facebook page. They could not be further from the Republican Party's beliefs, nor more contrary to the efforts we have undertaken to include Muslim Americans, and every American, in our Party.”

SEE: GOP Rebukes County Chairman's 'Outrageous' Comments on Muslims (Star Tribune)

State Democratic Party leaders and Minnesotans of all faiths and backgrounds also condemned Whitley's bigoted comments.

DFL Calls MNGOP Official's Anti-Muslim Posts 'Embarrassment to Our state' (Fox 9)
Big Stone County Residents Speak Out Against Islamophobic Remarks by County GOP Chair
GOP Leader's Comments Don't Represent the Rest of Us (Star Tribune)

In a statement, Whitley's employer said: “…it is clear that this person has brought shame to us personally, to our business, our community, our county and the Republican Party. His actions must be addressed and for our part we will definitely do so. We will not tolerate this type of bigotry within our business family.”

SEE: 'Bigotry' on Facebook Costs Big Stone GOP Chair His Day Job (Star Tribune)
Hardware Store Fires County GOP Chair Over Anti-Muslim Comments (Pioneer Press)

“We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and the widespread condemnation of Big Stone County GOP Chair Jack Whitley's bigoted comments,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya. “The people of Big Stone County and the state of Minnesota have made it clear that hatred and bigotry are not welcome in their community. They also sent an important message to the larger society that it is not okay to malign an entire group of people or incite violence against them.”

Saroya said CAIR-MN is in contact with the MN GOP to discuss steps to help mitigate damage caused by the controversy. CAIR-MN has also invited Whitley to meet with Minnesota Muslims to engage in dialogue and promote mutual understanding.

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-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya, 612-327-6700, lsaroya@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

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