(LOS ANGELES, CA, 3/18/10) — The Muslim American Homeland Security Congress (MAHSC) today commended Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca for his courageous and principled stand in support of mainstream American Muslims and their organizations, and for his rejection of attempts to marginalize the Islamic community.
At a Wednesday hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Sheriff Baca testified:
“Americans, particularly elected officials, should not claim Islam supports terrorism. This is counter-productive to trust. It plays into the terrorist strategy that the West is against Islam. At this time in our history, with billions of dollars being spent on a war against terror, our nation should ask that all Americans follow President Obama’s example and be the instrument of goodwill to Muslims throughout the world.
“It is my belief that the average American has the potential to be our best ambassador of goodwill. However, senators, members of congress, governors, mayors, boards of supervisors, sheriffs, police chiefs, scholars, scientists, and laborers and their leaders must set the example with a desire to visit mosques and communicate with Muslims, worldwide, in the quest of better understanding Islam. Extremists are what they are, but they cannot thrive or survive in a world that is not indifferent.”
During the hearing, Rep. Mark Souder (R-Indiana) raised doubts about Sheriff Baca’s support for Israel and questioned him about his working relationship with one of the leading American Muslim organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and his attendance at 10 CAIR fundraisers.
Sheriff Baca responded: “And I’ll be there 10 more times.”
After citing his considerable service to the country, Sheriff Baca told Rep. Souder: “…for you to associate me somehow through some circuitous attack on CAIR, is not only inappropriate, it is un-American.”
After the hearing, Sheriff Baca said: “…when a member of Congress is that misinformed, you gotta question whether or not they understand what their constitutional obligations are when it comes to public safety.”
SEE: LA County Sheriff Baca in U.S. House Shouting Match
“We applaud Sheriff Baca’s courageous efforts in standing up for American Muslims and American values and refusing to play politics with our national security,” said the Chair of MAHSC, Dafer Dakhil. “We further urge the Department of Homeland Security and Congress to work with the sheriff of the largest county in the United States in creating effective partnerships between American Muslims and law enforcement agencies to protect our nation.”
“Sheriff Baca is our hero for standing up against the McCarthyism of our time,” said MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati.
“Sheriff Baca defended his work with the Muslim community and CAIR and refused to submit to the pressure and intimidation of those who wish to marginalize and defame our community,” said CAIR-Greater Los Angeles Area Executive Director Hussam Ayloush.
MAHSC leaders expressed concerns about lawmakers who inject their Islamophobic and narrow-minded fanatical ideologies to influence policies, especially on issues of national security.
In 2007, an Indiana newspaper quoted Rep. Souder as saying of Islam, “fundamentally, it’s wrong,” and “I find their religion offensive.”
“The fundamentals of their religion is they want to kill Jews and wipe them off the face of the earth and any other allies. I simply am not going to praise a religion that believes that. I believe Jews are God’s chosen people,” Souder said. “It’s fundamental in their faith, from the very beginning, that Jews are dogs and should be wiped from the face of the earth,” Souder added.
SEE: Congress Wasting Precious Time
In a 2004 PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly interview, Rep. Souder, who also describes himself as “more really neocon, even though I am an evangelical,” said about Israel:
“The bottom line is, they’re God’s chosen people. He’s going to stand with them. The question is: Are we going to stand with them? Because God’s going to stand with them.”
SEE: INTERVIEW: Congressman Mark Souder
MAHSC was founded in 2006 by Los Angeles Area Muslim leaders to build an effective partnership between the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and American Muslims and to help strengthen our country’s security.
MAHSC board members are: Bilal Islamic Center, CAIR, COPAA, IMAN Center, Islamic Center of Hawthorne, Islamic Center of Reseda, Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley, Islamic Center of South Bay, Islamic Center of Southern California, Islamic Shura Council, MAS, MPAC, and Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation.
MAHSC is holding a town hall meeting with Sheriff Baca on March 23. More information is available here.
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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847, firstname.lastname@example.org; MPAC Communications Director Edina Lekovic, (213) 383-3443, email@example.com