(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/6/2008) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said today that the resignation of a recently-appointed Muslim community liaison for Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is symptomatic of a nationwide effort by Islamophobes who seek to deny Muslims access to the political process.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said it is “ironic” that Chicago attorney Mazen Asbahi resigned following Internet attacks on his ties to the mainstream Muslim community, an attribute that would seem to be a requirement for his position.
SEE: Obama Muslim Coordinator Resigns (Washington Post)
“Muslim-bashers play a ‘six degrees of separation’ game of guilt by association with any Muslim who dares to engage in positive social or political activism,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR’s Chicago chapter. “As Americans, we should not allow intolerant and agenda-driven extremists to succeed in their tactics of exclusion based on smears and mischaracterizations of leaders or institutions at the forefront of civic engagement.”
He said CAIR chapters nationwide promote Muslim voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote campaigns. Rehab added that CAIR maintains a website devoted entirely to encourage American Muslim political participation.
The CAIR election site offers the latest news and opinions relating to Muslims and elections nationwide. It also outlines positions of the presidential candidates, provides examples of anti-Muslim rhetoric from candidates for all levels of public office and links to the websites of Muslims running for public office.
SEE: CAIR 2008 Elections Website
Rehab also noted Muslims’ concern over recent congressional hearings at which Islamophobic speakers, including the controversial self-described “terrorism expert” Steven Emerson, urged government officials to avoid dealing with mainstream American Muslim groups, but failed to name any credible alternatives.
For background on Emerson’s history of anti-Muslim bias, see: “Steven Emerson’s Crusade” (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting)
He suggested that the rise in rhetorical attacks on Islamic leaders and institutions may be the result of increasing Muslim political activism and involvement.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 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.
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CONTACT: CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857; CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: email@example.com