Muslim civil rights group urges senate committee to question AG nominee on anti-Muslim remarks, associations with hate groups, respect for civil rights
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/5/17)Â â€“ The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nationâ€™s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced its opposition to the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as attorney general of the United States.
â€œSenator Sessionsâ€™ past statements and troubling views on issues impacting American Muslims and other minority communities make him unfit to serve as attorney general,â€ saidÂ CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Awad said CAIR is also calling on all Americans to urge members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to question Sen. Sessions about his past anti-Muslim statements, current associations with anti-Muslim hate groups and his views on a number of civil rights issues during next weekâ€™s confirmation hearing.
TAKE ACTION: See Phone Numbers and Call Script Below
CAIR has already expressed its concerns to members of the committee, and now the Washington-based civil rights organization is urging community members to do the same by contacting all members of that committee to urge that they question Sen. Sessions about the following issues of concern:
1.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Question Sen. Sessions on His Support for Trumpâ€™s Religious Test to Ban Muslims Traveling to the United Â Â Â Â Â Â States
In December 2015, Sessions voted against and publicly lashed out at aÂ nonbindingÂ amendment seeking to prevent a religious litmus test for people entering into the United States. The amendment had beenÂ offered by ranking Senate Judiciary Committee Member SenatorÂ Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
During that vote,Â Session said: â€œMany people are radicalized after they enter. How do we screen for that possibility, if we cannot even ask about an applicant's views on religion? Would we forbid questions about politics? Or theology?â€
Following the horrific shooting at an Orlando nightclub Sessions also warned Americans onÂ FOX News SundayÂ in June 2016 to â€œslow downâ€ on foreign born admissions into the United States, particularly those with Islamic backgrounds. â€œItâ€™s a real part of the threat that we face and if we canâ€™t address it openly and directly and say directly that there is an extremist element within Islam thatâ€™s dangerous to the world and has to be confronted.â€
2.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Question Sen. Sessions About Upholding the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)
In the past 10 years, the DOJ has opened 51 Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons act (RLUIPA) investigations, filed seven lawsuits under RLUIPAâ€™s land-use provisions and participated in 40 privately filed lawsuits. A number of these cases have been in support of the right of religious minorities, including Christians, Jews, Muslim, and Sikh communities. RLUIPA protects individuals, houses of worship, and other religious institutions from discrimination in zoning and landmarking laws.
In December 2016, the Center for Security Policy published Â â€œa practical primer for assessing mosque land use applicationsâ€ entitled Mosques in America: A Guide to Accountable Permit Hearings and Continuing Citizen Oversight. Â Given Sen. Sessions close associations with the Center for Security Policy, CAIR questions Sessions ability as Attorney General to support the right of American Muslims to construct houses of worship in the same manner one would expect him to support other religious communities.
3. Question Sen. Sessions Over His Association with Anti-Muslim Hate GroupsÂ
In 2015, Sen. Sessions accepted the â€œKeeper of the Flameâ€ award from the anti-Muslim hate groupÂ Center for Security Policy, whose leader Frank Gaffney has asserted his belief in the conspiracy theory thatÂ President Obama is Muslim, writingÂ â€œâ€¦there is mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself.â€
The FBI said a Center for Security Policy report is based on â€œoutdated informationâ€ and â€œoverstatedâ€ any threat Muslim observances pose to America.
Sen. Sessions has also accepted the â€œAnnie Taylor Awardâ€ in 2014 from the anti-Muslim hate group theÂ David Horwitz Freedom CenterÂ and attended the groupâ€™s annual â€œRestoration Weekendâ€ Florida retreat events in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks hate movements in the United States, labelsÂ David Horowitz â€œthe godfatherÂ of the modern anti-Muslim movement.â€
4. Question Why Sen. Sessions Sent a Letter to the National Endowment for the HumanitiesÂ Demanding Their Justification for Funding the â€œMuslim Journeys Bookshelfâ€ Program
In October 2013, Sen. Sessions asÂ Ranking Member of the Senate Budget CommitteeÂ sent a letterÂ to theÂ National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in part demanding a justification for why the NEH was â€œpromotingâ€ Islamic cultures at the expense of Christian and Jewish cultures.
The purpose of NEHâ€™sÂ Muslim JourneysÂ program is to â€œoffering resources for exploring new and diverse perspectives on the people, places, histories, beliefs, and cultures of Muslims in the United States and around the world.â€
5. Question Sen. Sessions About Allegations of Racist Comments
In 1986, Sen. Sessions was accused of making racist comments while serving as a U.S. attorney in Alabama, including calling an African-American assistant U.S. attorney “boy.â€ Sessions has called the NAACP and the ACLU â€œun-Americanâ€ and â€œcommunist-inspired.â€
6. Question Sen. Sessions About Police Reform, Voting Rights, Civil Rights
Sen. Sessions should also be questioned about his views on other critical issues such as police-involved shootings, protection of voting rights, enforcement of hate crimes laws, discrimination in education, and immigration reform.
TAKE ACTION TODAY AND CALL MEMBERS OF THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEEÂ
â€œHello, my name is and I am calling to urge Senator to oppose the confirmation of Attorney General Nominee Senator Jeff Sessions and to strongly question him about his past anti-Muslim statements and current associations with anti-Muslim hate groups as well as alleged racist remarks during next weekâ€™s confirmation hearing taking place Tuesday, January 10.
Specifically, I urge the Senator to question Sen. Sessions about:
- His support for President-elect Trumpâ€™s religious test to ban Muslim travels to U.S.
- Whether or not he would uphold the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)
- His association and acceptance of awards from the anti-Muslim hate groups Center for Security Policy and David Horwitz Freedom Center.
- As Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, his demanding that the National Endowment for the Humanities justify why it supported educational programs about Muslims in the U.S.
- Allegations over his calling an African-American assistant U.S. attorney “boyâ€ and him calling the NAACP and the ACLU â€œun-Americanâ€ and â€œcommunist-inspired.â€
- His views on other critical issues such as police-involved shootings, protection of voting rights, enforcement of hate crimes laws, discrimination in education, and immigration reform.
There are millions of American Muslims in the United States making innumerable contributions to our nationâ€™s cultural fabric and economic well-being. The civil rights of all persons in the U.S., including Muslims, should be protected and preserved by the next attorney general.â€
Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA): (202) 224-3744
Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT): (202) 224-4242
Committee Membership (ordered by state)
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ): (202) 224-4521
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): (202) 224-3841
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): (202) 224-2823
Senator Christopher A. Coons (D-DE): (202) 224-5042
Senator David Perdue (R-GA): (202) 224-3521
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): (202) 224-2152
Senator David Vitter (R-LA): (202) 224-4623
Senator Thom TillisÂ (R-NC): (202) 224-6342
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): (202) 224-3244
Senator Al Franken (D-MN): (202) 224-5641Â
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY): (202) 224-6542
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): (202) 224-2921
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX): (202) 224-5922
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX): (202) 224-2934
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC): (202) 224-5972
Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT): (202) 224-5251
Senator Michael S. Lee (R-UT): (202) 224-5444
If you have difficulty reaching senate offices using these numbers, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be transferred.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, fomentar el diÃ¡logo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
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