(Washington, D.C., 3/26/13) — The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today said the Tennessee state legislators who sponsored an anti-Islam bill in 2011 sunk to a new low when they raised concerns that a mop sink in the state capitol building might actually be a facility for Muslim religious ablutions.
According to the Associated Press, State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) asked Senate Clerk Russell Humphrey whether there was religious significance to the floor-level sink in a men's restroom. Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley described the function of the sink in response to media inquiries, saying: “It is, in layman's terms, a mop sink.”
Ketron said he asked about the sink after the issue was raised by Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma). Matheny later denied involvement.
Ketron and Matheny were the sponsors of identical anti-Islam bills that became law in Tennessee in 2011. While the bill's final language was not specific to any religion, Methany and Ketron's original language made it illegal for two or more people to observe together almost every mainstream practice in Islam, including prayer.
In a statement, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper said:
“'Sink-Gate' shows the ridiculous depths to which paranoid extremists will sink to manufacture anti-Muslim hysteria based on bizarre and non-existent controversies. We urge Tennesseans to speak out against this latest form of irrational anti-Muslim hate mongering and to reaffirm respect for religious diversity and tolerance.”
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 National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org