(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/30/15) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nationâ€™s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today said it will call on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the civil rights implications of â€œraw anti-Muslim bigotryâ€ expressed by a Tennessee sheriff who claims President Obama is a Muslim whoÂ â€œbelongs to the Muslim Brotherhoodâ€Â and saysÂ he plans to monitor law-abiding members of the local Muslim community.
Sevier County Sheriff Ron SealsÂ recently told a local Tea Party meeting that his officers contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after seeing what they viewed as suspicious behavior at a shopping center. That comment, made at a meeting in the Sevier County Courthouse, was prompted by an audience memberâ€™s statement about â€œwomen in burqas spending long periods of time in shops without making purchases.â€
An official at the shopping center said she was not aware of any complaints of loitering customers.
The speech and questions from the audience included frequent references to Muslim residents or visitors to the county.
One audience member falsely claimed the â€œfirst page of the Koran (Islamâ€™s holy text)â€ says â€œyou will believe in Islam, either voluntarily or by force, or weâ€™re going to kill you.â€ That person added that â€œthere is no such thing as a modern, good Muslim.â€
That same person claimed that a church in Dayton, Ohio, is being protected by the FBI because of â€œpeople in burqas acting aggressively toward the congregation.â€Â
The audience member continued: â€œHereâ€™s the important part that I wanted to make you aware of. . .you wonâ€™t see this on the Internet. The FBI said this is happening all over the country. Theyâ€™re going into churches, theyâ€™re being aggressive, theyâ€™re being controversial, and the government is not allowing this to be reported anywhere. Theyâ€™re squashing it because theyâ€™re Muslims and theyâ€™re Islamic terrorists, is what they are.â€Â â€œObamaâ€™s relatives,â€Â someone in the audience responded.Â
Sherriff Seals said Sevier County churches would be protected. â€œA lot of the churches here. . .most churches in Sevier County. . .theyâ€™ve got people thatâ€™s in there thatâ€™s armed,â€ said Seals.Â â€œAs you all know, our president is Muslim. I donâ€™t care what he says. He belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood. I donâ€™t care what he says. Iâ€™m a firm believer of that.â€
When asked if the police monitor a specific group local Muslims who offer Friday prayers and â€œhave been reported to be aggressive in the local restaurants,â€ Seals said. â€œI didnâ€™t know that they were up there. What we have to do is, identify who they are and then pass it along.â€
â€œThe views expressed by Sheriff Seals and the audience members are raw anti-Muslim bigotry and, while protected by the First Amendment, indicate that the sheriff would be incapable of treating Muslim residents of his county equally under the law,â€ saidÂ CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.Â â€œWe will urge the U.S. Department of Justice and relevant state agencies to investigate the civil rights implications of the sheriffâ€™s inaccurate, extremist and un-American views.â€
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, E-Mail:firstname.lastname@example.org