(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/11/16)Â â€“ TheÂ Council on American-Islamic RelationsÂ (CAIR), the nationâ€™s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today urged President Obama to offer support for the American Muslim community during his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday.
[NOTE: CAIR-SFBA Government Relations Coordinator Sameena Usman will attend the State of the Union as a guest of Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and CAIR-FL Chief Operations Officer Nezar Hamze will attend as a guest of Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL).]
In a letter sent today to the president, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part:
â€œI urge you to offer a strong defense of our nationâ€™s longstanding traditions of religious inclusion and mutual respect at a time when the forces of division and polarization seem to dominate. As one writer noted recently, there has never been an America without Muslims.
â€œCAIR has received more reports about acts of Islamophobic violence, bullying, threats, intimidation, and discrimination targeting American Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslim) and Islamic institutions during the past year than during any other period of time since the 9/11 terror attacks.
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â€œThat backlash has been exacerbated by inaccurate and inflammatory Islamophobic statements by public figures like Donald Trump, Ben Carson and others. These intolerant views echo a dark period of history that should be taken as a lesson, not a license.
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â€œWe are pleased that a number of elected officials have announced plans to invite American Muslims to attend the State of the Union address and hope those in attendance will hear a defense of their civil rights and their right to civic participation.
â€œI respectfully request that you use the opportunity provided by the State of the Union address to recognize the many positive contributions American Muslims have made and continue to make to our society, to push back against rising anti-Muslim intolerance and to set a positive tone by offering support to American Muslims during a time when they feel under siege by growing hatred and attacks.
â€œThe growth of Islamophobia and racism harms not only American Muslims, it impacts Americans of all faiths and backgrounds through the corrosive effect it has on national unity.â€
Last month, CAIR welcomed President Obamaâ€™s rejection of Islamophobia during a prime-time address to the nation on his plans to combat terrorism and to defeat ISIS.
In that address, the president repudiated the view that there should be a war on Islam, acknowledged that the vast majority of the victims of terrorism are Muslims and that extremists are a â€œtiny fractionâ€ of Muslims worldwide, and rejected both discrimination against American Muslims and a religious test for those admitted to this country.
President Obama concluded his statement against Islamophobia by saying: “Muslim Americans are our friends and neighbors, our coworkers, our sports heroes, and yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.â€
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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 Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,Â firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Nabeelah Naeem, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org