(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/29/09) – A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy group today issued an open letter to President Obama asking him to use his anticipated announcement of a troop build-up in Afghanistan to address allegations that U.S. personnel abused Afghan detainees.
SEE: 2 Afghans Allege Abuse at U.S. Site (Wash. Post)
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also urged the president to use his Tuesday address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to speak out against the decision by Swiss voters to ban construction of minarets, a move that is a violation of religious freedom and a breach of international law.
SEE: Swiss Voters Back Ban on Minarets (BBC)
In an open letter to President Obama, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote:
“As you prepare to address the nation on the conflict in Afghanistan, I urge you to seek peace and reconciliation, not escalation.
“When you took office, you clearly stated that torture and abuse of detainees would no longer be permitted. These new reports of prisoner abuse at a secret interrogation facility in Afghanistan sound eerily similar to those that so tarnished our nation’s image and interests in recent years. I ask you to address this important issue when you speak to the nation on Tuesday.
“I also urge you to use the opportunity presented by your prime-time address to repudiate the decision of Swiss voters to deny Muslims in that nation the same religious rights granted to citizens of other faiths. Our nation’s silence on this flagrant denial of religious freedom would send a very negative message throughout the Muslim world, which must improve its own record on religious rights.
“Any additional military personnel sent to Afghanistan will have little impact if the Afghan people see the United States violating human rights or offering even tacit support to the denial of religious freedoms.”
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, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787 or 202-341-4171, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org