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GOP Rep Pressures FBI for ‘Payback’ Against Muslim Civil Rights Group

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/12/09)- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) charged today that a Virginia member of the U.S. House of Representatives has “abused his office” by seeking to pressure the FBI to produce negative information about the Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.
In a letter delivered to the FBI on Monday, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) said he is “deeply disappointed” in the agency’s “insufficient response” to an earlier letter apparently seeking negative information based on smears against CAIR by Internet Muslim-bashers like Steven Emerson. Emerson was recently named one of Fairness & Accuracy in Media’s “dirty dozen” of Islamophobes. articles on the controversy have been based on Emerson’s online attacks on CAIR.
CAIR has been exposing Emerson’s Islamophobic rhetoric since publishing a point-by-point refutation of his 1994 “Jihad in America” video.
Wolf seemed to threaten the FBI’s budget unless he received the type of negative response he seeks. He wrote: “Having resumed a leadership role this year as ranking member on the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations subcommittee, it is important to me that the FBI provide timely and detailed responses.”
Wolf’s attempt to obtain negative information to be used against CAIR may stem from that group’s long history of criticism of the Virginia congressman’s political stances.
“It appears that Congressman Wolf is seeking payback for all the times CAIR and American Muslims have challenged his political positions using their constitutionally-protected right to petition elected representatives,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “It is unfortunate that Wolf has abused his office to pressure a government agency to target those he obviously views as political opponents. Public office should be used to serve the people, not to pursue personal vendettas.”
SEE: Our View: No Religious Test for Sen. Shaw or CAIR

Awad cited the numerous times CAIR “butted heads” with Wolf over the past 12 years.
In 1997, CAIR asked members of the American Muslim community to contact Wolf about his “Freedom from Religious Persecution Act,” which it said seemed to ignore the persecution of Muslims. Also that year, CAIR asked Muslims to contact Wolf, then chairman of the Transportation and Related Agencies Subcommittee, to raise questions about passenger profiling and about how the civil liberties of all travelers could be guaranteed.
In 1998, CAIR asked Muslims to contact leaders of a House-Senate conference committee and urge them to amend or eliminate new legislation that would create a National Commission on Terrorism. Wolf introduced the legislation to create the commission.
CAIR expressed concern about the objectivity of the proposed commission because of “Wolf’s legislative history, his apparent focus on Islam and Muslims and the backgrounds of several individuals proposed as members of the commission.” The council said that a number of those put forward as possible commission members were “associates of Muslim bashers who have targeted the American Muslim community as a threat to this society.”
In 1999, CAIR called on the American Muslim community to defend a Muslim appointee to Wolf’s National Commission on Terrorism by Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO). The appointee, Salam al-Marayati, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, was under attack by pro-Israel groups. A New York Post editorial attacking the appointment referred to “a list of public statements compiled by terrorism expert Steven Emerson,” the same Muslim-basher now smearing CAIR.
In 2001, CAIR challenged a decision by Wolf’s office to deny the right of an American Muslim leader of Sudanese heritage to attend a meeting to discuss policy toward Sudan on Capitol Hill. That leader, who was and is the Imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Herndon, Va., was a resident of Wolf’s district.
In 2006, CAIR called on “Muslims and other people of conscience in Northern Virginia” to contact Wolf to urge him to repudiate anti-Muslim remarks by his colleague Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA). Goode was critical of the planned use of a Quran for the ceremonial swearing-in of Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:


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