(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/15/2008) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group is calling on Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama to repudiate anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias during tonight’s final presidential debate.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says American Muslims and Arab-Americans are increasingly concerned about the rising level of religious and ethnic bias in political campaigns and in American society.
As examples of this bias, CAIR cited a recent controversy over Sen. McCain’s declaration that his opponent is a “decent guy” after a campaign rally participant called Sen. Obama an “Arab.” The Washington-based group also noted the false claim that the Illinois senator is a Muslim and an incident in which Muslim women wearing Islamic headscarves were barred from an Obama rally photo opportunity in Michigan.
In other incidents, a Muslim candidate for a California city council reported a phoned death threat after being “smeared” by a council member’s Islamophobic remarks and a pastor at a McCain campaign event said “there are millions of people around this world praying to their God – whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah – that his opponent wins…And Lord I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens.” And in New York, some ballots were printed with the name “Barack Osama.”
American Muslims are particularly concerned about the recent distribution of 28 million anti-Muslim DVDs to voters in presidential swing states nationwide.
SEE: CAIR: Israel-Based Group Behind Distribution of Anti-Muslim DVD (CNN Video)
SEE ALSO: Obsession with Hate
“We urge both Senator McCain and Senator Obama to use tonight’s debate to speak out against anti-Muslim and anti-Arab stereotyping and bias in our society,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “No candidate benefits by throwing swing voters like American Muslims and Arab-Americans under the campaign bus.”
“This election has uncovered disturbing strains of bigotry and intolerance that should be addressed by anyone who seek to lead our nation,” said Awad. He added that fear-mongering using faith and ethnicity should never be an acceptable way to sway public opinion.
In September, CAIR released its annual report on the status of American Muslim civil rights. That report, called “Without Fear of Discrimination,” outlined 2,652 incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment in 2007.
To view the entire report, click here.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties 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 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: email@example.com