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‘Religious Freedom’ Rep Says No to Muslims’ Rights in Military

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/24/14) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to investigate one of its own members for seeking to deny religious rights to Muslim military personnel.

USCIRF Vice Chair Zuhdi Jasser appeared on Fox News to speak out against the Pentagon's recent broadening of religious rights for minority faiths. While supporting those broadened rights for Sikhs and Jews, Jasser decried the expanded rights as they applied to American Muslims. He claimed the Obama administration is “bending over backwards for political correctness,” which will lead to what he called “litigation jihad.”

SEE: Fox Fears That Ensuring Religious Freedom in The Military Degrades Core Values

In a letter to USCIRF Chairman Dr. Robert P. George, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part:

“We are writing today to request that you initiate an investigation of USCIRF Vice Chair Dr. Zuhdi Jasser for seeking to deny religious rights to Muslim military personnel. Given his position on this and other issues regarding restricting Muslims' rights domestically, we find it difficult to imagine he can represent our nation's interest in protecting minority religions internationally with any integrity. . .Dr. Jasser's biased and agenda-driven views on religious accommodation are contemptuous of the First Amendment freedoms we all hold dear.”

CAIR: Pentagon Clarifies Rules on Beards, Turbans for Muslim and Sikh Service Members (Washington Post)

CAIR recently published a major report, “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States,” which identifies 37 organizations dedicated to promoting the type of anti-Islam prejudice that can lead to bias-motivated incidents targeting American Muslims.

Jasser was featured in that report as an enabler of anti-Muslim bigotry. The report noted that Jasser heads a group that “applauded” an amendment to Oklahoma's state Constitution that would have implemented state-sponsored discrimination against Islam.

Jasser also narrated “The Third Jihad,” a propaganda film created by the Clarion Fund, which depicts Muslims as inherently violent and seeking world domination. Following revelations that the film was shown as part of training at the New York Police Department, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called it “wacky” and “objectionable.”

In 2012, a broad national coalition of 64 organizations and individuals sent a letter to Senators Inouye, McConnell and Durbin expressing “deep concern” at the appointment of Zuhdi Jasser to USCIRF.

SEE: Muslims Call New Religious Freedom Appointee a 'Puppet' for Islam Foes (Religion News Service)
Zuhdi Jasser to NYPD: Thanks for Spying on Us (Mother Jones)

In that letter, the coalition asked that Jasser's appointment be rescinded and noted that Jasser believes “operationally, Islam is not peaceful,” supports measures that threaten and diminish religious freedoms within the United States, “applauded” an anti-Islam amendment to Oklahoma's constitution, opposed the constitutionally-protected construction of a Muslim community center in lower Manhattan, supported the New York Police Department's blanket surveillance of Muslims based on religion rather than evidence or suspicion of wrongdoing, and that he has extensive ties to virulently anti-Muslim groups and individual Islamophobes.

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 Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, 

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