American Muslims Question GOP Silence on VA Representatives Islamophobic Remarks


Posted Dec 22, 2006      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/21/06) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on state and national GOP leaders to repudiate anti-Muslim remarks made by a Republican congressman in Virginia.

In a recent letter to constituents, Rep. Virgil Goode slammed the planned use of a Quran for the ceremonial swearing-in of Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress. (No religious texts of any kind are used for the official swearing-in ceremony.) Goode also decried the growth of the American Muslim community and expressed concern that “many more Muslims” may be elected to public office.

SEE: Va. Lawmaker’s Remarks on Muslims Criticized (Washington Post)

“We are deeply troubled by the failure of state and national GOP leaders to clearly distance themselves from Representative Goode’s intolerant remarks,” said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor. He said Republican leaders in Virginia should have learned a lesson in tolerance from the controversy over Senator George Allen’s “macaca” episode.

Saylor said incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Goode’s remarks “offensive.” New Jersey Democrat Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. yesterday urged Goode to reach out to Muslims in Virginia and “to dispel misconceptions instead of promoting them.”

In a statement issued today, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) said: “The seven million Muslim-Americans living in the U.S. are an integral part of American society. Our country is a melting pot of different cultures and beliefs. This diversity is a strength, not a weakness. . .Bringing more Muslim-Americans into the political process is a goal, not something to be avoided.”

No similar statements have come from GOP leaders. CAIR has offered to arrange a meeting between Goode and Virginia Muslims.

SEE: Congressman Criticizes Election of Muslim (New York Times)

The controversy over Representative-elect Ellison’s use of the Quran for the ceremonial oath began with a recent commentary by Dennis Prager, a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, in which he wrote that swearing an oath on the Quran “undermines American civilization.” CAIR has asked that Prager be removed from the taxpayer-supported council.

SEE: Prager’s Views ‘Antithetical to the Mission of the Museum’ (Forward)
Holocaust Board Distances Itself from Member Comments on Ellison (AP)

CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 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.