Elected Representatives & Government Officials Who HAVE Questioned Islamophobia

Elected Representatives & Government Officials Who HAVE Questioned Islamophobia

by Sheila Musaji

 

REGARDING THE CORDOBA HOUSE CONTROVERSY

Mayor Bloomberg has consistently been the strongest voice among America’s political leadership speaking out bravely and standing for the Constitution and religious freedom.  He said “Anybody who wants to build a house of worship in this city, we’d love to do it,” he said. “They have to comply with the zoning laws. In this case, I think the community board’s already been consulted and they overwhelmingly like the idea.” 6/10   Mayor Bloomberg has just reminded us all of what is special about our country, the United States.  His speech is a must read for anyone who loves America and honors its’ founding principles.  8/3/10

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist supports the center.

Democrats who have spoken out in support are listed here.  It is heartening to know that some politicians remember that they represent all of the people, unlike those who are using this controversy for political gain.

Dick Durbin supports the center.

NYC politicians gathered to denounce Tea Party leader Mark Williams and support a mosque and community center planned near ground zero. “ The politicians were responding to Williams’ blog rant against the mosque in which he said Muslims worshipped a “monkey god.”  “His spewing of racial hatred reminds me…of Adolph Hitler,” Borough President Scott Stringer said at Thursday’s press conference. “We reject him. We reject his bigotry.”  Stringer and other politicians stood together outside the former Burlington Coat Factory building on Park Place, where the Cordoba Initiative hopes to build a $100 million, 13-story community center with Islamic, interfaith and secular programming, similar to the 92nd Street Y.  ...  “This is precisely where this kind of center for peace and place of worship should rise up,” City Comptroller John Liu said.  In addition to Liu and Stringer, State Sen. Daniel Squadron, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Councilman Robert Jackson, the Council’s sole Muslim, all spoke in favor of the plans.”  More on those for and against here.

Sen. Orrin Hatch stands up for center  


REGARDING OTHER CONTROVERSIES


New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie defended his decision to nominate a Muslim judge to the state Superior Court against conservative critics who warned that the new judge will implement Sharia law. The notoriously blunt-spoken Christie calling their fears “crap” and “crazy.”  Chris Moody reports

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) held a hearing titled “Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims”.  There were four witnesses called to testify Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington; legal advocate Farhana Khera, former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee that dealt with civil rights and religious profiling; Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez; and law school dean Alex Acosta, former assistant attorney general for civil rights under George W. Bush.  The hearing focused on the Constitution, the First Amendment, the Bill of Rights, particularly religious freedom.  Bigotry and hate crimes were also discussed, but were secondary to the focus of the hearings clearly expressed in the title.  More here.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has consistently stood his ground  against anti-Muslim bigotry.

Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins, (R-Maine), chair and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee are highly critical of the counter-terrorism training provided to local law enforcement personnel throughout the U.S. who serve as first responders in the war against terrorism. In a strongly worded letter written to Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder on March 29, 2011, Lieberman and Collins decried the waste of federal funds “being spent on ineffective or poor counter-terrorism training” which they contend is both inaccurate and often inflammatory.” …”We are concerned that at best, the quality of training law enforcement personnel receive is inconsistent, and at worst, is actually detrimental to our efforts to combat homegrown terrorism.” The Examiner

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell finally asked a question that has not been asked often enough in the US Presidential Campaign—Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? “The answer’s no,” he continued “that’s not America.”  Source

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), the chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, blasted Republican accusations that CAIR has sent interns to Capitol Hill to spy on the U.S. government and advance a radical Islamist agenda.  At the heart of this issue is whether or not diverse populations are given a fair shot at representing their legitimate political interests in Congress, either as interns, as staff or as Members.  The climate in Congress is clearly not as conducive as it should be in encouraging democratic representation, as exemplified by recent fear-rousing antics.As a result of the innumerous obstacles facing Muslim-Americans in this post-9/11 environment, their political participation is stifled and often stymied.  More channels for Muslim participation are sorely needed, as well as a friendlier climate that embraces, not discourages, diversity.  These fallacious allegations implicate the existence of a society still struggling with anti-Muslim sentiment.  My Muslim colleagues in the House of Representatives, along with the highly qualified, patriotic and committed Muslim staffers and interns that have worked with my office and with CAPAC, contribute mightily to our democratic process. Any slander against these fellow patriots is slander against democracy and religious freedom.  Source


 

REGARDING THE KING HEARINGS

Sadly, Rep. Peter King decided to go ahead with the hearings titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.”  He has refused to consider expanding the scope of the hearings.  Background information on King and these hearings available HERE

I watched the entire hearing today on CSPAN and was particularly interested in the bi-partisan split between various Congresspeople in attendance.

Many of our elected representatives and government officials have shown themselves to have very negative attitudes towards Islam and Muslims, and we have collected statements by such individuals HERE.  In today’s hearings those who expressed support for the hearings and their scope were:  Representatives:  Michael McCaul (R-TX), Cooper (R-TN), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Dan Lungren (R-CA), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Paul Broun (R-GA), Joe Walsh (IL), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Scott Rigell (R-VA, Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Thomas Marino (R-PA), Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Mike Rogers (R-AL).  Many of these individuals are listed in our collection of bigoted statements.

Shame on these individuals, even those who assured us that they have “Muslim friends”, or who said requesting legal counsel was unecessary.

It is important to focus on those among our elected representatives and government officials who have defended the American Muslim community.


THOSE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY DURING THE KING HEARINGS:

Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN)

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) criticized the hearing as “theater” and the congressional equivalent of “reality TV.” She said she was “appalled” by the idea that “we have not gotten to a substantive conversation about how we define terrorism, how we define the whole idea of radicalization.”

Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI)  “My father, who cared for me, who loved me, was a Muslim. ... Most importantly, what I remember was that his love for people was based in his faith in God. In order for us to make sure that 9/11 never, ever happens again, I urge all of us as members of Congress to make our decisions based on sound intelligence, not on profiling, not on stereotyping, which could lead and fuel more hatred and more bigotry.” 

Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) one of those who made a full statement about the hearings which is available HERE and which says in part I believe this may well be the very first Congressional hearing in which an entire religious community is being investigated as enemies of our nation because of the actions of a few.  This is analogous to suggesting that Christianity is a threat to American children because a few individuals who call themselves Christian are pedophiles.  Proceeding down the path charted by this investigation undermines our national security.

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.),  said that Muslims are “a community that demagogues continue to mischaracterize and misrepresent, to the detriment of all of us.”  “This hearing must not be permitted to recall the evils of McCarthyism and the divisiveness and ill-will it created amongst our people,” he said. He added that he wanted to make “unequivocally clear for the record: Islam is not a religion of division and intolerance, but a religion that values diversity and understanding.”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) made a full statement for the hearings available HERE which said in part I will make three points today.  First, violent extremism is a serious concern to all Americans, and is the legitimate business of this Committee.  Second, this Committee’s approach to violent extremism is contrary to American values, and threatens our security.  Finally, we need increased understanding and engagement with Muslim American communities to keep America safe.  You can see a video of Rep. Ellison’s emotional testimony HERE

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-CA) held up the Constitution and said “I will tell you today that this breathing document is in pain”, and that the hearing “was an outrage”  Video of Sheila Jackson Lee’s testimony HERE

Rep. Patrick Meehan (D-PA)

Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA)  “I believe the narrow focus of this hearing is discriminatory, and it is an abuse of power.” 

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA)  said that it worried him that people who had never been victims of profiling “are quick to suggest that that is a legitimate crime-fighting tool when it’s irresponsible and not the smartest way to fight crime.”

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)  “We are seeing a very skewed discussion. While I think these anecdotes are interesting, I don’t believe these are experts.” 

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) who stressed that the right to an attorney when being questioned by law enforcement is an important right.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s ranking member, said there is a “school of thought that we ought to profile all Muslims in America.” and by focusing specifically on Islamic radicalism, “you run the risk of profiling law-abiding citizens in this country who just happen to be Muslim.”  “As members of Congress, our words transcend this hearing room. We must be vigilant that our words and our actions do not inflame,” he said. “Acknowledgment of an obligation to be responsible does not equal political correctness.”  Thompson cautioned that as the country is waging two wars, “our words and actions cannot be used to endanger our soldiers.”  “I have heard concerns that today’s hearings will stoke a climate of fear and distrust in the Muslim community,” he continued. “It may also increase fear and distrust of the Muslim community. For law enforcement officials, outreach and cooperation may become more difficult.”


THOSE WHO HAVE SPOKEN OUT PRIOR TO THESE HEARINGS:

State Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) said in part The committee’s witch hunt for Muslim radicals will do little to make our nation safer. That’s because it chose to target Muslims without evidence that there is a legitimate threat. The result is a conviction in the trial of the public arena, giving some in our society a chance to deepen their prejudices against Muslims.

Rep. Michael M. Honda (D-Calif.) wrote an article Hearings on Muslim Americans is un-American

My father loved this country and proudly served in the U.S. Military Intelligence Service. Yet when I was a young child during World War II, we were confined for several years at Camp Amache, an internment camp in southeast Colorado, simply because we were of Japanese ancestry. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese Americans were unjustly placed under scrutiny and suspicion because few in Washington were brave enough to say “no.” The decision to incarcerate, according to a report by the congressionally mandated Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, was based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”

Now, decades later, something similarly sinister is returning to our country. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is organizing congressional hearings on Muslim Americans. These hearings are scheduled to take place within the House Homeland Security Committee.

Rep. King’s intent seems clear: To cast suspicion upon all Muslim Americans and to stoke the fires of anti-Muslim prejudice and Islamophobia. By framing his hearings as an investigation of the American Muslim community, the implication is that we should be suspicious of our Muslim neighbors, co-workers or classmates solely on the basis of their religion.

This should be deeply troubling to Americans of all races and religions. An investigation specifically targeting a single religion implies, erroneously, a dangerous disloyalty, with one broad sweep of the discriminatory brush.

In building the pretext for the hearings, King has repeatedly said that American Muslim community leaders have failed to cooperate with law enforcement officials in the effort to disrupt terrorism plots—a claim that has been refuted by U.S. counter-terrorism experts and top law enforcement officials. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, for example, who works with a large Muslim American population, has countered King’s allegation by asserting, unequivocally, that cooperation with the community is active and aggressive. (Incidentally, Rep. King will not be calling any law enforcement professionals to testify during his hearings.)

While protecting our homeland from acts of violence should be a top priority for policymakers, we must remember that no entire community can be held responsible for the acts of a few people. A “presumption of guilt” should never be applied collectively. We must aggressively investigate criminal behavior, watch for patterns that point to emerging threats, and stay constantly vigilant as citizens, but we must also not divide or target Americans simply on the basis of their faith or ancestry.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) wrote a letter to King asking him to expand the purpose of the hearings into “a broad-based examination of domestic extremist groups regardless of their ideological underpinnings.”

John Brennan, chief counterterrorism adviser to the President, said“Describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie—propagated by al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism—that the United States is somehow at war against Islam.  The reality, of course, is that we never have been and will never be at war with Islam.  After all, Islam, like so many faiths, is part of America….Our enemy is al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates.  For it was al Qaeda who attacked us so viciously on 9/11 and whose desire to attack the United States, our allies, and our partners remains undiminished.”

Denis McDonough, Presidential Assistant, addressed the American Muslim Community and said in part:

“You create jobs and opportunity as small business owners and executives of major corporations. You enrich our culture as athletes and entertainers. You lead us as elected officials and Members of Congress. And no one should ever forget that Muslim Americans help keep America safe every day as proud Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. Indeed, some of these heroes have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and now rest in our hallowed national cemeteries.”

“Through our words and deeds we can either play into al Qaeda’s narrative or we can challenge and undermine it.  We know that al Qaeda extremists all share one belief, and that is the lie that America is at war with Islam.  We are determined to counter that narrative.”

“We must resolve that, in our determination to protect our nation, we will not stigmatize or demonize entire communities because of the actions of a few. In the United States of America, we don’t practice guilt by association. And let’s remember that just as violence and extremism are not unique to any one faith, the responsibility to oppose ignorance and violence rests with us all.” 

“In the United States of America, we don’t practice guilt by association. And let’s remember that just as violence and extremism are not unique to any one faith, the responsibility to oppose ignorance and violence rests with each of us. “

“We have a choice. We can choose to send a message to certain Americans that they are somehow ‘less American’ because of their faith or how they look; that we see their entire community as a potential threat ... Or, we can make another choice. We can send the message that we’re all Americans,”

“Efforts to protect communities against violent extremists must be led by those communities. Indeed, we’re fortunate that Muslim Americans, including organizations represented here today, have taken unequivocal stands against terrorism. … Many of the incidents and arrests that do make headlines are because of the good citizenship and patriotism of Muslim Americans who noticed something and spoke up.”

“American Muslims are not part of the problem, you are part of the solution.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said “In Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe. Securing our homeland, defending against acts of terrorism, and ensuring our national security are serious challenges. In a nation founded on diversity and strengthened by the contributions of many faiths, including those of Muslim Americans, we must never use religion as a wedge to divide the American people. Instead, we must state in a united voice: violence in the name of any religion is a betrayal of our fundamental values as Americans. And any responsible national security strategy must be rooted in facts, fairness, and an unending commitment to the rights and liberties of every American.”

Los Angeles County sheriff Lee Baca said that there is nothing to support Rep. Peter King’s (R-N.Y.) view that American Muslims are being uncooperative with law enforcement.  “If he has evidence of non-cooperation, he should bring it forward.”

Rep. Jackie Speier  said “This is one member’s bias that he is now putting forth as the policy of this country and there are going to be many of us who will shout out and call him out on abusing his role as chair and abusing the Congress of the United States for whatever his personal bias is. To pinpoint Muslims as if they’re the only category—- it’s wrong, it’s discriminatory, it’s racist and inappropriate. Hearings aren’t supposed to be judged before they’re held. They’re supposed to be illuminating. ... But it’s more destructive than a political granstand for purposes of a 2012 election.  It fuels the feelings of hatred towards Americans by identifying specific groups instead of individuals. Did we go after whites after Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma federal building?”

Rep. Bobby Rush (IL) has joined with 56 other U.S. House members in criticizing a hearing into alleged Islamic radicalization. 

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and John Dingell (D-MI) are circulating a Dear Colleague Letter criticizing the indefensible singling out of the American Muslim community in the Peter King (R-NY) hearings on so-called radicalization.  .  Here is the Stark-Dingle letter

We are writing regarding the Homeland Security Committee’s upcoming hearings, which you have stated will focus exclusively on radicalization among Muslim Americans and homegrown terrorism. We agree that Congress and all levels of government have a duty to protect America from terrorism, whether from abroad or homegrown. We are, however, deeply concerned that the stated narrow scope and underlying premises of these hearings unfairly stigmatizes and alienates Muslim Americans.  We ask that you reconsider the scope of these hearings and instead examine all forms of violence motivated by extremist beliefs, rather than unfairly focusing on just one religious group.

We believe that the tone and focus of these hearings runs contrary to our nation’s values. Muslim Americans contribute to our nation’s wellbeing in many professions including as doctors, engineers, lawyers, firefighters, business entrepreneurs, teachers, police officers and Members of Congress. Their hard work helps to make our country exceptional. 

Furthermore, casting a negative light on an entire community —rather than focusing on actual dangerous fringes will only strain community relationships and trust that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have worked hard to develop. Muslim Americans are an integral part of our larger American society and should be treated as such, not viewed with suspicion.

The choice between our values of inclusiveness and pluralism and our security is a false one.

If you wish to examine violent extremism, we ask that you do so by examining violence motivated by extremist beliefs in all its forms. Singling out one religious group and blaming the actions of individuals on an entire community is not only unfair, it is unwise—and it will not make our country any safer.

The Stark-Dingle letter had 28 signatures as of 3/7.    Current co-signers of the letter are Reps. Baldwin (D-WI), Blumenauer (D-OR), Chu (D-CA), Conyers (D-MI), Edwards (D-MD), Frank (D-MA), Fudge (D-OH), Grijalva (D-AZ), Gutierrez (D-IL), Hirono (D-HI), Holt (D-NJ), Honda (D-CA), Jackson (D-IL), Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Kucinich (D-OH), Lee (D-CA), McCollum (D-MN), McDermott (D-WA), Meeks (D-FL), Moran (D-VA), Polis (D-CO), Rush (D-IL), Schakowsky (D-IL), Scott (D-VA), Serrano (D-NY), and Waters (D-CA).

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, stated before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee: “And every opportunity I have, I re-affirm the fact that 99.9 percent of Muslim-Americans or Sikh-Americans, Arab-Americans are every bit as patriotic as anybody else in this room, and that many of our cases are a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United States.” ** 

Rep. Pascrell  During a hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing & Terrorism Risk Assessment in 2008, Rep. Pascrell expressed strong disagreement with Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) remarks that Muslims are not doing enough to help law enforcement fight terrorism.  Pascrell said“America must view the Muslim community as a great asset to our homeland security effort and take real steps to engage them. We cannot risk becoming like Europe where Muslim citizens have been pushed to the margins of society and are looked at as objects of suspicion.”

In 2007, []DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on the issue of radicalization. Chertoff said, “It is critical that we recognize that American Muslims have been, and will continue to be, a highly valued part of the fabric of our Nation. American Muslims have been outspoken in their opposition to terrorist violence and have been strong contributors to our country for many generations.” Chertoff continued, “American Muslims are active participants in our secular democracy and, as with all Americans, we will continue to ensure that they have the freedom to choose the best way to raise their families, receive an education, relate to and participate in government, start a business, and become prosperous in their professions.”

Attorney General Eric Holder said

“The Muslim community…have contributed significantly to the resolution of many things that we have resolved over the course last 12 to 18 months….Tips that we have received, information that has been shared has been critical to our efforts to disrupt plots that otherwise might have occurred.”

“What we have tried to do at the Justice Department is reach out to the Muslim Community, to establish relationships that otherwise might not have existed; to establish a dialog so that information flows to us; so that information flows from us—so there is a better understanding in the Muslim community about what the aims are of America’s law enforcement,” Holder said. “I think we’ve been pretty successful in that regard and we have a good relationship.”

... “My focus is on individuals as opposed to communities and I think that is what we need to be focused on. What is it that drives individuals to do certain things? We don’t want to stigmatize, we don’t want to alienate entire communities we need to focus on individuals and groups of individuals who might band together who would try to harm American interests or American citizens that is what this Justice Department is doing.”

He also said: “Members of the American Muslim community have been—and continue to be—strong partners in fighting this emerging threat [of
terrorism]. They have regularly denounced terrorist acts and those who carry them out. And they have provided critical assistance to law enforcement in helping to disrupt terrorist plots and combat radicalization.”

Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly **

Rep. Loretta Sanchez said that Singling out one group based on religion is not right and is divisive.  Full text of her statement HERE

PLEASE CONTACT AND THANK THESE REPRESENTATIVES

Please say thank you to the following Congresspersons who stood up against this organized bigotry. 

Rep. Bennie Thompson - D.C. Contact: 202-225-5876; Mississippi Contact: 601-866-9003

Rep.  John D. Dingell - D.C. Contact: 202-225-4071; Michigan Contact: 313-278-2936

Rep. Keith Ellison - D.C. Contact: 202-225-4755; Minnesota Contact: 612-522-1212

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee - D.C. Contact: 202-225-3816; Texas Contact: 713-655-0050

Rep. Danny K. Davis - D.C. Contact: (202) 225-5006; Illinois Contact: (708) 345-6857

Rep. Jackie Speier - D.C. Contact: 202-225-3531; California Contact: 650-342-0300

Rep. Yvette D. Clarke -  D.C. Contact: 202-225-6231; District Contact: 718-287-1142

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond - D.C. Contact: (202) 225-6636; Louisiana Contact: (504) 365-0390

Rep. Laura Richardson - D.C. Contact: (202) 225-7924; California Contact: (562) 436-3828

Rep. Loretta Sanchez - D.C. Contact: (202) 225-2965; California Contact: (714) 621-0102

 

SEE ALSO:

HISTORIC MOMENT - PETER KING’S HEARINGS

Rep. Peter King’s hearing “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.” took place on March 10, 2011. 

TAM has an article The American Muslim Community and Rep. Peter King’s “Islamic” Radicalization Hearings which has a great deal of background on Peter King and these hearings, and an extensive article collection.  We also have a series of articles breaking down various aspects of the hearings:
Peter King’s Hearing: What Was the Point? discussing the content of the hearings, with a collection of articles written after the hearing ended. 
Peter King’s Civics Lesson for American Muslims which has a collection of anti-Muslim statements by elected representatives and government officials made during and before the hearings. 
Existing reports and studies on radicalization in the American Muslim Community and Polls, Surveys, and Statistics Relating to Islam and Muslims  with actual hard evidence so lacking in the hearing. 
Response of Civic Organizations and Interfaith Community to “Muslim Radicalization” Hearings  
Elected Representatives & Government Officials Who HAVE Questioned Islamophobia with quotes from elected representives and government officials attempting to counter the bias of this hearing both during and before the hearing. 
- Peter King’s hearing: witness testimonies - allegations but no facts
- Zuhdi Jasser and AIFD - Identified by Rep. King as the Ideal American Muslim Leadership
- Does Rep. King’s IRA/Terrorist Connection Matter?
Answers to Peter King’s Claims About the American Muslim Community which lays out all of his claims and allegations and provides detailed answers to each.  (e.g. Do Muslims cooperate with law enforcement?  Do Muslims speak out against terrorism and extremism?  Are most Muslims terrorists?  Are 80 to 85% of mosques run by radicals?  Have American Muslim organizations responded to the issue of radicalization?  Are mosques the source of radicalization?  etc.)
- The scope of Rep. Kings Hearings Creates Homeland “in"Security

All of these articles will be updated as further information comes in, and there will be more articles in this series.

 


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