MPAC CALLS ON NY GOVERNOR TO RETRACT OFFENSIVE, MISLEADING STATEMENT ABOUT MUSLIMS
(Washington, DC - 8/27/10)—The Muslim Public Affairs Council today expressed its disappointment around New York Governor David Paterson comments on a CBS affiliate in Manhattan yesterday mischaracterizing Muslim sects, when discussing the ongoing debate around the proposed Park 51 Community Center.
“This group who has put this mosque together, they are known as the Sufi Muslims. This is not like the Shiites,” Governor Paterson told CBS. “They’re almost like a hybrid, almost westernized. They are not really what I would classify in the sort of mainland Muslim practice.”
SEE: “Paterson: Mosque Developers ‘Hybrid, Almost Westernized’ Muslims” (CBS New York) http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/08/26/paterson-mosque-developers-hybrid-almost-westernized-muslims/
The Governor’s remarks come just days after a Muslim cab driver in New York City was attacked because of his faith, and in the wake of several attacks, protests and vandalism at mosques and Muslim community centers around the country. While his attempt appears to have been an effort to voice support for the Park 51 center project and its organizers, his statement sent a very negative message.
“Governor Paterson’s remarks reveal his disappointing lack of understanding about Islam and Muslims,” said Haris Tarin, Director of the Washington, DC Office. “By calling Sufi Muslims ‘westernized’ and unlike ‘mainland Muslim practice,’ is he suggesting that all other Muslims—and specifically Shia Muslims—are the problem? The Shia tradition is a rich and vibrant part of Islam and using the word ‘Shia’ as a slur is demeaning and offensive. We ask the Governor to clarify his offensive mischaracterization and seek to meet with him to clarify his misconceptions about our faith.”
Founded in 1988, MPAC is an American institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of Muslim Americans.