Saturday, March 17, 2007

CAIR doesn't deserve the harassment

Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) recently reserved a room on Capitol Hill for a panel discussion on "Global Attitudes on Islam-West Relations: U.S. Policy Implications," sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). It was the fifth Hill event for CAIR in the last two years. It was selected as a target of opportunity by some who seek to block participation in the political process of American citizens of the Islamic faith by defaming their representative institutions and organizations.

Pascrell came under attack from those groups that want to stifle America Muslim political participation. While some sought to use smears and Islamophobia to silence the American Muslim perspective, an aide to Representative Pascrell stated the following: "It is important that Muslim Americans feel they are part of our country."

The entire episode was triggered by an intentionally inaccurate story in the "Washington Times," designed to impeach the credibility of the organization. The episode was exacerbated when the Republican Conference chose to issue statements that were reflective of "Google" searches of anti-Muslim Internet hate sites.

CAIR operates under the strict guidelines of its core values. These values include: support for freedom of religion and freedom of expression, and a commitment to supporting policies that promote dialogue, civil rights and diversity in America and worldwide.

For the record, CAIR unequivocally condemns terror attacks targeting people of all faiths and in all areas of the world. In an effort designed to demonstrate the American Muslim community's repudiation of terrorism and religious extremism, CAIR launched an online petition drive called "Not in the Name of Islam." They also launched a nationwide television public service announcement campaign of the same name and coordinated a ground-breaking fatwa, or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism.

CAIR offered pro-active and positive responses to the controversies over allegations of Qur'an desecration at Guantanamo Bay and the publication of cartoons in Denmark defaming Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

CAIR's educational initiatives have opened doors to dialogue and mutual understanding with Americans of all faiths.

CAIR is supported by many mainstream political, social and religious groups. We have active alliances with members of the Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hispanic, African-American, and Asian communities. Thirty-two CAIR chapters in 20 states have developed strong grass-roots relations with people of all faiths in the communities in which they work to promote social justice and interfaith tolerance.

Fair-minded Americans should not be swayed by the extreme rhetoric of those opposed to allowing American Muslims to exercise their full rights as citizens.
Congressman Pascrell should be thanked by all who believe that America's core values are genuine.

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