FREE SPEECH ZONE | Minnesota Congressman Should Apologize for Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

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Dear Congressman Chip Cravaack,

As Minnesotans committed to the values of peace, equality, religious freedom and justice, we are appalled that you used your position as a member of Congress representing Minnesota on the Committee of Homeland Security to advance Islamophobia.  You have defamed  CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) without justification.  We insist that you apologize for your inflammatory remarks characterizing CAIR as a “terrorist organization.” We implore you to honorably represent your district by refraining from the use of hateful rhetoric.

Our organization has developed the following statement, which we recommend you take to heart:  We strongly condemn the rising phenomenon of Islamophobia exemplified by your eager participation in the Homeland Security Hearings titled, “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and the Community’s Response.”   The title itself suggests that the community of millions of American Muslims is complicit in terrorism, stoking fear and misunderstanding, isolating and demonizing all persons of the Muslim faith.   

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As the only Minnesota representative on the Homeland Security Committee, you have an obligation to represent Minnesotans of all faiths.  You have defamed CAIR’s reputation without any factual knowledge of the organization and without inviting a CAIR representative to respond.  It should be clear from CAIR’s public online mission statement:  “CAIR condemns all acts of violence against civilians by any individual, group or state.”  Nearly 700,000 Muslims have signed a “Not in the Name of Islam” petition on CAIR’s website that begins: “We, the undersigned Muslims, wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent.”

Creating a perception of Muslims as “the other,” to be feared and mistrusted, creates conditions that provoke racial attacks against innocent people.  Especially troubling is an increase in the harassment of Muslim children in Minnesota schools–facebook threats, name-calling, derisive language, physical attacks–causing a hostile environment that affects students academically and emotionally.

We emphatically request that you publicly apologize to CAIR and that you use your position as an elected Minnesota representative to build security by meeting human needs—education, health care, jobs, poverty—not by deepening divisions and perpetuating Islamophobia.  

Sincerely,

Margaret Sarfehjooy, on behalf of The Middle East Committee of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)