Attack against Muslim group part of a disturbing trend of recent Right-Wing campaign of Islamophobia
(CHICAGO, 11/11/09) -The Chicago chapter of a prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today responded to a recent campaign of misinformation from the Illinois Republican Party attacking the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) for its longtime partnership with CAIR-Chicago.
(Note: a rebuttal of the IL GOP allegations against CAIR-Chicago follows this press release)
In a statement, CAIR-Chicago said:
“The Illinois GOP’s attack against ICIRR – the state’s premiere immigrant rights advocacy group – and CAIR-Chicago is a sorry attempt to distract from its lack of leadership and willingness to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Its strategy seems to try to deflect mounting criticism from voters by smearing those who hold it accountable for its lack of spine. Additionally, the timing of this fishing expedition seeks to stoke anti-Muslim hysteria on the heels of the tragic shootings at Fort Hood.
“The partnership between ICIRR and CAIR-Chicago runs deep and strong. As a coalition of community organizations, ICIRR enjoys healthy alliances with a multitude of ethnic and faith groups in Illinois, including Muslims, Christians, and Jews, all of whom stand united in their shared commitment for social justice. The Illinois GOP’s attempt to marginalize American Muslims from community alliances they have worked hard to forge is part of a recent disturbing trend of Islamophobic posturing by the GOP.”
See CAIR-Chicago rebuttal below press release and read coverage of CAIR-Chicago’s stance in the Daily Herald.
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CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago, 202.870.0166; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amina Sharif, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, 312.212.1520 or 630.935.5562; E-Mail: email@example.com
CAIR-Chicago Refutes IL GOP Smears:
The IL GOP’s attempt to vilify CAIR-Chicago for taking a moral stance against the mass murder of thousands of civilians entrapped in Gaza last January is simply disgraceful. CAIR-Chicago was not alone. The murder and maiming of thousands of unarmed civilians spurred widespread universal criticism, including by the United nations, of Israel for alleged war crimes including the use of the internationally banned white phosphorus. The IL GOP seems to no longer recognize that all Americans have an inalienable right to exercise their constitutionally protected freedom of expression. Their attempt to muffle our voices signals a bizarre message: US citizens must blindly support a foreign state before they should be allowed political capital in their own country. That is treacherous posturing from those who are presumably elected to put America and its values first.
The IL GOP blames CAIR-Chicago for anti-Semitic signage at public rallies protesting the last Gaza invasion. In fact, CAIR-Chicago has been a leading Muslim voice against anti-Semitism. As a cosponsor of the Gaza rally, CAIR-Chicago joined other cosponsors in announcing a ban on anti-Semitic signs. Any that were caught were promptly confiscated. For the IL GOP to place the blame on CAIR-Chicago for some signs that were snuck in to a rally attended by thousands of people is preposterous. CAIR-Chicago condemned the anti-Semitic placards as unacceptable vitriol. The hypocrisy of the IL GOP goes further, while CAIR-Chicago readily condemns anti-Semitic signs as vile and unacceptable, we have yet to hear the IL GOP denounce the racist and abusive signage at GOP-sponsored “tea parties” across the country. Needless to say, they have yet to denounce any anti-Muslim rhetoric, let alone that emanating from their own ranks..
- CAIR-Chicago is Not Linked to Hamas or Any Foreign Group
Contrary to the IL GOP’s mudslinging, CAIR-Chicago is not, and has never been, linked to Hamas or any terrorist group. The IL GOP’s attempt to cast CAIR-Chicago as supportive of Hamas for signing a community letter encouraging a defense fund for a Chicago Muslim grocer facing terrorism charges is both dishonest and un-American. It is shocking that lawmakers fail to understand the adage “innocent until proven guilty” and the importance of legal defense as a cornerstone of our justice system. It is doubly ironic that, following his day in court, the individual in question was in fact found not guilty of any terrorism charges – yet another fact the IL GOP conveniently chose to ignore in its smear release.
- CAIR-Chicago unequivocally condemns terrorism
CAIR-Chicago has been a consistent and persistent leading voice for Chicago Muslims in denouncing terrorism and acts of violence against any and all individuals. It is telling that in making its baseless allegations against CAIR-Chicago, the IL GOP resorted to the tarnished research of one of the nation’s leading Islamophobes, Daniel Pipes.
Along with innumerable condemnations of terror, CAIR has in the past launched an online anti-terror petition drive called “Not in the Name of Islam,” initiated a television public service announcement (PSA) campaign against religious extremism and coordinated a “fatwa,” or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism and extremism.
- CAIR-Chicago and the “Unindicted Coconspirator” Label
The label “unindicted coconspirator” is an allegation by prosecutors in a trial, not the finding of a court of law. In other words, it is not a judgment of guilt; to the contrary, it is an admission by prosecutors that there is insufficient evidence to even warrant a trial in the first place. Prosecutors choose to name persons as unindicted co-conspirators for a variety of reasons including grants of immunity, pragmatic considerations, and evidentiary concerns. CAIR, registered in Washington DC, was placed on a list of unindicted coconspirators alongside 300 of the most prominent US Muslims organizations and leaders as part of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial in Texas. Many believe that this was a highly political move by an administration with an abysmal track record of harassing Muslims. It is uncommon practice for prosecutors to leak the names of individuals or organizations admitted as unindicted coconspirators for due process concerns: since unindicted coconspirators are not charged with anything, they do not have an opportunity at challenging the designation in a court of law. The judge chided HLF prosecutors for leaking the names of CAIR and others contrary to accepted legal etiquettes. The IL GOP should know better than to use such a label as a smear, a practice the courts precisely wish to safeguard against and one that is often reserved for the most opportune of web blogs. Lastly, CAIR-Chicago, an independent legal entity registered in Illinois, is not named as an unindicted coconspirator in the Texas HLF case or any other.
- CAIR-Chicago and the FBI
Contrary to the IL GOP’s assertions that the FBI has cut all ties with CAIR, CAIR-Chicago and the FBI continue to work together regularly on civil rights issues as per the mission of CAIR-Chicago and the mandate of the FBI.
- CAIR-Chicago enjoys strong support and recognition from elected officials and law enforcement
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.
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CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago, 202.870.0166; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Amina Sharif, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, 312.212.1520 or 630.935.5562; E-Mail: email@example.com