Islamaphobia

Representative Ellison Responds to Republican Islamophobia

Sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood are coming! Clearly that idea is ridiculous. Not even Rep. Michelle Bachmann believes that. She believes they are already here! On June 13, Bachmann, along with fellow Republican congressmen Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney, and Lynn Westmoreland, sent a letter to the Inspectors General of the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood has “operatives” within the US government. The letter attempts to link Muslim governmental officials to the Muslim Brotherhood and defames a number of American Muslim organizations.

Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, responded to the egregious accusations in an open letter today. Ellison points out that Bachmann and her allies took many of their claims from MuslimBrotherhoodinAmerica.com, a website run by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy. Gaffney has a history of making unsubstantiated claims about Muslims, a number of which Ellison lists in his letter. For instance, Gaffney has claimed that Muslim Americans who run for office do so to wage “stealth jihad” and has “accused New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of ‘corruption’ and ‘treason’ for appointing a Muslim lawyer to be a judge.” At the end of the letter, Ellison requests a list of all the sources Bachmann used to make these serious claims and asks that if the sources turn out to not be credible that the names of all accused be publicly cleared.

It would be nice if Ellison’s letter put an end to the fear tactics and Islamophobic statements that have become far too common in the Republican Party, but that’s sadly unlikely. Republicans, whose main focus is clearly the economy, somehow seem to find a new Sharia threat each election year. Has it really been two years since we first heard about the Park 51 Muslim Community Center?

PFAW

CAIR and Auburn Theological Seminary Join Call for Ocean City to Disinvite Boykin

Cross-posted on Right Wing Watch.

On Thursday, People For the American Way sent a letter to the mayor and city council of Ocean City, Maryland, urging them to rescind their invitation to retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin to headline this week’s Mayor’s Prayer breakfast. Boykin, whom PFAW president Michael Keegan called “one of the most bigoted and offensive figures on the national stage,” makes his living by spreading Islamophobia and conspiracy theories. He has, among other things, said that Islam is not protected under the First Amendment, that there should be no more mosques in America and that President Obama used health care reform to create a “brownshirt” army loyal just to him.

Now, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City are joining the call for Ocean City to rethink its Prayer Breakfast speaker.

In a letter to Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan, CAIR wrote:

We question the appropriateness of this choice for an official event, given Boykin's long, shameful history of extreme and bigoted views. . . It will be a discredit to your office and a disservice to the citizens of Ocean City if such a man is allowed to spread his divisive falsehoods and prejudiced ideas at a government-sponsored function.

We respectfully ask whether any taxpayer funds are being spent on this year's Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, and how your office plans to address the appearance of an official endorsement of Boykin's extremist views. We ask that you reconsider inviting him, given that the biased ideas he espouses -- though protected by the First Amendment -- should be repudiated, not given a legitimizing platform.

Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, President of Auburn Theological Seminary, issued a public statement on Boykin’s invitiation:

It is outrageous that Lt. General William “Jerry” Boykin is scheduled to be the featured speaker at this week’s Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. Anyone who has conducted a Google search on Boykin would know that he frequently employs hateful rhetoric and endorses wild conspiracy theories about American Muslims.

Our nation is stronger when we place these sorts of attacks on American Muslims out of bounds. A prayer breakfast should be a time for celebrating our shared religious and faith commitments to the dignity of all people, not an opportunity to spout hateful rhetoric about millions of American citizens. The right thing to do in this situation is for Ocean's City's Mayor to respectfully and forcefully tell Boykin that he will not be delivering remarks at the upcoming breakfast because of his history of hateful attacks on American Muslims and Muslims generally.


Meanwhile, DelmarvaNow.com, a local paper, is reporting that the breakfast is scheduled to go ahead, but that the mayor and city council are beginning to feel the heat and distance themselves from Boykin:

Councilwoman Mary Knight said she had first heard of Boykin's views in early December, and that she had been assured he would speak appropriately at the breakfast. In the past couple days, she has received more than 300 emails from people about the event, most of which are forwarded versions of the emails circulated about it by the two protesting organizations. Councilman Brent Ashley’s inbox had more than 170 messages.

Knight said Tuesday she is not sure whether she attend — she hadn’t bought a ticket yet. Ashley said he has a prior engagement, and will not attend the breakfast.

Since the story was published, over 700 Maryland members of People For the American Way have written to the mayor and city council urging them to reject Boykin’s message of hate.
 

PFAW