Press Statement: IL Groups to Protest Candidate’s Islamophobic Remarks

Downtown Islamic Center
October 1, 2004 @ 10.30 am

Dear respected members of the community and media.

I would like to welcome our friends in the Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Latino, and Asian communities, and all others.

Today, we are standing together against the growing use of race, religion, and immigrant bashing in the political discourse of our nation. It is Important that we stand united against all forms of bigotry. An attack on one is an attack on all.

This press conference was called to address the rising tide of Islamophobia. There is a disturbing trend today whereby political opportunists spew hateful rhetoric against Islam and Muslims under the guise of being “strong against terrorism.” We unilaterally denounce any public officials and candidates using Islam-bashing as a platform to advance their campaigns. Equating Islam with terrorism is not only unacceptable, it is dangerous.

Mr. Kurt Eckhardt, the Republican Congressional candidate for Illinois’ 9th district, has recently made some disturbing comments vilifying Muslims. Mr. Eckhardt professed his longstanding suspicion of all Muslims, and called for the installation of human monitors (essentially spies) in mosques. He stated that terrorism was not an aberration but the norm in Islam.

Well, we have a message for those who incite misguidance and confusion. We are here as a diverse, but united community. There is no place for division, bigotry and hatred in Illinois, in our country, or anywhere in our political system.

The American Muslim community conveys its sincerest appreciation to our brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors of all other communities for standing with us in solidarity during these very difficult and challenging times. We thank you for standing up against those who attempt to marginalize and demonize us. We also thank Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky whose swift criticism of the bigotry leveled against us was a source of comfort and solace.

We believe that Mr. Eckhardt’s comments were made out of ignorance, and not malice. We call on him to retract his inflammatory comments and to issue an apology. We also take this opportunity to extend a formal invitation to him to visit our mosques and schools so that he may come to know the true peaceful and compassionate nature of Islam.

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CONTACT: CAIR-Chicago Yaser Tabbara, 312-718-3725, 312-212-1520