(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/13/05) The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today dismissed Rep. Tom Tancredo’s (R-CO) comments on the design of a memorial to those aboard a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11 as a cynical political ploy designed to gain national attention. (See: http://tancredo.house.gov/)
CAIR also called on state and national leaders of the Republican Party, including President Bush, to repudiate Tancredo’s Islamophobic stance on the memorial issue.
In a letter sent to the National Park Service, Tancredo opposed the design’s shape “because of the crescent’s prominent use as a symbol in Islam.” Extremist and anti-Muslim Internet bloggers have associated the design’s semi-circular shape with Islam, despite the fact that the designer, the park service and relatives of crash victims say the shape is a circle broken by the flight pattern of Flight 93 when it crashed near Shanksville, Pa. (The crescent itself has no religious significance in Islam, but is commonly associated with that faith.)
“Representative Tancredo once again demonstrates his anti-Muslim bias and his thirst for publicity,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “He apparently believes he can only gain attention on the national political stage by fabricating a false controversy based on bizarre Internet conspiracy theories.”
Awad added that CAIR is only challenging Tancredo’s implicit linkage between the faith of Islam and terrorism, and will respect whatever the victims’ families believe is an appropriate design for the memorial.
Tancredo was recently involved in a controversy over similarly Islamophobic remarks suggesting support for bombing Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.