(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/6/2008) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said today that the resignation of a recently-appointed Muslim community liaison for Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is symptomatic of a nationwide effort by Islamophobes who seek to deny Muslims access to the political process.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said it is “ironic” that Chicago attorney Mazen Asbahi was forced to resign solely because of his ties to the mainstream Muslim community, an attribute that would seem to be a requirement for his position.
“This unfortunate and entirely predictable episode sends the harmful message that no American Muslim may take part in our nation’s political process without the risk of coming under attack by extremists who seek to marginalize and demonize an entire religious minority and its leadership,” said CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor.
Saylor noted Muslims’ concern over recent congressional hearings at which Islamophobic speakers urged government officials to avoid dealing with mainstream American Muslim groups, but failed to name any credible alternatives.
“Muslim-bashers play a ‘six degrees of separation’ game of guilt by association with any Muslim who dares to engage in positive social or political activism,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR’s Chicago chapter. “As Americans, we should not allow intolerant and agenda-driven extremists to succeed in their tactics of exclusion.”
Rehab said CAIR chapters nationwide promote Muslim voter registration drives and get-out-the vote campaigns. He added that CAIR maintains a website devoted entirely to encourage American Muslim political participation.
The CAIR election site offers the latest news and opinions relating to Muslims and elections nationwide. It also outlines positions of the presidential candidates, provides examples of anti-Muslim rhetoric from candidates for all levels of public office and links to the websites of Muslims running for public office.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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: CONTACT: CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857; CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: email@example.com