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CAIR-Chicago Asks Illinois Library to Probe Inclusion of ‘Satirical’ Art Exhibit Panel Encouraging Hate Crimes Against Muslim Women
(CHICAGO, IL., 4/22/2018) – The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on the Aurora Public Library in Aurora, Ill., to investigate how a “satirical” panel came to be included in an art display even though it appeared to encourage hate crimes against Muslim women, and to reflect on lessons learned for the future. The panel included a poem, titled “Every kid should be like my kid and snatch a hijab,” with lines like, “hijab to me means jihad so keep that sh*t out of the country I love.
CAIR-Chicago yesterday sent a letter to the library requesting removal of the exhibit. In a statement, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab argued that while the intent may have been satire, the hate poem is presented to the public without any context – intent or otherwise – and is thus indistinguishable from bare-naked incendiary hate speech that promotes violence against women and children. This coupled with the fact that in the current environment Muslim women face actual incidents of assault and Muslim kids face regular incidents of bullying, simply for being Muslim. Add to all this that this poem then greets them in a library of all places, a supposed safe space, and you can see why the public was as appalled as it was.
A statement subsequently posted on social media by the library said in part: “While the intent was satirical according to the poet, we are aware that this is not the message the panel is sending to our community…we will remove the panel before we open for business tomorrow.”
SEE Library’s Statement:
“The library did the right thing by deciding to remove this ‘poem,’ that on face-value encourages violent hate crimes, but the public still wishes to know how such a blatantly out-of-touch decision was made in the first place. We request an investigation into how and why it came to be included in the art exhibit, and call for steps moving forward to regain the trust of families who were made to feel unwelcome and unsafe,” said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab.
Rehab urged the library to avoid such gaffes in the future by consulting with, and include the voices of, any group of people in our midst who are being conversed about whether Muslims, Native Americans, Blacks or anyone else. “If you wish to talk about someone or even for someone, first talk to them. We are all here and part of every community and willing to sit at any table.”
Tomorrow morning, CAIR will release a one-of-its-kind report showing evidence that the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban resulted in increased anti-Muslim discrimination and violence nationwide in the past year.
CAIR to Release Report Showing ‘Concrete Evidence’ That Trump’s Muslim Ban Resulted in Islamophobic Discrimination, Violence
CAIR-Chicago is the Chicago office of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to defend civil rights, fight bigotry and promote tolerance.
CONTACT: CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166, email@example.com; CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator Saadia Pervaiz, 312-212-1520, firstname.lastname@example.org, CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator Asha Binbek, 312-212-1520, email@example.com