Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nihad Awad's letter to President Obama on Islamophobia

December 23, 2009

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

SUBJECT: Call to Address the Issue of Growing Anti-Islam Hate in America

Dear Mr. President:

As the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is concerned about the alarming level of anti-Islam hate in our nation.

We respectfully urge you to address this important issue and to call on American religious and political leaders to speak out in support of tolerance and mutual understanding.

In making that request, I note recent incidents in Florida in which a cross with the message “Christian nation, Christian community” was planted at the site of a planned mosque and an anti-Islam Christmas display was set up by a local church.

Other recent incidents included:

* anti-Islam brochures distributed in the parking lot of a Washington state Islamic school
* hate-filled fliers posted in a Minnesota Somali community
* an attack on a Sikh youth in Texas who was mistaken for a Muslim
* the painting of “Go Home Sand N**ger” on an Idaho Muslim’s truck
* the harassment of a Muslim bank customer in Illinois because of her Islamic head scarf
* an attack on another Illinois Muslim after the Fort Hood shootings
* a call by far-right members of the U.S. House of Representatives to investigate Muslim interns on Capitol Hill as “spies”
* the ethnic intimidation of an Ohio Muslim who found a noose and a toy camel on his door
* a Colorado sheriff who called the U.S. Marines “Travel agents to Allah"
* the failure of Virginia’s governor-elect to repudiate
* anti-Islam statements by one of his top supporters
* a defaced Quran that was left at a Michigan mosque
* a spate of vandalism incidents at mosques nationwide anti-Islam remarks by Christian evangelist Franklin Graham
* the use of anti-Islam rhetoric in the platform of a Minnesota congressional candidate

A recent poll also showed that two-thirds of Protestant pastors consider Islam “dangerous.”

You yourself have been targeted by anti-Muslim hate, despite the fact that you are Christian. A Colorado car dealer recently put up a billboard depicting you as a turban-wearing militant.

We acknowledge recent remarks to a Muslim and Arab-American gathering in Michigan by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in which he said the U.S. Department of Justice will return to its "traditional" role of ensuring civil rights.

We also acknowledge the fact that you signed a spending measure that will give the Justice Department’s civil rights division 102 new staff members, many of whom will be assigned to hate-crimes investigations.

Thank you for your kind attention to this important issue.


Nihad Awad
CAIR National Executive Director


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