WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today expressed concern about the acceptance of anti-Muslim sentiment displayed by Republican presidential candidates during last night's debate in New Hampshire.
On Monday the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT*), a national coalition of major Muslim organizations, asked candidates to reject Islamophobia during the debate.
SEE: Muslim Coalition Asks GOP Debaters to Reject Islamophobia
CAIR was encouraged by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's response to other candidates' fear mongering about Sharia, or Islamic principles, replacing the Constitution. Romney seemed to dismiss that scenario, and reaffirmed that "people of all faiths are welcome in this country."
SEE: Romney Rejects Cain's Anti-Sharia Fear-Mongering
GOP Hopefuls Trafficked in Crackpot Sharia Panic, with One Exception: Romney
GOP Debate: Newt Gingrich's Comparison of Muslims and Nazis Sparks Outrage
Speaking about last night's debate, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement:
"When the candidates were asked: 'Are American-Muslims as a group less committed to the Constitution than, say, Christians or Jews?' not one spoke up to support religious tolerance.
"While most remained silent, Herman Cain reiterated his position that he would treat Muslims differently than members of other faiths. Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich echoed the far-right manufactured controversy about Sharia replacing the Constitution.
"Since the U.S. Constitution is the law of the land, there is no question of any other body of law replacing it. People who choose to have disputes resolved using the traditions of their faith should have the right to do so as long as such agreements comply with American law.
"Muslim groups are currently at the forefront in defending the Constitution against attempts by many states to pass anti-Muslim legislation that clearly violates the Bill of Rights. Our community expends enormous advocacy and legal energy defending the Constitution.
"We would be interested in hearing the candidates' opinions of efforts by legislators in a number of states to subvert the Constitution by passing laws that specifically discriminate against Muslims. Of particular concern is Oklahoma, where a measure was passed that would enshrine disapproval of Islam in the state constitution.
"Cain's statement about excluding people 'who are trying to kill us' from any future administration seems like a self-evident goal. CAIR views it as a weak attempt to cover his early pronouncement that Muslims would not be welcome in his administration.
"Gingrich's reference to the actions of one individual as a means of casting suspicion on an entire community was reminiscent of tactics used by propaganda masters of the past. It is unconscionable that he would equate American Muslims with Nazis and communists."
SEE: At Debate, Republican Candidates Spar Over Islam
Will Islamophobia be a key feature of 2012 presidential race?
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, or 202-488-8787, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations