CAIR: Alaska Lawmaker Smears American Muslims

Mar 18, 2011, 12:17 ET from Council on American-Islamic Relations

Anti-Sharia bill sponsor claims Middle Easterners 'occupy' neighborhoods, 'establish their own laws'

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today again called on the Republican Party to repudiate anti-Muslim hate in its ranks after an Alaska state lawmaker claimed that American neighborhoods are "occupied" by "people from the Middle East" who then "establish their own laws."

In a hearing on a bill modeled on similar state measures introduced nationwide targeting Islamic principles, or Sharia, Rep. Carl Gatto (R-Palmer) said the proposed Alaska law is necessary because of the religious beliefs of recent immigrants.

"As a kid, we had Italian neighborhoods, Irish neighborhoods. . .but they didn't impose their own laws," Gatto said. "When these neighborhoods are occupied by people from the Middle East, they do establish their own laws."

SEE: Alaska Seeks to Bar Foreign Law From Courts

"The level of anti-Muslim fear-mongering coming primarily from some elements within the Republican party is really getting out of hand. If passed, this bill and others like it across the nation would result in government-sanctioned discrimination against a minority faith," said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor. "Moderates in the Republican Party must stand up and return the GOP to the anti-discrimination principles of Abraham Lincoln."

Saylor added: "The Constitution is the law of the land and we like it that way. Government intrusion into personal matters that are consistent with U.S. law -- such as Islamic marriage contracts, how we pray, how we invest and how we provide for our families after we die -- is inconsistent with our nation's principles. These far-right lawmakers need to stop fear-mongering and start telling us how they plan to fix the economy and provide jobs.

Saylor said CAIR's request came just one day after the Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization called on state and national GOP leaders to repudiate remarks by a Republican lawmaker in Missouri who referred to Islamic principles, or Sharia, as a "disease" like polio.

CAIR: Missouri GOP Lawmaker Calls Sharia a 'Disease' Like Polio

Similar anti-Sharia bills are being considered in a number of state legislatures. Many of the bills are drawn from a template prepared by David Yerushalmi, head of the anti-Islam hate group Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE). Yerushalmi testified at the hearing for the Alaska bill.

SEE: Tennessee Bill Would Jail Shariah Followers  

Meet the White Supremacist Leading the GOP's Anti-Sharia Crusade  

On its now password-protected website, SANE offered a policy proposal that would make "adherence to Islam" punishable by 20 years in prison, called for the immediate deportation of all non-citizen Muslims and urged Congress to declare war on the "Muslim Nation," which SANE defined as "all Muslims."

SEE: A SANE Act to Deal with the Islamic Threat to America's National Existence (SADITANE)  

SANE's mission statement included white supremacist language such as: "America was the handiwork of faithful Christians, mostly men, and almost entirely white." An online SANE article stated: "There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote."

Yerushalmi is also staff attorney for Frank Gaffney, president of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy. Gaffney was a key witness for the plaintiffs in a controversial lawsuit against a mosque being built in Tennessee.

Some Republican leaders are actively promoting an anti-Muslim agenda nationwide. Last week, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) held a hearing on alleged "radicalization" in the American Muslim community that was widely condemned by members of Congress and interfaith and civil liberties groups.

SEE: 'Invasion of the Mind Snatchers,' Starring Rep. Peter King  

GOP's Muslim Stand Isn't Helping the Country or the Party  

In June, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) will address a gathering of Act! for America, another anti-Islam hate group whose leader, Brigitte Gabriel, claims an American Muslim "cannot be a loyal citizen," that Islam is the "real enemy" and that every practicing Muslim is a "radical Muslim."

SEE: West to Headline Act! Conference  

Transcript of Brigitte Gabriel's Anti-Islam Extremism  

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 Legislative Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857, E-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, or 202-488-8787, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:

SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations