WASHINGTON, March 3, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today said it is calling on the Tennessee state legislature to drop consideration of an Islamophobic "no-go zone" bill (SB 1040/HB 1141) that "will inevitably be used to vilify the state's Muslim community."
[NOTE: CAIR also announced today that Bernhard Laufer, 58, a resident of Rego Park, N.Y., has pleaded guilty in federal court in the Eastern District of New York to sending threatening communications to CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. SEE: http://tinyurl.com/CAIRthreatarrest ]
CAIR: Bill Before Tenn. General Assembly Targets "No-Go Zones"
Muslim Advocacy Group Skeptical of 'No-Go Zone' Bill
In a letter sent to the chairman of the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee and the chairman of the House Civil Justice Committee, CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw wrote in part:
"This bias-motivated bill offers a solution to a problem that does not exist and is championed by an individual whose animosity toward the Tennessee Muslim community is well-documented. . .
"To be clear, no-go zones are a discredited and universally-mocked claim that Muslims in Europe have set up so-called zones that people of other faiths and police are not allowed to enter. It is a waste of the Tennessee General Assembly's time and the tax payer's money to legislate on an issue that has been made-up for the purpose of promoting Islamophobia and fear of Muslim communities.
"In January, Fox News was forced to apologize several times on-air for a similar 'no-go zone' claim made by self-proclaimed terrorism 'expert' Steven Emerson. Emerson is a notorious Islamophobe who has made a career out of promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. . .
"Senator Ketron, the original sponsor of the bill, has a well-documented history of supporting anti-Muslim legislation and making biased comments that have drawn negative attention to the Tennessee General Assembly. Among his many anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim statements and initiatives he is best known for:
- In 2013, Senator Ketron promoted another non-existent anti-Muslim controversy when he raised concerns that a mop sink in the state capitol building might actually be a facility for Muslim religious ablutions. . .
- In 2012, Senator Ketron introduced The Putting Tennessee First Act. According to The Tennessean, Senator Ketron introduced the bill after "A conservative group … warned of the growing influence of Islam" and that it "would limit how many legal immigrants charter schools can hire," which drew opposition from many charter school and immigrant groups. . .
- In 2011, Sen. Ketron introduced Senate Bill 1028, the Material Support to Designated Entities Act. As introduced it would have essentially made it illegal to be a Muslim and outlawed the practice of Islam in the state of Tennessee.
". . .The bill is built upon an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim premise that has been thoroughly dismissed and only serves to stigmatize an entire religious community. Withdrawing consideration of the bill is the right and responsible thing to do."
Read the entire CAIR letter: http://www.cair.com/images/pdf/CAIR_Letter_in_Opposition_to_Tenn_SB_1040_-_HB_1141_3-2-15.pdf
CAIR recently called on Republican Party leaders in Tennessee to repudiate a racist comment posted on Facebook by a state lawmaker.
Video: CAIR Asks Tennessee GOP to Repudiate Lawmaker's Racist Facebook Post
The racist post was in response to a recent CAIR open letter to potential Republican presidential candidates urging them to reject Islamophobia and to reach out to American Muslim voters.
SEE: CAIR Letter Urges GOP Presidential Candidates to Engage Muslim Voters, Reject Islamophobia
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.
SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations