Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, February 2009
Islamophobe Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, Zionist Agitator Frank Gaffney Host Anti-Islam Film in US Congress
Arizona Senator Jon Kyl Asked to Invite Muslim Representatives to Balance Anti-Islam Film
CAIR, February 28, 2009
The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ) today called on one of that state’s senators to invite Muslim representatives to offer a balancing perspective to a screening of an anti-Islam film he is hosting in Congress.
On Thursday, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) will host a closed-door screening of a 15-minute film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders. Wilders was recently denied entry to Britain because of his extreme anti-Muslim views, including urging that the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, should be banned. One of the event’s co-sponsors, the Center for Security Policy headed by Frank Gaffney, is linked to an anti-Islam group that has advocated prison terms in the U.S. for “adherence to Islam.”
“It seems that Senator Kyl is oblivious to the fact that there are Muslims in his own state who will take offense at this cheap anti-Islam publicity stunt designed to promote a person who is under indictment for inciting religious hatred,” said CAIR-AZ Executive Director Ahmad Daniels. “Geert Wilders is just one of many self-promoting Islamophobes traveling the world in search of attention for their hate-filled views. We ask that Americans of all faiths ignore Mr. Wilders, thereby depriving him of the attention he so desperately seeks. Wilders has the right to spew his hate, but he does not have the right to a taxpayer-funded platform in the United States Congress.”
Daniels urged Sen. Kyl to join the ongoing efforts to end partisan politics in Congress and to reach out to the Islamic world by inviting speakers with a differing viewpoint to that of Wilders.
He added that, following a request by CAIR’s Los Angeles chapter, a California synagogue that screened a film claiming “confrontation between Islam and the Jews” agreed to invite a Muslim representative who could offer a balancing perspective of interfaith understanding.
He said CAIR’s Tampa chapter also called on a local synagogue to invite a representative of the Muslim community who could offer a balancing perspective to a controversial speaker who claims wearing an Islamic head scarf, or hijab, is related to the “growth of terrorism.”
CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CAIR-AZ Executive Director Ahmad Daniels, 602-312-2223, 602-262-2247, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com
AAI Urges Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona to reconsider screening inflammatory film "Fitna"
AAI, February 28, 2009
The Arab American Institute sent a letter yesterday to Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona asking him to reconsider sponsoring an event with Dutch MP Geert Wilders that includes a screening of a film that is considered highly inflammatory and Islamophobic. Mr. Wilders' film, "Fitna", juxtaposes verses from the Qu'ran with violent images. Senator Kyl, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, is hosting Mr. Wilder less than a month after the British Home Office refused entry to the Dutch MP on the grounds that he would threaten public security. AAI urges the Senator to instead supplement the constructive efforts of the Foreign Relations Committee hearing on "Engaging with Muslim Communities Around the World," and host a forum that fosters understanding and promotes genuine progress towards enhancing our nation's security while ensuring the respect and freedom of all Americans.
The text of the letter: February 25, 2009
The Honorable Jon Kyl
United States Senate
730 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Senator Kyl,
I am writing on behalf of the national membership of the Arab American Institute (AAI) to express our concern with your decision to host Dutch MP Geert Wilders on Capitol Hill on Thursday, February 26 and to strongly urge you to cancel the private screening of his short film 'Fitna.'
Although the timing of this event seems to purposefully coincide with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on "Engaging with Muslim Communities Around the World," also scheduled for this Thursday, the decision to show this film with Mr. Wilders as your invited guest raises substantive concerns beyond the optics of partisanship or political show.
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, we would trust that you considered that in the days before the release of this video in the Netherlands in March 2008, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties convened a call to test the Incident Community Coordination Team (ICCT), the communication system devised to connect DHS with a national network of Arab American and Muslim organizations under exceptional circumstances. (It should be noted that the only other time that network has been activated through DHS was after the December 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.) Your decision to screen this film, therefore, runs contrary to the judgment made by DHS under the previous Administration in March 2008 about the content, validity and appropriateness of this film.
Beyond that discrepancy and given your authority on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, hosting a figure, especially on the sacred grounds of the United States Capitol, who is well known for holding Islamophobic and anti-Arab views; who has been barred from entering the United Kingdom and described by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband as someone guilty of "extreme anti-Muslim hate"; who has tried to ban the Qur'an in the Netherlands; and who has produced such an inaccurate and distasteful video, is not only unnecessarily provocative but offensive and egregiously irresponsible.
Given your stature as Senate Minority Whip, we would expect your leadership in promoting only the values of tolerance, diversity and pluralism so cherished in our country as universal, and certainly inclusive of the millions of Americans who practice Islam. We would hope that you recognize that for over a hundred years Americans of Arab heritage and American Muslims have and continue to make extraordinary contributions to our growth and development as a nation. And we would trust that you appreciate the value of engaging the American Muslim community as a constituency vital to preserving the freedom and safety of our country. The fact that the viewing of the video is closed to the public and the press suggests that you are uninterested in such engagement or dialogue.
As a community based group that works extensively with Arab Americans and American Muslims across the nation, the Arab American Institute respectfully requests that you reconsider hosting Mr. Wilder on Capitol Hill on Thursday, February 26. Instead, we urge you to supplement the constructive efforts of the Foreign Relations Committee and host a forum that fosters understanding and promotes genuine progress towards enhancing our nation's security while ensuring the respect and freedom of all Americans. Sincerely, Dr. James Zogby President Arab American Institute CC:
Senator Patrick Leahy Chairman Senate Judiciary Committee
Senator Arlen Specter, Ranking Member Senate Judiciary Committee
Senator Benjamin Cardin Chairman Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security
Assistant Secretary James Howe Department of Homeland Security Office of Legislative Affairs
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