Council on American Islamic Relations

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According to its webpage, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a Muslim American civil liberties and advocacy group. CAIR’s vision is to promote justice and mutual understanding. CAIR’s mission is based on 3 core goals

  • enhancing understanding of Islam
  • promoting justice
  • empowering American Muslims.

CAIR financial statements are audited and made available online.

It is a member of the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections. CAIR works in close cooperation with other civic and civil liberties groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Hispanic Unity, Organization of Chinese Americans, Japanese American Citizens League, Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force. It has successfully partnered with the National Council of Churches and held dialogue with representatives of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Governmental criticism

It was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, a trial in which a U.S. based charity was determined to be funding Hamas.

In October 2009, Rep. Sue Myrick (R-North Carolina) and fellow Republicans on the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus called for Congress to cut ties with CAIR, such as sponsoring interns. Joining her call were Reps. John Shadegg (R-Arizona), Paul Broun (R-Georgia) and Trent Franks (R-Arizona). Democrats, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Michigan) defended CAIR, saying that the GOP allegations were promoting religious intolerance and heightening tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims. Rep. Mike Honda (D-California, chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, termed Myrick’s comments as “fear-rousing,”[1]

She referred to a Federal Bureau of Investigation letter sent to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) in April, saying that the investigation for U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation had shown ties between CAIR and the Palestinian Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood, which helped the Foundation raise funds that went to Hamas. The FBI, as a result, cut its working relationships with CAIR.

Opponents

Daniel Pipes said "CAIR presents itself as just another civil-rights group. 'We are similar to a Muslim NAACP,' says spokesman Ibrahim Hooper. Its public language - about promoting 'interest and understanding among the general public with regards to Islam and Muslims in North America' - certainly boosts an image of moderation. For starters, it's on the wrong side in the war on terrorism. One indication came in October 1998, when the group demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as 'the sworn enemy,' finding this depiction 'offensive to Muslims.'

Hooper reported receiving a death threat after Rep. Myrick's announcement.

Controversial statements

CAIR denied bin Laden's responsibility for the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Africa. "As Hooper saw it, those explosions resulted from some vague 'misunderstandings of both sides.'"[2]

The Emergency Committee for Israel attacked Pennsylvania senatorial candidate Joe Sestak for attending a CAIR fundraiser.

References

  1. Jordy Yager (17 October 2009), "Rep. Myrick repeats call to cut CAIR ties", The Hill
  2. Daniel Pipes (22 April 2002), "CAIR: 'Moderate' friends of terror", New York Post