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CLARITy Coalition Statement re: California Resolution Honoring Islamists

 The CLARITy Coalition, a global alliance of Muslim and non-Muslim scholars and activists committed to liberty and secularism, stands opposed to the California Assembly’s introduction of House Resolution 52 (HR 52), honoring Muslim American Appreciation and Awareness Month.” Instead of promoting California’s diverse Muslim community and its many achievements, the resolution legitimizes Sunni Islamists and ignores the contributions of secular and reformist Muslim Americans.

Previous State Assembly bills commemorating Muslim Americans were less controversial, celebrating Muslim achievements in science, medicine, entertainment, and charity.  However, this current bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Eloise Reyes (D-50), offers praise to Islamist hardliners accused of supporting terrorism and promoting bigoted views.

The resolution honors the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS). Following a 2007 terror finance trial, CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in a plot to fund and support the terrorist group Hamas, while seven senior CAIR officials have been convicted or deported for terrorism-related crimes.

While the California Assembly looks to celebrate CAIR’s work in “civil rights and immigration services,” state legislatures in Arkansas and Louisiana have passed resolutions denouncing CAIR and urging state police to end public outreach with the organization.

 A 2004 Chicago Tribune report details the shadowy origins of MAS, whose members voted to hide the group’s links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Sunni Islamist movement that has spawned jihadist groups throughout the Middle East. Both CAIR and MAS were designated as terrorist organizations in 2014 by the United Arab Emirates.

The Islamic Circle of America and the Institute of Knowledge (IOK) also received plaudits from California lawmakers. The former is a front for Jamaat-e-Islami, a violent South Asian Islamist group responsible for massacring hundreds of Bangladeshi intellectuals during their 1971 War for Independence. IOK is an Islamic seminary influenced by Salafi and Deobandi teachings, where instructors have endorsed slavery and called for Israeli Jews to be “exterminated.” 

 Most significantly, HR 52 fails to acknowledge the achievements of Muslims from minority Islamic sects and  reform movements. There is no space to commend the Shi’a Muslim or Ahmadiyya communities, many of which settled in California to escape persecution from Islamists, nor does the resolution honor reformers that challenge the political dominance of American Islamist institutions.

 We call on the California State Assembly to reject HR 52 and any bill that celebrates the nation’s most notorious and extreme Islamist organizations. Any legislation that praises Islamists will legitimize extremism, alienate Muslim communities, and compromise interfaith relationships. Vote “no” on HR 52.