American Muslim Civil Rights Hearing, an Encouraging Development

Sheila Musaji

Posted Mar 29, 2011      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
Bookmark and Share

American Muslim Civil Rights Hearing, an Encouraging Development

by Sheila Musaji

Today, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) held a hearing titled “Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims”.  There were four witnesses called to testify Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington; legal advocate Farhana Khera, former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee that dealt with civil rights and religious profiling; Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez; and law school dean Alex Acosta, former assistant attorney general for civil rights under George W. Bush.

The hearing focused on the Constitution, the First Amendment, the Bill of Rights, particularly religious freedom.  Bigotry and hate crimes were also discussed, but were secondary to the focus of the hearings clearly expressed in the title.  A Webcast of the hearing HERE.

Sen. Durbin said:  “Many of our nation’s founders fled religious persecution, which is why our Constitution puts great importance on religious freedom.“Durbin said. “Today, addressing anti-Muslim discrimination is an important civil rights issue of our time. It is important for our generation to renew our founding charter’s commitment to religious diversity and to protect the liberties guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.”

Reuters reported that: “Thomas Perez, the assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights, told the panel that anti-Muslim sentiment has brought a surge last May in the number of federal discrimination cases involving zoning boards and other local authorities that have acted to prevent mosques from opening in their communities.  That comes on top of more than 800 incidents of violence, vandalism and arson against people believed to be Muslim, Arab or South Asian, that the Justice Department has investigated since the September 11 attacks.    Perez said there has been a 150 percent jump in workplace discrimination against Muslims, often over religious dress and worship schedules, while Muslim youth can often become the victims of school yard bullying.”  You can read Thomas Perez full statement HERE

ISNA and the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign submitted written testimony to the hearing committee. 

CAIR submitted written testimony to the hearing committee.

The ADL issued a press release today


New York, NY, March 29, 2011 … As a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee convened hearings today on protecting the civil rights of American Muslims, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on Congress and the Obama Administration to enforce hate crime laws, promote and protect religious freedom while funding anti-bias bullying prevention and education initiatives.

        In a statement submitted to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, the League expressed concerns about anti-Muslim bigotry and described its work on confronting hostility toward Muslim Americans and other forms of discrimination and bigotry.

        Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, issued the following statement:

A significant level of anti-Muslim bigotry has surfaced in a variety of public forums over the past year.  Much of it has focused on various plans to build or expand mosques around the country.  Many of those debates have been characterized by unfair stereotyping and prejudice that have singled out the Muslim American community for special scrutiny and suspicion.

        We hope these hearings will explore and gauge the level of bigotry and hostility, as well as recommend initiatives that combat discrimination and profiling and promote respect and religious liberty for all in our schools and communities.

        In a letter and an accompanying Backgrounder on Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Bigotry in the United States to Judiciary Committee members, ADL expressed concerns about anti-Muslim bigotry, outlining several different measures to gauge the level of hostility – reported hate crimes, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints, efforts to prevent mosques from being built in communities, and unwarranted legislative efforts to target a “phantom threat” – the infiltration of Shari’a law into America’s judicial system.

The ADL Backgrounder mentioned some individuals and groups as particular sources of anti-Muslim bigotry.  These include:

— Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) (Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer),
— ACT for America! (ACT) (Brigitte Gabriel),
— the Dove World Outreach Center (Rev. Terry Jones),
— Operation Save America (OSA) (Rev. Philip L. “Flip” Benham}
— Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) (David Yerushalmi)
— Jewish Task Force

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) also submitted a letter and written testimony to the hearing.  The testimony included this statement

“As of today, Monday, March 28, 2011, MRFF has 261 Muslim American clients who are proud members of the United States armed forces. MRFF’s Muslim American client caseload dramatically increased immediately after the tragic shootings at Fort Hood. e second, third, and fourth attachments to this testimony will describe the wretched abuse of Muslim American U.S. military members, quantitatively and qualitatively, with far more breadth of specicity than is either reasonably prudent or practical within the scope of my instant testimony. Please take the precious time to review with substantial diligence all of this additional information. It is at once shocking and disturbing.  ...  As MRFF’s attached material will clearly show, anti-Muslim prejudice and discrimination is inextricably intertwined into the very DNA of today’s American military. It is as prevalent as gravity. As an example, let me tell the Committee that there exists unrestricted and wide use by military ocers and enlisted personnel of the derogatory racist terms such as “towel head,” “raghead,” “camel jockey” or the most universally used term of “Haji” to describe their Muslim American colleagues in uniform as well as all Muslims everywhere. In formal military training exercises, Muslim American members are very oen reminded that “the enemy” in the War on Terror is Islam as an entire religion, and, accordingly, that any of its adherents and followers are seriously suspect. Ocial and honored speakers contracted by the Department of Defense spew this same lthy screed of “We Are At War With Islam” to captive, eager audiences of our military’s best and brightest.”

Not surprisingly, known Islamophobes were not happy about this hearing. 

Robert Spencer was particularly disgruntled.  He called this a “retaliatory hearing”,  and an “orgy of Muslim victimhood posturing”.  Here are a few snippets from Spencer’s diatribe:  Durbin can’t top Ellison, no matter which Muslim leader he brings in and coaches on how to shed crocodile tears.  ...  Durbin’s hearings are almost certain to be an orgy of Muslim claims of victimhood and demonization of freedom fighters trying to defend Constitutional freedoms against Islamic supremacism.

Steven Emerson and Frank Gaffney focused their ire on Ferhana Khera and Muslim Advocates for giving common legal advice and urging American Muslims to have an attorney present when speaking to law enforcement.  Surprisingly, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) also raised this issue.

Rep. Peter King said about the hearing “The best they can do is come back with these hearings by Senator Durbin, which is somehow trying to create the illusion that there’s a violation of civil rights of Muslims in this country. It’s absolutely untrue, and to me it makes no sense.”

ISNA issued a statement asking American Muslims to Thank Sen. Durbin and Sen. Graham For Bi-Partisan Leadership to Protect Religious Freedom Today.

This morning, the Senate Judiciary Sub-Committee on the Constitution held their hearing on the status of Muslim civil rights in America.  The hearing was led by Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ranking Member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).  ISNA applauds the bi-partisan leadership shown by Sen. Durbin and Sen. Graham this morning to protect the moral foundation of America built by our founding fathers and the values of equality and respect that foundation was built to support. 

In the last year, anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions have spiked tremendously, leading Congress to take action today and investigate this disturbing trend.  ISNA urges all community members to contact Sen. Durbin and Sen. Graham to thank them for holding these hearings.  Join ISNA as we thank them for their moral leadership and ability to cooperate across the party line to unite our country towards a better future.

CONTACT: Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), 202-224-2152, or email here
            Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), 202-224-5972, or email here.

As more information becomes available we will update this article.



— Ayaan Hirsi Ali - see TAM Responses collection
— Zachariah Anani *
— Glenn Beck (media) - see TAM Responses collection
— Phyllis Chessler *
— Ann Coulter (media) - see TAM Responses collection
— Nonie Darwish *
— Alan Dershowitz - see TAM Responses collection
— Steven Emerson and the Investigative Project **
— Brigitte Gabriel and ACT for America ***
— Dave Gaubatz *
Frank Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy ***** and *****
Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs and SIOA ***
— Sean Hannity (media) - see TAM Responses collection
David Horowitz *****
— Charles Jacobs and Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America CAMERA and David Project **
— Zuhdi Jasser ***
— Rev. Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Christian Center *
— Joe Kaufman - see TAM Responses collection
— Charles Krauthammer (media)  - see TAM Responses collection
— Michelle Malkin (media) - see TAM Responses collection
— Bill O’Reilly (media) - see TAM Responses collection
— Marty Peretz (media) - see TAM Responses collection
Daniel Pipes ****
— Kamal Saleem *
— Michael Savage (media) - see TAM Responses collection
— Debbie Schlussel - see TAM Responses collection
— Stephen Schwartz and Center for Islamic Pluralism - see TAM Responses collection
— Walid Shoebat **
Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch ***
— Mark Steyn (media) - see TAM Responses collection
— Wafa Sultan - see TAM Responses collection
David Yerushalmi and SANE ****

Note:  Those in bold are key figures

Islamophobia no longer questioned - even by our elected representatives for a lengthy list of anti-Muslim, Islamobophic quotes by elected representatives and government representatives

There would appear to be an Islamophobia industry engaged in what Max Blumenthal calls a Great Islamophobic Crusade.  In regard to the production of “Relentless”,  “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War on the West” and “The Third Jihad” TAM has published this article and Richard Silverstein has discussed the anti-Muslim propaganda during the last election cycle here, and the money trail between these groups here  and here