64-Member Coalition Opposes New Religious Freedom Appointee

Zuhdi Jasser lacks commitment to religious rights, claims ‘operationally, Islam is not peaceful’

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A broad national coalition of 64 organizations and individuals today sent a letter to Senators Inouye, McConnell and Durbin expressing “deep concern” at the recent appointment of Zuhdi Jasser to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

In a joint letter, the coalition asked that Jasser’s appointment by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) be rescinded.

To read the full text of the letter and list of signatories, go to:

The letter states in part:

“The USCIRF promotes the freedom of religion and belief, and it seeks to combat religious extremism, intolerance, and repression throughout the world. In contrast with these laudable goals, Dr. Jasser believes, ‘. . .operationally, Islam is not peaceful.’ His consistent support for measures that threaten and diminish religious freedoms within the United States demonstrates his deplorable lack of understanding of and commitment to religious freedom and undermines the USCIRF’s express purpose.”

The coalition noted that Jasser’s organization, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, “applauded” an amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution that both a federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit have held is in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by clearly favoring all other religions over Islam. That amendment specifically targeted Islam for official censure.

The letter also cited Jasser’s opposition to the constitutionally-protected construction of a Muslim community center in lower Manhattan, his support for the New York Police Department’s blanket surveillance of Muslims based on religion rather than evidence or suspicion of wrongdoing and his ties to virulently anti-Muslim groups and individual Islamophobes.

“Zuhdi Jasser has been a vocal opponent of religious freedom for American Muslims and is therefore an inappropriate choice to represent our nation as it seeks to promote such freedoms in the international arena,” said Corey Saylor, national legislative director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “Jasser’s appointment sends a negative message to all those who seek to protect religious freedom in this nation and worldwide.”