Evangelicals and Muslims together denounce Franklin Graham’s anti-Muslim remarks

WASHINGTON (RNS) An evangelical pastor from Texas joined American Muslim leaders Thursday (July 23) in denouncing recent anti-Muslim comments by evangelist Franklin Graham as they announced upcoming efforts to build bridges between their religious communities.

Pastor Bob Roberts Jr. speaks alongside Imam Mohamed Magid on Capitol Hill on Thursday (July 23, 2015) in response to Franklin Graham’s recent anti-Muslim remarks. Religion News Service photo by Sara Weissman
Pastor Bob Roberts Jr. speaks alongside Imam Mohamed Magid on Capitol Hill on Thursday (July 23, 2015) in response to Franklin Graham’s recent anti-Muslim remarks. Religion News Service photo by Sara Weissman

In response to the killing of five service members in Chattanooga, Tenn., last week, Graham, son of evangelical leader Billy Graham, wrote on Facebook that the U.S. should bar Muslims from immigrating.

Rep. Keith Ellison: Being a Muslim in Congress Has Gotten Better

February 10, 2014

 

Ellison called Muslims in America the “scapegoat du jour.”

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was the first Muslim elected to Congress and it’s not always been an easy ride. Monday, on book tour duty for his new tome, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” he spoke at the Center for American Progress about being a member of a religion that’s often treated as the “scapegoat du jour.”

For instance, even before he won election, Ellison became the ire of the far-right when he said, on a late night Somali-language program in his district, that he would be sworn in on the Quran.

“It set off a firestorm,” Ellison recalled.

Ellison won his race and found out early on that he had allies in his own party on Capitol Hill. On swearing-in day, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Ellison to give the prayer before the freshmen class.

“I didn’t know her from a can of paint, but I knew all that I needed to know about her from that moment on,” Ellison said.

Several more of Ellison’s Democratic colleagues bonded with him over their own swearing-in tomes.

“Later in the day of the swearing in, a little lady, about 5-foot-2, curly blonde hair – Debbie Wasserman Schultz – you all know her,’” Ellison said. “[She said], ‘Welcome to Congress and by the way, I want you to know when I swore in, I swore in with a copy of the Tanakh, which is Jewish scripture.”

Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., also approached Ellison to tell the Minnesota Democrat he had used a Bible written in the Gullah dialect.

Another memorable moment came when Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., called a Muslim “radicalization” hearing in March 2011 before the House Homeland Security Committee. Ellison tried to dissuade King from holding the hearing, but when that didn’t work Ellison decided to testify instead. He made a piece of his testimony about Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old American Muslim, who perished on 9/11 trying to save his fellow citizens.

“I started talking about this boy and his heroism and my throat started to get thick, my tongue started to thicken up, I could feel warm tears start rolling down my face,” Ellison said. (Basically, he pulled a House Speaker John Boehner, who has a penchant for crying.)

US News: http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2014/02/10/rep-keith-ellison-being-a-muslim-in-congress-has-gotten-better

Ahmadi Muslim leader pushes plight in Congress

WASHINGTON — The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is persecuted around the world, but it has plenty of friends on Capitol Hill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joined more than 20 House colleagues and at least one senator Wednesday (June 27) at a reception to mark the first visit of the Ahmadiyya’s spiritual leader, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, to Congress.

The Ahmadiyya have faced severe repression, Pelosi said, “but you refused to turn to bitterness or vengeance.”

“The message we carry is ‘if you are being hurt, do not respond with hurt,’” said Ahsanullah Zafar, president of the Ahmadiyya community in the U.S.

Katrina Lantos Swett, the chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, asked the audience to stand up for the Ahmadiyya.

“The message of the Ahmadiyya community is a positive call for world harmony and liberty,” Swett said. “We who believe in peace and freedom dare not be silent.”

Opposition grows to religious freedom nominee

More than 1,800 people have signed a petition asking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to “reconsider” his appointment of Zuhdi Jasser, a prominent critic of U.S. Muslims, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

“How can an individual who supports the curbing of Muslim civil and religious liberties at home be trusted as a ‘commissioner’ to review and analyze violations of religious freedoms abroad?” the petition writers ask in their appeal.

Jasser, a physician in Phoenix, Ariz., and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, has angered many Muslim Americans for his work with groups they say demonize Muslims, and for supporting policies that they say infringe on their civil liberties.

Jasser narrated “The Third Jihad,” a documentary widely considered to be Islamophobic, and sits on the board of The Clarion Fund, which funded the film, and has received funding from organizations with anti-Islamic sentiments. He has also defended the New York City Police Department against attacks that it spied on Muslims, and testified on Capitol Hill on the problem of Muslim “extremism” in the U.S.

The petition is sponsored by www.Islamophobiatoday.com.

Muslims to Be Congressional Hearings’ Main Focus

The new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Monday that he planned to call mostly Muslim and Arab witnesses to testify in hearings next month on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism.
Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, said he would rely on Muslims to make his case that American Muslim leaders have failed to cooperate with law enforcement officials in the effort to disrupt terrorist plots — a claim that was rebutted in recent reports by counterterrorism experts and in a forum on Capitol Hill on Monday.

As the hearings approach, the reaction from Muslim groups — initially outraged — has evolved into efforts to get Mr. King to enlarge the scope of the hearings beyond Muslims. They want to use the forum to reinforce the notion that the potential for terrorist violence among American Muslims is very marginal and very isolated.

GOP wants Napolitano fired

Congressman Mike Hoffman (R-Colo) joined 10 other Republicans on Capitol Hill to request the removal of Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary on the heels of the Abdulmutallab attack on Christmas Day.

“There should be no tolerance for her lack of leadership,” the letter from the lawmakers read. “…it is imperative that you dismiss her immediately.”

Capitol Hill Honor for Muslim Hero

CAIRO – New York’s young Muslim hero who defended a group of Jewish subway passengers from a racist attack is being honored with an invitation to attend President George Bush’s State of the Union address at Capitol Hill. “He was as excited as we were in inviting him,” Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York told the New York Post on Thursday, January 24. “He immediately said, ‘Yes, I would love to be there.'” Bangladeshi-born Hassan Askari, 20, was thrust into the spot light in his Brooklyn neighborhood, Queens, last month after he saved four Jews from a racist attack aboard the Q train running between Manhattan and Brooklyn.