‘American Muslims Are Here to Stay,’ CAIR Tells Trump

By Patrick Goodenough | November 9, 2016 | 5:18pm EST
Muslim men pray at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

(CNSNews.com) – The Council on American-Islamic-Relations and other Muslim groups called on President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday to reach out to Muslims and other communities “impacted” by his campaign rhetoric.

“As citizens of this great nation, we accept the result of the democratic process that has bound us together as one nation,” said CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad.

“Regardless of who won or lost yesterday’s election, American Muslims are here to stay. We are not going anywhere, and will not be intimidated or marginalized.”

As a press conference in Washington D.C. reacting to the presidential election outcome, Awad said that to CAIR’s knowledge neither Trump nor any member of his campaign had reached out to representatives of Muslim organizations since the result was announced.

He said CAIR invites Trump, as it has done before, to reach out to Muslim community leaders “to meet and to have a serious and deep conversation about the future of this country and how we can work together.”

“It is our obligation as Muslims, as citizens, to be gracious and to communicate with the leaders of our country,” he said.

Awad said CAIR also expects Trump to reach out, “especially to the communities that have felt threatened by his rhetoric, not only the Muslim community – Latinos, Mexicans, the African-American communities …”

Trump’s call late last year for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country due to terrorism concerns caused a storm of controversy. He said later the ban proposal was “just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on.”

During the second presidential debate with Hillary Clinton last month, he conceded that the Muslim ban proposal had “morphed into extreme vetting [of Muslim visitors] from certain areas of the world.” He cited Syrians in particular, pointing to Clinton’s proposal to increase substantially the number of Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S. under President Obama.

At Wednesday’s press briefing, Kristin Szremski of American Muslims for Palestine said there was “a lot of fear out there among Muslims and other impacted communities.”

She said the group hopes that Trump will “put aside his decisive rhetoric” and “adopt a more positive discourse.”

“Muslims are not aliens in this country,” Szremski said. “We are longstanding citizens and we expect to be treated as such. We should not be singled out, subjected to surveillance and otherwise marginalized by threats to close our mosques, make us carry special IDs or to ban Muslims from entering the United States.”

Islamic Circle of North America president Naeem Baig congratulated Trump on his “surprising victory” and welcomed what he said had been a free and fair election process.

At the same time, he said the U.S. has come through an “appalling election season that saw Islamophobia, anti-immigrant, sexist and racist rhetoric become mainstream in the United States.”

He said it was incumbent on Trump to heal the nation, ensure the safety, security and freedom of worship of minorities and places of worship, “in particular those who have been threatened.”

Baig also urged the Department of Justice to keep an eye on hate groups and individuals, “who are now organized, vocal and well-networked.”

And he congratulated Hillary Clinton “for running an amazing campaign and for winning the popular vote.”

CAIR, which describes itself as “the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization,” is known for labeling its critics, and critics of radical Islam, as “Islamophobes.”

During the primary and general election campaign, the group tracked statements by candidates, criticizing those it viewed as unfair or demeaning to Muslims.

Last month it released a nationwide survey last month in which 85 percent of Muslim respondents said “Islamophobia” and anti-Muslim sentiment had increased over the past year.

In October, CAIR released the results of a nationwide survey of Muslim voters on the presidential election and on issues of concern to the Muslim community. The survey found that 85 percent of polled Muslim voters believed that Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. has increased in the past year.

Last January, it launched an online video clip taking a dig at Trump and calling on people to “spread love, not Islamophobia.”

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