Prior to the presidential election, several grass-roots Arab-American and Muslim organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American Muslim Taskforce (ATM), established “get out the vote” efforts. The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections gave a qualified endorsement to John Kerry. The taskforce acknowledged outreach by Sen. Edward Kennedy, and said they appreciated ongoing dialogue with Muslim leaders about “problems posed by the Patriot Act.” Kerry voted for the Patriot Act but then criticized it.
The American Muslim Taskforce is an umbrella organization representing groups such as CAIR, the Islamic Circle of North America, and the Muslim Alliance in North America. In the days preceding the election an estimated eighty percent of Muslim voters in the U.S. intended to cast their ballots for Senator Kerry, according to an opinion poll. Their top concern stated was civil rights. The vote for Kerry was termed a “protest” vote against the Patriot Act, and other actions that these groups said violated their civil rights.
CAIR has launched an effort to counteract anti-Muslim prejudice, which it says is widespread among Americans. They recently asked Muslims around the world to help correct misperceptions of Islam and its stance on religiously motivated terror. The Kentucky office of CAIR is conducting “sensitivity training” for FBI agents in Lexington. CAIR said 13 FBI agents, including supervisors, attended a workshop that examined “basic Islamic beliefs and concepts, common stereotypes of Islam and Muslims, and ways in which to improve interactions with the Muslim community.”
There is irony, though, in CAIR’s efforts to counteract what they call stereotypes of Muslims. CAIR denies any ties to terrorist groups but has generated its own share of controversy and has contributed to these stereotypes by participating in conferences that feature speakers that voice racist epithets, support suicide bombers, call for the termination of the Jews, and support leaders of the Hamas terrorist group.
Since September 11, 2001, three CAIR figures have been arrested by U.S. federal authorities on terrorist-related charges. CAIR also has been criticized for its links to Hamas by various terrorist experts and scholars, including Matthew Levitt, senior fellow in terrorism studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Levitt testified to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism that CAIR was founded by Omar Ahmed, who co-founded the Islamic Association for Palestine, a HAMAS front organization.
Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi of Italy has said CAIR’s ties to Hamas are “evident.” In February 2000 he gave a speech identifying CAIR as a Muslim Brotherhood front organization that works in the U.S. as a lobby against radio, television and print media journalists who dare to produce anything about Islam that is at variance with their fundamentalist agenda. To the utter shame of the media, CAIR has been very effective in silencing the media.