CAIRO – A coalition of major Muslim groups in the United States have called on the Republican Party to speak out against anti-Islam bias and anti-Shari`ah legislation to help reach out Muslim voters.
“We are writing to offer an open invitation to reassess your party’s current relationship with American Muslims,” the Muslim groups said in an open letter to the Republican Party obtained by OnIslam.net.
The letter says that Muslim support for the Republican Party has sharply dropped in recent years.
“As with other demographics, American Muslim support for Republicans has dropped precipitously in recent years.
“This shift away from the GOP is not set in stone, but its future direction is dependent on choices your party makes.”
The letter, which was published in The Washington Times, says Republican lawmakers have championed bills in several American states to ban Islamic Shari`ah.
“In 2011 and 2012, 78 bills or amendments aimed at interfering with Islamic religious practices were considered in 31 states and the US Congress,” it says.
Lawmakers in at least two dozen states have introduced proposals to forbid local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes, including Tennessee, Virginia, Kansas and Pennsylvania.
The statutes have been enacted in three states so far.
“Seventy-three of these bills were introduced solely by Republicans,” the Muslim letter says.
“In at least 11 states, mainstream Republican leaders introduced or supported anti-Muslim legislation.”
In Islam, Shari`ah governs all issues in Muslims’ lives from daily prayers to fasting and from, marriage and inheritance to financial disputes.
The Islamic rulings, however, do not apply on non-Muslims, even if in a dispute with non-Muslims.
In US courts, judges can refer to Shari`ah law in Muslim litigation involving cases about divorce and custody proceedings or in commercial litigation.
The letter also blamed anti-Islam statements by Republicans for turning Muslim voters away from the party.
“In supporting such efforts to introduce government-sanctioned discrimination against Muslims, members of your party have made despicable Islamophobic remarks,” says the letter signed by 11 Muslim groups.
“We repeatedly hear—primarily from Republicans—that our faith is a threat to the United States.”
Republican candidates have repeatedly used inflammatory rhetoric against US Muslims, estimated at between six to eight million, to win votes.
During his campaign to win his party nomination for the November election, Newt Gingrich, former House speaker, had described Islamic Shari`ah as a mortal threat to the United States.
Republican aspirant Rick Santorum had also described Islamic Shari`ah as "an existential threat" to America.
A Republican Missouri lawmaker had also described Islam as a disease like polio while another Alaska Rep. branded Muslims as ‘occupiers’ of American neighborhoods.
“Additionally, mainstream Republican candidates have questioned our loyalty and even threatened to undermine the Constitution in efforts to exclude us from the political process, all without any pushback from party leaders,” the letter says.
Former candidate Herman Cain had said that he would not appoint a Muslim in his administration.
Cain, who withdrew from the race for the White House, later modified his position by calling for an unconstitutional "loyalty" oath for Muslim appointees.
Signatories of the letter include the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) an American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT).
The letter says that time is ripe for the Republican Party to help repair its relations with the Muslim community.
“We believe that November 6 presented an opportunity to distance your party from anti- Muslim bias and place the voices of bias on the fringe where they belong—still free to speak, but shunned for their intolerance,” it says.
“We have witnessed some signs recently that this rejection of anti-Islam bias can easily take place if the party commits to confronting intolerance.”
The Muslim groups unveiled a number of recommendations for the Republican Party to help reach out Muslim voters.
“The party establishment should speak out strongly against biased speech within its ranks,” the letter says.
It also called on the Republican Party to make a concerted effort to engage Muslim voters.
The letter also urged the party establishment to oppose efforts to pass discriminatory legislation.
“The party establishment should reject any member's effort to use official public forums to smear a minority.”
Muslim groups also called on Republican Party officials to end the persistent witch-hunt targeting legally operating Muslim institutions."Let us all work together to maintain America's leadership in support of emerging democracies and the rule of law worldwide by promoting the humanitarian principles enshrined in our Constitution's Bill of Rights. May God Almighty bless the United States of America."
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