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Muslim Organization Criticizes Presidential Candidate Rubio For Downplaying Discrimination Against Muslims

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(MIAMI, FL, 2/8/2016) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations  Florida (CAIR FL), the state’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, today sent a letter to Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) criticizing his denial of the prevalent Islamophobia and hate crimes against the Florida Muslim community. In reaction to the President’s remarks in his recent visit to an Islamic Center in Baltimore, Senator Rubio stated: “Look at today - he [President Obama] gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”  CAIR Florida’s Legislative and Government Affairs Director, Laila Abdelaziz, stated that this letter is of utmost significance to our community as it calls on Senator Rubio to account for downplaying the condition of his American Muslim constituency by denying that they are victims of Islamophobia and hate crimes. Abdelaziz stated, “We deserve a serious and honest approach to the significant increase in hate incidents targeting American Muslims in Florida. Our letter is a call to action for Senator Rubio to engage our community and protect all of his constituents as he is constitutionally mandated to do.”

CAIR Florida’s letter to Senator Marco Rubio is reproduced below:

February 8, 2016

Senator Marco Rubio

284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

Dear Senator Rubio:

As you know, President Barack Obama visited an American Islamic Center on February 3rd in Baltimore, following in the steps of former President George W. Bush back in 2001. President Obama’s remarks highlighted the contributions that American Muslims have made in the past and continue to make in our nation. He also emphasized the importance of our Constitutional pillar of Freedom of Religion stressing that, in the United States, we are all one, that Islam is part of the fabric of our nation, that an attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths, and calling on all Americans to not be bystanders to bigotry. The President also stated that: “We need to make sure hate crimes are punished.”

In reacting to the President’s remarks, you stated: “Look at today - he [President Obama] gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”  Senator Rubio, your pronouncements are very worrisome to the hundreds of thousands of American Muslims in your constituency as they certainly do not reflect the reality they have been facing in recent times. The many hate crimes that members of our community have suffered have not gone silent. Most of them have been reported, not only by local and state media but also in national and international media outlets.

In addition to the hundreds of reported hate incidents around the nation, please allow us to remind you of just a few of these unfortunate events that took place recently in our State of Florida: An American Muslim family in Orlando were victims of a drive-by shooting; an Islamic Center of Palm Beach was broken into and vandalized; a fire at a future mosque site in Daytona Beach; a Facebook posting threatening to burn down mosques; several Muslim  women attacked throughout the state; many children made victims of bullying and even battery; several businesses around the state putting up signs designating them as ‘Muslim Free Zones’; a Cooper City school and Islamic Center vandalized with xenophobic graffiti; also, an abundance of threatening calls and electronic messages reported to state and federal authorities which have resulted in the arrest of the perpetrators. 

Ignoring or downplaying these crimes against the Florida Muslim community, or what is worse by denying these facts, is insensitive on your part especially in your role as our representative before the U.S. Government. Our families, women, and children should not be played in a menial political discourse but, instead, their unfortunate condition should be taken with the thoughtfulness and attention that that this situation merits. We expect from you nothing less.

CAIR Florida encourages you to reach out to your Florida Muslim constituents to learn more about the ordeals they face by experiencing discrimination and hate incidents. You are also invited to reach out to the U.S. attorneys in Florida because they are in the front lines of prosecuting hate crimes against Florida Muslims. Please contact us promptly to further discuss this matter of utmost importance for all.

Sincerely,


Laila Abdelaziz

Legislative and Government Affairs Director

CAIR Florida’s mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties of all people, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.