The Louisiana State House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution calling on all state law enforcement agencies to avoid and suspend formal contacts and outreach with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The vote, taken last Friday, was 63-18 with 24 abstentions, and it passed with broad bipartisan support, and 17 Democrats and one Republican voting against.
The bill’s language and intent mirror the FBI’s suspension of formal relationships with CAIR following the organization’s listing as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case. In that case, several American Muslim organizations involved with the Holy Land Foundation were discovered to be funneling money to Hamas in violation of U.S. law.
According to sponsor Rep. Barry Ivey, it was important that the state go on record as not viewing CAIR as an appropriate liaison to the state’s Muslim community, while stressing that the resolution was not intended to stigmatize that community or the legitimate advocacy work that CAIR does.
In addition to the Holy Land Foundation case, the resolution cites a number of ties between CAIR leadership and terrorist organizations. CAIR directors have been found guilty of violating U.S. sanctions against Iraq and pled guilty to terrorism-related financial and conspiracy charges; its former civil rights coordinator trained with a Kashmir-based terrorist organization; its former community affairs director was deported to Egypt after diverting monies to overseas terrorist activities; and a CAIR fundraiser was also executive director of the Global Relief Foundation, a terrorist front group.
CAIR itself has often taken an offensive role in the public debate of Islam and the public square, seeking to brand critics of Islamism or political Islam as “Islamophobic.”
During the Judiciary Committee hearings, Paul Deckert, a consultant for the Center for Security Policy, testified concerning CAIR’s police outreach efforts, particularly in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Some of those efforts appear to be focused on gaining greater latitude for traditional Muslim practices which may not be in accordance with US police practice or American culture. For example, he reported that in responding to domestic violence calls, police are usually instructed to question the parties separately. CAIR’s outreach efforts suggest that it is inappropriate to separate a husband and wife, which would compromise sound police procedure.
He also noted that Qatar had labeled CAIR as a terrorist organization (in fact, it is the United Arab Emirates, or UAE).
Skeptics of the bill raised a number of objections. Rep. Katrina Jackson, the Democratic chairman of the committee, compared CAIR with prior civil rights organizations such as the NAACP, noting that it had, in its day, also been considered a “terrorist” group — a concern that she repeated during debate on the House floor. She also expressed a desire to avoid stigmatizing members of Louisiana’s Muslim community.
Mr. Deckert replied by comparing CAIR to the Bund of the 1930s, a group that purported to represent German-Americans, but which was actually a Nazi front organization, and one that did not command the loyalty or support of the vast majority of German-Americans of that time.
Likewise, CAIR has been accused by other Muslims of operating as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, and appears not to represent the bulk of American Muslims, despite attempts to seize for itself the role of Islamic spokesmen in America.
Other members noted that the offenses had been committed by individual members and not by CAIR in its official capacity, that there had been no formal finding by the federal government that CAIR was a terrorist organization, and that there did not seem to be any current CAIR activity in Louisiana.
Tommy Waller, of the Center for Security Policy, read from a letter from an FBI field office to CAIR. “As a result, if CAIR wishes to pursue an outreach relationship with the FBI, certain issues must be resolved to the satisfaction of the FBI. Unfortunately, these issues cannot be addressed at the local level, and must be addressed by the CAIR national office in Washington, DC.” Likewise, he noted, Louisiana’s law enforcement community should suspend formal contacts until CAIR’s national office, not any local offices, addressed its problems.
On the House floor, Rep. Mike Johnson offered a number of clarifying amendments, including one that would stay implementation of the resolution pending a finding by the U.S. Department of Justice concerning CAIR’s status. These amendments were adopted, and ultimately Rep. Jackson voted in favor of the revised resolution, noting that they would give notice to Louisiana’s Muslims about CAIR’s nature, and an opportunity for them to disassociate themselves from it.
The resolution now moves on to the Senate for further action.
When contacted by the Haym Salomon Center, CAIR declined to comment.