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Muslim Advocates: Attack in New York is Not an Excuse to Fearmonger & Violate Rights

Washington, DC – The following is a statement from Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, in response to yesterday’s attack in New York City and the backwards rhetoric and proposals that have been offered in its wake, including the invocation of a “religious war” and proposals to end the diversity visa program, pervert our national security screenings, circumvent the justice system, and send the attacker to Guantanamo Bay:

“While our nation mourns the victims and law enforcement agencies investigate this horrific attack, President Donald Trump and Senator Lindsey Graham have sought to divide Americans, trumpet bigoted policies, demonize immigrants and Muslims, and erode our justice system.  

According to Senator Graham, he and the President believe we are fighting a ‘religious war’ but they fail to look at the facts.  As NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said today,  this attack “isn’t about Islam.”

Violence isn’t owned by any one faith or political ideology – witness Charlottesville, the congressional baseball shooting, and the Charleston church shooting.  Any ideology can be used as an excuse for deranged behavior.  Sayfullo Saipov represents Muslims as much as the Ku Klux Klan represents Christians.  

Trump and Graham are suggesting that the suspect should be treated as an enemy combatant and sent to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, outside our criminal justice system.  This reckless proposal ignores the reality that our federal courts have regularly handled proceedings for numerous al Qaeda and ISIS suspects, including the recent conviction of the Chelsea bomber.

By calling for an end to the diversity visa program and renewing his calls to pervert our national security screening process,  Trump is seizing on this attack to further his agenda to radically transform our immigration system to keep out Muslims and other non-white immigrants.

Now is not the time to give in to our worst fears. We must stand together against those who will try to divide us by color and religion as one diverse and unified nation.”

Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.