On September 26, a coalition of civil rights, human rights, and advocacy organizations sent a letter to each member of Congress urging them not to legitimize anti-Muslim bigotry. This letter comes one week before the virulently anti-Muslim group ACT for America is scheduled to hold a conference and lobby day on Capitol Hill.
One of the most active anti-Muslim grassroots organizations in the country, ACT annually brings activists to Washington, DC, to promote anti-Muslim policies camouflaged as national security issues. ACT’s founder Brigitte Gabriel has vilified Muslims and Islam for years, espousing racist and xenophobic views.
The letter calls on members of Congress to not legitimize anti-Muslim bigotry by attending ACT’s conference and to speak out publicly against anti-Muslim bigotry. The full text of the letter and its signatories are below.
Anti-Muslim vitriol in public discourse has increased dramatically, fed by inflammatory statements and support for discriminatory policies. Among the most dangerous voices fueling this religious bigotry is ACT for America, a national organization that promotes anti-Muslim rhetoric and is hosting its annual conference in Crystal City, Virginia, next week. We write, respectfully, to urge you not to legitimize ACT’s hate by attending its conference.
Six Members of Congress canceled their appearance at ACT’s conference last year, likely after learning of the group’s extremist and bigoted views. This represented over a third of the Members of Congress ACT had scheduled to speak.
ACT for America is one of the largest and most aggressive anti-Muslim grassroots organizations in the country. For years, ACT’s founder Brigitte Gabriel has vilified Muslims and Islam and espoused racist and xenophobic views, painting an inaccurate and harmful picture of Muslims in society. For example, she has stated that “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim” and that Muslims are a “natural threat to civilized people of the world, particularly Western society.”
Both Gabriel and ACT for America have a long history of promoting policies at the federal and state levels intended to manufacture fear of Muslims and promote the false idea of Muslims as a threat to the United States. ACT for America has long played a significant role in driving the current feverish climate of anti-Muslim hate and supported discriminatory policies aimed at vilifying Muslims, which often have the effect of making it harder for Muslims to practice their faith. The group’s annual convening galvanizes their members and emboldens their anti-Muslim views and activism.
This year, ACT organized anti-Muslim rallies across the country on June 10 which attracted supporters ranging from far-right, anti-government groups to white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups.
We are deeply disturbed by ACT for America’s anti-Muslim agenda and its repercussions for the rights and safety of all Americans. The organization’s speech and viewpoints are protected by the Constitution, but that does not mean we should stay silent in the face of intolerance and bigotry. The Constitution also protects the rights of people of all faiths to practice their religion—or no religion. Yet ACT consistently takes action built around suppressing this Constitutional right for Muslims.
As civil rights, human rights, and advocacy organizations, we stand firmly against hate and discriminatory policies, like those pushed by ACT for America. In the face of this, we call on all of our elected leaders to unequivocally reject hatred and discrimination. We hope you will stand in support of religious liberty for all and choose not to attend ACT for America’s National Conference and Legislative Briefing as it would only serve to legitimize their agenda. We also encourage you to release a public statement denouncing anti-Muslim bigotry and the discriminatory policies promoted by ACT for America. Please contact Manar Waheed with the American Civil Liberties Union at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lindsay Schubiner with the Center for New Community at email@example.com with any questions or to discuss this further.
Thank you in advance for taking a stand against bigotry and hate.
America’s Voice Education Fund
American Civil Liberties Union
American Muslim Advisory Council
American Muslim Health Professionals
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Arab American Institute
Arkansas United Community Coalition
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA)
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Center for New Community
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Franciscan Action Network
Global Progressive Hub
Human Rights First
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Indivisible Rapid City
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Jews Say No!
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
National Council of Jewish Women
National Education Association
National Immigration Law Center
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for New Americans
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Network Against Islamophobia, JVP
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
Poligon Education Fund
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)
Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Dakota Voices for Peace
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Advocates for Human Rights
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
The Revolutionary Love Project
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United We Dream
Veterans for American Ideals
We Belong Together
Yemen Peace Project