The Edmond Sun

March 19, 2010

Critics: Officials should bypass CAIR

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — State elected officials should not attend a faith-based group’s annual event this weekend given the FBI’s disassociation with the group, several critics of the group said Friday.

In a related development, a state lawmaker who learned about his purported event attendance, has disassociated himself from the group.

This weekend, the Council on American-Islamic Relations Oklahoma chapter is having its annual banquet Saturday night at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

On Wednesday, CAIR sent an e-mail titled “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” The message contained photos of Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones, two state senators and seven state representatives.

It also contained pro-CAIR comments from elected officials, and information about volunteering for the group.

Paul Blair, pastor of Edmond’s Fairview Baptist Church, and congressional candidate Kevin Calvey, R-Del City, a former state representative, said given the federal government’s position, it is inappropriate for elected officials to attend the CAIR event.

Calvey, who became interested in the group during his military service in Iraq, cites court action and the FBI statement that CAIR has failed to answer questions about an alleged connection between its executives and Hamas.

Calvey, and others, including Blair, point to CAIR being named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a trial related to fundraising for Hamas, identified by the U.S. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterorrism as a terrorist organization. Calvey has called CAIR a front organization for Hamas.

State Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, one of the officials whose photograph was included in the e-mail, told The Sun he was not intending to attend CAIR’s event, and after he learned about the issue Friday afternoon he informed CAIR he was disassociating himself from the group.

Also included in the e-mail was a photograph of Attorney General Drew Edmondson, a candidate for governor. His campaign office said he would not be attending the event this weekend.

Efforts to reach other officials Friday were not successful.

Previously, Calvey has said he would not meet with Razi Hashmi, of Edmond, executive director of CAIR’s Oklahoma chapter, unless he denounced CAIR. Hashmi said he has met in Washington with U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin’s staff, and personally met with U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who has an open door policy.

Hashmi said his offer to meet with Calvey still stands and repeated his belief in the importance of dialogue over intolerance.

“Having me denounce CAIR, that’s out of the question,” Hashmi said, noting his organization is about building bridges and defending the civil rights of Muslims. “I’d never do that.”

C.S. Thornton, deputy director of the ACLU’s Oklahoma chapter, said there were no endorsement of religion issues with elected officials supporting CAIR or attending the event.

Thornton said Calvey is promoting hysteria and hatred toward the Islamic community. Calvey said the ACLU, a group that defends ideals such as free speech, is being hypocritical, criticizing him when all he is doing is exercising that constitutional right. Calvey said he would be against any group like CAIR, and he has worked with Muslims.

Blair said Calvey is a patriot, and is justifiably accurate in taking a stand against CAIR. Blair said Christians want to tell others about the ideology and goals of radical Islam, and that he has a desire to share the good news of the gospel with Muslims.

Blair said Jesus, the central figure of Christianity, was intolerant, that he entered the temple area and drove out the money changers. Jesus also showed his love for the world through his sacrificial death on the cross, and declared that the only route to heaven is through obediently trusting Him, Blair said.

Hamas formed in late 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the U.S. State Department. Hamas is loosely structured, with some elements working clandestinely and others working openly through mosques and social service institutions to recruit members, raise money, organize activities and distribute propaganda, the federal government says.

Blair, head of Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ, cites FBI audio recordings of a 1993 Philadelphia meeting from which the idea for CAIR was born, and the government’s contention that organizers had direct ties to the radical group Muslim Brotherhood. U.S. attorneys have been very candid in saying that CAIR has conspired to support terrorists, Blair said.

“Their stated goal was to create a political and public relations organization in America whose Islamic hue was not very conspicuous,” Blair said of CAIR.

For more information about CAIR, visit www.cair.com, and for more information about Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ, visit www.reclaimoklahoma.org.



marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108