PHILADELPHIA: October 6, 2019. (PCP) On September 17, a planned Islamist lobbying day at the Ohio Statehouse flopped after the Middle East Forum's Islamism in Politics (IIP) project convinced Ohio legislators to snub the Council on American-American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its supporters.
During CAIR's third annual "Muslim Day at the Capitol" event, IIP carried out an aggressive lobbying campaign and visited the Ohio Statehouse to monitor CAIR's influence operation, only to find the capitol building largely deserted.
In the weeks leading up to CAIR-Ohio's lobby day, IIP met with state and federal politicians to warn them about CAIR's extremist past, noting that the FBI and Columbus Police Department cut ties with the nonprofit because of its status as an unindicted co-conspirator in the nation's largest terrorism financing trial. Additionally, IIP distributed a letter to every member of the Ohio General Assembly recounting evidence of extremism from CAIR and its Ohio chapters.
IIP also disseminated this information to Ohio voters, who sent letters to their state and federal representatives. "Do not be fooled by this self-styled civil rights and advocacy group," the letters warned. "Ohio's growing Muslim American community deserves better."
At the statehouse, CAIR's delegation heard from keynote speaker Linda Sarsour — a Muslim activist who was recently kicked off the board of the national Women's March for making anti-Semitic statements — before breaking into groups to meet with Ohio lawmakers.
In previous years, CAIR-Ohio was quick to trumpet the face time it scored with local lawmakers on social media. Apparently, there was little opportunity this year. Although the Islamist group shared 228 photos from its seven-hour event on Facebook, there does not appear to be any evidence of the advertised "30 legislative meetings with lawmakers and their staff" which CAIR promised.
IIP Coordinator Benjamin Baird observed that the Ohio Statehouse was "like a ghost town" at precisely the time that CAIR was supposed to meet with state representatives. "We met with Ohio leaders at both the state and federal level and reminded them that CAIR does not speak for the majority of Ohio Muslims," Baird said. "This message resonated with several Ohio lawmakers, including the office of U.S. Senator Rob Portman, who agreed not to meet CAIR during its advocacy day."
With at least 30 regional offices covering 50 states, CAIR will continue to influence policy at the local, state, and federal level.
A growing coalition of concerned citizens, moderate Muslims, counter-Islamists, and local government allies have partnered with IIP to monitor and challenge Islamist-run political lobbying in any state, and work with moderate Muslim groups instead.
"The price of inaction," Baird noted, "is simply too high."
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