Penn. Muslims Ask Legislature to Reject Religious ‘Litmus Test’
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(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 6/19/08) – The Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-PA) today called on state legislators to reject a proposed “religious litmus test” for passage of a resolution recognizing a Muslim group’s convention.

On Wednesday, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler County) said he would vote against a resolution recognizing the 60th annual convention of the U.S. Chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community because “Muslims do not recognize Jesus Christ as God.” Rep. Metcalf’s remark initiated a debate that effectively postponed the vote until after the convention.

SEE: Pa. Lawmaker’s Anti-Muslim Comment Derails Measure (AP)

“It is unfortunate that the Islamophobic views of one legislator apparently prevented the passage of a resolution recognizing our nation’s religious diversity.” said CAIR-PA Civil Rights Director Justin Peyton. “This unnecessary controversy indicates just how much work still remains to be done to promote true religious tolerance and to reject religious litmus tests.”

He added: “Comments such as Rep. Metcalfe’s are designed to divide Americans along religious lines and only serve to erode the pluralism that has made America great. Passage of the resolution, even if after the convention, would send a strong signal to Islamophobes that the majority of Pennsylvanians reject their views.”

Peyton added that he did see encouraging signs of hope in the immediate rebukes to Rep. Metcalfe’s anti-Muslim comments offered by other legislators.

Rep. Jewell Williams (D., Phila.) said: “We should be careful in making these remarks, and we should support all people in America.” Rep. Babette Josephs (D., Phila.) said she would seek to have Metcalfe’s remarks stricken from the record.

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 35 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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