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House Members ask Attorney General Ashcroft to repudiate anti-Islamic remarks

April 8, 2002

The Honorable John Ashcroft
Attorney General of the United States
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Ashcroft:

We are writing to express our continued concern over offensive comments attributed to you. We ask you publicly to repudiate those comments and to take steps to address issues of racial and religious profiling more broadly.

In a recently published account of a syndicated radio program, columnist Cal Thomas praises you for reportedly making the following statement: "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you."

Explanations provided by your office that your comments were directed at terrorists and not at Islam in general are unsatisfactory and directly contradict Mr. Thomas's account. Moreover, the fact that you have neither denied nor repudiated these offensive remarks suggests that there is good cause for concern among members of the Muslim community, the Congress, and the American people at large.

Such comments foster an atmosphere of religious intolerance and divisiveness and are wholly inconsistent with President Bush's calls for tolerance, unity, and respect. Moreover, coming from the highest-ranking law enforcement official in the country, they sorely undermine public confidence in the office of the Attorney General and the Justice Department's ability to mete out justice fairly, free of racial and religious bias.

During a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus early last year, you promised to deal more effectively with racial and religious profiling. The Justice Department has yet to put forward any proposal to eliminate this discriminatory practice.

As Members of Congress, we are concerned about the Department of Justice's inability to ensure that American citizens or residents do not face discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, or suspected ethnicity. We therefore call on you to issue an immediate apology for the offensive remarks attributed to you and to follow up on your commitment to deal effectively with racial and religious profiling with concrete proposals.



McKinney (D, GA-04)
Conyers (D, MI-14)
Bonior (D, MI-10)
Blagojevich (D, IL-05)
Dingell (D, MI-16)
Towns (D, NY-10)
S. T. Jones (D, OH-11)
G. Meeks (D, NY-06)
Kilpatrick (D, MI-15)
Waters (D, CA-35)
Clayton (D, NC-01)
Wynn (D, MD-04)
W. J. Jefferson (D, LA-02)
Rahall (D, WV-03)
Hinchey (D, NY-26)
Rush (D, IL-01)
Kaptur (D, OH-09)


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