US Secretary of State pick opposed by Muslims & Jews
Mike Pompeo, above, nominated by President Trump to replace Rex Tillerson for the top diplomatic post, faces stiff opposition from Muslim and Jewish groups who have united to condemn his ‘Islamophobia’.
According to this report, as members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee begin hearings on whether to confirm Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, they will consider dozens of objections from Muslims and Jews who accuse him of maligning Muslims.
Pompeo, the outgoing CIA Director, has a record of anti-Muslim remarks and has been associated with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. His confirmation hearings began yesterday (April 12).
Among those expressing deep concerns about Pompeo’s confirmation are the American Jewish World Service, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Jewish Women.
The ADL issued senators a series of questions it would like them to ask Pompeo. For example:
• Will you affirm that Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of American Muslims, is fundamentally compatible with democracy and commit to not calling this affirmation into question in the future?
• Will you disavow your repeated insinuation that non-Muslims should fear the intentions of their Muslim neighbors, and will you commit to not spreading that calumny again?
Other Jewish groups, such as the American Jewish World Service, went on the record opposing his confirmation.
Said Robert Bank, President and CEO of American Jewish World Service, a human rights organisation:
As Jews, we clearly have been victims of sanction, prejudice and coercion ourselves. We identify with other marginalized groups and oppose the nomination of anyone who would pursue policies of prejudice and intolerance.
Pompeo falsely accused US Muslim leaders of remaining silent after the Boston Marathon bombing five years ago, and suggested that they were “potentially complicit” in the bombing.
The thrust of Pompeo’s remarks about Muslims that have drawn the most ire revolve around the idea that Islam is an inherently violent religion and that most US Muslim organisations want to replace American law with Islamic law, known as Shariah.
Pompeo said in a 2015 interview on a radio programme hosted by Frank Gaffney Jr, an anti-Muslim conspiracist:
There are organisations and networks here in the United States tied to radical Islam in deep and fundamental ways. They’re not just in places like Libya and Syria and Iraq, but in places like Coldwater, Kansas, and small towns all throughout America.
Scores of Muslim groups have objected to Pompeo’s confirmation. Muslim Advocates, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Arab American Institute, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and others have sent letters to the members of the Foreign Relations Committee pointing out Pompeo’s record of anti-Muslim statements.
Many Muslims, Jews and Christians have also challenged Pompeo’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, his past support for waterboarding and other forms of torture, and his opposition to gay marriage.
This is not the first time in recent years that Muslims and Jews have joined together to advance a shared public policy aim or come to one another’s aid when either has been the victim of a hate crime. In addition to opposing some of the Trump administration’s appointments, they have also united around the travel ban policy as well as the administration’s crackdown on undocumented residents.
Said Madihha Ahussain, special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry at Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy and educational organisation that opposes Pompeo’s nomination:
It’s been really heartening to see that there have been so many different groups coming forward, whether it’s religious groups or civil rights organisations and all sorts of advocacy groups.
While tensions persist between American Jews and Muslims, Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, said there’s been growing recognition that the two faiths can work together.
“On the local level, we’re hearing about on-the-ground cooperation that’s happening between Jews and Muslims,” whether it’s a Jewish congregation supporting Muslims after an attack on a mosque or Muslims supporting Jewish victims of hate crimes, Jacobs said.
After grilling Pompeo yesterday, US. Senator Cory Booker, above, said he was not satisfied with answers provided by Pompeo:
So I will conclude by saying, sir, you’re going to be Secretary [of State] of the United States in a time where we have an increase in hate speech, hate action against Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, Indian-Americans.
Hate acts are on the increase in our nation. You’re gonna be representing this country and their values abroad in nations where gay individuals are under untold persecution, untold violence. Your views do matter.
You’re going to be dealing with Muslim states on Muslim issues. I do not necessarily concur that you are putting forth the values of our nation when you can’t even, when you believe that there are people in our country that are perverse and where you think that you create different categories of Americans and their obligations when it comes to condemning violence.
Republicans have a narrow 11-10 majority on the committee. Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, a member of the committee, has come out against Pompeo.