Tuesday, March 13, 2007

GOP Angry That Muslim Group To Be Allowed To Use Hill Conference Room

House Republicans reacted angrily yesterday after learning that a Democratic colleague had approved the use of a conference room inside the Capitol for a controversial non-profit group.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) expressed disappointment with the decision to allow the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to hold a discussion today on "Global Attitudes on Islam-West Relations: U.S. Policy Implications" in the Capitol building. He cited the group's unwillingness to denounce radical Islamic group Hamas and radical Shiite militia and political party Hezbollah.

"Despite numerous opportunities, CAIR has repeatedly refused to condemn terrorist action by groups like Hamas and Hezbollah," said Hensarling. "It is hard enough for members of Congress to reserve meeting rooms in the Capitol, and I am sure that there are many other places for groups to meet in private offices throughout Washington."

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil-liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters in the United States and Canada. It has long walked a fine line on the issues of Hamas and Hezbollah but is widely accepted as a prominent Islamic group, according to Firas Maksad, a Middle East analyst at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.

Maksad pointed out that its executive director, Nihad Awad, breaks fast during Ramadan with President Bush every year.

"CAIR is one of the most prominent, if not the most prominent, Muslim organizations in the United States," said Maksad. He added that CAIR may be avoiding overt condemnation of Hamas and Hezbollah because both are considered legitimate political parties in the Muslim world.

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