Group leaders say Lazio used deceptive campaign tactics aimed at incitinghatred and hostility towards American Muslims. Those tactics includedconducting a "deceptively-worded" phone campaign seeking to link First LadyHillary Rodham Clinton, Muslim groups and individual Muslim contributors tothe tragic bombing of the USS Cole.
The joint statement reads:
"We condemn Rick Lazio in the strongest-possible terms for his deceitfulaccusations about American Muslim organizations and individuals. In adesperate bid to win November 7 elections, Mr. Lazio is trying to turnMuslims into 'the Willie Horton of 2000'. He is telling New Yorkers thatMuslims are guilty by virtue of being Muslims. This reprehensible tactic isdesigned to malign the entire Muslim community and to lock its members outof the political process. His scurrilous campaign is an attack on democraticnorms and on our constitutional rights.
"We also condemn Lazio for his racist logic. It is the same logic that wasused to conceptualize and justify the internment of Japanese Americansduring the Second World War. The 'Japanese Relocation Order of February 19,1942 was based on calling into question the loyalty as well as the humandignity of those American citizens who had a different ethnicity and adifferent religion.
"We call on all Americans to just say no to Mr. Lazio's anti-Muslim racismand ask that political leaders of all parties take a stand on this issue.Failure to speak out against Mr. Lazio's recent actions and statements willsend the message that there is room for racism and bigotry in America."
Dr. Agha Saeed, American Muslim Alliance
Dr. Sayed Sayeed, Islamic Society of North America
Mr. Omar Ahmad, Council on American-Islamic Relations
Dr. Ashraf Uzzaman, Islamic Circle of North America
Dr. Maher Hathout, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Dr. James Zogby, Arab-American Institute
Mr. Khaled Saffuri, American Islamic Institute
Mr. Shafi Refai, United Muslims of America
Mr. Aly Abuzaakouk, American Muslim Council