Group leaders say Lazio used deceptive campaign tactics aimed at inciting hatred and hostility towards American Muslims. Those tactics included conducting a "deceptively-worded" phone campaign seeking to link First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Muslim groups and individual Muslim contributors to the tragic bombing of the USS Cole.
The joint statement reads:
"We condemn Rick Lazio in the strongest-possible terms for his deceitful accusations about American Muslim organizations and individuals. In a desperate bid to win November 7 elections, Mr. Lazio is trying to turn Muslims into 'the Willie Horton of 2000'. He is telling New Yorkers that Muslims are guilty by virtue of being Muslims. This reprehensible tactic is designed to malign the entire Muslim community and to lock its members out of the political process. His scurrilous campaign is an attack on democratic norms and on our constitutional rights.
"We also condemn Lazio for his racist logic. It is the same logic that was used to conceptualize and justify the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. The 'Japanese Relocation Order of February 19, 1942 was based on calling into question the loyalty as well as the human dignity of those American citizens who had a different ethnicity and a different religion.
"We call on all Americans to just say no to Mr. Lazio's anti-Muslim racism and 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 will send 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