Friday, January 12, 2007

MSA West Action Alert: Ask Senator Boxer Not to Support Islamophobia

MSA West Action Alert

Ask Senator Boxer Not to Support Islamophobia

Muslim Student Association West (MSA West) is calling on all Muslim students and people of conscience to denounce Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) decision to rescind an award given to Basim Elkarra, former MSA West President and current Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Sacramento Valley chapter. Her decision was based on false allegations found on a well-known Islamophobic website alleging CAIR had links to terrorism. Boxer rescinded the award without any attempt to confirm such allegations or to meet with Elkarra or CAIR to discuss such allegations. This action is especially egregious as Senator Boxer is a representative of California, home to the largest Muslim population in the United States. CAIR is one of the most well-respected and one of the largest Muslim organizations in California, with four regional chapters in California.


Senator Boxer has fallen prey to the growing Islamophobic trend in the United States; she has relied on a smear campaign by Joe Kaufman, an anti-Muslim extremist in Florida. Kaufman himself has been affiliated with the Jewish Defense League, a noted terrorist organization found guilty of planning to bomb a Culver City Mosque and the office of an Arab American member of Congress from Southern California. A recent Los Angeles Times story quoted Kaufman claiming that there are no moderate Muslim organizations in America. His website promotes hateful books such as: "The Truth About Muhammad, Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion." Kaufman’s criticism of CAIR seems to follow that anyone who criticizes Israel is a supporter of terrorism.

It is disrespectful to California’s large Muslim population that Senator Boxer uses Islamophobes like Kaufman to judge the Muslim community in California. Senator Boxer owes Basim Elkarra, CAIR, and the entire Muslim community an apology. Senator Boxer must commit herself to the diverse communities of California, and as a representative, must build bridges with California’s Muslim population and must recognize its growing political influence. Unfortunately, her withdrawal of an award to a well-respected community leader and her falling prey to Islamophobia, if uncorrected, will only further alienate her from the Muslim community.

Senator Boxer's decision to rescind Basim Elkarra's award appears to have also been influenced by strong support she received from the pro-Israeli Lobby. Elkarra and the Council on American-Islamic Relations are being targeted for their vocal criticism of Israeli policies although they both have strongly spoken against all forms of terrorism. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs reports that, over the years, Senator Barbara Boxer's campaign has received a minimum of $223,794 from Israel Lobby PACs. (See

"It's extremely important for Senator Boxer to remember that she represents her constituents and not the Israeli Lobby or the State of Israel,” said Amir Mertaban, MSA West President. "For us to boast about our freedom and democracy while elected officials like Senator Boxer fall victim to extremists, like Kaufman and seemingly punish Muslims for criticizing Israel and its policies is unacceptable. Senator Boxer needs to represent all Californians, not just those who blindly support Israel or Islamophobia."

Please contact Senator Boxer to respectfully express your concerns about her decision to rescind the award to Basim Elkarra based on information supplied by Islamophobes and without any attempts to confirm such allegations or to meet with Elkarra or CAIR. Personal letters sent by fax are best, followed by calls and e-mails, in that order. Make sure to include your name and full address and to ask for a written response.

  • I strongly support the important work of Muslim organizations including CAIR. CAIR and Elkarra have worked to benefit all of California through their work promoting religious freedom and civil liberties. CAIR is one of the largest, most active, and most well-respected Muslim organizations in California, that does tremendous outreach work to the larger community and has four regional offices in California.
  • Senator Boxer has fallen prey to Islamophobia, by using unconfirmed allegations by a known Islamophobe, Kaufman, to base her decision to rescind the award. It is troubling that the representative of the largest Muslim population in California has fallen prey to racist attitudes linking every active Muslim organization and all Muslim activists, especially those critical of Israel, to terrorism.
  • Senator Boxer should build bridges with the Muslim community, not burn them. Senator Boxer should apologize to Elkarra, CAIR, and the Muslim community in California. Senator Boxer should meet with Muslim community leaders, including Elkarra and other CAIR members, to develop relationships and to also express any concerns she might have in an open manner.
  • Senator Boxer should not equate criticism of Israel to terrorism nor fall prey to the racism of those who paint any individual or organization who criticizes Israel as un-American or a supporter of terrorism. Senator Boxer should support the rights of all Californians to free expression and free criticism of US foreign policies.

Senator Barbara Boxer
1700 Montgomery St., #240
San Francisco, CA 94111
Fax: (415) 956-6701
San Francisco: (415) 403-0100
Sacramento: (916) 448-2787
Los Angeles: (213) 894-5000
San Diego: (619) 239-3884

Copy correspondence to MSA West via email at

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