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CAIR Calls on Congress to Probe Reports of Russian Attacks Against U.S. Muslims in 2016 Election

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/11/2017) –The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today sent a letter to U.S. House and Senate committee leaders investigating the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 election, requesting that they consider new reports that Russian operatives carried out online attacks against the American Muslim community.

READ CAIR’s LETTER

CAIR requested Congress investigate Russia’s use of social media and other online platforms, search engines and Internet advertising to coordinate hate rallies targeting American Muslims, smear immigrant communities and fraudulently impersonate at least one U.S. Muslim organization, all for the purpose of spreading disinformation, increasing Islamophobia and disrupting our nation’s social cohesion.

The letter was sent to the leadership of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.                      

SEE: The Daily Beast: Exclusive: Russians Impersonated Real American Muslims to Stir Chaos on Facebook and Instagram.

SEE: CNN: Stoking Islamophobia and secession in Texas -- from an office in Russia.

In his letter, CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert McCaw, wrote in part:

“Using false accounts, Russian operatives executed a hostile disinformation campaign directed at American Muslims, whereby they impersonated an existing U.S. Muslim organization based in California -- United Muslims of America (UMA) -- spreading such disingenuous claims that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain help ‘created, funded and armed’ al-Qaeda and ISIS (Daesh). Other false claims included that Osama bin Laden was a ‘CIA agent.’

“This Russian-controlled Facebook account also bought advertisements on that platform to reach its target audience and announce rallies aimed at Muslim audiences. According to The Daily Beast, Russia used the ‘Twitter account ‘muslims_in_usa’ and the Instagram account ‘muslim_voice’ to pass along inflammatory memes under cover of the UMA.’

“By impersonating UMA, Russia operatives sought to: 1) create the false perception that American Muslim organizations promote anti-American conspiracy theories; 2) undermine American Muslim trust in the United States; while, 3) legitimizing Russia’s own disinformation campaign that the U.S. secretly founded and funds international terrorist organizations.

“At the same time, Russian operatives incited alt-right white supremacist audiences on Facebook by hosting anti-immigrant hate rallies that in part fostered hostility towards American Muslims. The Daily Beast reports that the Russian front organization ‘SecuredBorders,’ which had 133,000 followers, planned to host an August 2016 rally called “Citizens before refugees” in Twin Falls, Idaho.

“The rally’s tagline on Facebook included: ‘We must stop taking in Muslim refugees! We demand open and thorough investigation of all the cases regarding Muslim refugees! All government officials, who are covering up for these criminals, should be fired!’. . .

“By hosting these anti-Muslim, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant rallies, Russian operatives sought to increase Islamophobic sentiment and social division within the U.S. to the point that it endangered the safety and property of American Muslims.

“When a foreign nation like Russia feels emboldened to take on the identity of an American organization or business it threatens U.S. sovereignty and national security. It is unacceptable for the Russian government to interfere in our election by pushing American citizens to participate in hate-driven-events that advance the Kremlin’s agenda to create social division and Islamophobia within our great nation.

“CAIR shares your view that Russia’s interference in our election and media is also an attempt to compromise the integrity of the American democratic process. It is a violation of our nation’s election law that prohibit other nations or foreign nationals to contribute or donate anything of value to an election. The American people are entitled to knowing when a publicly trusted institution like the electoral process has been compromised and misused.

“We request your respective committees hold Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google and other online platforms and companies to account demanding the public release of all information pertaining to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Moreover, we ask that you pursue in your investigations of Russia’s election interference its fraudulent impersonation of at least one U.S. Muslim group and organizing of anti-immigrant hate rallies targeting American Muslims and other communities.”

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

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CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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