Posted on July 04, 2016 in Press Releases


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Congressmen Asked to Withdraw from anti-Arab, anti-Muslim Conference

Arab American, Christian and Muslim Groups Join to Counter Bigotry

Washington, DC – Today, July 6, the Arab American Institute joined with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the Muslim Public Affairs Council in asking five members of Congress to withdraw from participating in a conference featuring well known anti-Arab and anti-Muslim speakers. “The Bridge: The Annual Conference on the Persecuted Church,” is being held in Washington, DC from July 7-9. It includes Frank Gaffney, Jr. who the Southern Poverty Law Center calls one of the most “notorious Islamophobes” and Retired General William Boykin who has previously compared the U.S. military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan to holy wars between Christians and Muslims.  

The letter states in part:

At a time when the public discourse in the United States has looked at Arab and Muslims across the world with acute suspicion, it is critically important that our public officials help combat hateful rhetoric and elevate leaders who speak to our highest ideals of mutual respect and understanding…. 

We are concerned that this conference may have the unfortunate consequence of legitimizing the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim messages and policies that are associated with its speakers and will in the end do more harm than good to the persecuted communities the conference organizers claim to be defending.  

Full text of the letter is available here: 

Members currently scheduled to speak at “The Bridge” conference include, Trent Franks (AZ-8), Randy Hultgren (IL-14), Robert Pittenger (NC-9), Joe Pitts (PA-16) and Chris Smith (NJ-4). 

“I care deeply about the rights of vulnerable faith communities in the Middle East. I am concerned about this conference because denigrating Islam is not the way to protect Christians and other minority religious groups. Hate speech is never the answer. It is a disgrace that members of Congress have lent their names to this shameful gathering,” said AAI President, James Zogby.

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Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent.  AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities. For more information please visit


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