Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's bill seeking to classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group is discriminatory leaders of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) claimed at a press conference Wednesday.
"We believe it has little to do with national security or terrorism," CAIR's spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.
He sees Cruz's bill as part of a two-step strategy to designate the Muslim Brotherhood and attack groups and their leaders who "Islamophobes have falsely labeled as linked to the Muslim Brotherhood."
Hard evidence, however, links CAIR and other American Islamist groups to the Brotherhood.
A phone book introduced at 2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) Hamas fundraising trial revealed that CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad and fellow CAIR co-founder Omar Ahmad belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee. This committee came into existence as part of the Muslim Brotherhood's plan to support Hamas in America.
U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis noted in a 2009 ruling that the HLF trial evidence provided "at least a prima facie case as to CAIR's involvement in a conspiracy to support Hamas."
Awad defended the Muslim Brotherhood at the press conference, saying it has been "part in parcel of the democratic process" that it believes in democracy. Banning it for ideological reasons "is nothing short of shooting ourselves in the foot as the biggest democracy or the strongest democracy in the world," Awad said.
Cruz's bill would direct the secretary of state to tell Congress whether the Muslim Brotherhood meets the criteria for designation as a foreign terrorist organization. President Trump reportedly is considering an executive order accomplishing the bill's objectives.
CAIR also protested Trump's proposed executive order curtailing immigration and visas from majority Muslim countries such as Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Iran. With the exception of Iran, all of these countries have barely functioning central governments and are in the midst of raging civil wars. It also contested President Trump's order halting the processing of Syrian refugees and ordering the creation of safe zones inside Syria for them.
Awad cast the orders as anti-Muslim and bigoted.
"Never before in our country's history have we purposely as a matter of policy imposed a ban on immigrants or refugees on the basis of religion or imposed a litmus test on those coming to this nation," Awad said. "The orders will tarnish our image in the Muslim world, making us seem uncaring and hard-hearted."
It's not exactly without precedent. Early 20th century immigration laws barred those belonging to ideological subversives and polygamists from coming to the U.S. Ottoman authorities protested the latter for curtailing Muslim immigration to the United States.