By Kevin Modesti
Contra Costa Times
An American Muslim group said Friday it has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to look into Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris' remark last week that the city is "growing a Christian community."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations' Los Angeles-area office said in a statement that Parris' comment in support of a municipal ballot measure endorsing prayers at city meetings is a "possible violation" of the Constitution's First Amendment restrictions on laws regarding religion.
CAIR said the letter from executive director Hussam Ayloush to the Department of Justice also alludes to last week's comment on Facebook by Lancaster City Councilwoman Sherry Marquez that beheadings are what Muslims "are all about."
Alyoush said in a statement the complaint is not intended "to undermine the important role that religion, including Christianity, plays in benefiting society but rather to ensure that the City of Lancaster and its officials abide by the same Constitutional separation of church and state that the entire nation abides by."
CAIR's announcement came two days after an anti-hate-crime group called the Antelope Valley Human Relations Task Force said it will hold a hearing Monday to discuss whether the Parris and Marquez remarks constitute "hate incidents."
In an interview Friday, Parris called the groups' actions "outrageous" and said again that his comment was misrepresented, and that it reflected his opinion, not city policy.
"I certainly did not mean to make anybody feel excluded," Parris said. "To anybody who was truly offended, I apologize to them. But I don't regret making the statement."
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html