CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case — so named by the Justice Department. CAIR officials have repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups. Several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes related to jihad terror. CAIR’s cofounder and longtime Board chairman (Omar Ahmad), as well as its chief spokesman (Ibrahim Hooper), have made Islamic supremacist statements about how Islamic law should be imposed in the U.S. (Ahmad denies this, but the original reporter stands by her story.) CAIR chapters frequently distribute pamphlets telling Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement. CAIR has opposed virtually every anti-terror measure that has been proposed or implemented and has been declared a terror organization by the United Arab Emirates. A CAIR operative recently called for the overthrow of the U.S. government.
Would Bethany Lutheran Church, blithely indifferent to all that as it is, offer office space to a group that had, say, been defamed by the hard-Left Southern Poverty Law Center? Not on your life! But Hamas? Fine!
Jaylani Hussein knew the cramped Minneapolis office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations wasn’t big enough to hold the growing staff much longer.
But it was the threats, hate-filled letters and menacing phone calls directed at the organization that sent him in search of something more than extra square footage.
CAIR held an open house last week to celebrate its new office in Bethany Lutheran Church in Minneapolis’ Seward neighborhood, a location that offers more space, is closer to clients and, CAIR staff members hope, serves as a sanctuary.
The alliance comes amid heightened fear and uncertainty for local Muslims, as hate crimes against them rise. On Friday, President Donald Trump issued an order temporarily barring refugees from entering the country. Officials with the civil rights organization and the church hope they can work together to undercut discrimination.
“These are our allies,” said Hussein, CAIR’s local executive director. “These are the people that stood with us when we were challenging Islamophobia.”
The Rev. Mike Matson, pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, said the congregation has parishioners from across the political spectrum and strives to be open and “willing to come to the middle … where it’s messy, but safely and with integrity.” He said it’s unfortunate there is such anger and division in the country.
“We wanted to be a model of how people can come together so that we can stop all that rhetoric of hate, name-calling or labeling,” Matson said.
He acknowledged that CAIR has dealt with threats of violence. At least three of the threats in 2015 were serious enough that CAIR reported them to police. Records show they included threats of physical harm and a taunting letter.
But Matson said the congregation is undeterred, because of its history of supporting advocacy organizations and its stances in support of minorities and the gay community. He said Bethany received threats when the church ordained an openly gay pastor and opened its doors to other faith groups. The church has leased space to the Latino worker advocacy group Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha. It has invited an African small business to make bread in the kitchen and partnered with a Tunisian chef to provide a free hot soup meal to the surrounding community.
Dianne Holte, president of the Bethany Lutheran Church Council said the group voted unanimously in support of leasing the space to CAIR and building an interfaith partnership. Discussion about partnering with CAIR started last spring, with the Augsburg College Campus Ministry helping make the connection.
“We are honored to have them house their offices within our walls,” Holte said….