Boxer, Muslims End Award Controversy

The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; 11:16 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barbara Boxer and officials from a Muslim advocacy group said Wednesday they have resolved to move forward on improving interfaith relations after smoothing over a skirmish about an honor rescinded by her office.

"I'm putting it all behind me, and we're moving ahead to work with the civil rights community to better relations among people of all faiths," Boxer said in an interview.

But a spokeswoman for the California Democrat said she does not intend to give back the certificate honoring Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The senator also said the concerns prompting her to rescind his service award this month haven't changed.

At the time, Boxer and her staff cited concerns about CAIR's positions on terrorist groups, contending that CAIR had refused to label Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations. Boxer had been criticized on conservative Web sites for giving the award to Elkarra; she said she did not know her office had done so.

CAIR officials met with Boxer and her staff Tuesday.

"We have addressed the issues related to this unfortunate and unnecessary incident, and have agreed with Senator Boxer that we should all move forward to build a nation in which people of all faiths work together to promote respect and tolerance," CAIR said in a statement.

CAIR-Los Angeles Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said the group condemns all acts of terrorism.

© 2007 The Associated Press