American Muslim leaders on Monday sent an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump, calling on him to “reconsider and reject” some of the individuals he recently named to his administration who have “a well documented history of outright bigotry directed at Muslims or advocating that Muslims should not have the same rights as their fellow Americans.”
The letter, which also heralded the long history of Muslim contributions to American society, did not identify any of Trump’s advisers or cabinet appointees by name. But some of its 300-plus signatories, who ranged from imams and university chaplains to the presidents of Islamic charities and advocacy groups, have previously expressed concern about Trump’s selection of retired Marine Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as a national security adviser, Stephen Bannon as senior counselor, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for Attorney General, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) for CIA Director, and Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development Secretary — all of whom have publicly criticized Islam or supported policy ideas like a ban on Muslim immigrants or refugees.
The letter read, in part: “[We] are deeply troubled by reports that your team is actively considering proposals that would target Muslims based on religion and violate their Constitutional rights. Advisors and members of your transition team have proposed a registry of Muslim immigrants and visitors to this country. Shockingly, an advisor cited the internment of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II – one of the most shameful moments in our nation’s history – as precedent for targeting Muslims.”
Trump’s transition team did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump campaigned partly on promises that he would prevent terrorism by imposing a ban on Muslim immigrants, halting the arrival of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria, and implementing a monitoring or database system for mosques and Muslim individuals inside the United States.
Groups who monitor anti-Muslim bias like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University and the Southern Poverty Law Center, have blamed Trump — who has often propagated misinformation — for stoking hatred and violence against Muslims. The FBI recently reported a 67 percent rise in hate crimes against Muslims in 2015. The 2016 figures will not be available until next year.
Experts have pointed out that most perpetrators of mass violence in the United States are not Muslim, nor have any Syrian refugees been involved in violent attacks in the United States.
Correction: A previous version of this article classified the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University as a Muslim advocacy group. The Bridge Initiative’s website describes it as a multi-year research project “that connects the academic study of Islamophobia with the public square,” based at Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.