Short-lived partnership between U.S. Census Bureau and Muslim group over
A partnership between the U.S. Census Bureau and an Islamic civil rights group has ended just days after it was announced, following a backlash from conservative media.
The Department of Commerce - the agency that oversees the Census Bureau - confirmed to journalists on Tuesday that the Council on American-Islamic Relations would no longer be a formal partner in efforts to promote Muslim American participation in the 2020 Census. Commerce Department spokesman Kevin Manning didn't publicly offer further details.
The Muslim civil rights group, commonly referred to as CAIR, announced the partnership last Wednesday.
A non-profit group led by journalist Steven Emerson, who has a history of making anti-CAIR statements, wrote about the partnership after it was announced. The topic was then taken up by Fox News host Tucker Carlson on his show late last week. Carlson has been the target of a boycott effort by CAIR for what the group says has been a habit of anti-Muslim statements.
Carlson said on the show that CAIR had been an unindicted co-conspirator in a Texas terrorism case more than a decade ago. CAIR and other Muslim groups have long held they were smeared by the government in the case and a federal appeals court agreed that parts of the government's case went too far.
Muslims in the USA: Iftar against deportation
Muslims meet in New York to celebrate the breaking of the fast together, combining iftar with a demonstration to draw attention to the situation of immigrants in the USA who are threatened with deportation. By Viola Roser
Against walls: women protest in Manhattan in front of the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) against the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and the deportation of illegal immigrants from the USA. The Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) is the Ministry of Internal Security's main enforcement authority. In addition to the demonstration, the joint breaking of the Muslims' fast is also at the forefront of the action
Maghrib prayer: during the political rally in Manhattan Muslims pray the maghrib prayer together to mark the end of the daily fast. In recent years, the month of Ramadan has repeatedly been used as an occasion to celebrate the evening breaking of the fast in public. This helps educate non-Muslims as to the peaceful nature of Islam and about the rituals of Ramadan
Iftar: the meal taken by Muslims during Ramadan after sunset is called iftar in Arabic. Muslims – except children, pregnant women and old and sick people – eat and drink nothing during the month of fasting until after the sun has set. Iftar can be a family dinner – or a feast in a public place like a mosque
Reciting the Koran: a young man reads the Koran. Many Muslims use Ramadan as an opportunity to focus on their prayer life. Nothing should distract them from God and their faith during this month. Besides the renunciation of food, abstinence is practiced in many areas that give pleasure, thus the strengthening the awareness of the divine
Dates are the first food: a woman distributes dates to Muslims who have gathered to break the fast. Ramadan also has a strong social component. During this month Muslims actively cultivate the community, with more people than usual attending the mosque. According to Muslim tradition, no one should end a day of fasting alone. Fasting is broken in the tradition of the Prophet with a date...
Quenching thirst ... with a sip of water or milk. Another function of abstinence is that fasters are better able to identify with the poor and needy. Helping the disadvantaged is a theme that runs through many an iftar gathering. This year, Ramadan began on 16 May and ends on 14 June with Eid ul-Fitr
Muslim activists: Linda Sarsour is an American Muslim activist. Sarsour was one of the organisers of the Women's March, the big demonstration after Donald Trump's inauguration. The American women's magazine "Glamour" named her one of the "Women of the Year 2017" for her commitment. On the other hand, however, the activist has been criticised for her radical Islamic statements
The threat: Muslim women point to the headquarters of the ICE or immigration police. New York is actually a so-called "Sanctuary City", a haven in which immigrants enjoy special protection. Nevertheless, since an order issued by Trump on 25 January 2017, the authority has been arresting and deporting an increasing number of immigrants without valid papers
Strong together: demonstrators form a human chain during the maghrib prayer. An unwritten law used to apply in the "sanctuary cities": illegal immigrants would not be prosecuted unless they commited a serious crime. In return, most undeclared employees would pay taxes voluntarily. Their deportation means a financial loss for these urban centres
Jewish support: non-Muslims take part in both the demonstrations and the iftar. Jews show solidarity with Muslim immigrants and position themselves against Islamophobia. An estimated eleven million undocumented migrants living in the USA are affected by possible deportation. Some of them have been living there for years
Needing protection: every day migrants fear that they too could be expelled for petty crimes. Some of the victims, most of whom come from Latin America and Mexico, no longer dare report crimes to the police, attend court, or go to hospital for fear of being arrested. In the former land of unlimited possibilities, it is becoming increasingly difficult to pursue one's dream
The Washington Post, in a 2011 story evaluating the accuracy of anti-CAIR claims by Republican congressmen, concluded, "The repeated references to CAIR being an 'unindicted co-conspirator' is one of those true facts that ultimately gives a false impression."
"So, just in case you're scoring at home, here's the state of play," Carlson said on last Thursday's show. "The census is not allowed to ask anyone in our country whether they're a citizen, but they are allowed to partner with a group described as an unindicted co-conspirator to push a political agenda. Huh." Carlson then said he had been told by Commerce Department officials that the partnership was over.
The Trump administration tried to get a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, but the question was nixed by the U.S. Supreme Court and then abandoned by President Donald Trump. Civil rights groups, including CAIR, opposed the question, saying it would have discouraged participation by minorities, primarily Hispanics, who tend to support Democrats.
Ahead of next spring's headcount of every person in the U.S., the Census Bureau is aiming to have 300,000 local and regional partners who will reach into hard-to-count communities and encourage participation in the 2020 census. The Census Bureau has other partners that represent the Muslim community.
"The Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau remain committed to reaching this and other communities to fulfill the Constitutional and civic responsibility of conducting a complete and accurate count," Manning said in a statement.
The partnerships are crucial to the Census Bureau's outreach and have been around for the past two decennial counts, said Kenneth Prewitt, who was a director of the Census Bureau in President Bill Clinton's administration.
"The importance of the partners is really high," Prewitt said. "The partners function as what we call 'trusted voices.' They know their neighbourhood. They know their population group. We take the message to them and they take it to their constituents."
CAIR said it would continue its effort to make sure the Muslim community participates in the decennial census.
"CAIR and the American Muslim community have been the target of Islamophobic smear campaigns for decades," Robert McCaw, CAIR's government affairs director, said in an email. "Despite this fact, we will continue our advocacy for justice and for inclusion of all Muslims in the 2020 Census." (AP)