A national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today spoke out against Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond's Monday claim that Islam is "communism with a god" and a threat against constitutional government.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked state and federal officials to step up protection of Tennessee Muslims today. On Monday, Hammond urged other Tennessee sheriffs to keep a close eye on Islamic activity. He claimed federal officials are ignoring "the strongest infringement that we've had in our country as a constitutional government since communism."
brahim Hooper, CAIR's national communications director, called Hammond's statements disturbing.
"Given Sheriff Hammond's extremist views and his stated plan to act on and spread those views, it is incumbent on state and federal officials to take appropriate action to protect the civil and legal rights of the state's Muslim population," Hooper said.
Hammond contended he was only referring to radical, extreme Muslims, not the entire religion. He defended his comments on Tuesday, arguing that they were not "derogatory in any way."
"I'm against anybody — Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or otherwise — who wants to remove the constitution of the United States and wants to install religious law," Hammond said.
He added that law-abiding Muslims have "nothing to worry about."
Hooper said he'd like to see some sort of formal condemnation of such attitudes from state and federal leaders.
"We shouldn't have to ask for these things, but it seems we have to," he said. "What the appropriate actions are? These officials need to to decide — but they need to address this growing trend directed at American Muslims."