The seven-million strong American Muslim community was alarmed at the suggestion of Republican presidential candidates to putting mosques under surveillance on the pretext of keeping American safe.
This came during the first debate of the eight Republican hopefuls in Detroit last Thursday when Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said: "If I have to monitor a mosque I'll monitor a mosque. If I have to take down a cyber wall I'll take it. If I have to send more American troops to protect us here I will do it."
Metro Detroit is home to many mosques, especially in the Dearborn area.
The subject was first raised with former New York Gov. George Pataki, who was asked whether he would potentially put mosques under surveillance to root out "Islamic" extremists -- keeping in mind that "conservatives in this country are particularly concerned with religious liberty. ...
"Religious liberty doesn't include encouraging a fellow American to engage in jihad and killing Americans here. That is not protected free speech. That is like shouting fire in a crowded theater, and that is illegal," Pataki said adding:
"I would do everything in our power to just go after those who are here before they can radicalize other Americans to carry out attacks."
"Sen. Graham is promoting Neo-McCarthyism with such rhetoric," said Dawud Walid, the Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America's largest advocacy and civil liberties organization for Muslims.
Walid added: "Not only is the mass monitoring houses of 7 million American Muslims unconstitutional, it would also waste tax dollars due to the ineffective nature of mass racial and religious profiling."
Interestingly, in May last Sen. Graham said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee New England Leadership Dinner that "Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula... Everything that starts with 'Al' in the Middle East is bad news." In Arabic, the word Al means the word "the."
Earlier this year CAIR sent an open letter to the Republican presidential candidates urging them to invest similar resources in courting Muslim voters as they do other minority communities and reject Islamophobia. The American Muslim community is well positioned to impact election results in key swing states such as Ohio, Virginia and Florida, the CAIR letter said.
It is well-known that the majority of the American Muslim vote went to President George W. Bush in the close 2000 election. However, by the 2012 general election, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney only received a single digit percentage of the Muslim vote.
This significant drop in Muslim support for the Republican Party can be attributed to unwillingness from Republican candidates to engage with Muslim communities, increased adoption of Islamophobic rhetoric and support for discriminatory legislation that targets foreign law, a dog whistle to the conservative base for "sharia law."