The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America’s largest Muslim civil rights group, is calling on state and local governments all over the United States to tear down all monuments and memorials commemorating Confederate leaders and the short-lived Confederate States of America.
CAIR joined several groups asking for the removal of Confederate memorials in the wake of a “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally that turned violent over the weekend. At the Charlottesville, Va. rally, James Alex Fields, a rally attendee, allegedly plowed his grey Dodge Challenger through a large group of people on a pedestrian mall. One woman, Heather Heyer, died in the incident. About 20 other people suffered injuries.
Nihad Awad, CAIR’s national executive director, urged state and local governments to erase every symbol and every vestige of Confederate history immediately.
“A fitting response to the deadly terror attack on anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville would be for officials in states and cities nationwide to immediately announce that every street, every school, every flag, and every public memorial honoring those who took up arms in defense of white supremacy and slavery will be removed or have its name changed to instead honor those who fought for civil rights,” Awad said in a statement to The Daily Caller.
“Removal of these memorials would be a small step forward in turning the page on the darkest period in our nation’s history,” Awad also said.
CAIR has created a template for state governments, municipal governments and school district officials to use for introducing resolutions seeking the removal of Confederate memorials and other symbolism.
On Saturday, CAIR denounced President Donald Trump for his remarks about the white supremacist rally. Trump exhibited a “failure of moral leadership,” the Muslim advocacy group said.
A number of local governments have removed or contemplated removing Confederate monuments in recent years. Demands for removal of the statues has grown considerably louder and more forceful in response to the events which unfolded in Charlottesville on Saturday.
Leaders in Lexington, Ky., Gainesville, Fl. and Baltimore, Md. have announced plans to remove statues since Saturday.
On Monday evening, a group of protestors toppled a monument to Confederate soldiers in Durham, North Carolina.
In May, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation protecting Confederate memorials from removal or modification as long as they have been in place for longer than 40 years.
In 2009, CAIR was listed by the U.S. government as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme that provided funding to the terror group Hamas.