Muslim group blamed for marital rift

A ranking Republican lawmaker has blamed the presence of a Muslim organisation in his neighbourhood for stress that undermined his 50-year marriage.

    Islamophobia on the rise in US since 11 September attacks

    Cass Ballenger, 76, claimed the proximity of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) headquarters to the couple’s Washington home “bugged the hell” out of his wife, in an interview with a North Carolina newspaper on Saturday.

    “Diagonally across from my house, up goes a sign, CAIR-the fund-raising arm for Hizb Allah,” Ballenger was quoted as saying. “I reported them to the FBI and CIA.”

    Ballenger, who chairs the House of Representatives subcommittee on the western hemisphere, said his wife was nervous about activities at the CAIR headquarters, including people unloading boxes.

    She was also worried about women “wearing hoods” or headscarves going in and out of the building.

    “That’s two and a half blocks from the Capitol,” he said. “And they could blow it up.”

    Ballenger’s wife, Donna, from whom he has been legally separated since last November, said she agreed with her husband.

    Response 

    “Diagonally across from my house, up goes a sign, CAIR-the fund-raising arm for Hizb Allah"

    Cass Ballenger,
    Republican lawmaker

    CAIR called on Republican party leaders to publicly reject Ballenger’s statements, which they described as bigoted and strip him of his committee seat.

    “Congressman Ballenger’s bizarre comments demonstrate the sheer lunacy of his political and religious views,” said Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR’s director of legal affairs.

    “Ballenger’s statements are a perfect example of Islamophobic hysteria at the highest levels of government.”

    The lawmaker’s comments prove he is unsuitable to handle foreign policy issues that could impact the Arab and Muslim world, added Iftikhar.

    “To have him continue to serve on the international relations committee would be an insult to the American Muslim community and would further damage America’s international image,” he stressed.

    Controversial figure

    “Congressman Ballenger’s bizarre comments demonstrate the sheer lunacy of his political and religious views"

    Arsalan Iftikhar,
    CAIR’s director of legal affairs

    Ballenger is no stranger to seeing his words come back to haunt him.

    Last December he fired a tirade at outgoing Democratic representative Cynthia McKinney. 

    She had raised tempers among Republicans for suggesting that US President, George Bush, knew in advance about the possibility of the 11 September 2001 attacks and did not prevent them.

    Ballenger said McKinney, who is black, had stirred in him “ a little bit of a segregationist feeling.”

    “I mean, she was such a b*tch,” he said.

    Years earlier, he caused another outcry in Congress by comparing the occupational safety and health administration to the Nazi secret police, Gestapo.

    SOURCE: AFP


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