Earlier this week a coalition of American Muslim groups traveled from around the nation to Washington D.C. to meet with elected officials. The visit was part of National Muslim Advocacy Day, a day in which groups hope to get their Congress members and senators to take note of issues affecting their communities. This year some of the issues the groups wanted to address included fair credit policies and food desert issues in Texas.
Unfortunately, the visit made headlines for reasons separate from the advocacy work these groups intended to accomplish. Instead, more people are talking about Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz’s refusal to meet with the coalition. One of the individuals that traveled to DC to talk with officials was Omair Siddiqi.
Siddiqi, outreach coordinator of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, says the group was able to meet with several politicians from Texas during their visit, but after trying for weeks to set something up with Cruz’s office, they were turned away.
“We were in contact (with Cruz’s office) through email and we were just kind of throwing around the emails,” Siddiqi says. “We weren’t getting any proper response from the office. At one point, when we mentioned that we’re coming from Texas, talking about Texas issues, we were shut down completely.”
Siddiqi says that initially while they were trying to set up a meeting, the group was told they would be able to talk to a foreign policy staffer, even though the group wasn’t trying to talk about foreign policy issues.
“When we were in contact with them in the beginning, we were really surprised because we’re Texans, come from Texas, talking about US issues,” he says. “You know, we’re not going there to talk about foreign policy… When we went to the office, when we introduced ourselves, they even mentioned again that we’re here to talk about foreign policy. And we had to reiterate that no, it’s not foreign policy, we’re talking about American issues.”
The organization was told when they arrived that all of Cruz’s staff was tied up in meetings. But Siddiqi says that he thinks it’s more than that.
“To be honest, I think this was more of a planned thing from his office, and I believe Ted Cruz himself, it matches up to what he’s kind of spewing in his campaign trail against Muslims,” he says.
Siddiqi says that they wanted to make Cruz’s campaign aware of how the anti-islamic rhetoric is affecting their community.
“What (Cruz) is doing in his campaign trail is not helping anybody,” Sidiqqi says. “It’s hurting Muslims. Muslims are being attacked because of what he himself and Donald Trump are saying on the campaign trails. Hopefully make them realize what their anti-Islamic rhetoric is doing to the Muslim community in Texas.”
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.
This post was prepared for the web by Alexandra Hart.