Attempt Made To Revive Congressional Muslim Staff Association

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A blog covering Congressional affairs reported last summer that there had been an attempt made to revive the defunct Congressional Muslim Staffers Association that has not been active since late 2010. According to the Roll Call report, one of the leaders in that attempt is a staffer working for Representative Andre Carson who was recently named as the first Muslim Congressman to a House intelligence panel:

July 21, 2014 As rain pelted the capital, more than 200 Muslim Americans gathered in the Cannon House Office Building to break their daily fast.

They are in the midst of Ramadan, the annual monthlong period of fasting from sunup to sundown.

For the Muslim staffers and government employees gathered for a traditional dinner known as an iftar, the night was also a chance to connect with members of Congress and network with other D.C. professionals. ‘To have this iftar dinner and to do it here in the Capitol, where you belong, where we all belong, was a very smart thing to start,’ Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., told the crowd.

Although 200 participants was no small number for the July 10 celebration, the iftar in 2009 drew an estimated 1,000 people to the Hill, thanks in part to an active Congressional Muslim Staff Association. The group was formed in 2006 and regularly held networking events and briefings on the Muslim community.

A few years later, in the 113th Congress, the CMSA did not even list itself as an official association — due to a turnover in leadership, lack of participation and what some regarded as a backlash against Muslim staffers. While the organization is taking steps to re-register as an official association, it is definitely in rebuilding mode.

Former CMSA members are optimistic the staff association will make a comeback as younger staffers step into leadership roles, but there’s a broader problem: attracting young Muslims to Capitol Hill in the first place.

‘From an outsider’s perspective, there is that perception Muslims aren’t accepted,’ Omair Mirza, a 26-year-old staff assistant and legislative correspondent told CQ Roll Call. On Capitol Hill, the Islamic faith is ‘not an issue,’ he said.

Read the rest here.

In January, the GMBDW published A Featured Story examining the selection of Andre Carson as the first Muslim Congressman named to a US intelligence panel. That story examined Representative Carson’s extensive history of relationships with the US Muslim Brotherhood.

The GMBDW last reported on the Congressional Muslim Staff Association (CMSA) in December 2010 we discussed the controversial figures who had participated in weekly prayer sessions on Capitol hill sponsored by the CMSA. At that time the CMSA, described itself as follows:

The Congressional Muslim Staffers Association(CMSA) is a chartered organization within the United States House of Representatives, established in 2006. CMSA is a non-dues paying membership association open to any Congressional employee who defines his- or herself as “Muslim”, regardless of their race, gender, school of thought, personal level of “religiosity”, and country of origin. Members can be employees of any office, committee, or department within the House of Representatives, Senate, Library of Congress, Congressional Budget Office, Congressional Research Service, and the Capitol Hill Police Department. Any Muslim Congressional employee is considered a CMSA member regardless of their level of participation or the degree that they publicly identify themselves as “Muslim”.

Previous posts had described various activities involving joint activities of the CMSA and US Muslim Brotherhood organizations including:

  • A 2007 meeting with a Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) youth group.
  • A 2009 CMSA “social” attended by three US Brotherhood organizations
  • Promoting the January 2010 Capitol Jummah (Friday prayer) led by Muslim American Society (MAS) President Esam Omeish, and
  •  Hosting the April 2010 1st Muslim Student Association Day to be held on Capitol hill.

It should also be noted that despite a disclaimer, the CMSA web site had linked primarily to organizations associated with the U.S. Brotherhood.

The current status of the CMSA is unknown at this time.

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