CAIR-MO Letter to Gov. Greitens Urgining Him to Veto SB 43

18556266 10100514253219561 3001371597117927473 nDear Governor Greitens,

February 20, 2017 was a day when a heinous act of vandalism was committed at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, where over one hundred headstones were cowardly defaced. Despite the vandals’ intent to create fear and divide us, they brought together all Americans in a show of solidarity and unity.

American Muslims came together and launched the "Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery" campaign on LaunchGood, which raised $162,468 to help repair the damage. Locally, the Missouri Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (“CAIR-MO”) helped organize Imams, Muslim community leaders, and the greater Muslim community to come out to your day to help clean up the Jewish cemetery. We believe that hatred, discrimination, and the targeting of any community is a targeting of all communities, and we would not stand by silently. We, along with many members of the Muslim community, had the pleasure of meeting you and Vice President Mike Pence during the cleanup.

In the past five years, CAIR-MO has witnessed the best and worst of our nation. We've witnessed the Islamic Center in Joplin survive the F5 tornado that leveled one third of the city, only to be burned to the ground nearly a year later in a hate crime. We've witnessed Muslim families have guns pulled on them and be threatened with death, even with their children present, no older than your own. And we have assisted hard-working men and women fired from their jobs simply because they choose to enjoy the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and proudly practice their religion.

Missouri is one of the greatest states to live in and raise a family. The protections against discrimination that our state provides to hard-working families are a shining beacon of what is right in America. Now those freedoms are being challenged with Senate Bill 43 (“SB 43”), a law that would take away necessary protections that are just as vital today as any time in our history.

The Missouri Human Rights Act includes some of the most important protections that workers in the state of Missouri enjoy. The premise of these protections is simple: we shall not tolerate any discrimination in the workplace. If discrimination plays any role in an employer’s adverse decisions against an employee or potential employee, or any role in creating a hostile work environment for an employee, then that employee has recourse to make them whole again. Signing SB 43 into law would send a clear message that in the State of Missouri, a certain level of discrimination in Missouri is perfectly acceptable, and there is nothing victims of discrimination can do about it. Passing this law will tell employers that they should feel free to discriminate against employees based on their race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age, and/or familial status, provided that discrimination remains within acceptable parameters as outlined by SB 43. As a civil rights organization, and furthermore as Missourians, we find this unacceptable.

We believe that you have a tremendous responsibility to stand for the values that you so eloquently stated at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery. As the first Jewish Governor of Missouri, you are in a unique position to understand the adverse effect of discrimination in the workplace, a struggle that the Jewish community fights to overcome to this day. At a time when hate crimes are spiking and open bigotry is surging, we should be looking to expand protection from discrimination for Missouri workers, such as to the LGBTQIA community, which currently enjoys no specific protections under Missouri law. We implore you to veto SB 43, and any law that would take away more protections for Missouri workers.

Very truly yours,

Faizan Syed, Executive Director                                                        Robert A. West, Civil Rights Director

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CAIR-MO vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding. Our mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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Email: info@cair-mo.org

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