'Amendment singles out, stigmatizes one religious group,' says congressman Keith Ellison
The House of Representatives on Friday narrowly rejected a controversial defense spending bill amendment that would have required the Pentagon to determine which Islamic religious doctrines, concepts or schools of thought could be used by terror groups.
The measure, introduced by conservative lawmaker Trent Franks, was defeated 208-217. It would have also required the Defense Department to identify extremist Islamic leaders.
Franks' amendment was strongly opposed by Democrats, the House's Muslim representatives as well as rights and Muslim advocacy groups.
The first Muslim in the American legislature, Keith Ellison, said on the House floor prior to the vote that while the U.S. must study the root causes of terrorism, "this amendment singles out, stigmatizes one religious group".
"It's wrong and it should be voted down," he said.
Franks has in the past warned of the "creeping threat of sharia [law]", calling it a threat to the Constitution, and slammed former President Barack Obama for not taking a tougher line on the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic political party of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi that has been associated with Hamas.
He reportedly said on the House floor Thursday that should lawmakers "not also address this on a strategic level, this underlying ideology that catalyzes the evil of jihadist terrorism across the world, then its list of victims will only grow longer”.
After Franks' amendment was defeated, Ellison said on Twitter: "Good happens - even in Congress! Franks Amendment singling out Muslims rejected; Congress declines to ‘abridge free exercise’ of religion”.