Amatul-Wadud holds event to address Muslim attacks

  • TAHIRAH Amatul-Wadud

For the Gazette
Published: 8/11/2018 12:08:48 AM

SPRINGFIELD — Congressional candidate Tahirah Amatul-Wadud said Friday that she’s ready to move beyond what she called “issues of great distraction” regarding her Muslim faith.

“During this campaign, I have been confronted by religious intolerance, slander and hate,” said the Springfield attorney, adding that people have been “raising questions about my religion, religious affiliation, and my values as a progressive candidate.”

Amatul-Wadud is challenging longtime Springfield incumbent Congressman Richard Neal in the Massachusetts 1st Congressional District.

She made the remarks at a press conference Friday at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Springfield after an article in a Worcester newspaper questioned her work as a lawyer, and separate reports about an anonymously written Islamophobic flyer that had been mailed to some households in the region over the last 10 days.

At Friday’s press event, Amatul-Wadud addressed the Worcester Telegram and Gazette article published Thursday that connected her to Muslims of America Inc. Amatul-Wadud has represented the organization in federal court. The article claimed that the founder of Muslims of America, Pakistani Muslim cleric Sheik Mubarek Gilani, and his followers had expressed anti-LGBTQ and anti-Semetic views.

“A reporter challenged me to condemn opinions posted by a Muslim community,” Amatul-Wadud said. “The reporter recognized that these writings were not authored by me, promoted by me, discussed or even spoken about by me. Still the reporter deliberately gave these writings to my campaign endorsers in an attempt to alarm them and force them to question their support and relationships with me.”

Amatul-Wadud also addressed Islamaphobic flyers that were sent to some households. She said she predicted that she would be the target of Islamophobic attacks when she announced her campaign.

“I didn’t know what it would look like but I knew it would come, and it has,” she said.

Amatul-Wadud called on candidates for political office to condemn “bigotry.” She said she has not personally heard from Neal.

In a Friday statement, Neal reiterated comments he made last week after news about the flyers broke.

“I vigorously condemned the Islamophobic mailers and I just as clearly and unequivocally condemn any Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic hate speech,” Neal said in the statement. “There is no room in our state or our country for intolerance, ignorance and bigotry.”

At the event, Amatul-Wadud said that it was “time to move beyond these distractions” to focus on her campaign and fighting for religious freedoms.

She said she has a strong history of standing up for religious freedom and tolerance, including providing legal counsel to numerous groups of all religions. She said it was not her job to interpret religious texts and beliefs, but to protect people’s rights to worship. She credited her desire to fight religious intolerance with her childhood.

“My upbringing has enriched me with the agency and authority to stand up for religious freedoms at a time when attacks on worshippers grew increasingly bloody and violent,” Amatul-Wadud said.

Amatul-Wadud said she was fighting for a “universal goal” which she said is to “live good lives, work hard, and raise our families in peace.”

On Friday, she received an endorsement from the Bernie Sanders-allied Our Revolution national organization.

Democrats will go to the polls to decide between Amatul-Wadud and Neal on Sept. 4 in a district that includes Easthampton, South Hadley, Southampton and hilltowns in Hampshire County, along with all of Hampden and Berkshire counties and part of Franklin County.

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