Alabama’s governor incorrectly said one of the perpetrators of the attacks in Paris last November was a Syrian refugee during his State of the State Address on Tuesday.
“When 130 people were slaughtered, in Paris at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists, among those killers was a refugee from a terrorist nation,” Governor Robert Bentley said.
Bentley was referring to the discovery of what appeared to be a Syrian passport at the scene of November’s ISIS attack on the Bataclan theater. Greece’s Minister of Citizen Protection Nikos Toskas said the passport holder registered as an asylum seeker at the Greek island Leros on October 3. But what Bentley gets wrong is that the passport is a fake. Shortly after news emerged that a Syrian passport was found, French authorities confirmed it was counterfeit, and a prominent EU official soon after announced that all the identified attackers were EU nationals who held passports from European countries.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Alabama chapter requested a meeting with Bentley and labeled his comments as insensitive.
“Governor Bentley’s labeling of an entire Muslim-majority nation as ‘terrorist’ effectively equates Islam with terror and promotes prejudice,” CAIR-Alabama’s Executive Director Khaula Hadeed said in a statement. “The use of inflammatory language that marginalizes an entire community reduces one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent human history to the status of a political football. We find such terminology insensitive and inappropriate.”
Following the Paris attacks and the announcement that a Syrian passport was found, more than half of the U.S.’ governors called for a halt to Syrian refugee resettlement.