Texas Senator and Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz refused to meet with a Muslim delegation from his home state on Monday, snubbing the group during Muslim Advocacy Day.
According to the Religion News Service (RNS), a group of 14 Texas Muslims visited Cruz’s senate office on April 18, hoping to speak with him or a staff member about their concerns as constituents in the Lone Star State. Although Cruz was campaigning in New York ahead of that state’s primary that day, the delegation was hoping to meet with one of his aides — a common practice for lawmakers with busy schedules.
But after weeks of rejections from Cruz’s office, the senator’s staff once again declined the offer to meet with Muslims, even though Texas is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the country.
We are quite disappointed to see a presidential candidate refuse to meet with constituents from his own state.
“We are quite disappointed to see a presidential candidate refuse to meet with constituents from his own state,” Oussama Jammal, secretary general of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) which organized the delegation, told RNS. “This is a sad day for America.”
The group flew to Washington as part of Muslim Advocacy Day, a massive lobbying effort organized each year by the USCMO, an umbrella organization that represents several American Islamic groups. More than 300 Muslim Americans descended on Capitol Hill for the event, meeting with one-third of U.S. House members and nearly half of all senators. The USMCO told RNS that its members talked to Congressional leaders about issues such as Islamophobia reservations regarding the FBI’s Countering Violent Extremism program. The program caused controversy earlier this year when the agency released an educational video game to root out extremism that critics said unfairly stereotyped Muslim Americans.
The snub comes in the wake of a rash of accusations that Cruz is conducting an Islamophobic campaign for president. He commended rival Donald Trump for calling for a ban on Muslim immigration in December, and suggested in March that police should “patrol and secure” Muslim neighborhoods in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Belgium — even though similarly invasive surveillance tactics have failed in the past. The USCMO has also called for Cruz to drop Frank Gaffney Jr. from his list of foreign policy advisors, noting that Gaffney’s organization — the Center for Security Policy — has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Gaffney was also named by the Center for American Progress as an Islamophobic “misinformation export” in 2011.
ThinkProgress reached out to Cruz’s office for comment on this story, but did not receive a reply by press time.