The House rejected a controversial bill proposed by the GOP Friday to identify “Islamic religious doctrines, concepts or schools of thought”, saying it was unconstitutional to target a single religion.
“If you have an amendment that says we’re going to study one religion and only one, we’re going to look at their leaders and put them on a list — only them — and you are going to talk about what’s orthodox practice and what’s unorthodox, then you are putting extra scrutiny on that religion,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who is Muslim.
Over 20 centrist Republicans joined with Democrats to defeat the amendment 208 to 217.
Drafted by conservative Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), the bill would’ve set out guidelines for the Pentagon to distinguish between the various preachings of different Muslim leaders which ones are peaceful and which are violent, a task Democrats aren’t comfortable leaving with the Trump administration.
Ellison, who met with Franks to try to persuade him to withdraw the proposal, added: “You are abridging the free exercise of that religion. This is the wrong way to do what he’s trying to do.”
Franks believes there is a version of his bill that will work, and is earnest in trying to help the Muslim cause.
“Right now, there is a certain spectrum within the Islamist world that is at the root of the ideological impulse for terrorism,” Franks said. “Ironically, Muslims are the prime targets of these groups. To suggest that this is anti-Muslim is a fallacy, and I think that anyone who really understands it knows that.”
Franks is going to work to modify the bill, and bring it back to the floor soon.
“We’ve worked very hard to protect the religious freedom for everybody,” he said. “But it is important that we empower America to identify those heroic Muslims within the world that will help us begin to delegitimize this ideology of global jihad.”
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