IRVING, Texas - Muslim and civil rights leaders came together on Wednesday to voice concerns about a lawmaker sending out a poll asking them to sign what they see as a ‘loyalty oath.’
The group gathered at Irving City Hall since Mayor Beth Van Duyne will be speaking at a summit entitled ‘Defending Against Radical Islam’ that will be hosted by the lawmaker on Thursday. A release for the event says the mayor has “combated radical Islam in her city.”
The letter says the state representative is conducting a poll of Islamic leaders in Texas that will be shared with state elected officials. The letter says it's in connection with Texas Muslim Capitol Day, but Muslims say its only purpose seems to be intimidation.
Imam Omar Suleiman of the Valley Ranch Islamic Center says he received the letter. The return address was from Kyle Biedermann, a state rep from Central Texas. The envelope was marked urgent and said he needed a reply as soon as possible.
“When you get a letter like that from an elected official, that's quite intimidating,” Suleiman said. “It's reminiscent of a darker era of our history. Reminds me of what the Japanese Americans and German Americans had to go through with their loyalty tests."
The letters asked Muslims if they support declaring a Muslim reform movement, declaring the Muslim brotherhood as a terrorist organization. It also asked them to sign a pledge to renounce harming former Muslims.
Hind Jarrah with the Texas Muslim Woman’s Foundation received the poll and didn’t like the message it sent about Muslims.
“What gives you the right to decide you are the right one,” Jarrah said. “And everyone else who has the name Muslim has to prove themselves to you? It doesn't make sense. "
“It's islamophobia at its worst,” said Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Carol Donovan.
Biedermann declined an interview but said in a statement, “The poll that went out was paid for with private funds and was sent out to gather responses in advance of my upcoming Homeland Security Forum. Texans of all backgrounds and religions are invited to contact our office to improve both Texas' border and overall homeland security."
FOX 4 reached out to the Irving mayor multiple times to get more clarification about how she has combatted Islam in her city but did not get any response.