On January 4, 2023, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) published a statement welcoming a new bill introduced in the Ohio legislature requiring colleges to provide accommodations in order to observe religious holidays. According to the statement on the CAIR website:
The Ohio Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) celebrated a decision by Governor DeWine to sign House Bill 353, otherwise known as the “Testing Your Faith Act” into law.
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House Bill 353 requires higher education institutions to give students a minimum of three absent days every semester and demands those institutions accept without question the sincerity of a student’s religious or spiritual belief system. The new law also provides a timeline in which students must notify a professor of their religious exemption requests. On January 2, 2023, the bipartisan-backed bill was signed by Governor Mike DeWine ®. It was co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Gary Click and Democratic Rep. Jessica Miranda and passed favorably in both the Ohio House and Senate, without any opposition testimony. Calling the law “a win for students of all faiths,” CAIR Ohio Executive Director Amina Barhumi said HB 353 kept the religious exemption decisions from professors or universities uniform across the board:
What this legislation should be doing is ensuring that there are clear policies, so students understand that this is their right. They have the ability to take those days off without repercussions.
In June 2022, CAIR Ohio Outreach and Government Affairs Director Whitney Siddiqi submitted testimony to the Ohio House Higher Education and Career Readiness Committee on House Bill 353, calling the bill a “necessary first step” to ensure college students can practice their religious beliefs while at the same time achieving academic success. CAIR has a history of campaigning for regulations concerning religious observances within the US educational system.
CAIR describes itself as “a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group and as “America’s largest Islamic civil liberties organization.” It was founded in 1994 by three officers of the Islamic Association of Palestine, part of the US Hamas infrastructure at that time. Documents discovered during the terrorism trial of the Holy Land Foundation confirmed that the founders and current leaders of CAIR were part of the Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood and that CAIR itself is part of the US Muslim Brotherhood. The organization is led by Nihad Awad, its longstanding Executive Director and one of the three founders. Recently, CAIR has been generally portrayed in the media as a Muslim civil rights group.
The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported earlier today on a Minnesota art professor sacked after a complaint by the Muslim Student Association group over showing historical images of the Prophet Muhammad in class. The Executive Director of the Minnesota CAIR chapter spoke in favor of that action.