Some Republicans in the Texas legislature are planning to draft legislation aimed at monitoring Muslims in Texas. The meeting followed a controversial survey sent to several Islamic groups.
The Homeland Security – Defending Against Radical Islam forum was an unofficial meeting led by State Rep. Kyle Biedermann, a freshman Republican from Fredericksburg.
Biederman told the Houston Chronicle, he was meeting with other like-minded House Republicans so they could gather information for a bill he plans to file. Biederman says the legislation will call for measures to protect against Islamic terrorism in Texas. He doesn’t say what those measures are.
“This was all about finding out the threat of Islamic terrorism in the State of Texas, as we see what’s going on at the national level, our president is putting at the top of his agenda," Biedermann explains.
Biedermann says he doesn’t object to the Islamic religion; he believes the problem is with radical groups that infiltrate the religion and recruit followers to commit acts of terror.
“The big takeaway today is being able to peacefully talk about these issues and not make it a big religious battle or fight," Biedermann says.
But prior to Thursday’s meeting, Biederman sent a survey to some Muslim organizations in Texas with questions like, whether they supported efforts to label groups like the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization and a pledge regarding the security of former-Muslims living in Texas.
In response House Speaker Joe Straus said it is wrong for Biederman and others to single out any group based on religion.
The Council for American Islamic Relations or CAIR said the survey was "nothing more than an Oath of Allegiance.
Sarwat Husain is the president of CAIR of San Antonio, and says, “Today’s hearing is a waste of time, Biedermann can attend to the issues, the serious issues of our state. This was nothing more than fear-mongering."
President Donald Trump says he plans to sign an executive order that halts the US Syrian Refugee program and bans Muslims from entering the United States if they are from specific countries tied to terrorism. Husain says similar rhetoric from some Texas lawmakers has many San Antonio Muslims living in fear. They worry that if they visit relatives abroad they won’t be allowed to reenter the United States.
Tuesday, is Muslim Day at the State Capitol, a day that in the past has been marked with rallies, counter-rallies and controversy.