Congresswoman Jahana Hayes Stands Behind Letter Praising Hamas-Friendly Group

by Xara Aziz
Sipa USA via AP file

Connecticut Representative Jahana Hayes (D) is standing by a letter she wrote praising the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), despite controversy surrounding the group’s leader expressing support for Hamas. Hayes defended her stance by highlighting CAIR’s efforts against anti-Muslim bigotry in communities.

Following an endorsement from the Jewish Democratic Council of America, Hayes reiterated her commitment to serving her Jewish constituents. When challenged by a strategist for her Republican opponent regarding her support for CAIR, Hayes dismissed the criticism as unfounded and reiterated her gratitude for the organization’s endorsement in a letter from 2019.

In a social media post, Hayes clarified that her communication with CT CAIR was intended to acknowledge their efforts in combating anti-Muslim prejudice and emphasized her duty as a representative to engage with all constituents, including Muslims.

“My letter to CT CAIR was in recognition of their work to educate the community about anti-Muslim hate,” Hayes wrote. “It is literally my job to meet with my constituents…even my Muslim constituents. Not letting you lie about me this time around.”

Hayes’s defense of CAIR has brought her into conflict with President Joe Biden, especially after the group’s executive director’s comments on Hamas were labeled as antisemitic by the Biden White House.

However, neither Hayes nor CAIR provided comments on the matter when requested. Hayes had expressed her support for CAIR in a letter preceding the organization’s 2019 gala in Washington, D.C., where over 100 predominantly Democratic members of Congress showed solidarity with the group. She praised CAIR for its efforts in promoting public understanding of Islam and advocating for civil liberties for all Americans, irrespective of their faith.

Despite facing criticism, Hayes defended her decision to meet with CAIR in December, asserting her obligation to address the concerns of her constituents, even when they hold differing opinions on significant issues.

Hayes is not the only Democratic House member facing scrutiny for supporting CAIR; Pennsylvania Congresswoman Summer Lee also faced backlash for her stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict. Although Lee ultimately canceled her appearance at a CAIR event, she maintained her support for the organization.

Hayes, who entered Congress in 2019 after defeating Republican challenger Manny Santos by a significant margin, narrowly retained her seat in 2022. She is now gearing up for a rematch against Republican George Logan in the upcoming November election.

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