Rights group condemns anti-Muslim remarks by 9/11 trustee

Rights group condemns anti-Muslim remarks by 9/11 memorial and museum trustee
2 min read
10 September, 2021
A trustee of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Board has come under fire by a Muslim rights group for comments she made ahead of the terror attack's 20th anniversary.
Debra Burlingame has been accused of making Islamophobic remarks in the past [Getty]

A US-based Muslim rights group is calling for the removal of a member of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum trustee board following “numerous Islamophobic statements” made during her participation in a webinar marking the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks.

Board member Debra Burlingame spoke on Thursday at a webinar hosted by the Center for Security Policy, a right-wing think tank founded by Frank Gaffney. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has described the think tank as an "anti-Muslim hate group".

During the webinar, Burlingame claimed that CAIR is on “the FBI’s material support for terrorist lists" and misnamed the Muslim rights group's director.

She claimed that the biggest mistake made by then-US President George W. Bush in the immediate aftermath of the attacks was to say that Islam is a peaceful religion.

“I think if I can go back and change something, I would have the messaging coming out of the white house to be a little more complicated than ‘Islam is a religion of peace,” she said.

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This is not the first time Burlingame has come under fire for anti-Muslim statements.

She campaigned in 2010 against the building of Park51, a Muslim community centre that was to be built not far from the World Trade Centre, a site of one of the 9/11 attacks. 

She claimed the mosque would spread Sharia law across the US.

Burlingame has also referred to Islam as a “transnational threat” and has said there is “no such thing as an irrational fear of Islam or Muslims”.

In a Thursday press release, CAIR's New York Executive Director Afaf Nasher condemned Burlingame's "bigoted, anti-Muslim comments" and called for her to be let go from the memorial and museum trustee board.

“On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, there is a moral imperative to honor our fallen by standing against hatred and promoting an environment of justice, hope, resilience and unity amongst all Americans. Ms. Burlingame’s latest bigoted, anti-Muslim comments instead inflame divisiveness and impede healing,” Afaf said.

“Ms. Burlingame’s long history of making bigoted remarks about Islam and Muslims are simply antithetical to the purpose of the 9/11 Museum. No one who serves this important institution should use it as a platform to espouse that kind of hatred, which ultimately fosters violence.

"It is long past time for Ms. Burlingame to be relieved of her duties."