President Barack Obama’s audience at his final State of the Union address on Jan. 12, 2016, may look a little different if top Democrats have their way.
In a letter sent on Dec. 15 to House representatives on both sides of the aisle, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, urged representatives to bring Muslim-Americans to the annual speech as a way to combat Islamophobia.
“Over the past few weeks we have seen a shocking and alarming rise in hateful rhetoric against one particular minority population in our nation,” they wrote in an email obtained by Politico.
“Leading political figures have made offensive and outrageous suggestions that we should create a national registry of all people of one particular faith and that we should prevent any person of that faith from even entering this great country.”
The letter didn’t name Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, but the implication was clear in light of his recent comments that Muslim refugees and immigrants should be banned from entering the U.S.
Ellison and Wasserman Schultz said the presence of Muslim-Americans would show “our compatriots and the world that we will not be intimidated by fear into discrimination. There could be no stronger expression of support for our American values than sending this message of solidarity through the extension of this invitation.”
Aides to both representatives told CBS News that they plan to bring Muslim-American guests.