Texas Muslims say they were rebuffed repeatedly when they tried to meet with Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
After weeks of failed attempts to set up a meeting with Cruz, a group of 14 Muslims went to the senator's Capitol Hill office on April 18, according to Religion News Service. The group's leaders said they knew Cruz was campaigning in New York ahead of the April 19 primary vote, but hoped they could still meet with a member of his staff for National Muslim Advocacy Day.
That didn't pan out either, U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations Secretary General Oussama Jammal said.
“We are quite disappointed to see a presidential candidate refuse to meet with constituents from his own state,” Jammal told Religion News Service. “This is a sad day for America.”
Other lawmakers were more accommodating. Muslim activists were able to meet with 215 members of Congress, according to The Week, as well as about 50 senators. In all, about 300 Muslim-American lobbyists were able to talk with their representatives and express their concerns.
By giving Muslims from his home state the cold shoulder, Cruz missed an opportunity to show Muslims he can work with them, Jammal said.
"During the initial onset of us requesting a meeting we did get a response back," Alia Salem, a Cruz constituent, told The Week. "They said we're going to put you in touch with our Middle East Policy advisor. We were kind of perplexed by that ... We're Americans coming from Texas to talk about American issues."
Mustafaa Carroll, another Texas Muslim who was part of the delegation, said the candidate met with Muslim constituents two years ago, and his staffers received them last year for National Muslim Advocacy Day. Both meetings were cordial, he said, "but the election, or the temper of the election, is what's causing the problems."
It wasn't the only slight directed at Muslim-Americans by the Cruz camp, according to The Intercept. On the same day, Cruz's foreign policy adviser Frank Gaffney -- described by The Intercept as a "notorious Islamophobe" -- penned an opinion article for The Hill that called the lobbying effort “Muslim Brotherhood Day on Capitol Hill."
The Muslim Brotherhood is considered a terrorist group by some countries, and is blamed for much of the violence that happened during 2010's Arab Spring.
The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations is “associated with Islamic supremacism,” Gaffney wrote, calling them “the latest in a long series of front organizations associated with, and working to advance, the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.”