Texas Legislator Required Muslim Office Visitors to Declare Allegiance to the U.S.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has sent a letter to House Speaker Joe Straus asking whether state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, violated ethics rules by instructing her staff to ask Muslim visitors to her office to declare their allegiance to the United States.
"Our ethics question is: Has Rep. White violated any House rules in creating such an internal office policy that is selectively being enforced to discriminate against certain religious minorities trying to meet with her or her staff?" the letter asks. "Are House members prohibited from making constituents take oaths before meeting with their elected representatives or House staff?"
Straus did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
Freshman state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, is not in Austin today to celebrate Texas Muslim Capitol Day. But she left instructions for the staff in her Capitol office on how to handle visitors who are, including asking them to declare allegiance to the United States.
"I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws," she posted on Facebook. "We will see how long they stay in my office."
Texas Muslim Capitol Day is organized by the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. On its website, the day-long event is described as "an opportunity for community members to learn about the democratic political process and how to be an advocate for important issues." The agenda calls for sessions about political activism and visits to the offices of state representatives.
Even before participants in Thursday's event — about 100 Muslims, mostly students and children — could get to White's office, they encountered opposition from a small group of protestors outside the Capitol holding signs, including one that said "Radical Islam is the New Nazi" and another that said "Go Home & Take Obama With You."
Mustafaa Carroll, the executive director for CAIR-TX, called the behavior "very frustrating."
"In fact, I'm more concerned with state leaders and what they say than I am about anybody else because they are the lawmakers," he said.
White could not immediately be reached for comment; the Israeli flag was still on the desk in her office as of mid-morning on Thursday. She released a follow-up Facebook post later in the day that added:
“I do not apologize for my comments… If you love America, obey our laws and condemn Islamic terrorism, then I embrace you as a fellow American. If not, then I do not."
The Texas Democratic Party called on Republican leaders to denounce White's "vile and bigoted" remarks.
“Her toxic and divisive rhetoric does not represent the values and principles of our diverse state," Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa wrote in a statement.
Gov. Greg Abbott's office declined to comment.