Rep. Jahana Hayes met with Connecticut CAIR chapter earlier this month

Other Democrats have distanced themselves from CAIR after its executive director praised the Oct. 7 Hamas attack

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) participates in a House Education and Labor Committee Markup on the H.R. 582 Raise The Wage Act, in the Rayburn House Office Building on March 6, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) met with affiliates of the Council on American Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Connecticut chapter in early December, according to a Facebook post from the group.

CAIR has come under recent scrutiny over its supportive rhetoric regarding Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Days after Hayes’ meeting, CAIR’s founder and executive director Nihad Awad was revealed to have praised the Hamas attack and invoked antisemitic tropes. The group has a long record of extreme anti-Israel rhetoric, including a statement on Oct. 7 that condemned Israel while making no mention of the Hamas attack.

According to the CAIR Connecticut Facebook post, Hayes met with Muslim leaders from her district to discuss the conflict and her policies toward Israel and the Palestinians.

Hayes spokesperson Sidney Johnson told Jewish Insider, “The Congresswoman has held several meetings with all constituents who have deep concerns about the ongoing war. Her statements make her position clear. She has a responsibility to listen to all of her constituents, even if they disagree on serious issues.”

She did not address whether Hayes or her staff were aware of CAIR’s comments on the Oct. 7 attack before the meeting, did not offer any direct response to such comments and did not respond to a question about whether Hayes would still have met with the group if she had been aware of its director’s remarks.

Hayes represents a competitive Connecticut district that the Cook Political Report rates as “Lean Democrat.”

Several Democrats who have met or worked with CAIR in the past have distanced themselves from the group in the wake of Awad’s comments. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) condemned Awad’s comments to Fox News, and said she would not be associating with CAIR ever again.

“I condemn these blatantly antisemitic comments in no uncertain terms, and these remarks have led to me completely losing faith in the organization and its work,” Baldwin said.

The White House scrubbed a mention of the group from a document connected to its antisemitism strategy and said it would not meet with the group as it develops a strategy on Islamophobia. 

Additional Democratic lawmakers who have affiliated with CAIR in the past have condemned Awad’s comments.

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