CAIR Calls on U.S. To Protect Athletes’ Right to Free Speech During Olympic Games

U.S. has urged athletes to remain silent

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), called on the Biden administration to protect the free speech rights of American athletes during the Beijing Winter Olympics. The statement from the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization comes in the wake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warning American athletes not to speak out against the Chinese government.

“Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government, because they are ruthless, Pelosi said before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China Thursday.

CAIR Deputy Executive Directory Edward Ahmed Mitchell took issue with the House Speaker’s stance.

“Instead of discouraging American athletes from engaging in free speech during the Beijing Olympics, the United States should pledge to forcefully defend athletes who speak up about China’s genocide of Uyghur Muslims,” Mitchell wrote in a statement.

“We cannot let the Chinese Communist Party threaten, bully or intimidate American athletes into silence. President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and all elected officials should make it clear that we will protect every American athlete’s right to free speech."

Last month, CAIR uged Olympic athletes to defy China’s announced ban on political expression and speak out against the Uyghur genocide.

Noah Hoffman, who grew up in Aspen and raced for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, has been at the center of the issue, advising athletes against speaking up while in China during a Human Rights Watch roundtable three weeks ago. While Hoffman believes in the importance of athletes being able to advocate and stand up for important social issues, he told the Vail Daily that doing so at these Games would be far too risky. Hoffman has been working to expose issues of accountability and athlete voice in international sport governing bodies as an athlete board member of Global Athlete.

Yesterday, an op-ed by Hoffman was published in the Daily Mail shaming U.S. businesses which have been colluding with the “corrupt IOC and Chinese despots.”

CAIR has also called businesses to action, urging Olympic advertisers Coca-Cola, Intel, Visa, Airbnb, and others to speak out against the Uyghur genocide.

“If American corporations are going to advertise during the Beijing-hosted Olympics as if it’s business as usual, those same companies should at least make it clear that they reject and condemn human rights violations, including China’s ongoing genocide of Uyghur Muslims,” Mitchell said Jan. 25.

The Olympic Charter states in part that sport should preserve “human dignity” and adds that, “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind.”

While CAIR’s recent statement runs against the Biden administration’s advice to athletes, they were in support of the U.S.’s diplomatic boycott of the Olympics. In addition, they supported a call by U.S. lawmakers of the U.N. to release a report on Xinjiang Province, where the genocide is taking place.

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

Published by rsederquist

My name is Ryan Sederquist.  I am a man of many passions and dreams, and this website is the outlet for many of them. I am currently teaching 5th grade remotely in the Adams12 school district in Colorado. I have been an elementary music teacher in Alamosa, Colorado, as well as a 7-12 band director at Lake County High School in Leadville, Colorado. I am also in the final, final stages of acquiring my M.S. in Exercise Science from Adams State University. In 2018-2019, we spent a year in Presque Isle, Maine as I coached the UMPI Nordic ski team. I currently live in Leadville, Colorado with my wife Christie, a special education teacher, and our border collie-German shepherd mix, Ajee. Even though it is not my full-time job, ever since I was a child, I had the desire to do one of three things professionally - pro sports, writing about pro sports, or being a radio talk show host. This website is where I pretend to do the latter two, and when I'm out pretending to do the former, I listen to podcasts, think about topics, and pursue my wild dream of someday, at some event, in either running, biking, or skiing, wearing a team USA uniform. This website contains articles, podcasts, pictures, and journal entries that have to do with my passion and involvement in endurance sports. Our flagship project is the Seder Skier Podcast, which talks mostly about nordic skiing and attempts to interview influential individuals in the ski world. I also rant about the Big 4 sports, with a lean towards Minnesota teams (Vikings, Twins, Twolves, and MN Distance Running). I sometimes try to write Sports Illustrated like 'feature' articles about athletes as well. In addition to a focus on sports, you will find the occasional article or show that discusses the intersection of theology and society ...which is ...obviously everywhere. We place these in our Skieologians podcast. The heading at the top of my homepage reads, "Search for Truth. Play with purpose. Strive for success." It is the underlying theme for my coaching philosophy, which can be downloaded from this site. Basically, I'm always looking to search for the truth in my pursuit of knowledge, whether that is knowledge regarding the best methods for waxing skis, training a quarter miler, or defending my Christian apologetic. Searching implies a dedicated pursuit for knowledge, and that is what I'm about and what this site is about, even if it is simply for providing viewers with an accurate description of a product. Play with purpose has to do with living out our passions because they are fun. I ski because its fun. I play music and teach young kids because there is joy in it. This blog is about celebrating the joy and fun that inherently exists in the pursuit of excellence and in the activities themselves. Finally, strive for success is built on the principle that true success is the realization that we gave 100% effort to become the best that we could possible be. It requires 100% in preparation, competition, reflection, mental effort, etc. If something is worth doing, I believe it is worth doing with that level of effort. Someday, I hope to race the Visma Classics - the entire season, wear a Team USA singlet, and have a job that involves writing or talking about sports or theology all day. If you know of any body I can reach out to to help me accomplish these goals, please email me at sederquistrd@grizzlies.adams.edu

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