Texas state Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R) sent surveys to mosque leaders and Muslim student associations around the state in an attempt to poll their beliefs ahead of Texas Muslim Capitol Day, which took place on Jan. 31.
The letters, which were dated Jan. 11, asked Muslims to give their opinions about terrorism and reform efforts with Islam. Biedermann’s letters became a source of controversy when critics argued he was targeting and testing Muslims’ patriotism.
“It’s shocking that a few legislators, and it really does seem to be a few, insist on trying to marginalize [Muslims] session after session and try to keep them boxed into only being relevant on issues where it’s their identity that’s at stake,” Bee Moorhead, the executive director of Texas Impact, an interfaith organization, told The Texas Tribune about the “intimidating” surveys.
But Biedermann insisted in a statement that he wanted to share the results of the survey with elected officials in the state: “The poll that went out was paid for with private funds and was sent out to gather responses in advance of my upcoming Homeland Security Summit.”
During the annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day, some of the 42,000 Texas Muslims go to Austin to learn more about state policy and meet with elected officials. The event has also been a site for protests by people promoting anti-Muslim sentiment.