Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) invoked this week's ugly anti-Muslim Heritage Foundation panel during a markup of a human rights bill Thursday, suggesting that such intolerance at home undercuts the American government's calls for reform abroad.
"I believe that the Baha'i resolution that we have today has more at stake than just -- not that that's limited -- the Baha'i issue," Connolly said. "Its about tolerance. It's about the American value of tolerance and acceptance and diversity and the right of people to practice their faith, their religion, irrespective of the dominant culture. We don't always practice what we preach. There was an ugly incident the other day documented by the columnist Dana Milbank at one of our think-tanks that showed an element of intolerance we should be ashamed of. Because if we're going to lecture others -- and we should -- we need to make sure we're following our own prescript."
Watch Connolly's comments in the video above.
Connelly's comments came during a hearing to consider a resolution formally condemning the Iranian government for its treatment of the Baha'i people, who have been continually harassed in Iran for decades. The Baha'i faith is a monotheistic religion that teaches equality among individuals and holds that all religions come from the same spiritual source. It has 300,000 adherents in Iran, where its members are barred from practicing their religion in the open and face employment discriminations and other prejudices, according to Human Rights Watch. The Iranian government has jailed dozens of Baha'i on trumped-up national security charges, and the U.S. State Department has said Baha'i property is frequently seized by the regime.
Milbank's Monday column described nasty comments directed toward a Muslim woman at a Heritage Foundation event, where Milbank says her religion was compared to Nazism, her American citizenship was questioned, and attendees cheered and applauded as she was taunted. The first column embarrassed The Heritage Foundation, which attempted to distance itself from the event. A second Milbank piece on Wednesday provided more detail.
At Thursday's hearing, the Baha'i resolution, authored by indicted Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), was approved by a unanimous voice vote.