Jimmy Carter to headline Muslim conference

In this file photo, former President Jimmy Carter speaks at the Commonwealth Club of California on February 24, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Former President Jimmy Carter is slated to deliver keynote address this weekend at the annual conference of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), one of the nation's largest Muslim organizations.

Carter will talk about "the historic need for religious communities to mobilize against discrimination and violence that is directed toward girls and women throughout the world," according to the convention schedule. Additionally, "Muslim leaders at the convention will be invited to sign a Declaration for Peaceful Communities to join President Carter's movement for greater human rights."

Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Michigan, spoke at the opening session of the conference, which is being held in Detroit.

Both Carter and Snyder have been criticized for choosing to attend the conference, the Detroit Free Press reports, because of ISNA's past legal issues. In 2009, a federal judge in Texas said there was "ample evidence" to link ISNA to Hamas, the main armed Palestinian resistance group. ISNA, which was founded by Muslims in North America, says on its website, that it "rejects all acts of terrorism, including those perpetrated by Hamas, Hizbullah and any other group that claims Islam as their inspiration."

Still, the Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan-based conservative Christian legal center, said Mr. Carter is giving "the cover of respectability" to ISNA, the Free Press reports.

The former president recently said the that Hamas should be recognized as a legitimate political group, though the U.S. has designated it as a terrorist organization.

As the Christian Science Monitor reports, Carter and Snyder are not the only high-profile politicians who've addressed ISNA conferences. Past speakers include Bush administration diplomat Karen Hughes, conservative Christian pastor Rick Warren and President Obama's adviser Valerie Jarrett. Mr. Obama addressed last year's convention in a video message.

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