On Wednesday, the Texas House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously for a resolution recognizing “the holy month of Ramadan 2023” as a period of “intense reflection and spiritual rejuvenation” for Texas Muslims. Yet, for State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), who was just one of two legislators to vote against the bill, Ramadan conjures painful memories of his combat experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“As a combat veteran, I served beside many local translators who were Muslims and good people,” Tinderholt wrote on Twitter to explain his opposition to the resolution. “I can also attest that Ramadan was routinely the most violent period during every deployment.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leftist Muslim Brotherhood legacy group with a history of anti-military activism, mobilized its impressive public relations assets, calling the legislator’s comment “factually false” and “blatantly insulting” to Texas Muslims.
For years, top U.S. generals and military scholars have viewed Ramadan as a period punctuated by sharp increases in jihadist violence, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the holy month, Islamic State terrorists routinely encouraged an escalation of violence targeting civilians, citing the “great reward or martyrdom” earned from such attacks.
In the end, Tinderholt succumbed to pressure and met with members of CAIR’s Texas branch, a chapter that faced legal scrutiny after 9/11 for a founding member’s role in raising millions of dollars for Hamas. Later, the representative issued a grudging apology, calling his remarks a “misunderstanding” that was “interpreted as offensive” by local Muslims.
Benjamin Baird is the Director of MEF Action, a project of the Middle East Forum.