Did the director of the Dallas Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) tell Muslim rallygoers that Muslims are "above the law"? No, that's not true: Mustafa Carroll did not make those exact comments at a rally in Austin, Texas. A story making this claim suggested Carroll told attendees that the Quran is greater than the U.S. Constitution. The article used a photo of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in place of one of Carroll.
The claim is found in an article published by Daily News Updates on December 16, 2019, titled "Muslim Leader: America Must Understand Sharia Law is Greater Than the Constitution, Therefore Muslims are Above the Law" (archived here) which opened:
The Director of the Dallas Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR), Mustafa Carroll, made a surprising and shocking statement during a Muslim rally in Austin, Texas.
He firmly believes that the message of the Qur'an is supreme over the United States constitution. The statement would be shocking to most citizens of the United States, unless they had some perspective on who CAIR really is.
He said, "If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land." CAIR is the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Their headquarters is located in Washington D.C.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
This is a misleading claim, and it has made the rounds before online. In 2017, Snopes debunked a similar story that it said originated on a now-deleted post on the "Supreme Patriot" website dated December 18, 2015. However, Lead Stories has found an article dated March 3, 2013, which appeared on the WND website, making the same claims and referring to the same circumstances.
As Snopes pointed out in 2017, Carroll's comments at Texas Muslim Capitol Day in 2013 were taken out of context. Snopes reported that a video of Carroll shows him saying:
If we're practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land."
However, the full quotation, according to Snopes, provides additional context:
Following the law of the land is part of Sharia,' Carroll said, according to the video. 'And we follow the law of the land. In fact, Muslims, if we're practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land. The law doesn't affect us at all.'
Snopes said Carroll did not mean to imply that Muslims should ignore the U.S. Constitution. Carroll clarified his comments in an interview with The Texas Tribune newspaper, in which he acknowledged his words could be misinterpreted. As the paper reported:
It's definitely not intended to mean we don't have to follow the law,' he said. By saying Muslims were 'above the law,' he said, he meant that true, practicing Muslims should behave in a way that would put them above any possibility of breaking the law. 'If you're a practicing Muslim, then you should be above all of that,' he said.
It is common for viral stories, which have previously been debunked, to resurface online. Often, they contain the exact details mentioned in previous stories. This new article in Daily News Updates uses a different photo - not of Carroll, but of the Al Qaeda leader, who took command of the terrorist group after Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.
The Texas Muslim Capitol Day is an annual event organized by the state's chapters of CAIR, a national civil rights and advocacy organization. According to its mission statement:
CAIR's mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
In 2013, the Texas state legislature issued a resolution recognizing the event and extending "best wishes for an enjoyable and memorable day in Austin."