- Associated Press - Thursday, February 4, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A Muslim advocacy group on Thursday asked to meet with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley about statements he made on a refugee resettlement program that the group says were “derogatory and dehumanizing.”

During his State of the State address on Tuesday, Bentley criticized the federal refugee resettlement program for not disclosing refugees’ background information to government officials in the states where they settle. Bentley alluded to terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, and said “among those killers was a refugee from a terrorist nation.” The governor later said, “Many have entered our state from terrorist nations.”

Khaula Hadeed, executive director of the Alabama chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement that labeling a predominantly Muslim country as a terrorist nation promotes prejudice.

“The use of inflammatory language that marginalizes an entire community reduces one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent human history to the status of a political football,” she said.

CAIR officials said Bentley should meet with Muslim community leaders and review his understanding of the Syrian refugee crisis.

“The Governor did not directly reference Syrian refugees in his speech. His concern lies with the federal government and its failure to provide states with critical information about those resettling in states,” Bentley’s spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis said in an email. “One refugee terrorist can inflict significant harm on our people, and the Governor’s priority is keeping the people of Alabama safe.”

In January, Bentley sued the U.S. government, accusing President Barack Obama’s administration of failing to follow a portion of the Refugee Act of 1980 that calls for the federal government to consult with states on placement of those who have fled their home countries.

Alabama does not operate a state agency to help with resettlement. Catholic Social Services of Mobile contracts with the federal government to help provide those services in Alabama.

Bentley said during his address that he’s also asking the state Legislature to call for Congress to reform the Refugee Resettlement Act.

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