CAIR calls for King Louis IX statue to be removed in St. Louis

Demonstrators call France King Louis IX an anti-Semite and Islamophobic.

Updated: July 2, 2020 - 8:41am

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest American Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is joining the ranks to remove historical statues in America. 

Missouri CAIR leadership is calling for the toppling of France’s King Louis IX statue in St. Louis, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis is emphatically pushing back. 

Local St. Louis activist Umar Lee, who claims to be working with Jewish and Muslims leaders, created the petition calling for the statue’s removal and renaming the city. As of today, the petition has fewer than 1,000 signatures.

Lee organized the protest with Missouri CAIR Executive Director, Moji Sidiqi, an Afghani immigrant, at the foot of the statue in Forest Park near the St. Louis Art Museum while supporters of keeping the statue prayed the Rosary. 

Sidigi is also associated with the Regional Muslim Action Network.

When one Catholic priest attempted to explain King Louis and referred to the St. Louis Catholic Cathedral, one of the protestors, shouted, 'That's next!"

Lee claims that King Louis is a “rabid anti-Semite” and “vehemently Islamophobic.” Lee says that when the statue was erected over 100 years ago it was “put up for white Christian men.” 

Lee participated in the 2014 Ferguson demonstrations following Michael Brown’s death, and today supports reparations. 

CAIR and Lee claim that King Louis IX’s statue needs to be removed because he persecuted Jews in France and committed atrocities against Muslims when the king participated in Catholic Crusades during the seventh and eighth crusades in the 1200's.

King Louis IX presided over a public burning of the sacred Jewish Talmud, and issued an order to expel Jewish subjects in France.  

The Catholic Church canonized King Louis IX to sainthood in 1297. He is the only king of France who has been elevated to sainthood by the Catholic Church. King Louis IX is the patron saint of St. Louis.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis issued an emphatic statement defending the statue and King Louis. 

In its statement, the archdiocese explained why the Catholic Church canonized the King, noting his charitable work for the destitute and his reforms of the French judicial system, but neglected to address the King's actions against Jews and his leadership in the Crusades. 

The archdiocese supports “programs and policies that will dismantle racism,” read the statement. “We should not seek to erase history, but recognize and learn from it, while working to create new opportunities for our brothers and sisters.” 

“The history of the statue of St. Louis, the King, is one founded in piety and reverence before God, and for non-believers, respect for one’s neighbor,” the statement said. “For Catholics, St. Louis is an example of an imperfect man who strived to live a life modeled after the life of Jesus Christ. For St. Louisans, he is a model for how we should care for our fellow citizen, and a namesake with whom we should be proud to identify.”