Mainstream Muslims – Help Us Understand!
GS Don Morris, Ph.D.
Nov 20, 2005
Mainstream Muslims in the USA have repeatedly tried to suggest that they are against terrorism and that Muslims in America (including the Muslim Public Affairs Council) are different from other international Muslims. They say that the vast majority of them are committed to the United States, they want to preserve its values, and they reject Al Qaeda and terrorism.
According to Muslim leaders they say American Muslims are more readily integrated into the USA society than are their European counterparts. Muslims in the U.S. are more affluent than in many parts of the world. Muslims in America are educated with many having advanced university degrees. They say that the U.S. is their home.
They do acknowledge that among the millions of Muslims in the United States, some may support extremism. It is the task of American moderate Muslims to isolate them in partnership with law enforcement — as fringe elements, and to prevent the isolation of the entire Muslim American community.
Lastly, it has been said that the overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans denounce violence as a solution for the social ills faced in the Muslim world. All of this reported in newspapers recently.
However, let us examine some facts as they exist here in the USA.
It seems that every ethnic and religious group has an organization or organizations that "speak on behalf of their people." In principle, these groups represent the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of the common person. Said another way, they represent the thinking of "the street." Thus, they speak for their constituency.
With this as the premise, allow me to share what these representative moderate Muslim groups have said and have done. I will use their own words as reported in the reputable USA media. I do not report opinion rather everything that follows is "in their own words" or in the words of credible media pundits.
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC): Led by Salam Al-Marayati. Al-Marayati, is a close friend of pro Hezbollah Congressman Darrell Issa of California. Mr. Al-Marayati defended Hezbollah's murder of over 300 U.S. Marines and civilians while they slept. He also claimed that Hezbollah, a major component of the Al-Qaeda network, is not a terrorist group. Al-Marayati equated jihad with the statements of Patrick Henry (1993). This is the man who hours after the 9/11 attacks, accused Israel of perpetrating the crime. In an e-mail, this moderate Muslim approvingly quoted Hitler: "As Hitler said, the more intelligent the Jew is, the more he lies."
His wife, Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, was the head of the charity KinderUSA. Its executive director and a board member were held in Israel for aiding terrorists. KinderUSA was tied to the Holy Land Foundation, whose employees have been indicted for funding and ties to HAMAS and Al-Qaeda.
CAIR (The Council on American-Islamic Relations): This is their self-descriptive title: it is a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group... Since 1994, CAIR has worked to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America. Through media relations, lobbying, education and advocacy, CAIR puts forth an Islamic perspective to ensure the Muslim voice is represented. Now let us examine what they also say and have done.
Omar M. Ahmad Chairman of CAIR made the following statement a few years ago, "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran ... should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth." To be fair, I must note that CAIR announced that Omar Ahmad denied making the statement and CAIR was seeking a retraction from the newspaper that published the story on July 4, 1998. As a follow up side note Steve Waterhouse, editor of The Argus in Fremont, Calif., told WND his paper has not been contacted by CAIR. The article of denial also was run in a sister publication, the San Ramon Valley Herald. The paper's city editor, Dave Boitano, said he would have known if CAIR had sought a retraction. Interesting strategy CAIR employs.
CAIR does have the following on record:
- Apologizes for murderers such as Hamas (a group associated with the murder of 7 Americans) and Usama bin Ladin (charged with the devastation of September 11, 2001).
- Assists the promotion of terrorism: In the words of Steve Pomerantz, a former Chief of Counterterrorism for the FBI, "CAIR, its leaders, and its activities, effectively give aid to international terrorist groups."
- Intimidation of patriotic Muslims who disagree with CAIR's militant agenda: In one case (Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani), the FBI has looked into charges that he received death threats after renouncing the chauvinists. In another (Khalid Duran), CAIR's attack on a writer led to a death edict against him - which CAIR has never denounced.
Imam Siraj Wahaj, a CAIR board member, who is one of the most respected American Muslim leaders and is vice president of the Islamic Society of North America. Dr. Daniel Pipes reports that he "calls for replacing the U.S. government with a caliphate."
In contrast to all of the preceding individuals and organizations that are anything but moderate, let me introduce Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, a leader of the Naqshbandi Sufi order in the United States and the founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of America. He was brave enough to say at a State Department meeting in January of 1999 that extremists had "taken over 80% of the mosques" in America. In response, more than 100 mosques and organizations signed a petition condemning Mr. Kabbani and calling for a boycott of his organization. So much for freedom of speech and moderation in the Islamic American viewpoint.
Finally the Islamic "charitable organizations" have not exactly honored their word. Take for instance the Holy Land Foundation. There is a major disconnect between its public image, its word-smithed purpose statements and its actual, on-the-ground deeds. This foundation claimed to be the largest Islamic charity in the states; interestingly, in December 2001, the assets of the organization were frozen by the FBI and U.S. Treasury agents. Treasury officials conceded that a "substantial amount" of the money raised goes to worthy causes, but insisted that Holy Land's primary purpose has been to subsidize Hamas. Indeed you have to wonder about Holy Land's connection to terrorism when one of the group's founders Mousa Abu Marzook, was also a political leader of Hamas, and was deported from the USA in 1997. In August of 2004 he was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to raise funds for terrorist attacks against Israel. There is more. In June of 2004 another federal grand jury in Texas returned a 42 count indictment against the Foundation. The charges included: conspiracy, providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, tax evasion and money laundering. The indictment alleged that the Holy Land Foundation provided more than $12.4 million to individuals and organizations linked to Hamas between 1995 to 2001, when their assets were frozen. Legal action against the Foundation has continued since 2001. The organization challenged the charges against it, lost and then appealed to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals where it lost again. Finally, the Supreme Court refused to hear its case.
In fairness, CAIR, on its website, boosts about American Muslims speaking out against terror. Here is an example: "Viewers of cable TV stations in the Tampa market last weekend may have seen a 30-second advertisement in which two American Muslims denounce violence in the name of Islam. They vow, in part, that they will 'not allow our faith to be hijacked by criminals.'" The difficulty with this is quite simple-on the website the link was found in a standing topic entitled "Challenging Hate" and one would expect to read about the thousands of such occurrences around the USA; rather, an outdated, September, 2005 post was all that was found. Furthermore, putting this into a larger context one would note the preponderance of other statements not necessarily reflecting what some of us want to hear now from "Moderate Muslims." I mean no offense by this and I suspect this statement alone will result with some invalidation comments soon after it appears. You see this is one of my points. It is up to Moderate Muslims to step forward and help those of us reaching out to understand why it is not their responsibility to do so.
Admittedly I have selected specific individuals and groups who seem to say they are moderates but whose words and actions are anything but moderate. There are literally hundreds of additional examples; however, these examples demonstrate the disconnect between the so-called moderate Muslims' words and their actual actions.
I now have some questions to ask my moderate Muslim colleagues to help all of us better understand the behavior of such individuals and groups. In America, when a person says one thing and does another, we say that the person has no integrity. Lack of integrity also reflects a lack of responsibility for one's behavior. I do not accept this with my children, students and other colleagues; I will not accept this of you. So my questions are:
1. When will we hear you declare that this lack of integrity by moderate Muslim individuals and moderate groups must stop immediately?
2. When will the large numbers of moderate Muslims take the necessary steps to reform these insincere groups?
3. Can we expect you to help us understand what is moderate Islam and what it means in behavior?
4. What does it mean to assimilate within the existing American culture?
5. How do you reconcile the requirements you are asking for private prayer rooms in public places like schools with your desire to assimilate?
6. If you are fitting in with our values and beliefs why are individuals who dare speak out, criticize, ask critical questions (all allowed under our existing legal system) physically attacked and/or threatened?
7. This is your concept of adapting to a society's behavior standard?
8. If America is your home, when will we hear that you are Americans first, and then you are ... second?
9. Can we assume that your interest in peace, freedom of expression and honor to your country will be translated into outspoken support for our military and its international actions against terror?
10. Given that you say America is your home and that you condemn terror can we expect the Arab language proficient among your legions of believers to join our military and serve as translators loyal to America?
11. When will you in large numbers seek out Christian churches and Jewish synagogues to visit?
12. Can we expect soon that large numbers of you will volunteer to learn about Judeo-Christian values much like you are demanding that we do of Islam?
13. Will you stop asking for special programs enabling you to have access to public schools when it is impossible for our Judeo-Christian students to even say a prayer on school grounds?
14. If there are so many moderate Muslims, so many more than the extremists, and if you say they have hijacked your beliefs, why are you not saying so every chance you get?
15. Are you able to see the disconnect between statements made on your behalf and actions taken?
16. Are you finally willing to admit that this is a problem with Islam in the U.S?
17. Can we expect to hear freedom of speech as a recognized right to dialog within your interpretation of Islam? What specific statement would recognize the right to express opinions about Islam?
18. Will you support me and others who dare to ask questions about you? Will you defend our right to criticize and have no fear of threats or physical retaliation, particularly in the form of fatwas?
19. Will you join us in large numbers when we sponsor anti-terrorist conferences?
20. Finally, will you sponsor conferences that speak unconditionally against terror and stand together publicly with Christians and Jews in solidarity against Islamic extremists?
I have many more questions to ask, but this is a good beginning. The answers to these questions and the subsequent actions will be the proverbial proof of the pudding. As a parent, educator and citizen I expect the same from my social group and I suggest that moderate Muslims be held accountable for their personal integrity.