October 8, 2001, - 1:54 am
While President Bush–and now, Oprah–continue to paint a rosy picture of the American-Arab Islamic community, this picture is not entirely accurate.
Certainly many American Muslims are loyal and peaceful, but these moderates are not represented in the Islamic leadership that President Bush and the media have recently courted and presented to America. Moderate American Muslims, like Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani and Khalid Duran–who are to be commended for their courage and patriotism for opposing terrorism–are frozen out by the American Muslim mainstream (and by President Bush and Oprah).
Instead, Bush and media icons embrace radical Islamic leaders in America and abroad as symbols of peace and tolerance.
Take Imam Hassan Qazwini, cleric of the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in America, based in Detroit. Like many U.S. Islamic leaders, he openly promoted terrorism and hatred, but now preaches a saccharine love of America.
Saturday, Qazwini held an open house for non-Muslims at his mosque, at which he professed love for America. He recently told the Detroit Free Press that he and his congregants are “praying for the victims … for unity and solidarity. … [F]ellow Americans … we are not the enemies; we are peaceful citizens.” He also appeared at a unity prayer session in Detroit.
But, on Nov. 15, 1998, I attended a religious service at Qazwini’s mosque that was anything but pro-American and peaceful. Dressed undercover as a Muslim woman, I watched invited speaker Louis Farrakhan preach hate and violence to a very receptive audience of over 1,000 primarily Arab Muslim-Americans.
It was chilling to watch their and Qazwini’s frenzied applause and wild cheering as Farrakhan preached about how our government was occupied by “forces of evil” and “people in positions of power with a Satanic mentality” and urged, “We should perform a jihad (holy war). [They are] frightened, and we must frighten them even more.” Qazwini and a man whom I believe to be Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab-American News, called Farrakhan “our dear brother,” “a freedom fighter” and “a man of courage and sacrifice.” (Siblani denies this and claims it was Nouhad El-Hajj, publisher of the Arab American Journal, but Siblani’s publication openly praises Farrakhan and his sentiments.)
Ironically, the week before, Qazwini and Arab-American leaders protested the movie, “The Siege,” in which Arab terrorists blow-up hijacked buses and buildings in New York. Imagine that.
When campaigning in Michigan, Bush met repeatedly with Qazwini, and when he held his January press conference announcing his “faith-based” initiative, Qazwini was front and center among the religious leaders on stage at the White House. Bush introduced him as “my friend from Michigan,” and according to the Detroit Free Press, Qazwini met with Bush at his Texas ranch in December “to advise him on formulating the pair of executive orders issued” for the program. Qazwini’s mosque, which cheered for Farrakhan’s jihad against America, will certainly be a major recipient of our “faith-based” tax-money.
In 1998, Mothers Against Teaching Children to Kill and Hate, was founded to combat Palestinian Authority official textbooks’ “portrayal of Western society as the enemy of Islam and the Arab World.” According to a 1999 Detroit News article, “In one translation, a lesson on verbs uses the sentence, ‘The soldier sacrificed himself as a martyr for his homeland.'” Arab-American leaders Jim Zogby, who heads the Arab American Institute, and Imad Hamad, Detroit leader of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee–the primary Arab American civil rights organizations in America–justified this to the News, with Hamad saying that Arabic language is “vague,” with “different meanings.” No, the Arabic I studied is very clear and so is its meaning in the Palestinian textbooks. Why have these Arab American leaders who now claim to be against terrorism, defended schoolbooks that educate their Middle Eastern relatives in the currency of hate against the West?
Then there is Muqtedar Khan. A political science professor at Michigan’s Adrian College, he is supposed to be a moderate Muslim American. A frequent op-ed writer in the Detroit News and several other publications, he is on the board of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy and the executive committee of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists. But Khan’s Feb. 8 Detroit News opinion column attacking one of the world’s most peaceful, humane religious leaders–the Dalai Lama–belies the moderate tone Khan tries to present. Khan is upset that the Dalai Lama is respected and “legitimized … by bestowing upon him a Nobel Peace Prize.” The Dalai Lama’s crime (according to Khan)? He actually opposes forcible conversions to Islam. What nerve.
Khan has written for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, which is linked to the extremist Liberty Lobby, runs ads for Holocaust deniers and links to Arafat terrorist organization Fateh.org (which features a picture of a dead baby killed by Fateh snipers and a chat-webmaster with the name of “Abu Jihad”–“Father of the Holy War”).
In another recent Khan gem, he attacks President Bush and urges Arab-Americans to support Democratic Congressman David Bonior for governor of Michigan, due to Bonior’s opposition to the use of secret evidence and profiling against terrorists–measures that could have prevented the Sept. 11 attacks.
Spencer Abraham, now Bush’s Energy Secretary, was Michigan’s U.S. senator and Senate Immigration Subcommittee Chairman through the end of 2000. As the only Arab-American U.S. senator and representing a state with the heaviest concentration of Arab-Americans, Abraham unfortunately caved to the pressure of Arab-American Muslim leaders, such as the Arab-American Institute’s Zogby, on national security and funding matters. According to the Detroit News, Abraham is to blame for delaying systems that would improve tracking of foreign visitors, something that Arab American groups actively opposed. These systems also might have prevented the Sept. 11 attacks.
Abraham, in the middle of a tight re-election bid and enlisting Michigan Congressman Joe Knollenberg, sought over $268 million in tax-funded USAID grants for Hezbollah terrorist-controlled Southern Lebanon, also at Zogby’s request. Hezbollah, which means “Party of Allah” in Arabic, has targeted and murdered many Americans. Reports show that millions in USAID grants to Afghanistan were misspent on terrorist activities of the Taliban.
Oprah, in her Friday show–“Islam 101”–presented viewers with Jordanian Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, as an example of a moderate, modern Islamic woman. But Queen Rania’s husband, King Abdullah, rules precariously over a country where Osama bin Laden is the most popular figure, where radical Islamic fundamentalism rules, and where most women do not live the liberal, modern life of the queen. In another example of the “moderation” of her religion and her country, Rania is a very lucky woman. While the majority of her country is made up of Palestinians, they are subjugated by the rule of the Hashemite minority–her husband and before him, his father, King Hussein. In September of 1970, her “moderate” country killed over 10,000 of her fellow Palestinian Jordanians.
It’s time for President Bush and the media to stop promoting in phony liberalism of radical Islamists. Giving voice to truly moderate, patriotic Islamic leaders in America is vital to a successful war against terrorism.
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