Omran Salman, a Bahraini journalist and editor in chief of the liberal and pro-American website in Arabic, www.aafaq.org, has an important article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, in which he points out the failings of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Titled, "Misguided Muslim groups: Focus should be on extremists' war against the West," it notes that CAIR, MPAC, and the Muslim American Society, rather than condemn the thwarted Aug. 10 plot to blow up U.S.-bound jetliners over the Atlantic "sought to both legitimize terror and portray Muslims as victims." He explains:
The basic narrative of these self-described civil-rights groups is twofold: The United States provokes terrorism because of its foreign policy, and Muslims in the West face a backlash in the wake of terror. On July 31, for example, Salam al-Marayati, executive director of MPAC, penned an op-ed piece in the Denver Post arguing that "we should not be surprised" when Islamist extremists "respond with belligerence to their continued humiliation and not-quite-human treatment by the international community." He made no mention of the Saudi religious schools that indoctrinate generations of children into a philosophy of hate and violence.
After law enforcement stopped the mid-Atlantic massacre, Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, warned, "We ought to take advantage of these incidents to make sure that we do not start a religious war against Islam and Muslim." He called on Muslims to step up security at mosques and community centers to counter negative backlash to news of the plot.
He goes on the deride such talk of a backlash: "According to the 2004 FBI hate-crimes report, the latest published, there were 156 incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes; in comparison, there were 95 anti-Christian, and 954 anti-Jewish attacks in the United States. Rather than fear American freedom, most Muslims embrace it. At more than $42,000, average income for Muslim families is higher than the American average."
Truly representing American Muslims would mean adopting a quite different approach, being "at the forefront of defending both Muslims and non-Muslims against Islamic extremists who hate moderate Muslims almost as much if not more than Western governments." That's because the real threat consists of "Extremists who find motivation in religion to preach intolerance and wage war against Western values and peoples."
Comment: (1) It is encouraging to see a moderate Muslim come out against CAIR and MPAC, and doubly so to have the mainstream media publish him. (2) Moderate Muslims do exist and each one who speaks out makes it just a little easier for the next one to do so. (August 31, 2006)