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Two Disputants Missing the Point

Reader comment on item: The U.S. Institute of Peace Stumbles

Submitted by Irfan Khawaja (United States), Apr 2, 2004 at 15:47

The two parties to this dispute are missing the point. Mr. Pipes's column gives the impression that Kamran Bokhari was himself responsible for Al Muhajirun's celebration of 9/11, but as Kay King's letter suggests, Bokhari had left Al Muhajirun before then. I think that is what Ms. King means by "innuendo."

On the other hand, Ms. King's letter gives the impression that Mr. Bokhari is somehow in the clear merely because he left Al Muhajirun five years ago. But as Daniel Pipes's article implies, didn't merely become a problem five years ago; it was a problem long before that. (Was Islamic terrorism not a problem before 1999? According to Richard Clarke, Islamic terrorism was priority #1 of the US government before that date.)

Also, I am not clear why Ms. King goes to the trouble of denying that Bokhari was part of the USIP event if in the next breath she goes to the trouble of asserting that Bokhari left Al Muhajirun five years ago. What exactly is USIP's story here? That Bokhari is a problematic individual who mercifully wasn't present at the March 19 event? Or that he's an unproblematic individual who coincidentally happened not to be present at the event? You can't have it both ways.

The real question goes beyond Bokhari, CSID and the March 19 event, and to the very purpose of USIP. Why are US taxpayers being taxed to pay for conferences on ijtihad in the first place? Ms. King describes the purpose of the March 19 event as follows: "to provide an occasion for Muslim scholars committed to the reform of Islam and the advancement of a moderate Islamic agenda to address some of the most troublesome obstacles to adapting Islam for life in the 21st century, with implications for the status of women, the role of democracy in the Muslim world, and the nature of interfaith relations."

Since when has the reform of a religion become one of the constitutional powers of the federal government (or an agency created by it)? How does this purpose comport with the First Amendment's separation clause, and especially with the interpretation of it that requires a "firewall" between Church and State? These are the questions that need to be posed more urgently than the ones about Kamran Bokhari.

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