Are extremists “hijacking” the American Muslim community through its leaders’ complicity and silence regarding terrorism?
That’s the controversial view of the Islamic Supreme Council (ISC), a Muslim education group based in Washington, D.C. The Muslim magazine (January), which is published by the ISC, carries a statement from the council saying that “too often we see leaders of the community equivocating between implicit support for extremists and general condemnations of terrorism.” It adds that extremist organizations often operate in the U.S. under “assumed identities as non-profit organizations or corporate businesses, hiding their origins and affiliations.” The statement claims that American Muslim leaders are hesitant to criticize alleged terrorist Usama bin Laden or the Palestinian Hamas movement.
Islamic leaders don’t speak out because it may cause more divisions among Muslims and “fear for their own positions due to their connections with extremists around the world through their U.S. offices.” The statement adds that Muslims “have a right to know where their . . . relief donations are going . . . We therefore appeal to Muslim organizations to take a courageous stand regarding all that is going on and openly disclose their ties to foreign groups and movements, as well as the nature of these associations.”
Only such an action will “prevent the majority of Muslims from suffering by being detained or being viewed with suspicion because of the misguided actions of others.” The ISC statement stands out in the American Muslim community, especially since these views are more often voiced by such secular critics as journalist Steve Emerson. Mateen Siddiqui, an editor of The Muslim magazine, told RW that the statement did not name any organizations because these groups should engage in self disclosure.
But the majority of American Muslim organizations tolerate or propagate extremist views, Siddiqui added. “You just have to look on the Internet to see that the tone of the majority of Islamic groups — though not the American Muslim people themselves — is extremist; they’re always criticizing the U.S. and never [supporting] the country . . . These groups have the voice in the Muslim community and they impose their views on those that don’t have a voice.”
Aly Abuzaanouk of the American Muslim Council, another pan-Muslim education and advocacy group in Washington, says it is impossible to reply to the ISC’s charges, since no names or evidence are produced in the statement. “The ISC should prove its charges and hand in any such evidence to American security forces,” he said. He added that the American Muslim Council and other Muslim groups “have always condemned terrorism and they work for the betterment of the nation.”
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