Skip to comments.Muslims urge Bush's key aide to denounce anti-Islam campaign in US(ISNA)
Posted on 09/03/2005 2:59:33 PM PDT by milestogo
Muslims urge Bush's key aide to denounce anti-Islam campaign in US
From Our Special Correspondent
WASHINGTON: -- While condemning terrorism, Muslims leaders gathered in Chicago for their annal convention Friday urged Karen Hughes, one of President George W. Bush's closest advisors, to denounce hate speech against Islam from non-Muslim Americans in the American news media.
Ms. Hughes, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, met separately with leaders of Muslim organizations, young people and a delegation from Britain that was among an estimated 40,000 for the four-day convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), according to media reports. The society is an umbrella group of mosques and Islamic centers in the United States and Canada.
The meeting took place as she began an initiative to improve the flagging image of the United States among Muslims overseas.
Ms. Hughes began overseeing "public diplomacy" for the Bush administration last month. She said she and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would hold a public forum and announce a new "public diplomacy" strategy next week. She gave few details but said the initiative would involve exchange programs, debates and interfaith dialogues.
"We have a common interest in confronting terror and violence and hate and crime that is committed in the name of any religion, and we want to isolate and marginalize those who would seek to kill innocents," Ms. Hughes said at a news conference. "And frankly, who better to do that than many of our American Muslims themselves, who have friends and family and groups in countries across our world?"
She said part of her new State Department job is to help amplify the voices of groups like theirs that are condemning terrorism and religious extremism.
"We need to foster a sense of common interest and common values among Americans and people of different faiths and different cultures," Ms.Hughes added.
Polls have shown that the image of the United States among Muslims abroad has plummeted since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the start of the Iraq conflict.
"It's all talk right now and unclear what the concrete steps are," Rubina Khan, treasurer of the Muslim Students Association, was quoted as saying in news dispatches. "But if we can form a relationship with anybody in the administration who has that power, then obviously we should try."
Some Muslim leaders who met Hughes said they were gratified to be consulted and impressed with her willingness to listen. A few said she appeared to lack knowledge about the Middle East and seemed unaware of how fearful many American Muslims had become of government surveillance and intrusions on their civil liberties.
Hughes said at the news conference that when some Muslim students told her that they were afraid to speak on cell phones to family members overseas, "that broke my heart."
Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, an organizational consultant from Oakland, said Ms. Hughes should be "confronting the bias, prejudice and racist views of Islam that are perpetrated in the U.S."
Meanwhile, a committee of Islamic Society scholars released a pamphlet Friday arguing that Islam does not condone terrorism, violence against people of other faiths and religious extremism. It cites passages from the Quran and is intended for Muslims and non-Muslims. The pamphlet says that suicide attacks are always forbidden and that "jihad is not to be equated with terrorism."
"This initiative is not being undertaken because of political correctness, " said Kareem Irfan, a board member of the Islamic Society who helped write the statement. "This was done because of a passionate belief that the true message of Islam needs to be conveyed. It needs to be wrenched away from those whose acts have tainted Islam unfairly, unnecessarily."
However, Warith Deen Umar, an African American imam from New York, said at the news conference he would not endorse the pamphlet.
"A lot of this is phony," he was quoted as saying. "Their intentions are good, but most of these are immigrant Muslims who want to be accepted in America." Umar said he had been banned a few years ago from serving as a prison chaplain in New York state.
Ms. Hughes said, "The fatwa says that there is no justification in Islam for terrorism. Those are words the entire world needs to hea. And in delivering that message, I know that the most credible voices are of Muslims themselves. My job is to help amplify and magnify these voices."
ISNA's vice president, Ingrid Mattson, said those attending the meetings with Ms. Hughes were frank about their disagreements with the Bush administration on everything from foreign policy to concerns over the erosion of civil liberties.
Several told her about the problems they regularly have with air travel because their Muslim names or dress prompt suspicion. One man who was supposed to be in a Thursday night meeting with Ms. Hughes walked in at the end because he was held by airport security for three hours until his name was cleared, Mattson said.
Ms. Hughes expressed the appreciation of the Bush administration for the demonstration of support for victims of Hurricane Katrina by ISNA.
"All people join me in saying that our hearts and prayers are with the people of Louisiana," Hughes said. She thanked ISNA for starting a special fund to help the victims of hurricane Katrina and making an initial donation of $20,000 from its own resources. After September 2 Friday prayers, ISNA announced that it had collected $2 million, with additional contributions expected.
"Muslim Americans must come forward and assist their fellow Americans in this time of need," said Sayyid M. Syeed, secretary general of ISNA.
ISNA called on mosques and congregations across North America to devote their sermons to the importance of helping the needy and to help raise funds during Friday prayers throughout the country.
Describing her meeting with Muslim leaders September 1, Hughes said that it was "a fascinating experience," which helped her to understand more about a number of things, from language, to public diplomacy outreach, to policy issues in "a very open and honest way."
Responding to voices that have criticized her attendance at the ISNA convention, Ms. Hughes said that these criticisms show how much work needs to be done.
"I think that the key is to work together in ways that are respectful, we need to speak together and understand each other," she said.
Ms. Hughes also said that she could not imagine approaching the job of under secretary of state for public diplomacy, and seeking to reach out to the wider Muslim World, "without getting the advice, the opinion and the input of the American Muslim community."
"It's important that we talk to each other, but that doesn't mean that I agree with every thing you say or you agree with every thing I believe in," she said.
Ms. Hughes said the major pillars of the administration's outreach strategy are what she called the 4Es: "Engage, Exchange, Educate and Empower."
She said the message she will take from the ISNA convention is "Educate America."
"I found new allies to help me do my job," she added.
"their annal convention" Perhaps this is a misspelling? It should read "their anal convention".
you're too quick...and darkened my punchline..that one was almost too good to pass up.
Message. Don't presume to tell me what I can say or think. If you feel that you are not accepted, singled out, the object of discrimination, that is a problem you have created by your behaviors and a problem only you can fix. It you want to convince me, do it with your actions. Your words are without meaning.
So while they give hate speeches against we infidels in their Mosques they want us to give up hate for Islamic terrorists, Then they want us to not monitor any Islamics so they can go about destroying America without impedence.
I will say one thing for them they have balls , either that or they think we are crazy.
Definition of "hate speech"...
"Any truthful or negative statements about Islam by non-muslims."
Not only does Islam want to kill us (infidels), it also wants to deny our right to complain about it.
Or perhaps they are crazy.
So, does this mean that it is not "terrorism" if the terrorist acts are carried out under the "jihad" banner?
If that is the case I now understand the UN's difficulty with the definition of "terrorism" or "terrorist" acts.
Let's make it easy - give me a reason not to hate Muslims.
Not just because it is the Christian thing to do - I mean real solid measureable indications that they are worthy of respect and membership in a traditional Liberal Western society.
Those Muslims here (in the US) are simply enjoying the freedoms and systems created by a culture to which they do not belong. Participation and enjoyment of our society is not good enough.
Respect is something you earn. Muslims are behind on their dues, and blaming others for it is not the answer.
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