Even before the second plane crashed on Sept. 11, Ibrahim Hooper of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations was typing out a condemnation of terrorism. By noon, it was ricocheting off faxes and computer screens worldwide.
In the Washington office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Maher Hathout and Salam Al-Marayati offered the "Muslim point of view" on the Arab television network Al Jazeera, CNN and Fox News.
A few blocks away, executives at the American Muslim Council called an ally, a GOP stalwart with presidential access. A lot of innocent, hard-working American Muslims could get hurt because of this incident, they told their intermediary. We need the president to say something.
Two days later, during a televised conference call with New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki, President Bush did just that: "We must be mindful that as we seek to win the war, that we treat Arab Americans and Muslims with the respect they deserve," he said.
Those moments illustrated how a bevy of young American Muslim organizations have suddenly risen in visibility. A decade ago many of those groups did not exist. Since Sept. 11 they have mounted a coordinated campaign to contain an anti-Muslim backlash and weigh in on U.S. decisions affecting
the Muslim world. They are also telling a fearful and suspicious American public who Muslims are, what they believe--and how they distinguish themselves from madmen with box cutters…
…Following the lead of secular civil rights groups such as the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People and the Anti-Defamation League, U.S. Muslim groups are more likely to fax a news release than issue a fatwa (a religious edict). The new breed of U.S. Muslim groups that surged into action Sept. 11 is ecumenical and media-savvy. They endorse political candidates and lobby Congress on the treatment of Muslims here and abroad…
…From among about 20 national Muslim organizations, four groups have taken the lead:
…The Council on American-Islamic Relations started sending out press kits with vocabulary lists and usage guides. (Examples: Allah means God, not "a god." jihad means struggle, not "holy war." "Moslems" prefer to be called "Muslims.") With 12 regional offices, the council's main strategy is to use public relations campaigns to combat anti-Muslim discrimination in Hollywood and in the workplace.
The council's first major response came after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. In the time it took to discredit false reports of "Middle Eastern suspects," there were a spate of hate crimes, including an attack on a pregnant Middle Eastern woman. And an innocent Jordanian American was arrested, named in news reports and photographed in handcuffs.
"We actually flew [Executive Director] Nihad Awad [from Washington] to the site to coordinate the Muslim response there and meet with the media," said council co-founder Hooper. Such a direct approach was unprecedented for the Muslim community, Hooper said. A photograph of that scene shows Awad
standing alone at the center of a thick moat of reporters.
"Since then we developed the idea of a crisis team," Hooper said…
The council also began publishing annual reports on anti-Muslim incidents--spurring law enforcement agencies to be more vigilant in their protection of Muslims. In the same way African Americans have historically called upon the NAACP, the council has become one of the first places many Muslims turn when they believe their rights have been violated. Since the terrorist attacks the group has recorded more than 1,000 reported anti-Muslim incidents…
The objective of the Risala program is to establish a speaker program geared toward disseminating accurate and objective information about Islam to the general public.
WHAT: CAIR-MI Speakers Training Program
WHEN: December 1, 2001, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
WHERE: The University of Michigan-Dearborn Campus, School of Management (UMD is located on Evergreen Rd. in Dearborn Michigan between Ford Road and Michigan Avenue.)
For more information about al-Risala, contact Jameel Syed at: [email protected]
The Nov. 14 Style article on Steven Emerson ignored one of the man's most ludicrous claims: that Oklahoma City was one of the largest centers of Islamic radical activity outside the Middle East.
This comment was particularly imprudent considering that it was made on national television the day the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed. Not surprisingly, Mr. Emerson incorrectly linked this attack to Arab groups.
Mr. Emerson's claim that "information" drives terrorism policy is a half-truth -- in his case, it is misinformation. And this misinformation can prohibit the truth from coming out by lulling us into a false sense of security, which is the last thing we need in our efforts to combat terrorism and punish those responsible for it.