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Neighbors: Not such a radical notion

Since Sept. 11, we've heard a lot about "Muslim extremists" and "moderate Muslims." But who defines these terms? Seeking the American Muslim mainstream, whose charts should we use?

For insight, I turned to Dr. Omaran Abdeen, 31, a nephrologist and San Diego representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. This, I'm told, was a mistake.

The Media Research Center, a self-described "conservative media watchdog organization," calls the council a "radical group."

Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, a think tank based in Philadelphia, says that Abdeen's group is "noisy and vicious."

Abdeen's response: "Certain commentators, certain pundits, have consistently portrayed Muslims in a certain light -- especially American Muslims. They almost always make our loyalty and our patriotism suspect. I find this suspect, that they never find anything good to say about the group."


As you've doubtless guessed, Abdeen is not a California native. But he speaks unaccented English despite his exotic birthplace -- Chattanooga.

I had no trouble understanding him. I had a tough time, though, seeing him as radical, noisy or vicious…

Neighbors" is Wednesday at Breeze Hill Elementary School, 1111 Melrose Way, Vista. Last week, while moderating the first session, I met a panel of bona fide, honest-to-Allah members of the faith…

UCSD Medical School and has lived in San Diego ever since. While he knows the area, he was surprised by the post-terrorism, anti-Muslim backlash. And by the backlash to the backlash.

"In the first week after Sept. 11, the Islamic Center received 30 to 40 bouquets and 50 to 60 cards of support and sympathy, all from non-Muslims. There were even offers to do the shopping for Muslim women who are afraid to leave home."

In other words, many San Diegans redefined the term "Muslim neighbor." Muslim? OK. Neighbor? First and foremost.

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