Muslim Leaders Walk Out of White House Meeting
More than 20 Muslim leaders and community representatives today walked out of a White House meeting to protest the exclusion of one of the attendees.
During a briefing with Rev. Mark Scott, Associate Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, Abdallah Al-Arian was approached by a security guard who asked him to leave the premises. No reason was given for his removal from the meeting. All meeting participants walked out when they learned of Al-Arian's exclusion.
Al-Arian, 20, is a student at Duke University who works in the office of Congressman David Bonior (D-MI). He is the son of American Muslim activist Sami Al-Arian. The elder Al-Arian has been instrumental in the legislative challenge to the use of secret evidence against Muslims and Arabs and currently leads the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedoms.
The Muslim leaders who walked out of the meeting issued a joint
statement that read in part:
"This incident is the latest in an unfortunate pattern of exclusion by the Bush Administration. It sends a message to American Muslims that the White House will engage only if it is allowed to dictate the terms and decide who is allowed at the table.
"American Muslim organizations reject the notion that community members must pass a litmus test. A meaningful dialogue must be based on equity, accessibility and fairness; not exclusion, discrimination or exploitation by special interest groups."
"We expect the White House to clarify why Abdullah Al-Arian was excluded from the meeting and to apologize to him and to the Muslim community," said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, who attended today's gathering. Organizations endorsing the statement include: American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ), Coalition for Good Government, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center, Islamic Institute, Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, Muslim American Society Monitoring Team, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and North American Council for Muslim Women.