[Ahmed Rehab is executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations]

Is it possible for Muslim Americans to criticize our administration’s neoconservative foreign policies, our government’s complicit role in Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, or our domestic breaches of civil liberties, and not be branded as “apologists for terror?”

That was the key question at the heart of last March’s controversy in our nation’s capital, pitting the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) against some in the GOP, or Republican Party – a question every columnist and talk-show pundit commenting on the spat was careful to pass over.

Since 9/11, anti-Muslim hysteria has evolved from a collective knee-jerk reaction to a premeditated and coordinated cottage industry, patronized by an agenda-driven elite seeking political – sometimes financial – gain.

In the resulting hostile climate, “suspicion” of Muslims – as opposed to evidence of our wrongdoing – is apparently cause enough to demand that we be stripped of our right to speak freely on our nation’s beacon of democracy and pluralism, Capitol Hill.

Such was the demand made of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by members of the Republican Party after it was “revealed” CAIR would host an educational panel on the findings of a poll on international public opinion conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) for the British Broadcasting Corporation, to be delivered by the Washington, DC PIPA director, who is also a professor at the University of Maryland.

Sound the alarm.

While there has been a lot of media buzz about the controversy since, one obvious question has yet to be asked: just what is an “apologist for terror?”

This loaded designation, leveled at CAIR by some in the GOP at the behest of no more than an amateur blogger from Florida, is designed to withstand quantification or any form of objective assessment, and, thus, be beyond contention.


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