In a recent Examiner op-ed by Lawrence Haas of the Committee on the Present Danger, Haas falsely claimed that American Muslims have not spoken out against terrorism.
In fact, it was a coalition of American Muslim groups that issued what was perhaps the first condemnation of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Council on American-Islamic Relations also published a full-page advertisement condemning those attacks and offering condolences to the victims.
CAIR and other Muslim organizations in this country have consistently condemned violence against civilians, whether it is suicide bombs in the Middle East, attacks on churches in Pakistan, the bombing of hotels in Jordan or similar outrages.
In 2004, CAIR launched a petition drive, called "Not in the Name of Islam," designed to disassociate Islam from the violent acts of a few Muslims. The petition, signed by some 700,000 Muslims, states in part: "We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad."
CAIR turned that petition into a television public service announcement that was distributed nationwide and viewed by millions of Americans. Arabic and Urdu subtitled versions were also made available to television stations in Muslim countries.
Haas makes a number of other false and defamatory claims. For example, he repeats the long-discredited allegation that CAIR's executive director called the prosecution of those who carried out 1993 World Trade Center bombing "a travesty of justice." He said no such thing.
He also disparaged the recent fatwa, or Islamic religious ruling, condemning terrorism and religious extremism issued by American Muslim scholars. The fatwa - the release of which was coordinated by CAIR - states:
"In the light of the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah we clearly and strongly state:
1. All acts of terrorism targeting civilians are haram (forbidden) in Islam.
2. It is haram for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence.
3. It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians."
The fatwa is hardly "lukewarm" in its condemnation of terrorism. (To read the fatwa or the "Not in the Name of Islam" petition, or to view the CAIR PSA, go to www.cair.com.)
Let us all do our utmost to avoid the perpetual civilizational and religious conflict sought by extremists of every faith. Let us instead seek the mutual respect that leads to interfaith understanding.
Ibrahim Hooper is national communications director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties group.