Jewish World Review Nov. 9, 2001 / 23 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762
Muslim, but not extremist
SEVEN weeks after Sept. 11, the Muslim Public Affairs Council finally condemned Osama bin Laden as a terrorist. Sort of.
About halfway into an Oct. 30 statement expressing alarm over "the killing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan," MPAC,
almost in passing, chided the Taliban for "not . . . dismantling the Al Qaeda terrorist network, led by Osama bin Laden."
A stinging denunciation? Hardly. Yet it represents the farthest that any leading American Muslim group has been willing
to go in condemning the brutal fanatics by name.
I had contacted MPAC and other Muslim organizations a week earlier and explained that I couldn't find any statement
in which they explicitly labeled bin Laden and Al Qaeda terrorists and renounced them. I asked if they would do so. I
received a reply only from Salam al-Marayati, MPAC's executive director, who said his organization "did condemn bin
Laden's terrorism." So why, I asked, does it not do so publicly? A few days later came the statement quoted above. To
date, no other prominent US Muslim group, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) or the American
Muslim Council (AMC), has followed suit.
It should not come as a surprise that these organizations are unwilling to clearly and convincingly condemn terror groups
like Al Qaeda. Despite their success at getting quoted in the media or invited to share photo opportunities with politicians,
CAIR, MPAC, and the AMC are run by radical Islamists who do not speak for the majority of American Muslims. While
they do not openly advocate violence themselves, they share many of the terrorists' goals -- which is why they will not
condemn them unreservedly and why they are quick to attack anyone who speaks ill of Islamic extremism.
Fortunately, most American Muslims do not share the fanatics' views. So far the moderates have not gotten the
attention they deserve, but that has begun to change in the wake of Sept. 11. Appalled that so awful a crime could have
been committed by men professing Islam, some traditional Muslims are speaking out. Unlike the extremists, who reacted
to the attacks in New York and Washington with complaints about harassment and "profiling," moderates have been urging
their fellow Muslims to take a hard look in the mirror.
Listen to what some of them say:
Muqtedar Khan, a political scientist at Adrian College in Michigan and a former managing editor of the Journal of Islamic and Arabic Studies:
"What happened on Sept. 11 . . . will forever remain a horrible scar on the history of Islam and humanity. . .
"The culture of hate and killing is tearing away at the moral fabric of Muslim society. . . . If bin Laden were
an individual, we would have no problem. But unfortunately bin Laden has become a phenomenon -- a cancer
eating away at the morality of our youth. . . . It is time for soul searching. How can the message of Mohammed,
who was sent as mercy to mankind, become a source of horror and fear? How can Islam inspire thousands of
youth to dedicate their lives to killing others? We are supposed to invite people to Islam, not murder them."
- Amir Taheri, Iranian expatriate and veteran journalist:
"To claim that the attacks had nothing to do with Islam amounts to a whitewash. It is not only disingenuous but
also a disservice to Muslims, who need to cast a critical glance at the way their faith is taught, lived, and
practiced. . .
"It is both dishonest and dangerous for Muslims to remain in denial. . . . The Muslim world today is full of
bigotry, fanaticism, hypocrisy, and plain ignorance -- all of which create a breeding ground for criminals like bin
Laden. . . . The Sept. 11 tragedies should trigger a rethink of the way Muslims live Islam. We should start
condemning those attacks without 'ifs' and 'buts.' Sadly, the way we Muslims live Islam today is a far cry from the
. . . golden age when Islam was a builder of civilization, not a force for repression, terror, and destruction."
- Sheik Hisham Kabbani, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of America:
"Peaceful Muslims, moderate Muslims, do not interfere in the politics or foreign policy of the United States. . . .
But the activists are very clever. They use the mosques and Islamic centers to gain credibility for themselves. . . In
front of the microphones they say the United States is good. Then they rally against the United States, they
demonstrate against the United States, they say the wrath of G-d is coming against the United States."
Other moderate Muslims, less well known, have reacted similarly. Two weeks ago I received an e-mail from an
Egyptian-American, a Muslim student at Yale who had been wrestling with the meaning of Sept. 11:
"My own feeling," he wrote, "is that only by opening our eyes to the cancer in our midst can we finally begin to set about
the great and real task of excising it."
These are the voices of Islamic moderation: honest, decent, conscience-stricken. It is these moderates -- not the
better-known and better-funded extremists -- who deserve our respect and
Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.
11/02/01: Too good for Oprah
10/29/01: Journalism and the 'neutrality fetish'
10/26/01: Derail these subsidies
10/22/01: Good and evil in the New York Times
10/15/01: Rush Limbaugh's ear
10/08/01: With allies like these
10/01/01: An unpardonable act
09/28/01: THE CENSORS ARE COMING! THE CENSORS ARE COMING!
09/25/01: Speaking out against terror
09/21/01: What the terrorists saw
09/17/01: Calling evil by its name
09/13/01: Our enemies mean what they say
09/04/01: The real bigots
08/31/01: Shrugging at genocide
08/28/01: Big Brother's privacy -- or ours?
08/24/01: The mufti's message of hate
08/21/01: Remembering the 'Wall of Shame'
08/16/01: If I were the editor ...
08/14/01: If I were the Transportation Czar ...
08/10/01: Import quotas 'steel' from us all
08/07/01: Is gay "marriage" a threat?
08/03/01: A colorblind nominee
07/27/01: Eminent-domain tortures
07/24/01: On protecting the flag ... and drivers ... and immigrants
07/20/01: Dying for better mileage
07/17/01: Why Americans would rather drive
07/13/01: Do these cabbies look like bigots?
07/10/01: 'Defeated in the bedroom'
07/06/01: Who's white? Who's Hispanic? Who cares?
07/02/01: Big(oted) man on campus
06/29/01: Still appeasing China's dictators
06/21/01: Cuban liberty: A test for Bush
06/19/01: The feeble 'arguments' against capital punishment
06/12/01: What energy crisis?
06/08/01: A jewel in the crown of self-government
05/31/01: The settlement myth
05/25/01: An award JFK would have liked
05/22/01: No Internet taxes? No problem
05/18/01: Heather has five mommies (and a daddy)
05/15/01: An execution, not a lynching
05/11/01: Losing the common tongue
05/08/01: Olympics 2008: Say no to Beijing
05/04/01: Do welfare mothers a kindness: Make them work
05/01/01: Another man's child
04/24/01: Sharon should have said no
04/02/01: The Inhumane Society
03/30/01: To have a friend, Caleb, be a friend
03/27/01: Is Chief Wahoo racist?
03/22/01: Ending the Clinton appeasement
03/20/01: They're coming for you
03/16/01: Kennedy v. Kennedy
03/13/01: We should see McVeigh die
03/09/01: The Taliban's wrecking job
03/07/01: The No. 1 reason to cut taxes
03/02/01: A Harvard candidate's silence on free speech
02/27/01: A lesson from Birmingham jail
02/20/01: How Jimmy Carter got his good name back
02/15/01: Cashing in on the presidency
02/09/01: The debt for slavery -- and for freedom
02/06/01: The reparations calculation
02/01/01: The freedom not to say 'amen'
01/29/01: Chavez's 'hypocrisy': Take a closer look
01/26/01: Good-bye, good riddance
01/23/01: When everything changed (mostly for the better)
01/19/01: The real zealots
01/16/01: Pardon Clinton?
01/11/01: The fanaticism of Linda Chavez
01/09/01: When Jerusalem was divided
01/05/01 THEY NEVER FORGOT THEE, O JERUSALEM
12/29/00 Liberal hate speech, 2000
12/15/00Does the Constitution expect poor children be condemned to lousy government schools?
12/08/00 Powell is wrong man to run State Department
12/05/00 The 'MCAS' teens give each other
12/01/00 Turning his back on the Vietnamese -- again
11/23/00 Why were the Pilgrims thankful?
11/21/00 The fruit of this 'peace process' is war
11/13/00 Unleashing the lawyers
11/17/00 Gore's mark on history
40 reasons to say NO to Gore
© 2001, Boston Globe