Hope for moderate Islam?

I was delighted to see The Philadelphia Inquirer feature a front page article (titled "A call for moderation sparks tension") on moderate Muslims in the United States.

However, despite the fact that I am quite accustomed to the CAIR/Islamist false claim that they are moderates, I am especially bothered by their vicious view that moderate Muslims living the American dream are akin to "Uncle Toms":

[Ibrahim] Hooper [CAIR's spokesman] said criticism from Muslims such as [American Islamic Forum for Democracy Founder] Jasser was "providing others with an opportunity to advance an agenda that is hostile to the American Muslim community."
I suggest reading the above again. According to CAIR, moderate Muslims are helping an "agenda" which is "hostile" to American Muslims!

Marwan Ahmad, publisher of the Muslim Voice newspaper in Phoenix, said Jasser was putting his allegiance to the dominant culture ahead of his faith. Last month, his newspaper printed a cartoon depicting Jasser as the Arizona Republic's attack dog, mauling other Muslims.

"Jasser is saying what they want to hear, and they publish it," he said.

"I can tell you from history in this country, with African Americans and Japanese, that there are always small groups that want to associate with the dominant group and stand against their own," Ahmad said. "Eventually, the people who stand for their own will win, and the small group doesn't have any respect in the end."

Marwan Ahmad's despicable cartoon is here, and I'm sorry to see that he has to be be taken so seriously as a spokesman for American Muslims.

I'd also love to know what Ahmad means by Japanese groups that "stand against their own." Who and where are these anti-Japanese Japanese Americans? And what gives Ahmad the moral authority to speak for other American minorities, anyway?

Consider this: when Marwan Ahmad published a "Multicultural Yellow Pages," he specifically refused advertising or references to Israel or Jews.

Is that "multiculturalism"?

Here's more on the "Multicultural Yellow Pages" controversy:

Ahmad's words - rationalizing the exclusion of a people's nation, language and culture - reveal the MYP as much polemic as publication.

This should not be a surprise. Ahmad - who publishes the monthly Arizona Muslim Voice - is also a local point person for Friends of Palestine, a group that organizes counter-demonstrations at pro-Israel events on the Arizona State University campus. Last spring, Friends of Palestine demonstrators paraded in front of a Scottsdale hotel during a local American Israel Public Affairs Committee forum, carrying signs equating Ariel Sharon with Adolf Hitler and the Israeli flag with the flag of Nazi Germany.

Great Muslim American spokesman, this Marwan Ahmad.

Returning to the Inquirer, it's unfortunate to see Uncle Tomist style attacks like Ahmad's are effective, because their targets feel obligated to answer them. In any case, Jasser is presented as being clearly on the defensive:

Jasser bristles at the suggestion that he is pandering. "So is their point that I'm contriving this, that I'm lying about my religious beliefs?" he said. "These are beliefs I've held since I was a youth."

Jasser acknowledges that he is living an American dream inaccessible to many more recent Muslim immigrants, who are more likely to be impoverished and resentful.

I'd love to know whether he really said that the American dream is "inaccessible" to "impoverished and resentful" Muslim immigrants. And I'd like to know, since when do successful immigrants to this country have to be placed on the defensive, and be held accountable to an activist charge that their successes are "inaccessible" to alleged masses of the impoverished and resentful?

What follows clearly implies that only those with "skills to flourish in the United States" are able to do so:

Jasser's parents had the skills to flourish in the United States; his mother is a pharmacist, and his father is a cardiologist. The Navy put him through medical school, and his last assignment was to provide medical care to members of Congress and U.S. Supreme Court justices. His Navy uniform still hangs on his office door, beneath a lab coat.

"I have more freedom to practice my faith here in America than anywhere else in the world," he said. "I didn't bring with me baggage from the Middle East."

Personally, I think it's wonderful that Jasser didn't bring baggage from the Middle East. And I may be wrong, but I get the distinct impression that if Jasser had brought the baggage along and talked the Islamist talk, he wouldn't be held to answer to the ranks of the impoverished and resentful.

This guy is an example of the American dream. He came here for the right reasons, and he loves this country. Instead of being praised for it, he's viewed with suspicion.

Finally, there's the issue of his religion. In the current era of identity politics, I suspect that his moderate views on the proper role of religion will cause him to be scorned by most religious ideologues:

Growing up in the United States, Jasser became a "Jeffersonian Muslim," a believer in a clear separation of religion and state. His belief in secularism - that the mosque should devote less time to politics and more to spiritual discussions about relationships with God - causes perhaps the greatest disagreement with the established Muslim groups.

"These individuals want to convert Muslims in general to secularism," said Ahmad, the Muslim Voice publisher. "Islam is not a secular society. They want us to separate religion from daily life and politics. They want to take everything but religion out of the mosque. That's not something Muslims stand for."

Jasser said he did not want Muslims to separate religion from their daily lives. He said his faith governed everything he did - his treatment of patients, his respect for people of other faiths, his diet, his prayer schedule. But he does not believe his is a faith that can be imposed upon others.

His view of his faith is admirable, and I wish more American Muslims felt the same way. I also wish that certain Christians would set a better example (because what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander), and while it's another topic, I fear that identity politics is not limited to the left.

M. Zuhdi Jasser and his organization need the support of all Americans who care about freedom. I'm glad to see that he's getting press coverage, but the organizations opposing him are slick, well-funded, and know how to snooker the left, so it's an uphill struggle.

posted by Eric on 01.03.06 at 08:50 AM


Marwan Ahmad, publisher of the Muslim Voice newspaper in Phoenix, said Jasser was putting his allegiance to the dominant culture ahead of his faith.

Guilty as charged. Although its normally called "obeying the laws, and respecting the values, of the society in which one has chosen to live."

Raging Bee   ·  January 3, 2006 1:16 PM

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