An interesting article from InFocus, a local newspaper
By Aisha Aziz, Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES -- American Muslims and Muslim groups have long been a target of harassment and vilification from right-wing pro-Israel groups, a recent front-page article in the New York Times has exposed. Such forces, according to government sources, have used guilt by association to spread suspicion about Islam and Muslims, and in turn, kept Muslims out of mainstream American discourse and stripped them of their influence in the political and social arenas.
One group in particular, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has attracted widespread attention for working aggressively for Muslims’ civil rights, calling for interfaith dialogue and taking candid positions on issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iraq war...
For its part, CAIR officials say such attacks seek to marginalize the American Muslim voice and disenfranchise this minority.
"There is a well-coordinated attempt by extremist pro-Israel circles to silence American Muslims on issues ranging from Islam, to foreign policy, to civil rights and national security," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR’s southern California office. "If standing up for truth and justice makes CAIR controversial, then by all means, we are proud and honored to be controversial. In their day, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela were deemed controversial, too."...
Federal officials reported to the Times that CAIR’s Washington office "frequently issued controversial statements that made it hard for senior government figures to be associated with the group, particularly since some pro-Israeli lobbyists have created what one official called a "cottage industry" of attacking the group and anyone dealing with it."
Last summer, the group called for a stop to arms shipment to Israel as its military continued the invasion of Lebanon. In August, it sponsored a panel discussion highlighting how the power of the pro-Israel lobby harms the United States and negatively affects its policy on the Middle East, and in September, CAIR organized a dinner in honor of former Iranian President Mohamed Khatami.
"Traditionally within the government there is only one point of view that is acceptable, which is the pro-Israel line," said Nihad Awad, a founder of CAIR and its executive director, to the Times. "Another enlightened perspective on the conflict is not there, and it causes some discomfort."
Another extremist pro-Israel critic of Muslim organizations is Daniel Pipes, who makes no attempt to hide the real reasons that fuel his Islamophobia. Speaking at an American Jewish Congress convention in 2001, he said, "I worry very much from the Jewish point of view that the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims...will present true dangers to American Jews."...
While groups driven by foreign agendas attempt to marginalize American Muslim organizations, government and law enforcement officials are increasingly reaching out to the Muslim community and recognizing their contributions to society as a whole.
At CAIR Southern California chapter’s fundraising banquet last November, nearly 2,000 people attended, including J. Stephen Tidwell, the director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.
"I am very excited to be here," Mr. Tidwell told an Arab Radio and Television (ART) reporter, calling CAIR "an important bridge for the FBI into the Muslim, Arab-American community."
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html