Released December 28, 2001
The Wisdom Fund, P. O. Box 2723, Arlington, VA 22202
Website: -- Press Contact: Mowahid H. Shah

'Need Defiance Against Palpable Unfairness'

by Mowahid H. Shah

A pattern is slowly emerging to collar and corral the American Muslim community. It is manifesting through articles, TV commentaries, policies, laws, and grassroots attitudes. For example, the parents of John Walker, the American Taliban, have come under scathing attack for being overly indulgent with their son by letting him convert to Islam. But wasn't that supposed to be his choice? By that yardstick, why are American parents not similarly attacked for teenage promiscuity, pregnancies, drug abuse, drunken driving accidents, and other egregious behavior of their progeny?

Muslim charities are under siege for allegedly being fronts for terrorism. The net impact would be a chilling effect on potential donors. Muslim organizations and individuals who have been critical of Israeli policies have come under the shadow of the FBI merely for exercising their First Amendment rights of free expression enshrined in the Constitution. Demographers are taking pains to come up with figures showing the Muslim population to be 1-2 million when, in fact, the authoritative World Almanac listed 6 million as the number of American Muslims as far back as 1990. Professional anti-Muslims are stitching together disparate utterances of obscure Muslims to present and paint a false threat perception of American Muslim hostility toward the United States.

A case in point is the article, "The Danger Within: Militant Islam in America" authored by Dan Pipes in the November issue of Commentary magazine. In the January 2002 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Princeton professor Bernard Lewis, in a cover story, weighs in with his interpretation of what is wrong with Muslim civilization. Encashing in the appeasement game and falling into a divisive trap of 'good' versus 'bad' Muslims, some Muslims are presenting themselves as 'moderates' to be cultivated. Some are fobbed off through crumbs like occasional visitation rights in the corridors of officialdom, leaving in their wake little or no policy changes on the ground.

President Bush invites Muslim children for Eid while concurrently, by his acts, he makes "the Bush Administration so subservient to Israel's hard-line policy . . . from the fear of withdrawal of campaign funds for American politicians" that the United States, according to Georgie Anne Geyer in the Washington Times of December 20, does not "act like a responsible superpower." Attorney General Ashcroft insists that the war is not against Muslims while continuing to detain hundreds of innocent Muslims in violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963, which enjoins host countries to provide foreign detainees with free access to consular officials of their homelands. The American public is willing, however, by a whopping 89 percent, to support civil liberty curbs, the brunt of which is borne by Muslims in America. Respected commentators like Richard Cohen talk about the virtues of anger. Another pundit, Jonah Goldberg, urges the use of nukes against Muslim nations and says that they have no civilization. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld casually uses the word 'kill' in a matter-of-fact way.

Predictably, the Muslim community is bewildered and disoriented. Yet, the many lives affected in the aftermath of September 11 can serve as a wakeup call and, historically, is potentially a make-or-break moment. As a beginning, one question has to be asked over and over: "If the war is not against Islam, how come all of the current and intended targets of the US are Muslims?"

Insofar as the American Muslim community is concerned, the need of the hour may be to inculcate a spirit of licit and innovative defiance against palpable unfairness which, if left uncontested, may relegate Muslims to a permanent Number 2 status.

Mowahid Shah, "The New Cold War With Islam," Christian Science Monitor, July 30, 1990

David B. Ottaway, "U .S. Eyes Money Trails of Saudi-Backed Charities," Washington Post, August 19, 2004

[Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, federal authorities have shut down a few of the largest Muslim charities in the United States under suspicion of funneling money to terrorists. Similar freezes have been placed on assets of organizations in other parts of the world.--Robert King, "Senate committee concludes investigation of Muslim groups in U.S., finds no wrongdoings,", November 15, 2005]

Copyright © 2001 Mowahid H. Shah
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