[Mb-civic] Questions the Islamic Society should answer - Jeff
Jacoby - Boston Globe Op-Ed
swiggard at comcast.net
Sun Jan 1 08:35:17 PST 2006
Questions the Islamic Society should answer
By Jeff Jacoby | January 1, 2006 | The Boston Globe
EVER SINCE 9/11, we learned last month, federal officials have been
monitoring radiation levels around a number of American mosques. It is
an understandable precaution, given Al Qaeda's interest in acquiring
nuclear weapons, and its history of mass murder.
Understandable -- but also troubling. In a nation as tolerant as this
one, nobody can be happy about the need to focus self-defensive
attention on mosques. Unfortunately, we are at war with violent Islamist
radicals, and they are not above using mosques to incubate terrorism. If
there is evidence of heightened radioactivity around a Muslim facility,
the government should be aware of it, and should find out -- lawfully,
of course -- whether it represents a threat.
The federal monitors have been checking for physical radiation, but
there are other ways in which mosques can be radioactive.
Last year, for example, Freedom House issued a report on the extent to
which Saudi publications in US mosques promote Wahhabism, the harsh,
supremacist version of Islam that is the established creed in Saudi
Arabia. Many of these publications, it turned out, were riddled with
religious bigotry. They advocated contempt for ''infidels," portrayed
America as alien territory, and urged Muslims to prepare for jihad.
Considering the use of such teachings in recruiting terrorists, one
might well view the presence of this literature in the library of an
American mosque as ''radioactive," and a legitimate cause for concern.
Which brings us to the roiling controversy over the mosque being built
by the Islamic Society of Boston -- a controversy made all the worse by
an abusive lawsuit the Islamic Society has filed against its critics.
When completed, the $24 million mosque will be the largest Muslim house
of prayer in the Northeastern United States. The Islamic Society has
pledged that it will also be a center for moderation, peace, and
dialogue among different religious communities. It was in part on the
strength of that pledge that the Islamic Society was allowed to buy the
land for the mosque from the city for a fraction of its fair market value.
But for more than two years, questions have been raised about just how
committed the Islamic Society really is to moderation and interfaith
understanding. Beginning with reports in the Boston Herald, news
outlets, citizen groups, political officials, and private citizens have
been pointing out disturbing signs of extremist ''radioactivity" around
the Islamic Society and its leadership. To mention only a few:
The society's original founder, Abdurahman Alamoudi, is now serving a
23-year prison term for his role in an assassination plot. The Treasury
Department identified him as a fund-raiser for Al Qaeda, and he has
publicly proclaimed his support for two notorious terrorist groups,
Hamas and Hezbollah.
Yusef al Qaradawi, who for several years was listed as a trustee in
Islamic Society of Boston tax filings and on the Islamic Society website
-- the Islamic Society now claims that was due to an ''administrative
oversight" -- is a radical Islamist cleric who has endorsed suicide
bombings and the killing of Americans in Iraq. In 2002, he was invited
to address an Islamic Society fund-raiser, but had to do so by video
from Qatar -- he has been barred since 1999 from entering the United States.
Another Islamic Society trustee, Walid Fitaihi, is the author of
writings that denounce Jews as ''murderers of the prophets" who
''brought the worst corruption to the earth" and should be punished for
their ''oppression, murder, and rape of the worshipers of Allah." After
Fitaihi's words were reported in the Boston press, the Islamic Society
was urged to unequivocally repudiate them. It took seven months before
it finally did so.
When Ahmed Mansour, an Egyptian-born Muslim scholar, examined the
Islamic Society's library in 2003, he found books and videotapes
promoting hostility toward the United States and insulting other
religions. Among the publications on hand were several of those listed
in the Freedom House report.
Individually, none of these points proves that there is anything amiss
with the Islamic Society. Taken together, they give rise to obvious
questions and concerns. Surely the Islamic Society, which emphasizes its
commitment to moderation, tolerance, and dialogue, should be at pains to
answer those questions and allay those concerns. Instead it accuses its
critics of defamation, and has sued many of them for -- of all things --
conspiring to deprive Boston-area Muslims of their religious freedom.
But the last thing Muslims in Boston or anywhere else need is a
leadership that treats legitimate public misgivings as an anti-Muslim
''conspiracy," or that launches specious lawsuits in order to intimidate
those looking into its record. The Islamic Society's overreaction does
rank-and-file Muslims no favors -- and gives all of us, Muslim and
non-Muslim alike, another reason to wonder about its motives.
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