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Making Room for Moderates The vicissitudes of genuine Muslim moderates.


This week, federal prosecutors filed documents in a Dallas court relating to the upcoming trial of those accused of running a fundraising organization for the Hamas terrorist group.

Among those listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the case of the Hamas-controlled Holy Land Foundation is the Council on American-Islamic Relations, otherwise known as CAIR.

For those who have closely studied the origins of groups like CAIR, this development cannot be considered a surprise.

As experts on the issue, like Steven Emerson, have long pointed out, CAIR was founded largely as a political front for Hamas fundraising in the United States. Its membership is populated with apologists for Islamist terrorism.

But the public image of this group, which has received remarkably sympathetic coverage in newspapers such as The New York Times in the past year, is that of an ordinary civil-rights organization. Mainstream American politicians like Pennsylvania Democrats Gov. Ed Rendell and US Rep. Joe Sestak have even bought into their cover story, appearing at a fundraiser for the rogue group here in Philadelphia earlier this spring.

Representatives of CAIR are treated as "moderates," and the legitimate spokespersons for Muslim and Arab-Americans by the media. But fortunately, theirs is not the only point of view to be found among Muslims living here in North America or even in Europe, where Islamist radicalism is on the rise.

Muslims who believe their community can and must integrate itself into liberal Western societies -- who oppose the use of terrorism in the name of their faith, and who support democratic values as well as the rights of women -- do exist.

But where are such voices, so needed in an era when Islamists who are in a state of war with the West are working overtime to infiltrate and control Muslim communities and mosques? The answer is that, given the level of intimidation enforced by Islamist imams and their political fellow travelers, few are willing to step forward to challenge the radicals.

This issue takes center spotlight in a new documentary commissioned by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting titled "Islam vs. Islamists," and slated to be shown on the national Public Broadcasting Service on its "Crossroads" series hosted by newsman Robert MacNeil.

The film -- written, directed and narrated by documentary filmmaker Martyn Burke, and produced by Frank J. Gaffney Jr. and Alex Alexiev of the Center for Security Policy, a Washington think tank - portrays the vicissitudes of genuine Muslim moderates who support Western freedoms and oppose terror. It also details the lengths to which radicals have gone to suppress their Muslim critics.

But Americans who look for this film on their local PBS station where other "Crossroads" films in this series have been aired since April will probably search in vain.

PBS spiked the film, with MacNeil alleging that it was "alarmist" and "one-sided." Though other entries in the series, such as MacNeil's personal production, "The Muslim Americans," which sympathetically portrayed CAIR, were aired without allowing their critics a say, the taxpayer-supported network has not broadcast a film that lets other Muslim voices be heard. The only way to view this film at the moment is via independent showings at various locales sponsored by the producers.

As one of those who have viewed the film, I find it hard to understand MacNeil's objections.

In its one hour, "Islam vs. Islamists" skillfully tells the tale of a few courageous Muslims who have bucked the radicals who seem to dominate Muslim institutions in the West.

One is Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician who helped organize a group called Muslims Against Terror in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, and later helped found the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Jasser grew tired of hearing people ask why Muslims were not speaking up to denounce those who murdered in the name of his faith, and took action.

Imams denounced this doctor whose only sin was to claim that Islam really was a "religion of peace."

For his troubles, a local Muslim newspaper that shared an office with CAIR denounced him and portrayed him as a dog tearing apart the body of Islam.

Imams denounced this doctor whose only sin was to claim that Islam really was a "religion of peace." A radical cleric in Tempe, Ariz., Ahmed Shqueriat, who operates from a prominent local mosque, told the filmmaker that, in fact, it was the patriotic Jasser who was an "extremist."

Sheik Hisham Kabbani, a leader of the peace-oriented Sufi sect of Islam based in Washington, D.C., and Michigan, is also featured in the film. He discusses how Saudi Arabian funding has helped spread that country's fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, called Wahhabism. The Saudis, working through their embassies, have helped bankroll mosques throughout the country, including those run by the Nation of Islam. In exchange for this money, the Saudis have installed militant Wahabi imams and education at religious centers around the world, including in North America.

While Kabbani and Jasser are fighting for Islam's soul in America, two other subjects of the film are on far more dangerous ground.

French Muslim journalist Mohammed Sifaoui and Danish legislator Naser Khader have received death threats and remain under police protection for their opposition to the violent Islamists who've spoken in the name of all Muslims. Their stories make explicit the risks that any who dissent from the Islamist line face.

As a recent survey by the Pew Research Center shows, it is by no means a foregone conclusion that the radicals speak for all Muslims. Their poll of American Muslims shows that the vast majority are assimilating into society and well appreciate the benefits of living in freedom.

Less encouraging are the results that show that about one-quarter of Muslim respondents were prepared to endorse terrorism in the name of Islam under some circumstances.

Even worse, 60 percent either denied it or refused to answer when asked whether Arabs or Muslims had anything to do with Sept. 11, 2001.

This shows that there is still room for genuine moderates like Jasser to find supporters among the majority of American Muslims. But with Saudi-funded Wahhabi imams deployed in mosques and Islamist-supporting groups like CAIR claiming the right to speak for all Muslims, the drift toward radicalism is growing by the day.

What is needed is for the rest of society to reach out to the Jassers and to stop playing ball with the radicals.

The stakes involved in this issue are enormous, as the Holy Land Foundation prosecution demonstrates.

But so long as networks such as PBS are heeding the radicals and allowing the voices of moderates to be drowned out, the terrifying drift toward radicalism among Muslims in the West will continue.



 
See more by Jonathan S. Tobin

Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia.

 
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11
Miriam Null , 8/20/2007 6:15:00 AM
CAIR not a friendly group
the goods n CAIR and its influence in blocking a PBS special n moderate Muslims

Anonymous, 8/19/2007 9:12:00 PM
What are you talking about? PBS junked it over politically correct dictate
What is Jonathan Tobin talking about?

PBS junked "Islam vs. Islamists," because all those associated with the filming and production of this documentary refused to cave into PBS demands it be editorialized so as not to offend Moslems! PBS is known for its consistent conduicy role for Islamic States' propaganda machine the Jewish State. PBS bias against Israel in its news reports and documentaries on the Middle East and related sujects has ill-informed American and wider audiences in a consistent portrayal of Moslems as victims!. BBC, British Broadcating Corporation, the infamously anti-Semitic Britain's publically fundeded "news" perveyors of England is PBS news server!

It would behoove the author of this article to keep apprised and informed of today's reality no less that of PBS and its imposition of falsehoods as regards Islam. We need to stand up to the Marxist/Leftist and pro-Islamic bias of PBS no matter the rhetoric to gain viewers and support.

FOXNEWS Cable aired this film keeping faithful to the researchers, producers and film maker of "Islam vs. Islamists.


Donald MacGregor , 8/19/2007 9:07:00 PM
Talk is cheep, Convince me by action
We all have heard the representatives of the Muslims talk out of both ends. On one hand they say they seek peace and an end to discrimination. Then we have far to meany that are either outright terrorists, supporters of terrorists or groups that set out to create an incident so that they can claim discrimination.
I will start to believe in moderate Muslims when their sons and daughters join our military etc and stand in harm's way in order to protect this great nation of ours. In the meantime I am in favor of deportation of those that preach sedition or deny others their right to speak out


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