Mention terrorism and Islam in the same breath and instant accusations of "Islamophobia" and "racism" are sure to follow.
Ever since 9/11, when 19 Arab-Muslims hijacked four airplanes in the name of Islam and murdered 3,000 civilians in New York and Washington, D.C., Americans have been told that Muslims are really the victims and that we must consult with Muslim groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) or the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) to be further enlightened.
As of today, this is no longer true. A new organization of Muslim voices has finally arisen. From now on, the American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC) is the Muslim group with whom government leaders, media, academics, and human rights groups must now consult.
The AILC assembled this bright and chilly morning at 1 Police Plaza in New York City to demonstrate their support for the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and their right to see the films The Third Jihad and Act of Valor, both of which portray real terrorist attacks.
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a former Navy physician and a religious Muslim who founded AILC in 2010, said that his group felt compelled to come here "to support the NYPD, given the relentless and unfair pummeling they have endured by Islamist groups." He insisted: "We, as Muslims, should be monitoring extremism," not "grievance mongering." Dr. Jasser pointed out that "80 percent of terrorist arrests are of Muslims. We are only 1% of the population." He suggested that "Muslims start taking responsibility instead of charging 'Islamophobia.'"
He continued, "The more we exaggerate necessary monitoring, the more we will inflame Muslims and Islamists. Where are the responsible Muslims? Here we are."
The AILC is not an Islamist Muslim voice. It is an anti-Islamist Muslim voice. It is pro-West, pro-human rights, and anti-terrorism. Many of its members express thanks to America for given them refuge from Islamist regimes. Others born here view their native country as a universal beacon for liberty and freedom.
Composed of a diverse group of American and Canadian Muslim leaders, AILC condemns the role that the Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-e-Islami, Wahhabism, and other pro-Shari'a groups have played in North America and Europe.
Canadian Tarek Fatah, a founding member of both the AILC and the Muslim Canadian Congress, addressed the media. He said that the NYPD "is one of the major fighters against Muslim terrorists. To CAIR, I say: We are Muslims too. Who gave you the right to speak on our behalf? The Muslim Student Association (MSA) keeps turning out terrorists like Aafia Siddiqui and Anwar al-Awlaki. They should be investigated. The Muslim Brotherhood's goal is to destroy Western civilization. I say: It ain't gonna happen."
Manda Zand Ervin, a founding member of both AILC and the Alliance for Iranian Women, said: "I ran away from Islamists. I am grateful to be here. I am disappointed that American feminists and elites have decided to support Islamists and that academia has chosen to stay above the fray. Muslim men in America are demanding shari'a law so that they can subjugate and beat their wives here with impunity."
Congressman Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security and convener of a series of hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, congratulated the speakers who had traveled from all over America and Canada to be here today.
Congressman King "charged the media, particularly the New York Times" with having "allowed themselves to be used by terrorists, by CAIR, who are unindicted co-conspirators. The NYPD must be allowed to carry out effective surveillance. They are protecting a city which has been attacked by terrorists twice, once in 1993, again in 2001." He challenged criticism about mosque surveillance as well.
Amazingly, and for the first time ever, about 25 television cameras and print media reporters were also there. I hope and pray that the media will do right by this group and will understand the importance of their existence.
In a private interview, Zand-Ervin pointed out that: "American Moslems are as diverse as the American Christians. We come from three different continents and 57 different countries. We are of different races of people, different language, cultures and historical backgrounds. We are from many different sects of Islam and a majority of us have fled Islamist dictatorships to come to the American freedom and democracy. No person or organization can ever claim representation of American Muslims. The petro dollar Islamist organizations, CAIR, ISNA, and others who use the uninformed in the mosques represent foreign governments not American Muslims. We are the silent majority who has had enough of misrepresentation by a few opportunists."
The AILC gives voice to genuinely moderate Muslims or to the "silent majority." The coalition defines itself as a "diverse group of U.S. and Canadian Muslim leaders who have joined together to defend our nations' constitutions, uphold religious pluralism, promote international peace and security, and cherish genuine diversity in the practice of our faith of Islam." They vehemently oppose the creation of an "Islamic" state or "caliphate," and defend equality before the law, the separation of state and religion, and moderate Islamic scholarship.
The AILC encourages New York's leaders and citizenry to support NYPD's counter-terrorism tactics, saying that "our national counterterrorism strategy has yet to prescribe any comprehensive treatment directed at the root cause of Islamic terrorism, the theocratic, statist ideology of political Islam."
On June 28, 2011, the White House released its National Strategy for Counterterrorism (NSCT.) The AILC commends the document for correctly identifying the root of terrorism as originating in Islamic extremism. However, the AILC is concerned that the NSCT does not outline any "substantive approach to countering extremist ideology and the radicalization of Muslims in the U.S. and abroad … and excludes any strategy for monitoring terrorist activities within America as a result of the left-leaning opinions of the government and media."
AILC believes that it is "vitally important that law enforcement agencies be allowed to track the activities of Muslim groups and communities, which have been supporting terrorism and Islamist extremism in America for fifty years. Such communities have been carrying out terrorist activities under a guise of moderation. "
The AILC also decries the "inordinate degree of influence that Islamists have obtained in Western societies." It vehemently opposes the creation of an "Islamic" state or "caliphate," and defends "equality before the law, freedom of speech, the separation of state and religion, moderate Islamic scholarship, and true religious toleration."
The organization also denounces the persecution of Muslim minority sects (Shi'ites, Ismailis, Druze, etc…), apostates, Christians, and Jews. Specifically, it rejects imposing the death sentence on apostates.
Unsurprisingly, apostates supported this rally/press conference. I received messages from Nonie Darwish and Ibn Warraq. Jewish and pro-Israel groups attended and supported the rally as well.
In 2007, I participated in the first Islamic Dissidents conference. Some of the same people who were in St. Petersburg, Florida, are supporting or were physically present at 1 Police Plaza today. I would say that our labor of the last five years might finally bear fruit.
I want the founders of AILC to have the last words. Here they are.
"We acknowledge that extremism is a major problem within the Muslim community, which brings shame and discredit upon all of us, while empowering those who seek to denigrate Islam as a religion of hatred, supremacism and violence. Rather than adopt a 'victimization' mentality or be offended by such claims, we view them as a challenge to bring forth a profoundly spiritual, practical and beneficial manifestation of Islamic life and teachings."
For the record: The AILC consists of nearly 25 groups and individuals who are based in the United States and Canada: Zainab al-Suwaij's American Islamic Congress, Tarek Fatah's Muslim Canadian Congress, Manda Zand Ervin's Alliance for Iranian Women, Samir Abdelkhalek's Muslim Liberty Project, Jamal Hasan's Council for Democracy and Tolerance, Golam Akhter 's Bangladesh-USA Human Rights Coalition, Sherkoh Abbas's Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, Bahman Batmanghelidj's Alliance for Democracy in Iran.
Individual Coalition members include Canadians Farzana Hassan, Raheel Raza, and Arif Humayun and American-based Abdirizak Bihi, Khurshed Chowdhury, Tawfik Hamid, Hasan Mahmud, etc. Ten non-Muslim groups supported the AILC press conference including Debra Burlingame and Tim Sumner's 9/11 Families, Beth Gilinsky's National Council on Jewish Affairs. LibertyRocks.com, The Middle East Forum's Legal Project, Jack Coughlin, Officers Association Retired, Fred Grandy, Center for Security Policy.