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Jewish World Review
Dec. 5, 2003
/ 10 Kislev, 5764
What the Alliance for Marriage heads and board members either don't know or don't want you to know
On Tuesday, we ran an expose questioning what we believe is moral irresponsibility by a leading "pro-marriage" group. (The article can be accessed via a link in the sidebar). Before publishing the piece, our offices were contacted by individuals who made thinly-veiled threats. Others, were more diplomatic. We should back-off the Alliance for Marriage because, they assured us, the group certainly did its homework before including Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, the general secretary of the Islamic Society of North America, on its board. Well, apparently not, as detailed below.
We've lost readers because we dared to have the "chutzpah" to speak out. And if doing so makes us "traitors to the cause," as one now ex-reader wrote, then so be it. We'll keep telling the truth. There is an obligation to do so. But will others finally listen and take action?
Binyamin L. Jolkovsky
All I had done was ask a simple question of Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, the general
secretary of the Islamic Society of North America, who recently met with The
Dallas Morning News' editorial board.
Dr. Syeed's revealing reaction he said that my query reminded him of
"Nazism" and that I would have to "repent" tells us a great deal about
American Islam's extremist problem ... and ours.
ISNA is the largest Islamic organization in the country, serving as an
umbrella group for 300 or so mosques, cultural centers and affiliated
The North American Islamic Trust, a sister organization set up for what its
Web site calls the "protection and safeguarding" of the finances of ISNA and
other groups, owns between 20 percent and 27 percent of this country's
- ISNA is heavily funded by Saudi contributions and has been described in
congressional testimony by terrorism expert (and Muslim convert) Stephen
Schwartz as one of the chief conduits through which the radical Saudi form
of Islam passes into the United States.
- Though ISNA portrays itself as mainstream, Islamic scholar Ali Asani of
Harvard calls it "ultra-orthodox and ultra-conservative."
Echoing similar reports from across the country, Dr. Khalid Duran, a
moderate Muslim, and unnamed others like him told the St. Petersburg Times
that extremists try to take over American mosques and hand the titles over
- Jamaluddin Hoffman, a Sufi and moderate, characterizes what's going on as "a
war for the heart and soul of our religion."
- ISNA's advisory board (see www.isna.net) is thick with men who have espoused extremist opinions and have troubling associations.
- There's Siraj Wahhaj, a Brooklyn imam named by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White
as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in
the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He also testified as a character
witness for convicted terror mastermind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. Middle
East scholar Daniel Pipes has documented at least two occasions in which Mr.
Wahhaj has urged followers to overturn the U.S. system of government and set
up an Islamic dictatorship.
- There's Muzammil Siddiqui, a former ISNA president who spoke at an Oct. 28,
2000, "Jerusalem Day" rally in Washington, an event that degenerated into a
hatefest in which the crowd chanted, "Death to the Jews!" Columnist Debbie
Schlussel, citing a Pakistani news Web site, quoted Dr. Siddiqui as saying
that Islamic rule has to be global and that "all our efforts should lead to
- ISNA board member Bassam Osman is the president of NAIT, which owns the
Islamic Academy of Florida. That school was described as a criminal
enterprise in the federal indictment handed down in February against school
founder Sami al-Arian and others alleged to be Palestinian Islamic Jihad
- ISNA sponsored a big conference this past summer in Dallas
(www.dfwisna.com). Mr. Wahhaj, Dr. Syeed and Dr. Siddiqui spoke there, as
did Imam Zaid Shakir, who said in a 1992 educational video that Muslims
can't accept the American political system because "it is against the orders
and ordainments of Allah."
None of these people has been charged with any criminal wrongdoing. But they
all have been affiliated with a brand of Islam that most Americans would,
and should, find frightening. We are entitled to ask why.
Given ISNA's leadership, it is no wonder Dr. Syeed wouldn't give a straight
answer when a Morning News colleague of mine asked him three times what his
organization was doing to fight Islamic extremism.
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When I asked the man how he squared his profession of tolerance and
moderation with having radicals on the ISNA board, Dr. Syeed became hostile,
sputtering that my question reminded him of Hitlerian persecution. That is
blustering nonsense, of course, and an attempt to silence legitimate
questions about ISNA's agenda through intimidation and misdirection.
They must not get away with it. As benign as they sometimes sound, Dr. Syeed
and his ilk are no friends of moderation and tolerance.
As the late Seif Ashmawi, a moderate Muslim-American newspaper publisher,
once put it, "Radical Islamic groups have now taken over leadership of the
'mainstream' Islamic institutions in the United States, and anyone who
pretends otherwise is deliberately engaging in self-deception."
Silence and a lack of curiosity, however well meaning or unwitting, are
allowing a malignant ideology to grow unchecked in this country.
American Muslims who want no part of Islamofascist ideology are its first
victims. They won't be its last.
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Rod Dreher is an editorial writer and occasional columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Comment on this column and e-mail the author by clicking here.
© 2003, Dallas Morning News