Soliman Fadel: Ex director of raided WAMY group resurfaces as Bridges director to spread Wahhabism at the Pentagon
January 2, 2006
Muslim Activist Builds "Bridges" With World
By Ahmad Maher, IOL Staff
CAIRO, June 12, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – Dedicated to educating non-Muslims about the true values of Islam and Muslims how to reach out to the other, acclaimed Muslim activist Fadel Soliman is championing a new organization which aims at bridging the gap between the two sides.
"Our mission is to present Islam as it is without any sort of cosmetic improvements," Soliman told IslamOnline.net in an interview about the nascent Cairo-based Bridges Foundation.
"To that end, we use all possible means, including media, PowerPoint presentations, CDs, etc. with a focus on training Muslim activists and imams on how to present Islam to the other," added the Egyptian-born activist.
Soliman, Muslim Chaplain at the American University in Washington D.C. from 2001-2004, said prevailing misconceptions about Islam in the West make more pressing the need for revealing the true essence of a much-stereotyped Islam.
"The word jihad, for instance, conjures up images of wars though under Islam there are many sorts of jihad, including fighting evil desires. Even jihad when it comes to the battlefield is by no means a loose term but governed by rules set up by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who instructed Muslim fighters not to kill the innocent, the elderly, children and women," he explained.
Soliman said there are until now three confirmed members of the organization's Board of Trustees: German Muslim intellectual Murad Hofmann, Canadian Egypt-born Gamal Badawi and award-wining British journalist Yvonne Ridley.
The organization consists of two main divisions: Public Presenters for Peace (PPP), which has to do with presentation materials and skills, and International Institute for Training Presenters (IITP), which trains willing imams and preachers in presenting the Muslim faith to non-Muslims.
The Bridges Foundation will launch its Web site in ten days' time.
The work of Soliman, the former national chaplain of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) in North and Central Americas office, is mostly done through PowerPoint presentations.
A graduate from Catholic St. George Language Schools in Cairo in 1983, he is the author of several presentations on Islam.
"In ‘Islam: a Religion of Peace or a Religion of War,' we provide hard evidence that Islam is undoubtedly a religion of peace and that war exists only as an exception," said Soliman, who studied communication and electronics at the Faculty of Engineering in Ain Shams University, Egypt.
In "Qur'an: the Discovery of Freedom," he draws a comparison between the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the human values enshrined in the Noble Qur'an, which preceded the man-made charter by 1400 years.
"The Qur'an guaranteed, to mention but a few examples, the freedom of thought and freedom of religious belief years and years before the UN charter saw the light," Soliman said.
The activist said the uniqueness of the PowerPoint presentations and trainings is that they help create generations of well-qualified preachers and activists, who can reach out to the other.
"In the USA, I made my presentation to a group of Muslims and afterwards some Muslims from Hispanic background translated it in Spanish and went out presenting Islam to the Hispanic minority in the US," he recalled.
Soliman also organizes "sensitivity courses," which educate non-Muslims on how to deal with Muslims in sensitive issues.
"We provide sensitivity training to police, like the FBI in America, on how to deal with Muslim detainees and to teachers on how to address issues like reproductive health when they talk to Muslim girls," he added.
Soliman said the presentations have become even sought-after by travel agencies, which have put them on their tourist programs.
"In Egypt, we were approached by a travel agency at a request from the tourists themselves," he elaborated.
The activist also cooperates with Islamic centers in the US and across the world in organizing open days to introduce the Muslim faith to non-Muslims.
"All we need is that Islamic centers advertise for an open day in newspapers and then we step forward with our presentations," he said.
Soliman has presented Islam to more than 15,000 people in American churches, universities and governmental departments, including the Pentagon, as well as in international events such as the Frankfurt International Book Fair, 2004.
He was, for four years, the host of a weekly television show on channel 30 in the USA entitled "The Islamic Show" and a weekly radio show entitled "Let the Qur'an Speak
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