UK House of Lords member Ahmed Nazir spoke at AMC fundraiser with Alamoudi - working with radicals Islamists in US
Ahmed thought of writing the American president a letter "to voice his outrage at secret evidence"
MIM: How reassuring to know that Lord Nazir who is the poster boy for assimiliated Muslims in the UK came to the US where he spoke with AMC fundraiser, whose leader Abdulrahman Alamoudi was jailed for 23 years for terrorism related charges . Lord Nazir Ahmed told the UASR interviewer that he was so moved by the testimony of Hamas leader Mazen Najjar's daughter that he wanted to write your president a letter and express his outrage at the use of secret evidence". Last Ahmed Yousef, the the director of the UASR, and known Hamas operative, fled the US, fearing he would be implicated the Damra terror trial in Cleveland. The fugitive Yousef who is believed to be in Lebanon and Jordan directed the UASR - the United Association for Studies and Research- a think tank front for terrorists.Nazir stressed the need for Muslims in the UK make common cause with Muslims in the US to "fight for their rights". His comrade in arms in the UK is the Muslimah Baroness Uddin - another example the British penchant for honoring terrorist supporters with knighthoods and peerages thus affording them what is tantamount to diplomatic status, and enables them to continue aiding the international Islamist network under the guise of promoting 'muslim interests'.
Lord Nazir Ahmed, a devout Muslim, is one of two Muslim peers recently appointed to the British House of Lords. He was born in the rural Mirpur region of Pakistan, the youngest of three brothers in a family of four, and arrived in Rotherham, England, in 1969 at age 11. He admits that, "I don't agree with every aspect of party policy, but on the whole what Labor believes in is what Muslims believe in."
Lord Nazir Ahmed visited this year's American Muslim Council Leadership Conference, where he brought the participants of the AMC Banquet to their feet in pride and recognition of this young Muslim Lord after he delivered a passionate speech on Muslims and the growth of Islam in the West.
Lord Ahmed met with MEAJ Editor, Anisa Abd el Fattah, for a discussion on Muslim British politics and the roles that he believes Muslims in America and Great Britain will play in the future.
Q. Welcome to the United States, and thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. You gave a very exciting and interesting presentation at the American Muslim Council Fundraising Banquet. Your presentation focused on the political achievements and challenges of the Muslim community in Great Britain. What are some of the distinguishing characteristics of the Muslim community in Britain?
A. We are a very new community in Great Britain. Although our first mosque was established in the last century, the first mosque that was built as a mosque was built in 1889. The majority of Muslim immigrants arrived in Britain during the 50s and 60s of this century. Most of them were from Asia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh. There are many Muslims from the Middle East and North Africa, but we will discuss this community later. The most obvious Muslim community in great Britain are Asians. The Middle East Muslims are mostly based in London, whereas the Asian community is pretty much spread out throughout the country. In certain areas we dominate the local councils and the politics of the local communities. Many of the politicians who are elected in these areas are elected because of the Muslim vote. There are approximately 2 million Muslims in Britain. We don't have an exact figure now, but in the year 2001 the British census will have a category that will allow Muslims to categorize themselves for the census as Muslims, rather than ethnically. We have more than sixty Muslim schools. Two are funded by the government and the others are funded privately. We have about a thousand mosques and 1400 Muslim organizations. I think it's good that we have so many organizations, but it is important that we be involved in mainstream politics too. If we are going to have Islamic parties, we cannot work outside the mainstream. In Western countries, politics are structured as two party systems, so you must be a part of these parties. I believe that we should be involved in mainstream politics not only for our own purposes. I believe that what they stand for are the same things we stand for as Muslims. When the Labor party talks about good education, eradication of poverty, good environment, good housing, these are the same things that we talk about as Muslims. Of course, Islam existed before the Labor party, so I say the Labor party has accepted Islam. I say that very proudly. We have our differences, for example, when the party is trying to promote gays or Lesbians or abortion. Since we have a democracy we have the right and the opportunity to opt out and not follow the party leadership. You can cast your own vote according to your conscience and religious beliefs.
Although our community is developing and organizing first among ourselves through the mosque and the various Muslim organizations, we are working toward participation in the mainstream parties, and I think this is very important. We have 160 elected local-authority counselors up and down the country in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Eighty or 90% come from the Labor party, but Muslims are also active in other parties. We have dozens of mayors and Lord mayors that have been elected in various towns and counties, and, as I said last night at the banquet, the Millennium Mayor will be a Kashmiri Muslim. The biggest celebration in British history is going to be held in London, and the mayor who will light up the entire celebration will be a Muslim. Prince Charles, the Queen, and other important figures will be there, but the lead person is going to be a Muslim from my home town in Kashmir.
We have a Muslim in the House of Commons, Muhammad Sarver, and in the House of Lords we have myself and a Baroness from Bangladesh. We don't believe that we are represented enough. It is not proportionate to our numbers in the general British population, but we believe that it is a start. We are a relatively new community in Britain, so the progress we have made is tremendous and our potential is tremendous. All political parties are now challenged to answer the question: What are you doing for our community? What are you doing for the larger community? We have problems, but we have a real commitment from the leadership in Britain to include Muslims, to say that Muslims are part and parcel of our society and therefore our legislation must reflect our sensitivity to this multicultural and multi-religious society. The legislation of Parliament and the legislators must be accountable to every community in Britain, including Muslims.
We don't have many Middle Eastern and North African brothers and sisters active in mainstream politics. I've come across two, one Nigerian brother who is a counselor, and a Middle East brother who is also a counselor. I think that this low participation among Arabs and Africans comes from their political experiences in their countries. They have this fear that, if they become politically active, someone will wake them up in the middle of the night and take them away, whereas we from the Indian or Asian sub-continent will die for our rights in our countries. We are not shy about the shouting and screaming, debate, and argument that is sometimes required, so therefore we are much more active.
Q: It seems then that Muslims in Britain have identified and utilize a successful method to mobilize the Muslims in Great Britain. How have you educated and mobilized the Muslims in your communities?
A: I don't take credit for that. Necessity is the mother of invention. When you are victims of racism, and victims of institutionalized racism, it forces you to stand up for your rights. Muslim people learned very quickly that they had no voice. In the early days where I live, we decided as a community that the courts must consider and reflect in their standards the cultures of the people. So we started a campaign. We needed magistrates that were Black and Asian. We didn't believe that others could understand the problems in our communities. When our young people would go to court for minor offenses they were given heavy penalties. Today in British prisons the Muslims account for 8 to 9% of the prison population, which is twice the proportionate percentage. I proposed some rehabilitation schemes to address this situation, because the British society does present many challenges and problems for our young Muslims. There is a gap between the younger and older generations in our community, but as far as the government is concerned I think there is a genuine approach to see Muslims participate fully. You will always have racism and prejudice. There are prejudices within the Muslim community itself. This is human nature. Still we must do what we can to see that equality under the law becomes a reality. The only way you can do this is by taking part in the institutions.
We pressured the local appointment bench and also the Lord chancellors department to appoint someone who is black or Asian. Ninety-nine percent of the people in our area are Muslim and they are Kashmiri. We have about 1% who are Hindu doctors. The only person who applied for the job was a Hindu woman. At the end of the year when they made appointments they made this Hindu woman magistrate. Then they came to us and said, O.K., we've appointed this woman a magistrate, and we said, no! no! no! How do you get the job? It is good to have hundreds, even thousands, of organizations who are campaigning for the rights of Muslims. We need to have our own people, we need to promote these people. They can tell you what our needs are. We must work from outside, but we must also work from within.
Q: You talked last night about Muslims in the United States. It seems that our two governments are very close. Naturally this seems to indicate that our Muslim communities in Great Britain and the United States should also be close. What do you identify as the commonalties and how do we tap them to the benefit of both communities?
A: This is why I'm here. I came at my own expense because I'm committed to a good and working relationship between the Muslims here and in Great Britain. There are many commonalties. Britain has always been very close to America. The language, the culture, and even the religious beliefs of these countries are Christian. Where you have a very influential Jewish community in the United States, we have the same in Britain, while the Muslims are minorities that are not very powerful. We are struggling for our rights in Britain as you are. We have blasphemy laws and laws that protect religious rights.
You have "secret evidence" laws in your country, and we have similar things. I'll show you how closely our governments work. One of the brothers, Najjar, has a daughter who gave a very moving speech, and when I was praying Zuhr my mind was wandering. I was thinking that I would write your President a letter and voice my outrage over the use of secret evidence. Its none of my business, but after listening to this girl I can see that something is terribly wrong with this law. As I was leaving, someone came to me and said that the British home office had written him a letter and said, "Don't ever apply to come to our country because you are not welcome in our country." It's very troubling to me. He is a resident of the United States and has no connection to Great Britain. We are two distinct and sovereign countries; we have our own separate laws and regulations. Its troubling that the British authority is willing to officially react to a situation in the United States that is none of its business. When I return I will write a letter to the home office and ask "why did you write this kind of letter?" I want to know how the exchange of information on these cases is taking place and why? Is information coming through the FBI? What is the evidence? If you have the British authority acting this way, and barring people who have not even applied for entry from being welcome based on "secret evidence," this means in essence that we also have "secret evidence" in effect in Britain too. What laws regulate it? These laws regarding secret evidence have not gone through Parliament, so they are illegitimate. How then are we enforcing them in Britain?
Because of the apparent linkage between our two countries, it is right for the Muslims to work together closely also. Our institutions are working together and we must work together as well. The only way that we can fight the institutional racism in our countries is to fight it from both shores. I want to say that I'm very impressed and encouraged by the Muslim American people. You have some of the most intellectual people in the world. I believe that the Muslim community in America will lead Muslims throughout the world. London also plays an important role in international affairs, so our duty as Muslims in Great Britain is also very important. Working together, Muslim minorities in America and Britain can change things in our countries, and we can change things for Muslims in other parts of the world. We must accept these responsibilities as well as fight for our rights.
MIM: In a classic example of hiding under the streetlight Ahmed called for a report on Jihad activity in Britain, no doubt to find out how much the government knows, and then dissemble by telling officials and the media that "Muslim communities had wrongly been blamed for Jihad activity." http://www.101pakistanis.com/docs/lordNazir.aspLord Nazir Ahmed
It was not long ago that Lord Nazir Ahmed, the peer at the centre of the bugging allegations, was still being described as a New Labour loyalist.
Now, while he apparently still backs Tony Blair's premiership, the Muslim Labour peer has shown he is not afraid to court controversy even when it means making a stance against his own party.
Lord Ahmed's opposition to the war in Afghanistan is not the first time he has pitched himself against the government.
He was one of 18 Labour rebels who helped to defeat the government comprehensively in the House of Lords last year when ministers wanted to drop Section 28, which stops local councils promoting homosexuality.
Support for government
Since being made a peer in 1998, he has been fully onside with the government on other issues, such as his pro-European outlook.
The Home Office tapped into his skills when it enlisted him to write a joint report on the issue of forced marriages.
Lord Ahmed and his co-author Baroness Uddin concluded that the practice should be treated in the same way as child abuse or domestic violence and urged the police to do more against it.
While he has been on the national political stage as a peer for only two years, Lord Ahmed has run his politics alongside a business career for much longer.
The 44-year-old married father-of-three was born in Azad Jammu Kashmir and came to Rotherham as a small child. He was educated in Rotherham, South Yorkshire and read public administration at Sheffield University.
Later, Lord Ahmed went on to build a career as a business development manager while keeping actively involved in his local community.
He was a local councillor during the 1990s, as well as serving as a JP on the magistrates' bench, chairing the South Yorkshire Labour Party for four years and acting as a non-executive director of Rotherham Health Authority.
It was his Rotherham background that brought him into frequent contact with Denis Macshane, the town's MP and the Foreign Office minister who denies saying the peer's private conversations were being circulated in Whitehall.
Race relations took Lord Ahmed's political activity beyond South Yorkshire, such as when he founded the British Muslim Councillors' Forum in 1992.
But his strong advocacy of the right of determination of the people of Kashmir has stirred controversy among some other ethnic minority groups.
Earlier this year the Indian Overseas Congress accused him of trying to incite unrest among British Asians when he backed a plan for a "peace bus" to publicise the issues behind the conflict in India-administered Kashmir.
Lord Ahmed also called for an investigation into the alleged recruitment of British Muslims to fight in so-called "holy wars".
He argued the facts behind such claims had to be established for the "British Muslims' sakes".
That illustrated his concern that whole communities were wrongly being blamed for being part of jihad activity.
Such fears over damaging labels were displayed too when he led calls for a new law against religious discrimination in 1999.
The bugging claims are, therefore, only the latest example of Lord Ahmed hitting the political limelight.
MIM: According to the account below Nazir spoke at an AMC conference together with Abdulrahman Alamoudi - Aly R. Abuzaakouk and former AMC president Khadja. We haved posted the article in it's entirety because it is only available in cache and contains some useful information ragarding other AMC activities which are of interest.
Muslim joins Michigan
Michigan Governor, John Engler, named Dr. Yahya Basha, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Muslim Council (AMC), to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission by saying: "Dr. Basha is an exceptional individual who has a great appreciation for the importance of civil rights," Engler said. "The insight and integrity he brings to the Commission will ensure that it continues to be a powerful force for justice in our state." Dr. Basha is also a member of the American Medical Association, the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, the Michigan State Medical Society, the Oakland County Medical Society and a Board Member of the Dearborn Mosques. AMC Executive Director, Aly R. Abuzaakouk, thanked the Governor for the appointment, adding that it is time for American Muslims to be recognized for their contribution to the society
CLINTON NOMINATES MUSLIM TO DEFENSE HEALTH BOARD President Clinton's nomination of Dr. Imran Khan to the Board of Regents for the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, that advises the Secretary of Defense, has been applauded by Muslim Americans. Dr. Khan, a Pakistani-born Muslim American and general surgeon in Las Vegas, NV, was appointed by Governor Richard Bryan to the Nevada State Board of Examiners in 1985 and reappointed in 1989 by Governor Robert Miller. He also served on the transition team for Governor Kenny Guinn of Nevada. AMC Director, Aly Abouzaakouk said, "President Clinton's nomination of Dr. Khan is a recognition of the American Muslim's dedication to public service."
Ft. Myers to have mosque The Muslim community of southwest Florida plans to complete the construction of their Islamic center this summer. The community has raised over 70 percent of the estimated cost. To achieve this goal, another $130,000 is needed to complete the project, the first mosque in the Ft. Myers area. The community is requesting tax-deductible donations to help complete their mosque in time. Donations may be sent directly to the Islamic Center of Southwest Florida, P.O. Box 2979, 3337 Broadway, Ft. Myers, Florida 33902 (Tel.: (941) 939-0292).
AMC 8th National Convention Jackson asks Muslims to define mainstream Rev. Jesse Jackson's declaration that Muslim Americans should get out of the shadows and define the mainstream heralded the 8th Annual Convention of the American Muslim Council (AMC) with a stirring keynote address. Jackson, pointing out that 23 of the 24 people held under the ‘secret evidence' law are Muslims, invited Muslim Americans to join the American struggle for a more representative union, and that they register and vote to make America a more perfect union. He stressed the need to struggle for equal protection under the law, and equal opportunity. The theme of his address had an interesting culmination when he was presented with a copy of Islamic Horizons that focused on the life of Malcolm X. The four-day event, May 6-9, 1999 held in Washington, DC brought together Muslim American leaders, politicians, activists and officials to discuss issues of Muslim and general concern. AMC President, Dr. Nazir Khaja, who visited Belgrade with the Jackson entourage that freed the three Americans POWs from under the Serb captivity, told how his visit may have helped the local Muslims obtain permission to expand their mosque, the only one in the country for the 200,000 Muslims.
The importance of AMC to the Muslim American community was amply highlighted in addresses delivered by Dr. Khaja, former President; Dr. Mujib Cheema, Founding Executive Director; Abdulrahman Alamoudi, and the serving Executive Director Aly Ramadan Abuzaakouk. Their focus was on securing firm Muslim representation to press forward the Muslim agenda that focuses on a better America. Lord Nazir Ahmed, the first Muslim member of Britain's upper house, also addressed the meeting, citing successful Muslim participation in public services there. The participants also attended a briefing at the White House and for lobbyists, and joined members of Congress for lunch. The main sessions included workshops and panels on subjects such as Muslims and media, public service, the role of masajid in political awareness and involvement in domestic issues. Among the interesting sessions was the panel on domestic issues moderated by Mir M. Ali, an AMC advisor, where young Muslim lawyers illustrated how Muslims are and can make a difference by their active involvement.
A MUSLIM'S WORK LIVES ON… AMD's Semiconductor Research Corporation has established The Mahboob Khan Award for Outstanding Industrial Liaisons in memory of, and in recognition of Dr. Mahboob Khan's contributions to AMD's participation in the Semiconductor Research Corporation. Dr. Mahboob Khan, AMD Coordination Manager, who passed away in his office, April 16, was also recognized for his sharing AMD's world-class research consortia management practices with all of SRC member companies. Besides this AMD has designated a doctoral fellowship in its grant program as the "Dr. Mahboob Khan AMD/SRC Fellow" award commencing next year.
MIM: In 2004 Ahmed Nazir participated in an International 'Kashmir Peace Conference' organised by the Kashmiri American Council which is a front for terrorist activity involving Alamoudi and the AMC.
Rayburn House Office Building
Peace Initiative in South Asia: The Issue of Kashmir"
Friday, September 24th 2004. Registration: 8.00 a.m.
India Prof. Bharat Karnad, Professor, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi
Pakistan Mr. Gauhar Ayub Khan, Former Foreign Minister of Pakistan
U.S. Dr. Robert G. Wirsing, Professor, Department of Regional Studies, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii
Kashmir Mr. Syed Ali Geelani, Chairman, All Parties Hurriyet Conference
Europe: Barrister Majeed Tramboo, Kashmir Center, Brussels
Admission to the Conference on 24th September is free but registration is required.
There will be a Kashmir Roundtable Discussion on Saturday, 25th September at Holiday Inn on the Hill, 415 New Jersey Avenue, N.W. (Nearest Metro: Union Station). Seating to the Round-table Discussion is limited. Admission is free but registration is required. Program for the Roundtable begins at 8.00 a.m. Kindly call or send us e-mail or fax to register prior to September 25th. No one will be admitted without prior registration. No exceptions.
Call the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers or
Or fax this form to: Andrea at 202-393-0062 or 703-295-8683
Or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
MIM: In 2003 Yousef and lawyer Betty Molchany wrote an article blaming the Jews for the arrest of Abdulrahman Alamoud. It is worth noting that the link on the article goes to the now defunct website of the Islamic Association of Palestine.
Background on and Motives for the Arrest of Abdurahman Alamoudi"
October 4, 2003
"This Administration's war on terrorism is actually a war on the Muslim community and the civil liberties of all Americans. Our leadership, organizations, charities, and places of worship are being targeted by the Department of Justice which scapegoats Muslims by exploiting our political vulnerability." - Mahdi Bray, MAS Freedom Foundation, Sept. 30, 2003
On September 29, 2003, Abdurahman Alamoudi, Executive Director of the American Muslim Foundation (AMF), was arrested at Dulles Airport in Sterling, Virginia (just outside the Metropolitan Washington, D.C., area), after having returned from a tour of Arab countries where he participated in a variety of Islamic programs. He had combined this schedule with the leisure of having his family with him.
Charges filed against Mr. Alamoudi by the Federal government allege that he illegally visited Libya and received financial assistance from [the Libyan] World Islamic Call Society and also from the Libyan Mission to the United Nations and, further, that he planned to distribute these funds to "terrorist" organizations in Syria. Alamoudi denies all these allegations as well as statements that were allegedly said by him to British authorities.
As it is with NGO's, such as charities, think tanks, and political organizations, they obviously operate based on financial contributions. Monies Alamoudi receives are for the AMF which he heads, a well-known social service establishment that provides assistance and relief to those who are in need within the Islamic immigrant community in the United States. The foundation runs a medical clinic as well as an outreach library to explain Islam to the public.
His arrest continues the ominous actions against American Muslims by the US government which first intensified in 1996 with the passage of The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act which approved the use of secret evidence. This law was used to institute "star chamber" proceedings against Muslims and Arabs who were incarcerated for as long as four or five years, not knowing the charges against them, the witnesses, the "evidence," the testimony, or even the judge's decision in its entirety.
Because those so incarcerated were ultimately all released without convictions or left the country and legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives with 229 co-sponsors to repeal the use of secret evidence, conditions for US Muslims seemed to be improving. Hearings were held on the legislation and the only persons other than a Department of Justice official to testify against repeal were Jews, among whom were representatives of the American Jewish Congress and the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.
Immediately following 9/11, the bill to repeal the use of secret evidence was dropped and hundreds of Arabs and Muslims were taken secretly into custody without knowledge of family or legal counsel and held in isolation for months and even years. Thousands were arrested and deported for reasons historically considered inconsequential and insignificant. A 20-year old conviction of possession of marijuana is grounds for deportation although not an impediment to becoming US President.
From 9/11 through the present, Muslim homes and businesses have been and are raided without justification, property removed or damaged, and Muslims threatened. Not only have agents of the Federal government beaten and permanently and otherwise harmed Muslims and done so with impunity, but private individuals, even young people, have beaten and killed Muslims and those mistaken for Muslim, for no reason other than that they are Muslim or believed to be so. Government agents have gone to the homes of witnesses scheduled to testify on behalf of Muslims and have interrogated them for as much as nine hours, threatening and frightening them and their families in the process.
Islamic decision-makers and influential members of the Islamic community in the United States are perplexed about how to stop this governmental and private abuse. Even though the Arab and Muslim organizations immediately condemned and repudiated the events of 9/11 and all acts of random and abhorrent violence, the American authorities and security agencies have persisted in treating Muslims and Arabs as if they are all guilty until proven innocent. Despite lengthy incarceration without charges, these same Muslims are punished through loss of income, governmental refusal to provide transportation to their US homes, or other hardships, all as if they had committed some wrong. This is a tragic development, a turn to a form of tyranny in a country that Muslims had sought for a better future because of the liberties and protected rights enshrined in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The arrest of Abdurahman Alamoudi confirms Muslim suspicions about the motives for such actions and allegations. The message from official America to the Islamic and Arab community is unmistakable: Muslims are not welcome to live in or visit the United States! To add to this pain, many writers not affiliated with the government urge restricting the American population to Protestants, Catholics, or Jews.
Why do so many Americans hate Muslims? Is it because of 9/11?
For more than 50 years, Americans have been taught to hate through Hollywood, television, the radio, and print media. Throughout these years, more than 800 movies have depicted Arabs and Muslims unfavorably, with no positive attributes. Many television programs, such as Law and Order and The West Wing, also present negative portrayals of Arabs and Muslims. It has been an unrelenting campaign of defamation and instigation prompted and inflamed by right-wing Zionists and extremist Christian coalitions which are unconditionally allied with Israel - no matter what crimes she commits, no matter how many UN resolutions she violates, no matter her illegal occupation of other countries, no matter her possession and use of weapons of mass destruction. The objective of both the Christian and Jewish Zionists is not only to remove all Arabs, Christian as well as Muslim, from Palestine, but also to allow Israel to control the neighboring countries. To accomplish this, these political Zionists are determined to remove the voice of Muslims in the United States and with it any support for Palestinians and neighboring Arabs. Political Zionist organizations, such as the Project for a New American Century, create unjustified fear of countries, such as Iraq, which are predominantly Muslim and push for pre-emptive attacks, assassinations, war, and domination.
The Administration, the media, and Zionist individuals and organizations continue to lie about the motives for 9/11, stating that Arabs and Muslims hate freedom and the American lifestyle, while ignoring the many tapes and speeches of Osama bin Laden which discuss the death-causing sanctions against Iraq, the unconditional support of Israel and its daily atrocities committed against Palestinians with the aid of the US through cash, weaponry, and vetoes of UN resolutions condemning Israeli human rights violations and illegal occupation of Arab lands, as well as US bases in Saudi Arabia. It was also bin Laden's objective to oust the Arab monarchies and to dispose of Saddam Hussein whom he hated.
The United States has supported Israel in its illegal occupation of Lebanon, of the Golan Heights, and of the Occupied Territories of Palestine. It not only pays huge amounts of cash as well as interest on the undistributed foreign aid allotment, but also provides the weaponry which has been and is used to kill Palestinians, Lebanese, and Syrians. Organizations, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, which was formed after the Israeli invasion and occupation for the purpose of freeing Lebanon, have been deemed terrorist organizations although the Hezbollah has never threatened the United States and although the Hezbollah, unlike Israel, honored the Grapes of Wrath Agreement in which both the Hezbollah and Israel agreed not to target civilians.
For 12 years, the US and Britain have imposed crippling economic sanctions against the people of Iraq resulting in the deaths of more than 1.5 million Iraqis who were unable to get adequate health care or food or to repair their infrastructure, destroyed by the US in 1991, because those items necessary for medical care or repair of the infrastructure could allegedly be used to make weapons of mass destruction. This is why Arabs ask: why do Americans hate us? What followed all the preceding was 9/11.
Who Is Abdurahman Alamoudi?
Mr. Alamoudi was born in the Eritrean part of Ethiopia and is a naturalized US citizen. His mother is Eritrean and a homemaker; his Yemeni father worked as a businessman. Alamoudi studied at the university level in Egypt and came to the United States to complete his graduate work where he was awarded an M.B.A. Alamoudi went to work for the SAAR Foundation, an investment and charitable organization for Muslims. But, he recognized opportunities of a civic, social, and political nature that could ground Muslims within American society. He wanted to encourage Muslims to work with one another and to participate and be involved in all aspects of American life. Because of this, Alamoudi left SAAR and founded, in 1990, the American Muslim Council (AMC), which may be considered as the first Islamic political institution in the US. The purpose was to channel the resources and potential of the Muslim community in America in a way that would involve them in local, state, and federal civic responsibilities and into the American political process as well. He often said each of us has a duty to share civic responsibilities, that Muslims should work jointly with Americans of other faiths for the betterment of all.
Not only did AMC bring Muslims together, but it integrated several civic and social activities and concerns into coordinated programs. . Among these programs was Muslim Military Members (MMM). AMC first met with Col. Meredith R. Stanley, Executive Director of the US Armed Forces Board of Chaplains, to determine the status of Muslim GIs in the Persian Gulf area. Among other things, they discussed the need for Muslim chaplains. As AMC's Executive Director, Alamoudi joined MMM in an extensive tour of military bases on the East Coast, September 1993, meeting with Muslim servicemen and women and members of the military chaplains corps.
In 1993, AMC supported the launching of another Muslim community-supported program called The National Islamic Prison Foundation (NIPF). The central objective was to meet the pressing needs of the estimated 100,000 inmates who have converted to Islam both while they are still serving sentences and when they are re-entering society.
In graduate school, Alamoudi had been an active member of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) through which he met many who would graduate from American universities and assume very important positions back home in their own countries, both in the Arab and Islamic nations. With these relationships and as the Executive Director of AMC, he mobilized international concerns of US Muslims:
1. AMC created the American Task Force for Bosnia (ATFB). From the beginning of the crisis in Bosnia, AMC had addressed Muslim concerns over the Balkan War with the Administration, the Congress, and the media. In addition, AMC coordinated efforts with other organizations seeking an end to the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims who were left defenseless by a US-UN embargo originally intended against a united Yugoslavia under Tito, while Serbia and Croatia around them were well-armed and using those arms against Bosnia which was seeking its independence.
2. AMC headed a Somalia Relief Effort
3. AMC provided support to the Kashmir American Council
4. AMC joined with other religious/ethnic groups in planning for the 80th anniversary of the African National Congress (ANC).
5. AMC joined the efforts of Churches for Middle East Peace, a broad ecumenical coalition; and the Jerusalem Coalition, a multi-ethnic grouping, focusing on the issues of occupation, dislocation, and economic strangulation which adversely affect the possibility of a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land.
In an effort to empower women, Alamoudi involved AMC in the following programs:
1. AMC and the North American Council for Women (NACMVV) joined to organize a unique retreat of Muslim women scholars, lawyers, and activists to evaluate the UN sponsored International Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
2. The Director of AMC's legal office attended portions of the UN preparatory meetings for the 4th World Conference on the Status of Women held in New York (1995).
3. AMC lent support to the Muslim Women's Georgetown Study Project that worked to develop an alternative to the UN Platform for Women and sent representatives to present a perspective based on Islamic jurisprudence to participants at the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China (1995)
AMC, under Alamoudi, sought a domestic social issue coalition. While working to establish positions and priorities on domestic social issues, AMC sent staff representatives to participate in numerous, non-Muslim coalition efforts:
1. AMC helped mobilize support behind the Enough Is Enough campaign, the purpose of which was to reduce sexual violence and eliminate illegal pornography (1993).
2. AMC supported the work of the Coalition for the Prevention of Alcohol Problems in its campaign to build public opinion behind the Sensible Advertising and Family Education (SAFE) act that imposed restrictions on alcohol advertisements. (1993)
3. AMC worked consistently with the Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion, a uniquely diverse and inclusive coalition of American faith communities which resulted in the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) (1993)
4. AMC maintained contact with the Immigration Coalition that followed the developments in immigration reform legislation (1995-96).
5. AMC has endorsed, on an annual basis, the activities of: World Food Day (food bank), Neighbours Who Care (victim's rights), Southern Poverty Law Center (minority rights), Committee for Constitutional Rights (civil rights), Children's Defence Fund (children's rights), Emergency Medical Care for Children (children's health), and Green Door (vocational support for the mentally ill), and other such organizations.
Alamoudi brought together people of different religions and creeds. Inasmuch as the Muslim population's greatest increase has occurred within the last two and half decades, Muslims lag behind institutionally. The Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish communities have been integrated into the American scene for hundreds of years. Muslims not only stand to learn from the experience of those who have been active in the US for a longer period of time, but they can also contribute by being partners and supporting inter-faith projects and efforts. Because of this, AMC, under Alamoudi's supervision accomplished the following:
1. A historic two-day dialogue between Muslim and Catholic leaders (1991) at the Washington Retreat House. The first ever national consultation between the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and Muslim leaders was co-sponsored by AMC and the Muslim World League.
2. AMC became an active member of Interfaith Impact for Peace and Justice, a coalition of mainline Protestant groups and a number of non-Christian organizations.
3. AMC held an interfaith round table on Muslims in America which encouraged interfaith collaboration to resist Muslim-bashing and called for a common strategy among different religious groups to combat cultural prejudice.
4. In 1993, AMC issued a joint statement with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) rejecting all efforts to claim religious sanction for acts of aggression and terrorism.
5. AMC hosted an interfaith lunchtime seminar titled, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and Religious Accommodation in America: A Discussion Amongst Religious Groups (1994), featuring speakers from the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish perspectives.
6. As AMC's Executive Director, Alamoudi joined Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist leaders in opposition to the patenting of genetic engineering. A coalition representing more than eighty faiths and denominations called for a moratorium on genetic engineering to allow for further debate on the life altering potentials involved.
In the political forum, the Council was successful in fostering strong relationships with members of the United States Congress. After years of hard work, Members of Congress began to realize that American Muslims had come of age.
Again, with respect to international opinions and politics, AMC was the first Islamic forum in the United States which was interested in giving a positive image about America in the Arab and Islamic worlds. Official and popular Arab and Islamic delegations began to converge from all over the world into Washington, DC, and to visit the AMC to discuss Islamic affairs with American Muslims. Mr. Alamoudi was recognized as the most qualified Muslim leader in Washington who could explain Islamic life in America and the ups-and-downs of Muslims inside the US. He reflected a positive image of the US to Arab and Islamic delegations. Because of this, he met twice with former President Clinton, and he also met with candidate George Bush.
With his commitment and the joint activities of other Muslim and Arab organizations, the White House under both Presidents Clinton and Bush has acknowledged Ramadan and certain Islamic holidays. A postage stamp commemorating EID, an important Islamic festivity, was issued in 2001.
This presidential and congressional recognition of Muslims and Islam, the attendance of President Clinton at the annual conference of the Arab American Institute, the success of AMC and other Muslim and Arab organizations created concern for the Zionists who wanted to assure their dominance in the government and in foreign policy. As a result, their attacks became more vociferous. Political Jewish Zionists such as Stephen Emerson who blames every tragic event, such as the Oklahoma bombing and the crash of TWA 800 on "Middle East terrorists" and Daniel Pipes, President Bush's appointee to the US Institute for Peace, who has written many articles vilifying Muslims and Islam, attack nearly all Muslim and Arab individuals and organizations as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.
Alamoudi is naturally their prime target. For years, the Zionists in and out of government have written about him. He has been successful in achieving what they and many Christians fear most: strong, viable, Muslim organizations with the ability to criticize Israel and just as fearfully the ability to influence the outcome of Presidential and other elections. Without Muslim support in Florida and elsewhere, it is not likely that George Bush would be President.
No, the real concern of the critics of Alamoudi is not terrorism. If they were against terrorism in every country, the Israeli settlements, the home demolitions, the 23-hour a day closures, the destruction of 10s of thousands of olive trees, the checkpoints, the wall - the Israeli occupation itself - would be long removed. More than 1,148 members of the Israeli Defense Force and recently 28 of its air force pilots have said no more to Israeli brutality against Palestinians. These Israeli military have said they will - and they do - go to prison before continuing to commit atrocities, humiliations, and intentional starvation of the entire Palestinian population.
Alamoudi, a man beloved by many Muslims and non-Muslims is no terrorist or supporter of violence. His approach is one of diplomacy and gentle humor. If he is a target, then we are all targets.
He has very much been a "good will" ambassador on behalf of the United States, traveling to Muslim countries and telling them of the benefits of democracy and of the protected rights, such as freedom of religion, speech, and assembly, which its inhabitants enjoy.
And yet, for years, articles have been written and speeches made attempting to erode Alamoudi's credibility, coupled with attacks on his integrity as he sought to bridge a widening gap between the Arab and Islamic worlds on one side and the United States on the other side. A series of provocative articles in many newspapers and journals were written by political and right-wing fundamentalist Christian and Jewish Zionist stalwarts against Alamoudi. These writers and their outlets are known for their hatred of Muslims the world over and especially against Arabs. Notorious Jewish Zionists writers and television personalities, such as Steven Emerson and Daniel Pipes, took to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Washington Times, the Jewish Forward, and the National Review to fan their accusations. They went on the air using Fox News, as well as MSNBC and other channels, to broadcast their anti-Islamic hype.
Eventually, this campaign by pro-Israeli hawks succeeded in pressuring the Administration to divest Alamoudi from continuing his building a bridge of understanding and mutual exchange of interests between the Arab and Islamic shore on one side and the American shore on the other side.
They also succeeded in forcing Alamoudi to give up his peaceful and humanitarian work as the executive director of the AMC, and his work to preserve the image of a kind and open-minded America in which Muslims may grow into their civil duties and responsibilities in theory and in practice.
But this was not enough. The objective was to put Alamoudi in a permanent political freeze. If he spoke at public rallies or other occasions in protest of certain American foreign policies, his words were reported and the meaning distorted. They caused his businesses to be raided more than once, and items permanently removed, but they found no wrongdoing.
Alamoudi's remarkable achievements through AMC obviously caused concern for his adversaries, but it was his support of Palestinian needs and demands which they wrote most about. To a group of pro-Palestinian and other organizations protesting in front of the White House, Alamoudi expressed support for the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas organizations, both of which have been designated, in response to Zionist demands, as terrorists.
Alamoudi did not go off course by expressing the heart-felt pulse of all the Muslims around the world who are angry with the American government's unconditional financial and material support for savage Israeli policies against the unarmed Palestinians. He expressed his indignation and displeasure towards America's subordination to the Israeli interest as well as his unflinching support to the oppressed Palestinian population in defending itself and its future generations which is threatened by what the Israelis call transfer but what amounts to genocide.
Alamoudi spoke in the context of a world that is watching and is opposed to Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes, schools, universities, employment, farms and to, among other things, Israeli checkpoints, assassinations, torture, and detention without charges. It was an Israeli finger pulling an American trigger that was spilling Palestinian blood. F-16's and Apache helicopters and the latest in American military technology were and are raining terror and death on an exposed and unprotected Palestinian people. It was within this highly charged context that Alamoudi uttered some emotional statements which he later retracted and apologized for because he got caught up in the heat of the moment.
Alamoudi is a powerhouse in trying to muster the Islamic vote within the American political system in the coming elections so that they are no longer trampled by the incoming American administration whomever that turns out to be. He has said that Muslims are disquieted and disturbed by the way Bush and his administration have been dealing with the American Muslim community after 9/11.
Muslims in America have become open season for all sorts of security agencies who pry and prey on them removing all inherent rights of a democracy and in violation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, to which the US was the first signatory, and about which the US condemns other nations which allegedly do not comply.
What is frightening to Muslims and should be to all Americans is the enactment and application of certain legislation, especially the USA Patriot Act, which allows the admission of newspaper clippings, regardless of who wrote them or the motives behind them, as evidence of wrongdoing. Instilling fear into Americans and ignoring the underlying reasons for 9/11 or suicide bombers has created a malleable public which quickly feels hatred for individuals or organizations the Administration chooses to call "terrorist" or "fundraisers for terrorists" or countries which the US chooses to designate as evil. It is a dangerous time for Americans more because they have allowed the removal of what has been or should be most precious to them - the protection of their inherent rights. That they are silent when others, not like them, are harmed or lose these protections can only serve to harm themselves by causing this country to lose what was once, and is no longer, a good reputation in the world.
The arrest of Mr. Alamoudi comes within a sequence of arrests pertaining to Muslims in the US military. The average Muslim in American society sees this as a type of political lynching targeting all American Muslims.
This denial of civil liberty and human rights is what is really anti-American. You may find it somewhere in third world dictatorships where suspicion is enough to have a person executed, where the rule of law is absent, and there is a void of justice. But here? In the United States?
Once-prevalent Muslim belief, shared by Alamoudi, that tolerance and freedom exists in American society, that it is supported by legal guarantees and protected rights for minorities, as well as the general population, and that it is this which makes this country so desirable a place in which to live meant to them that they could overcome the bias against them and could prove their value as residents and citizens. Muslims had come to believe that, in the United States, Islam would be considered on its religious merits and not be regarded as a political target. That the foreign policy of the US has made enemies of Muslims in other parts of the world should not be cause for attack against Muslims at home but a reassessment of that policy or, at a minimum, an understanding of the basis for the anger abroad.
*Dr. Ahmed Yousef is Editor-in-Chief of the Middle East Affairs Journal.