The Wall Street Journal has shown some disturbing dhimmi tendencies in the past, but it really takes the cake today with a puff piece by George Melloan on the Muslim Public Affairs Council. (WSJ is a paid subscription site, so no link.) In it, Melloan says:
Muhammad was a different kind of prophet also in the sense that he was temporal ruler as well, building his political base in Medina and then conquering the Arab city that had once rejected him, Mecca. After his death, in June 632 by traditional account, Arabs rapidly built an empire stretching from the gates of the Mediterranean to the far side of India, spreading Islam as they went. On the whole, they were tolerant of Christians and Jews in the lands they conquered, acknowledging that all three religions claimed the same origins….
Here‘s an antidote to that old chestnut. But the WSJ has not come precisely to praise Islamic tolerance, but to sing the glories of the Muslim Public Affairs Council:
A group called the Muslim Public Affairs Council is trying to promote better relations between Muslims and law-enforcement agencies. To that end it has launched its own counterterrorism and civil-rights campaign, working with imams at mosques, Muslim community leaders, law-enforcement agencies and the media. Their credo: “It is our duty as American Muslims to protect our country and to contribute to its betterment.”
The executive director of MPAC is Salam al-Marayati, a Baghdad-born former chemical engineer long engaged in Democratic politics in Los Angeles. He and two colleagues, Ahmed Younis and Edina Lekovic, dropped by the Journal’s New York office last week to talk about their project. Ms. Lekovic, a Montenegrin by ancestry, is the group’s spokeswoman. Mr. Younis, national director, has studied in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Cuba. He wrote a book titled “Voir Dire (Speak the Truth),” discussing the blending of American culture and Islamic values, while studying law at Washington and Lee University.
Mr. al-Marayati is relatively upbeat about the status of Muslims in the U.S., particularly in comparison to Europe. “In Europe, they tend to become ‘ghettoized’ because they are never really accepted,” he said. In the U.S., Muslims are more easily assimilated and find it easier to work within the system….
Mr. al-Marayati apparently has had his moments of alienation as well, judging from a 1999 article by Daniel Pipes, a frequent critic of Islamists, that called him an extremist. But in a speech at the Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism last fall, the MPAC director asserted: “We reject using Islam as an instrument of political change.”
Six years of the kind of history the world has logged since 1999 can change a man. The MPAC group clearly sees it as the wisest choice for American Muslims not only to come to terms with the society of which they are a part, but to actively participate in the struggle against religious extremism. They are well aware of their vulnerability to anti-Muslim sentiments and of the opportunities the liberal U.S. political system offers them for combating that danger….
I once had a memorable exchange with Salam Al-Maryati on the Michael Medved Show, and I wrote this about MPAC in an article refuting their all-out attack on Steve Emerson:
For months now, MPAC has been touting its new “National Anti-Terrorism Campaign” (NATC), garnering uncritical publicity in the media and even praise from government officials. The Campaign’s glossy brochure proclaims that “It is our duty as American Muslims to protect our country and to contribute to its betterment.” But like the old Whip Inflation Now campaign of the Ford Administration, the NATC is long on style and short on substance. It recommends, for example, that “All activities within the mosque and Islamic centers should be authorized by legitimate, acknowledged leadership…” That sounds great until one realizes that if a mosque is involved in terrorist activity, it is most likely with the complicity of mosque leadership — as per the Naqshbandi Sufi leader Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani’s 1999 testimony before a State Department Open Forum that eighty percent of American mosques were controlled by extremists. The rest of MPAC’s recommendations are in the same vein, appearing to be more concerned about misbehavior by non-Muslim law enforcement officials in mosques than about the possibility of terrorist activity in those mosques. WIN buttons are one thing, but the consequences of false advertising by MPAC are much more deadly. Now with the publication of this new report, MPAC’s counterterrorism agenda seems to boil down to one substantive point: Steve Emerson, not Islamic terrorism, is the enemy….
Of course, when the MPAC report charges that “Emerson’s lack of precision leads him to conflate legitimate organizations that can help America and secure the homeland with others that are neither genuinely American nor transparent,” it becomes clear why MPAC is in such a froth about Emerson: because of what he knows about MPAC itself. In American Jihad, Emerson notes that when Abdurrahman Alamoudi of the American Muslim Council, who is now serving a 23-year prison sentence for a terrorism financing conviction, encouraged the Muslim crowd at an October 2000 rally cosponsored by MPAC to declare their support of the jihad terror groups Hamas and Hizballah, “MPAC’s Political Advisor, Mahdi Bray, stood directly behind Alamoudi and was seen jubilantly exclaiming his support for these two deadly terrorist organizations.” This was just three weeks after Bray “coordinated and led a rally where approximately 2,000 people congregated in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.” Emerson reports that “at one point during the rally, Mahdi Bray played the tambourine as one of the speakers sang, while the crowd repeated: ‘Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is calling us, let’s all go into jihad, and throw stones at the face of the Jews [sic].’“
There is much more. Emerson’s Investigative Project has documented MPAC’s indefatigable and consistent opposition to the war on terror; its magazine The Minaret has dismissed key anti-terror operations as part of “[t]he American crusade against Islam and Muslims.” Emerson has called attention to the fact that in a book called In Fraternity: A Message to Muslims in America, coauthor Hassan Hathout, who has served as MPAC’s President, is identified as “a close disciple of the late Hassan al-Banna of Egypt.” MPAC’s magazine The Minaret spoke of Hassan Hathout’s closeness to al-Banna in a 1997 article: “My father would tell me that Hassan Hathout was a companion of Hassan al-Banna…Hassan Hathout would speak of al-Banna with such love and adoration; he would speak of a relationship not guided by politics or law but by a basic sense of human decency.”
This is noteworthy because Hassan al-Banna founded the prototypical Muslim radical group of the modern age, the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt in 1928. The Brotherhood is the direct ancestor of both Hamas and Al-Qaeda. Al-Banna wrote in 1934 that “it is a duty incumbent on every Muslim to struggle towards the aim of making every people Muslim and the whole world Islamic, so that the banner of Islam can flutter over the earth and the call of the Muezzin can resound in all the corners of the world: God is greatest [Allahu akbar]! This is not parochialism, nor is it racial arrogance or usurpation of land.” He told his followers: “Islam is faith and worship, a country and a citizenship, a religion and a state. It is spirituality and hard work. It is a Qur’an and a sword.”
Do Hassan Hathout and MPAC also believe in “a Qur’an and a sword”? What Emerson and the Investigative Project have uncovered about them suggests at very least that the group should receive serious scrutiny. The fact that MPAC has singled out Emerson for such a focused and singular attack only lends credence to these suspicions. For how better to obscure the message than to discredit the messenger?
It is disheartening to see the Wall Street Journal putting on the blinkers and falling for MPAC.