Last night, Jihad Watch reader Eric sent me a link to a story in Qatar’s The Peninsula, featuring remarks by Ahmed Younis, the former national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Eric included the piece in his email, but I clicked on the link, read the story at The Peninsula site, and decided to put it up in the morning.
However, this morning it is gone. The link Eric sent goes to a blank page at The Peninsula site, and the story is not referenced anywhere else on that site. A Google search turns up a link to the article, complete with a photo of Younis, but the link leads to the same blank page.
Why did The Peninsula remove the story? I can only speculate, but I doubt it was because Younis repeats the common defamation of Daniel Pipes, Steve Emerson, David Horowitz and me as “anti-Islamic.” I think it is more likely because Younis, a prominent moderate leader, is here seen speaking about the “Jewish lobby” and discussing the “national identity” of Muslims in the U.S. — a national identity that is apparently not American.
Anyway, many thanks to Eric for including the piece in his email, enabling me to bring it to you:
Doha “¢ There are elements in the US fuelling “Islamophobia” who have strong influence in the media, politics and other fields, according to Ahmed Younis, former national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a leading American civil society organisation.
Talking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of the US-Islamic World Forum, Younis said, the anti-Islamic propaganda being carried out by such elements is not provoked by ignorance about Islam and can not be tackled by entering into a dialogue with them. “Muslims can counter such elements only by stressing their national identity and trying to influence the American public opinion. They should become 100 per cent American and at the same time 100 per cent Muslims,” said Younis.
The Jewish lobby is just one faction influencing the American public opinion. There are other groups which are more hostile to Islam and Muslims. Robert Spencer, Stephen Emerson, Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz are some of the prominent figures heading the anti-Islamic campaign in the US, he added.
He noted that after 9/11, the American Muslim organisations have become more vocal and active. More Americans are now interested to learn about Islam and many of them are being attracted to the religion. Currently there are six to eight million Muslims in the US, of whom about 40 per cent are the indigenous black Americans, while the remaining comprise immigrant Muslims from South Asian countries ( 35 per cent) and the Middle East (22 per cent).
A recent development among the American Muslim community is the Sunni-Shi”ite differences, which have come to the fore as a fall out the conflicts in Iraq. This can prove extremely harmful to the community if their leaders do not find ways to handle it, said Younis.
“Arabisation of the Islamic identity” is one of the major challenges facing the Muslim community in the US, he remarked. “We have been importing Imams from the Arab world. Obviously these Imams are not able to properly communicate with native Americans. Now we are setting up religious schools to produce American Imams,” he said. Younis noted that American foreign policies, especially those concerning the Middle East remain as a major obstacle before creating a better understanding of Islam among the American population.