CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case — so named by the Justice Department. CAIR officials have repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups. Several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes related to jihad terror. CAIR’s cofounder and longtime Board chairman (Omar Ahmad), as well as its chief spokesman (Ibrahim Hooper), have made Islamic supremacist statements. (Ahmad denies this, but the original reporter stands by her story.) A California chapter distributed a poster telling Muslims not to talk to the FBI, and a Florida chapter distributed pamphlets with the same message. CAIR has opposed virtually every anti-terror measure that has been proposed or implemented and has been declared a terror organization by the United Arab Emirates.
“President Obama’s mosque visit spotlights a new generation of Muslim Americans,” by Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post, February 3, 2016:
President Obama’s visit to a mosque Wednesday — his first such U.S. event as president — puts the biggest spotlight in memory on Muslim American life, but not in the way most Americans are accustomed to seeing. In the small group picked to meet Obama in suburban Baltimore are a competitive fencer, a graffiti artist and a police chaplain.
A big part of why Muslim American leaders have been pushing for years for Obama to visit a mosque is because they feel their community has been defined, and stigmatized, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by images related to terrorism. That any time Americans hear “Muslim,” they see images in the news of the Paris attacks or San Bernardino or Islamic State militants. The expression experts often use is that Muslims are stuck in front of a “security lens.”
That’s why the visit Wednesday at the large Islamic Society of Baltimore is being watched closely by Muslims eager for a rebranding.
A new poll out Wednesday by the Pew Research Center shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans — 68 percent — see the problem of religious violence as really being about “violent people using religion to justify their actions,” compared with 22 percent who say some religious teachings promote violence. However, for those who said some religions promote violence, Islam was by far the most common religion named, with 14 percent of respondents….
Aside from the fact that presidents don’t often visit houses of worship outside their own church time, making the mosque visit happen has appeared to be tricky for a president who is believed to be Muslim by about one-third of Americans, according to some polls. (He’s Christian.) The White House has been talking about this trip since last fall, said spokeswoman Jen Psaki. That was about the time Republican candidates began ramping up comments about Muslims that set off Islamophobic rhetoric.
“We discussed this as an option of something powerful the president could do to speak directly to Muslim Americans,” she told The Washington Post on Tuesday. The rhetoric, she said, “has really impacted him on a personal level in terms of how damaging he feels it is to this entire community.”…
Zainab Chaudry, Maryland Outreach Manager for the Council on American Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights organization, was also invited to the session. She said the visit was incredibly important.
It “will send a strong message to folks who are trying to divide our country along religious lines that religious pluralism is one of the values that defines our country,” Chaudry said. “At the same time, we realize it’s going to take more than one mosque visit to resolve the underlying issues that help contribute to this climate of hatred. It’s certainly a step in the right direction.”
Obama’s visit is likely to draw parallels with a landmark speech to the Islamic world early in his presidency. At Cairo University, Obama in 2009 called for a “new beginning” between the Islamic world and the United States, noting shared interests on issues such as extremism but also acknowledging mistakes made over centuries by all societies in the name of culture and faith.
Asked why it took seven years to organize a U.S. mosque event, Psaki said that “was a hard question to answer” and was more about logistics than politics. Many political observers of both parties, however, believe Obama was unable to make the visit before because of the intense anger and fear around Islamist extremism, but that today it could be politically beneficial to Democrats (from Obama to 2016 candidates) who can contrast Obama’s comments with the GOP on this issue of Islam. GOP candidates in recent months have talked about excluding Muslim migrants from other countries and creating an official preference for Christians.
The first event is a roundtable with about a dozen Muslim leaders from around the country. The president will then “deliver remarks” in front of about 200 people, mostly members of the mosque. Those remarks will be streamed live around noon here.
The full list of roundtable participants wasn’t immediately available, but here are some of the names: Obama will be introduced by Sabah Muktar, a student at the University of Maryland-Baltimore; Ibtihaj Muhammad, a member of the U.S. fencing team who will be the first Olympian to compete in a hijab if she makes it into the 2016 games in Rio; Rami Nashashibi, an artist who directs the Inner-City Muslim Action Network and runs a holistic health center; Imam Khalid Latif, chaplain of the Islamic Center at New York University; Khadija Gurnah, who founded a project for young Muslims; and Suzanne Barakat, a San Francisco doctor whose brother and sister-in-law were killed in the 2015 Chapel Hill killings last year.
Asked Tuesday whether the president was intending to encourage Muslims to be more active in helping police catch radicals, White House spokesman Josh Earnest emphasized to reporters that the point of the visit is to bring up other topics. And to show support for Muslim Americans.
“Look, I also don’t want to leave you with the impression that the president’s remarks at the mosque are going to be focused on national security,” Earnest said. “I think the president is quite interested in making sure that we’re affirming the important role that Muslims play in our diverse American society, and certainly affirming their right to worship God in a way that’s consistent with their heritage.”…