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CAIR: NY Times Dispatches a Warning Flare

Abu Reem

Published

I am somewhat surprised that it took NY Times, the ‘liberal’ media giant, to throw a light one at CAIR in an article that appeared in today’s paper. Here’s the heading: “Scrutiny Increases for a Group Advocating for Muslims in U.S.”. Now, if there was any doubt as to how the paper wanted to color this story, the title takes care of dispelling itl.

You see CAIR has been a constant nemesis, a thorn in the neck of the Islamaphobes in America. CAIR really represents the last hope for Muslims, as the defender of our civil rights. When any Muslim in America thinks rights, we think CAIR. I guess perhaps I should qualify that. Any ‘average’ Muslim who is not part of the small, yet vocal, progressive CAIR – is – too – conservative – for – us side of the coin.

So, for the average Muslim in America, CAIR is synonymous to the NAACP for African-Americans or the ADL for Jews. And while these organizations are pretty much ‘untouchable’, as well as the fact that Jews and African-Americans have other organizations to help, CAIR’s position continues to be very fragile. And one of the reasons that it is fragile is that a strong CAIR means a strong Muslim voice. And a strong Muslim voice means a viable, even if limited, opposition to the status quo. And of course that is unacceptable to the neo-con, right-wing establishment. So, not surprisingly, the problem that CAIR’s critics have with CAIR is not even home-based. Most of it is directly or indirectly funded by the Israeli-Zionist supporters. This would include Spencer of Jihadwatch, Joe Kaufman, Investigative Project, Middle East forum, Daniel Pipes, and all the other on the who’s who list of Islamophobes in America.

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It is also amusing to find these Islamophobes calling for ‘moderate’ alternatives to CAIR, which is just a tricky way of saying we don’t need any Muslim voices. Because there is NO alternative to CAIR at this moment folks! For a good laughter, you could suggest “Free Muslim Coalition”. An organization run by a weasel called Kamal Nawash; see this interview he had with the Muslim-basher, Glenn Beck where among the many ludicrous statement, he tells Beck that the only person, he is afraid of is his “ex-girlfriend”. Talk about dropping to new levels of pandering to the Islam-bashers of the media. Everyone knows that this group is another ridiculous attempt by the so-called progressives to water-down Islam and get some free press while they are at it. Everyone loves a Muslim-bashing-Muslim these days.

Back to the article then: you see the article itself is not that bad. The problem is the title is incriminating, “Scrutiny Increases…”; scrutiny by who? Shouldn’t the article have instead been labeled, ‘Muslim Group Finds Itself Target of Hate Groups’… yeah, keep dreaming Amad. NY Times may be the liberal champion, but these days liberals sometimes compete with their conservative counterparts on who panders to the right.

Some other interesting points from the article, and how it may appear to the common American:

  • “[CAIR is] an organization partly financed by donors closely identified with wealthy Persian Gulf governments”: Right smack in the first paragraph… a hot-button issue. Common Americans reading it are thinking “organization funded by terrorist Arabs, out to get Israel and America”.
  • “Yet a debate rages behind the scenes in Washington about the group, commonly known as CAIR, its financing and its motives.” The impression for the common American will be that it is a large-scale ‘debate’, even though the very next line states “A small band of critics have made a determined but unsuccessful effort to link it to Hamas and Hezbollah”. Why not state that a debate, led by a small band of critics, is raging. Specify the qualifier with your assertion, rather than post-assertion. And merely mentioning Hamas and Hezbollah, will surely help deepen the suspicions.
  • House Republicans demanded that a recent panel session with CAIR on Islam and West not be held. So, did the small band of critics convince the ‘entire’ Republican party to oppose this, or was it just a ‘small band of Republican critics’ who opposed this? Another clarification that NY Times conveniently didn’t make. I won’t be surprised though that the Grand Old Party has taken to Likud-like ways in opposing all discussions with Muslims; after all they are more beholden to AIPAC than Israel itself!
  • ““Of all the groups, there is probably more suspicion about CAIR, but when you ask people for cold hard facts, you get blank stares,” said Michael Rolince, a retired F.B.I. official who directed counterterrorism in the Washington field office from 2002 to 2005.” So, what is the story about then, why does it even deserve coverage in NY Times? If your journalists could not find a single solid claim of ‘anti-American activities’ by CAIR, and furthermore finding that “There were no charges linked to CAIR in any of the cases involved, and law enforcement officials said that in the current climate, any hint of suspicious behavior would have resulted in a racketeering charge.” , then why publish a story with a title that says something else? What is all the fuss about??
  • Furthermore, what is the point of this paragraph, The cloud kicked up by the constant scrutiny is such that spokesmen at several federal agencies refused to comment about the group and some spoke only on the condition of anonymity.” What is the implication here? That something is going on, but we can’t talk about it?
  • “Several federal officials said CAIR’s Washington office frequently issued controversial statements that made it hard for senior government figures to be associated with the group, particularly since some pro-Israeli lobbyists have created what one official called a “cottage industry” of attacking the group and anyone dealing with it.” Is there any need to say more about who’s responsible for the ‘suspicions’ and the “scrutiny”? I will keep reminding the readers to see this video about Israeli lobby’s influence in America to recognize what CAIR is dealing with.
  • “Some Muslims, particularly the secular, find CAIR overly influenced by Saudi religious interpretations, criticizing it for stating in news releases, for example, that all Muslim women are required to veil their hair when the matter is openly debated.” If I had to guess, I would say this statement came right out of the Progressives pocket-book, from such ‘luminaries’ as Khaled Abou Fadl or perhaps from the ‘enlightened’ thinkers at Eteraz. “Openly debated”? By who? By ten Muslims in America who think they have uncovered some new Islamic principles that have escaped 1400 years of scholarship and every mainstream scholar from all the ‘accepted’ schools of Islamic thought? If we go by this new ‘test of faith’, we can probably declare EVERY single Islamic subject as debatable, and I mean EVERY. Go read some of the progressive (or as Dr. M calls it pro-regressive) debates on the internet and you will not find hardly any absolutes left in the faith according to these Progressives, instead the mantra is ‘everything’s relative’. I must add though that some are more regressive than others, but the basic premise of opening up established Islamic principles to debate is a premise that is common to all, and is also a premise that leads down a very slippery slope to Islamic anarchy.

In conclusion, I believe this article is what is a to be thought of as a ‘warning flare’ at CAIR, similar to another article in a much-less reputable online paper targeted at AlMaghrib. It is just saying to the folks in these organizations, and ‘conservative’ (normal) Muslims, that “we are watching you, and waiting to pounce on any little mistake”. And this is why Muslim organizations and Muslims in general need to be extremely careful in what they say, how they say it and when they say it. The Dispatches hit-job on UK TV was a good reminder of this as well.

Nevertheless, all this ‘scrutiny’ and articles make precisely for another good reason why CAIR is indeed CLEAN, because if they weren’t, they would be locked up by now. And this is also precisely another reason why we need to stand behind our mainstream Muslim organizations, regardless of whether we agree with them 100% of the time or not. I know CAIR hasn’t done everything we want, but it is doing so much for so many. If we cannot see it, then we are either blind or simply unjust.

As a sign of our support, let’s send in a small donation right now online, whatever you can or are willing to. Let’s work with CAIR to establish that Muslims indeed matter, that our matters indeed matter, and that we CARE about CAIR.

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Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mujahideen Ryder

    March 14, 2007 at 5:36 PM

    You did a good job tearing apart that article. It’s a shame that CAIR is struggling like this. We need to support CAIR or else our future is at stake.

  2. Amad

    Amad

    March 14, 2007 at 8:31 PM

    CAIR is what we can all care about! If only for our own self-interests.

  3. Avatar

    Mujahideen Ryder

    March 14, 2007 at 8:55 PM

    You should sell that to CAIR hahaha

  4. Avatar

    abu ameerah

    March 15, 2007 at 12:15 AM

    i’m sorry….but i don’t understand CAIR at all…

  5. Avatar

    abu abdillah

    March 15, 2007 at 1:20 AM

    assalamu alaikum,

    I agree that in times such as these it is vital that we stand up and defend fellow Muslims from the plots and machinations of people who blatantly hope to eradicate Islam.

    However, I don’t believe that some statements and actions made by CAIR can be overlooked for the sake of unity and because of all the good they do.

    On more than one occasion CAIR has taken positions that clearly contradict Islam and honestly speaking do a great deal of harm to “conservative” Muslims. One such example is the stance they took regarding the Islamic ruling on someone who apostates from al-Islam. This is well documented and I don’t think we need to rehash the whole subject.

    Another issue that comes to mind is the rebuilding of churches in the middle east after they were destroyed in response to the Pope’s comments. Although we are obliged to maintain churches, the permissibility of building churches is not something legislated in our Shariah.

    Also, since CAIR is a civil rights group looking to protect the rights and liberties of Muslims, what help and aid did they offer in the high profile cases of Sh. Ali al-Timimi, Dr. Rafil Dhafir, and the Virginia jihad cases. Honestly, it seems that CAIR will stand up for civil liberties as long as they don’t have to go anywhere near the “extremist” Muslims.

    I also wonder about CAIR’s dealings with various law enforcement agencies that have a proven track record of abuse and maltreatment to Muslims not only in prisons, but during raids and interrogations.

    My goal in bringing up these issues is to shed light on what I believe CAIR is lacking, standing up for people who are “unpopular” or “extremist”, and shunning away from Islamic principles that aren’t PC

    And Allah knows best

  6. Avatar

    abu abdillah

    March 15, 2007 at 1:39 AM

    assalamu alaikum

    the brother sh. muhammad al-hanooti was kidnapped and murdered in Iraq. May Allah (SWT) forgive Hamed al-Hanooti his sins and give patience to his family during their trying times.

  7. Amad

    Amad

    March 15, 2007 at 9:01 AM

    I’d like to add three general points here:

    (1) No organization is or will be perfect; no organization will exist with which each individual will agree with 100% of the time.
    (2) Large organizations such as CAIR will have a diversity of people, with different views, different opinions, and different methodologies. This ultimately implies that different people will agree with CAIR at different times. And that is fine as long as the organization as a whole stays ‘mainstream’.
    (3) Every organization recognizes or should recognize their capabilities. Even though CAIR is ‘large’, its budget is still small compared to the other civil rights organizations. Hence, even though we may be emotionally and probably rightfully attached to a person or an organization that is being targeted by the government, we have to recognize that CAIR is not in a position to get involved in anything that significantly sucks up its limited resources of manpower and of money. The analogy for this is that CAIR still has baby-teeth, and can only chew on so much. If it tries too hard, the teeth may break. Instead, let them grow ‘adult teeth’ with time and support.

    Finally, excellent points were raised in the previous comments. My 2-cents naseeha is that if we have ‘issues’ with CAIR or any other organization, let us become part of the solution, more so than becoming part of the discussion. Wallahu alam.

    P.S. Inna lillahi wa inna alehi rajioon re: Sh. Honooti’s brother.

  8. Avatar

    UmmZaid

    March 15, 2007 at 11:39 AM

    Salaam ‘Alaikum

    // “[CAIR is] an organization partly financed by donors closely identified with wealthy Persian Gulf governments”: Right smack in the first paragraph… a hot-button issue. Common Americans reading it are thinking “organization funded by terrorist Arabs, out to get Israel and America”. ///

    Amad, there is this too. One of the people who gave them money was Prince Waleed. He’s given money to one of the Bush scholarship funds, the Louvre, and Harvard… yet they would never say “Harvard is a university partly financed by donors….” or “The Louvre is an internationally renowned art museum partly financed by…” I mean, give me a break. The words “wealthy Persian Gulf gov’ts” was thrown in there to raise the spectre of “Wahabism” without actually saying it (b/c it probably can’t factually be said).

    I think the bottom line is this: CAIR has made blunders in the past, and they’ve made missteps. CAIR is also blamed by Muslims and non-Muslims for things they haven’t done. And CAIR is also the group that has most consistently fought for the civil rights of Muslims, to educate law enforcement, to educate masjid leaders about masjid security, and so forth. No one else is stepping up to the plate to do this stuff. Muslims should be fair to CAIR and acknowledge what they’ve done, even though we may not agree with statements or positions of theirs.

  9. Avatar

    Persevere

    March 15, 2007 at 2:09 PM

    Salam Alaikum,

    I am not a blogger. However, after reading Ammad’s critique and comments posted by others, I wanted to share my 2 cents.

    Ammad has dissected the NY Times piece pretty well. Overall, though, it’s a good article that goes to show that there are vicious attempts to silence speech, especially Muslims’, when the discourse isn’t confined to certain parameters.

    Like any individual and organization, CAIR has its strengths and shortcomings, and I hope it will listen to the community’s suggestions to improve itself. If we all strive to be part of the solution, I think our community will go to a whole new level, insha Allah. Remember, other groups had it way worse than us.

    Peace.

  10. Avatar

    editor

    March 15, 2007 at 4:00 PM

    Ammad good piece.

    please correct the name of the weasel organization to

    Free Muslims Coalition

    I don’t even like to type it, now i have to go disinfect my keyboard and screen.

    MM: Error Corrected. Thanks.

  11. Avatar

    Aidan Qassim

    March 15, 2007 at 8:51 PM

    Salaam,

    Thanks for the piece, it was fairly interesting. I had the oppurtunity to read it, but i didnt get the same sense of “attack” that you got.

    I saw it as a way to bring up the bogus charges, and then debunk them with reasoned and principled examples of what CAIR was doing or working toward. Overall i thought it was a good piece highlighting the neo-con right wing agenda to marginalize muslims by marginalizing muslim organizations.

    similar to efforts recently launched against Al-maghrib institute or even random garbage i have seen on Islamic relief on fringe bloggers websites posted on random individual sites.

    As for the “Free Muslims Coalition”- I am quite surprised there is such vile feelings toward them. I dont think they have any principled stance on any issue, the fact is if they do they should be debunked immediately, and thats where bloggers come into the picture. If you hear that guy quacking his crap on CNN Paula Zahn, then put him in his place because the total number of people he represents is him and his oversized ego!

  12. Pingback: muslimmatters.org » Blog Archive » Washington Times’s Arrogance

  13. Avatar

    Nasir

    October 12, 2007 at 3:45 AM

    CAIR is a fairly moderate organization and I don’t see why anyone would criticize them. The only reason I can think of is Islamophobia, hatred, and bigotry.

    Muslim people and organization in the west are going to face criticism no matter what they do.

    The objectives of organizations like CAIR is to make sure the anti Islamic sentiments don’t reach a level of oppression or discrimination. (some schools in the US for example prevented sisters from wearing hijab and jilbab to school)

    CAIR has been active in opposing and condemning Anti Islamic actions and statements. So its only natural they become a target.

  14. Avatar

    Nasir

    October 12, 2007 at 3:51 AM

    And I agree with the brother that some of their methods aren’t correct. But they are doing a lot to help muslims. And it wouldn’t do justice to completely ignore that.

    For example if a muslims is sinful, would it be right to ignore the fact he bears witness La Ilaha Ill Allah?

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