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U.S. Islamic activists are uniting with a leading anti-war group to hold a civil rights march and rally they tout as the largest gathering of Muslims ever in the nation’s capital.
Participants in the May 24 event “will demand an end to the mounting attack on the civil rights of Muslims in America” since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to the organizer, the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation.
“The time has come where we must draw a line in the sand, stand up for ourselves, and demand an immediate and unconditional halt to the Bush administration’s profiling, harassment, and abuse of our community,” said Mahdi Bray, the foundation’s executive director, in a statement.
Bray, who has called the U.S. war on terrorism a “war against Islam,” joined several other Muslims in October 2001 to pray in front of the State Department and denounce U.S. military action in Afghanistan.
One of the rally’s featured speakers is Brian Becker of the International A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition, an umbrella group tied to the World Workers Party, a Marxist organization that supports authoritarian regimes and communist dictatorships.
Muslims in the U.S. must reexamine their methods of activism, said Bray.
“We met with Clinton and Bush, we had tea with Hillary, but what have we brought back to the Muslim community other than pictures and press releases?” he said.
Bray added, “We must be willing to trust in Allah, intensify our dawah, make our voices heard in the streets, the ballot boxes, the cash registers and the courts, and only then will federal government officials be willing to sit down and deal with us in a serious manner. Short of that, the American Muslim leadership is fooling itself and the community.”
“Dawah” is commonly understood by Muslims as inviting others to Islam, or missionary work.
The Muslim American Society’s Sherifah Rafiq told WND that Bray was not referring to Muslim proselytizing but to the task of “not being afraid to explain who you are” to non-Muslims.
Rafiq, the group’s national outreach coordinator, said Muslim leaders at the Memorial Day weekend event will “give the Muslim community a chance to display sensitive logical speakers who represent the majority of us.”
Along with Bray, those speakers include Dr. Jamal Badawi, professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Siraj Wahhaj, imam of Masjid Al-Taqwa in Brookyn, New York.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj
Wahhaj is an advisory board member of the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations. He was named by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White in 1995, as one of the “unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments,” including the World Trade Center in 1993. Wahhaj, who has called for the U.S. government to be replaced with a Muslim caliphate, testified on behalf of Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman, who was convicted in the World Trade Center case.
Bray listed a number of grievances he says Muslims have against the Bush administration, including “the INS registration program for Muslim males and the mass arrests of those legally in the country, racial profiling by law enforcement agencies, the unreasonable closings of Islamic charities, the secret detention of hundreds of individuals, and the Bush administration’s courting of anti-Muslim extremists like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.”
Along with A.N.S.W.E.R., Bray said the NAACP, AFL-CIO, and ACLU have pledged support for the event, and entertainers Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover will be at the demonstration.
Belafonte and Glover criticized the U.S. during a trip to Havana, Cuba, in December. Belafonte said the Sept. 11 attacks enabled the U.S. “to extend its imperialist, economic and political domination all over the planet.”
Other speakers are the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Ibrahim Ramey, director of the Peace and Disarmament Program at the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a pacifist organization based in Nyack, N.Y.
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