Last week, I commented on the difficulties of quelling the radical Muslims who live in the US, UK, and other western nations and incite violence. While it is impossible to completely silence anyone in an open and free society, where freedom of speech and religion is paramount, being passive to the problem is not an option either. Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Society is at least making a step in the right direction by standing up and saying condemning attacks "is not enough." Mr. Bray makes note that the best way to counteract the radical elements of Islam is to use the resources of those Muslims who reject notions that violence is acceptable in any form.
As much as we condemn those who would incite violence and preach hate, we also need to support those who are willing to preach the opposite message.
Muslim groups target youths in anti-terror campaign
From Paul Courson
Monday, July 25, 2005; Posted: 11:13 p.m. EDT (03:13 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A coalition of U.S.-based Muslim groups launched an intensified anti-terrorism campaign Monday using community groups to persuade young people their religion provides no basis for violence.
The president of the Muslim American Society, Esam Omeish, told reporters at a news conference that his group rejects attacks such as those recently in Britain and Egypt, and will "deny terrorists any religious, ideological or political legitimacy."
He said the attacks bring the spotlight back to prevention, and that such efforts must go beyond surveillance and intelligence by law enforcement.
The Muslim groups said they would intensify an effort among community groups such as religious schools, youth centers and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America programs.
Responding to questions, Omeish and representatives of other organizations said they knew of no al Qaeda or Muslim terror groups in the United States.
"We know of no sleeper cells," Omeish said, attributing that in part to what he called the teaching of moderate, authentic Islam.
"What has protected our community far before 9/11 from extremism and violent ideology is that balanced mainstream advocacy of Islamic principles," Omeish said.
Imam Abu Malik-Johari, president of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations, condemned any killing motivated by anger or alienation.
"People who would go out and kill anyone, of any religion, from any country, of any age, for no reason other than the fact they are angry, isolated and upset is against God by whatever name you call," Johari said.
Johari, former Muslim chaplain of Howard University in Washington, told reporters he was at a mosque last weekend where he was approached by a young person who said someone had tried to "recruit" him.
He declined to identify the youth and did not say what the recruitment involved. He said he has never learned of any recruitment for al Qaeda in his community.
But using the case as an example of what the Muslim groups plan to do to pre-empt violence, Johari said he told the youth, "You need to alienate yourself from those people."
Johari said he told the young man: "They're saying to you that they're your friend, and that you'll be their confidant, when in reality, they're going to sell you out."
Some of those speaking at the news conference were critical of the Bush administration for not including Muslim leadership in counterterrorism activities, including efforts by law enforcement to keep tabs on Muslim groups in the United States.
"This Justice Department has engaged us from the back door, rather than the front door," said Imam Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Society.
"Rather than spending all their energies in terms of recruiting spies and snitchers, they need to spend more time and more energy engaging the authentic Muslim leadership" in the United States, Bray said.