Both public condemnations of terrorism and work within the Muslim community are necessary in these times. Many Americans still wonder why Muslims haven't condemned terrorism, and many American Muslims don't know what to do to demonstrate their interest in being part of the solution to the problem of extremism. Efforts to condemn terrorism are not merely public relations stunts; they are part of a genuine and far-reaching movement by American Muslims to ensure the security of their communities and their nation.
During the Pheonix event, for example, local Muslim leaders invited law enforcement officials, who expressed excitement about the progress of our National Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism. The cornerstone of the campaign focuses on teaching mosques, through illustrations of best-practices from mosques around the country, how to demonstrate their financial and ideological transparency. It also encourages local Muslim leaders reach out to law enforcement officials in order to demonstrate what we already know--that mainstream American Muslims have nothing to hide. The campaign has been endorsed by the largest Muslim umbrella organization in the U.S.--the Islamic Society of North America--and has also been lauded by the FBI and the Department of Justice.
Organizations like MPAC are deeply engaged in dialogue on the national level about combating terror. We are involved in meetings in Washington with counterterrorism officials, and we speak around the country to Muslim communities to raise awareness about our American Muslim identity. It is out of our Islamic obligation that we take our social responsibility as American citizens very seriously.
As Americans, it is our duty to ensure the security of our society. As Americans, it is our duty to ensure that hatred and violence are not promoted among our communities here. As Americans, we have our own voices and our own opinions. In the pursuit of security, however, we must be wary of alienating the very elements within the American Muslim community that we seek to galvanize and mobilize (or even reform). Filling space in the media with vented frustrations is not acceptable for those who claim to be leaders, especially while organizations that work at the grassroots level to develop effective counterterrorism programs and actively combat extremism continue to be undermined by skeptics and Muslim-bashers.
Islam teaches love, mercy, compassion, and justice, and those of us with the ability and opportunity to speak to the public should uphold these principles, especially when confronted by those who foment anti-American or anti-Islamic rhetoric. I love my country, America, and I love my faith, Islam. I want my children to have an opportunity to love both and not be forced to choose one over the other, as if they are mutually exclusive. The rhetoric of mutual exclusivity is the rhetoric of extremism. For the sake of all of our children, let's not fall into that trap.
The term "Islamo-Fascism," utilized by Dr. Jasser, is as interesting as it is vague. It is the latest example of too-often-used terms--such as Islamism, Islamist radical violent extremism, and radical Islamic fundamentalism--that do not aid in solving the problems they're intended to describe. There is so much time spent labeling, and yet each label is insufficient, failing to contribute to productive efforts to address the problems.