This rebuttal letter to CAIR appeared July 20 in the Los Angeles Times

al-salamu 'alaykum. First, and foremost, I want to thank you for setting an example, for all of us, of respectful and honorable civil discourse. Your civility and grace has touched me deeply, and given me much to think about.

I do appreciate the important role that CAIR has been playing in informing the public about Islam, and I do appreciate your public stance against those who attempt to defile our religion. May Allah, reward you, and aid you. Lately, I confess to you that I have become extremely concerned about several distinct developments, which have compelled me to write two recent op-eds, one in the NY Times and the other in the LA Times. As you know, op-eds offer a very limited vehicle for expression, and those limitations have prevented me from adequately expressing various concerns in my most recent articles. Although I have made arrangements for further op-eds to appear in the Washington Post and NY Times, you have made a civil gesture in opening the avenues for discourse, and I wanted to honor this gesture, and pay my respects. I am writing to express to you various ideas and thoughts, and to encourage you to give me your input, which most certainly, will affect my future writings and interviews in various public forums. The points I make below explain the intellectual background to what I have written recently, and also what I plan to write in the near future:

1. As a lawyer and academic, I am extremely concerned about the systematic undermining of Muslim civil liberties in this country. I have been following the cases of the Holy Land Foundation, and others, as well as the cases of the many detainees. I have been following the near evangelical fanaticism of our current administration, which is clearly reflected in its foreign policies and domestic legislation. I have also been monitoring the involvement of people like Emerson and Pipes in fueling and perpetuating this continuing persecution.

2. In addition, I have been extremely concerned with the massive influx of Islam-bashing books, and the high sales these books are achieving. These books are sinister, but, unfortunately, effective. They have now flooded all the major bookstores, and I am told by acquaintances in the book publishing industry that books of this nature are extremely popular nowadays. All major publishing companies have either published such books, or plan to do so because of the profits that they achieve. ...

3. This is a serious problem because the influx of hate-tracts written against Islam, and published and disseminated by influential mainstream publishers, feed the type of governmental policies that persecute many Muslims. We seem to fail to understand that a hundred works published by a relatively small Muslim press is not as effective in shaping public opinion and influencing public policy as a single book published by [a major publisher], for instance.

4. As someone who had the occasion to speak to mainstream media agencies, I have become extremely concerned by public perception that Muslims have not adequately responded to the 9/11 attacks. I am happy to send you copies of correspondence by average Americans asking me where is the Muslim response? Before I wrote my op-ed, I did a search on articles written in the mainstream media, and found that there were numerous articles written by various commentators complaining about the Muslim response. I also found that many commentators happily cited Muslims, such as Muqtader Khan and Hamza Yusuf, commending them for their efforts after 9/11 and also expressed the wish that there were more Muslim voices such as this.

As an academic, I fear that the literature and governmental policies of the Islam-haters are finding a receptive audience because of the popular conception that we Muslims have not done enough. Before writing my op-ed, I also did research on the statements issued by various Muslim organizations. What I found missing is what might be called a proportional public relations campaign. Certainly, a Muslim American campaign existed, but, in my view, it was not proportional to gravity of events and accusations leveled against us. When someone threatens you with a tank, you cannot respond with a handgun. We needed to respond with a concerted, systematic, unified, and unrelenting effort, considering the stakes and dangers to our religion.

5. It is quite possible that I have become an isolated academic living in his proverbial tower of tenure security, and unaware of the facts on the ground. But keep in mind that academics are the ones who write history, and, as such, they are also the ones who construct reality for future generations. Your voice, as activists, must break through the barriers of isolation, if such barriers do in fact exist, and breach the proverbial tower. For the sake of our religion, you must convince the writers of history, and not just other activists.

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