Wednesday, August 03, 2005

CAIR's Anti-Terror PSA...or is it Anti-Violence...

Been meaning too post this for a few days. Since the PSA was released. But now, with the recent "Terrorism Defense" mounted by a London Non-Bomber, it is even more urgent.

> U.S. MUSLIM RELIGIOUS COUNCIL TO ISSUE FATWA AGAINST TERROR
> CAIR to release English, Arabic, Urdu radio versions of anti-terror PSA

>

> (WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/27/05) - On Thursday, July 28, the Council on

> American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will hold a news conference at the

> National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to release a fatwa (Islamic

> religious ruling) against terrorism and extremism. The fatwa is being issued

> by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) and endorsed by major U.S.

> Muslim groups.

>

> Representatives of the Fiqh Council, an association of Islamic legal

> scholars that interprets Muslim religious law, and leaders of several
> leading American Muslim organizations will take part in the news conference.

> (The term "fiqh" refers to Islamic jurisprudence.)

>

> WHAT: Release of Fatwa Against Terror and Extremism/Release of CAIR Radio

> Anti-Terror PSA

> WHEN: Thursday, July 28, 10:30 a.m.

> WHERE: National Press Club (13th Floor), Murrow Room, 529 14th Street NW,

> Washington, D.C.

> CONTACT: CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or

> 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair-net.org

>

> At Thursday's news conference, CAIR will also release radio versions of its

> 30-second "Not in the Name of Islam" television public service announcement

> (PSA) in English, Arabic and Urdu. The PSA campaign ties into CAIR's "Not in

> the Name of Islam" online petition drive designed to disassociate the faith

> of Islam from the violent acts of a few Muslims. To view the television PSA,

> go to: http://www.cair-net.org/video/psa.ram

>

> CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and

> chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the

> understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower

> American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual

> understanding. To read CAIR's Mission, Vision Statement and Core Principles,

> go to: http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page=About

> - END -
>

> CONTACT: Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:

> ihooper@cair-net.org; Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail:

> rahmed@cair-net.org


Okay, let me try to say this as clearly as I can. I know there might be consequences, but staying silent or beating about the bush is not an option. I have been trying to get the text of the Fatwa issued in Britain a week or two ago, because I thought I saw the same problem there that I see here.

I find it very vexing that this ad (which I watched online) uses "violence" and "terrorism" almost as synonyms. The ad ends with
"Islam is not about hate and violence; Islam is about peace and justice."
Am I to understand that Islam is pacifist in all circumstances? Does it say not to take arms in the face of violent oppression and aggression? Does an ad that implies that have much hope of being taken seriously—or will it inevitably be dismissed as apologist eyewash?

I write this not to endorse terrorism--but to point out that terrorism is a more specific issue than "violence"; that Islam makes a distinction between honourable striving for a just cause (aka jihad) and the use of morally, ethically, and legally reprehensible tactics, even when used in a just cause.

I write this to point that a knee-jerk, not very-well-thought-out statement that oversimplifies an issue is bound, in the final reckoning, not to be useful either in countering the propaganda of those who want to tar the community as following an evil faith; or in convincing young, impressionable Muslim minds (if that is an aim to begin with) that Islam is a faith that can engage with the 21st century's issues without the necessity of resorting to terrorism.

I write this because I have great respect for what CAIR has done in a lot of cases, and CAIR doing good work and making a positive contribution to this discussion is what I would really love to have happen—but in this case I disagree that this is a positive contribution.

Wallahu Aalam, as we Muslims say; only a Supreme All-Encompassing Deity can have full, or real, knowledge, the rest of us are just blind folk trying to feel up the Cosmic Elephant.

[...and the "Fatwa" by the Fiqh Council does not say, by the way. Which makes it a bit suspect in terms of being a formal, real Fatwa...but more on that later. Though one has to note that the Fiqh Council Fatwa does a better job of not conflating "terrorism" with "violence".]
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