I Speak and the World Listens to Me!
As I stated the other day in my 2006 New Year's Revolutions:
7.If Islam really is "a religion of peace," then the peace-loving mullahs of the world need to step up and say some thing,..NOW! If not, put or shut up!
Now comes this bit o' news:
One in an occasional series on the disparate forces shaping the world's second-largest religion.
A call for moderation sparks tension
"There is a civil war going on," says a U.S. Muslim critic of more established groups.
By Andrew Maykuth
Inquirer Staff Writer
PHOENIX - M. Zuhdi Jasser still gets worked up when he recalls what some Muslim Americans said after the 9/11 attacks.
"Their criticism of America was just unbelievable," said Jasser, an internist who describes himself as a pious Muslim.
Two years ago, Jasser and a few like-minded Muslims in Arizona founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. This Phoenix organization was one of the first created by Muslims to promote a tolerant form of Islam compatible with a secular, democratic nation. The leaders of the new organizations say the established national Islamic groups promote a political strain of Islam that creates sympathy for the extremists - a charge the national groups deny.
Daniel Pipes, executive director of Philadelphia's Middle East Forum and a foe of radical Islam, says the new voices are shifting the debate within the faith.
"I see the emergence of these new groups as vital to present an alternative view to Muslims," said Pipes, who last year helped create a think tank opposed to militant Islamists, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, in Washington.
But the new groups have gained some legitimacy. Their calls on Muslims to alienate terrorists have resonated particularly with non-Muslims. Jasser was invited to write a column for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix.
"Zuhdi seems to be that moderate Muslim voice that people have been waiting to hear," said Phil Boas, the Republic's assistant editorial-page editor.
The reformists are also getting the ear of Washington's leaders. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last spring named Kamal Nawash, president of the Washington-based Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism, to a delegation that attended an international conference in Spain on intolerance.
"We grew very quickly and were recognized by the administration," said Nawash, a lawyer.
Marwan Ahmad, publisher of the Muslim Voice newspaper in Phoenix, said Jasser was putting his allegiance to the dominant culture ahead of his faith. Last month, his newspaper printed a cartoon depicting Jasser as the Arizona Republic's attack dog, mauling other Muslims.
"Jasser is saying what they want to hear, and they publish it," he said.
Growing up in the United States, Jasser became a "Jeffersonian Muslim," a believer in a clear separation of religion and state. His belief in secularism - that the mosque should devote less time to politics and more to spiritual discussions about relationships with God - causes perhaps the greatest disagreement with the established Muslim groups.