Friday, March 9, 2007

Anti-Islam Summit

Shame on CNN - Shame on Beck

by Mike Ghouse

DALLAS - As a Muslim fighting for reform within our Muslim world, I watched the Secular Islam Summit, aired earlier this week on CNN Headline News'Glenn Beck show, with great anticipation. I believe in religious pluralism and the separation of mosque and state. I know Muslims need to speak upagainst Islamic extremism.

But that's not what we got with the "Secular Islam Summit," held atthe Hilton Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. The summit was supposed to beabout Islam, yet there was hardly a Muslim at the podium. With the exceptionof two panelists - Hassan Mahmud, director of sharia law at the MuslimCanadian Congress and author Irshad Manji who believes the Qur'an is thebasis for being a Muslim - the summit was filled with Islam bashers, some ofthem ex-Muslims. The event should have been called the Anti-Islam Summit.It's a shame CNN and Beck got suckered into giving so much air time to thisfraudulent gathering of Islam bashers.

The summit was just an attempt by extremists of another persuasion -hatred to Islam - who want to destroy Islam. Whether it was former Muslim"Ibn Warraq" with his book title, "Why I am Not a Muslim," or BanafshehZand-Bonazzi, a political and human rights activist, the theme was the same:They want one-fifth of humanity to disappear. At this "landmark SecularIslam Summit," there were no "moderate" Muslims.

The intent of the conference was bad from the start. Due to thisfact, mainstream Muslims, including progressive Muslims, chose not toparticipate in the conference. Days before the summit, I talked with leadersof groups challenging conservative interpretations of Islam, includingRadwan Masmoudi, president of Islam for Democracy, an organization based inWashington, D.C. We decided not to attend the meeting. None of us wanted tobecome tools in the hands of the anti-Islam extremists. The need to berepresented in the summit became less important than speaking out againstthe intent of the summit, which was Islam bashing.

In explaining his decision, Masmoudi told me, "The need for a new,progressive and modern interpretation of Islam for the 21st century is realand undeniable, as is the need for real reforms and democratization inMuslim societies. However, for that reinterpretation and reform to occur,the effort must be led by Muslims who are proud of their heritage, religionand culture and who are credible within their community. The people whoattended the 'Secular Islam Conference' are neither, and that is why thisconference was a complete waste of time and money, except perhaps to providesome anti-Islamic voices a podium from which to speak."

The speakers present were Islam haters such as Wafa Sultan, aSyrian-American who achieved notoriety when she slammed Islam on Al-Jazeeralast year. The Syrian-American Sultan was filled with rage and hatred forMuslims and Islam, even going so far as to declare, "You cannot be Americanand Muslim at the same time," an obviously false notion in a nation where aMuslim now sits in Congress.

If the intent was honest, at least half of the speakers would havebeen Muslims. The integrity of the organizers and the intent of the summitare questionable, and, indeed, downright dishonest. In its coverage, the St.Petersburg Times appropriately gave time to those who looked at the meetingwith a skeptical eye, noting that Georgetown University scholar YvonneHaddad said, "Legitimate scholars are horrified by the lineup. The speakersare extreme in their views. Basically, it's everyone known for damningIslam."

In contrast, CNN's Beck paraded these personalities on TV as if they carriedweight in the Muslim world. CNN and Beck were had. In an hour-long report,Beck featured the supposed dangers the organizers faced. A woman who calledherself "Raquel Saraswati" claimed she was a practicing Muslim and expressedfears about being No. 4 on a list of Muslims ashamed of being a Muslimbecause she used to model.

As Ahmed Bedier, an official of the Council on American IslamicRelations in Florida, said: These were folks who are "cashing and bashing."I have differences with CAIR on some points, but he was in tune with mostMuslims opinion about the summit.

Beck brought Manda Zand Ervin, founder and president of Alliance ofIranian Women, a group which describes itself as a human rightsorganization, on camera, and she went so far as to say that Muslims want aglobal caliphate in which we will throw Christians and Jews into the sea.I'm a Muslim. I do not want a global caliphate. And I absolutely do not wantto throw Christians and Jews into the sea. Beck failed to ask her toughquestions to find about the not so hidden agenda that appears to motivateher and so many others at this supposed Muslim gathering: fear mongering.

Shame on CNN.

Shame on Beck.

Mike Ghouse is a home builder and activist based in Dallas. He is presidentof the Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress, organizationsdedicated to peaceful co-existence. He can be reached


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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.