Islamic Group Has Mastered Victimization Game, Critic Says
By Randy Hall
CNSNews.com Staff Writer/Editor
December 22, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - The Republican lawmaker who sparked a storm with comments about Muslims and the need to tighten immigration laws is the latest target of an Islamic advocacy group's "victimization game," a political analyst said Thursday.
It's a game that the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has "mastered," Daniel Pipes, a critic of the group and director of the Middle East Forum, told Cybercast News Service.
CAIR is calling on Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) to apologize for writing in a letter to constituents that says, "we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt" strict immigration policies.
Pipes said CAIR was "perpetually on the prowl for any incidence of anti-Muslim sentiment, real or imaginary, spontaneous or provoked, major or minor."
The organization's goal, he said, was "to make the United States like so many other countries - a place where Muslims, Islam and Islamism cannot be freely discussed."
"It is imperative for Americans to retain their freedom of speech about Islam -- as it exists in relation to other religions -- and resist these many demands for remorse."
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said Thursday the organization had "a long history of disagreement" with Pipes.
"He's free to have a hostile view towards the American Muslim community," Hooper told Cybercast News Service.
"He's free to say, as he did to the American Jewish Congress on Oct. 21, 2001, that the growth and enfranchisement of American Muslims is a threat to this country. He's free to do all these things, and we're free to defend against defamatory attacks on our faith and community."
In his Oct. 2001 address, Pipes said: "I worry very much, from the Jewish point of view, that the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims, because they are so much led by an Islamist leadership, that this will present true dangers to American Jews."
Amplifying later, Pipes said: "You must note that this was spoken to a Jewish audience. I make the same point respectively to audiences of women, gays, civil libertarians, Hindus, Evangelical Christians, atheists, and scholars of Islam, among others, all of whom face 'true dangers' as the number of Muslims increases."
The latest CAIR controversy began when Rep. Goode wrote a letter in response to a constituent's concern about reports that Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, may take the oath of office with his hand on the Koran rather than the Bible.
"When I raise my hand to take the oath on swearing-in day, I will have the Bible in my other hand," Goode wrote. "I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way.
"The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district, and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration, there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran," he said.
"I fear that in the next century, we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped," Goode wrote.
According to Goode spokesman Linwood Duncan, the letter was sent in error to the chairman of a Sierra Club group in central Virginia, who had written to Goode about environmental issues. The Sierra Club member then made the letter public.
The national legislative director of CAIR, Corey Saylor, called the remarks "Islamophobic" and said they "send a message of intolerance that is unworthy of anyone elected to public office."
The call for an apology from isn't the first time CAIR has pressed for action regarding the Ellison issue. When radio talk show host Dennis Prager wrote in a commentary last month that the Minnesota Democrat should not be allowed to take the oath of office using a copy of the Koran, CAIR called for Prager to be removed from the governing council of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
"No one who holds such bigoted, intolerant and divisive views should be in a policymaking position at a taxpayer-funded institution," it said of Prager.
Despite the Muslim group's letters to the museum's council chairman, Fred Zeidman, to President Bush and to members of Congress who serve on the museum board, Prager remains on the council, although the museum's board did vote Thursday to distance itself from his remarks.
Prager told Cybercast News Service he did not understand how such activities fit CAIR's mission "to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding."
"I don't believe it's a moral organization," Prager said of CAIR. "It says it represents Muslims, but it has caused more friction than love between Muslims and non-Muslims. It seeks to find Islamophobia among the American people, the most tolerant, open people in the world."
CAIR has sought apologies and other specific actions from several individuals and organizations during 2006, with mixed results.
Earlier this month, the group called on Wal-Mart to stop selling the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game because it promoted a message of "religious intolerance." The nation's largest retailer is still selling the product.
In October, CAIR complained to KDWB-FM in Minnesota after the radio station broadcast a segment entitled "Muslim Jeopardy" that had such contest categories as "Infamous Infidels" and "Smells Like a Shia." After the station managers apologized for the skit, the group thanked them for "reacting positively" to the situation.
Ken Murray, the mayor of Redding, Calif., drew the organization's wrath in September, when he told an audience attending a 9/11 commemoration ceremony: "Either the Judeo-Christian philosophy will survive, or the Islamic philosophy will survive." CAIR called on Californians to repudiate Murray's comments.
The group succeeded in March in having a four-minute video entitled "Hadji Girl" pulled from the youtube.com website.
It also received an apology in February from Bill Handel of KFI-AM after the California talk show host made what it called "insensitive remarks" about a human stampede that killed more than 300 people during a pilgrimage in Mecca.
CAIR has also targeted President Bush several times during the past 12 months. In January, the group warned him to avoid using "loaded and imprecise terminology" when referring to Islam in his State of the Union address.
In August, the group criticized Bush for saying America was "at war with Islamic fascists" after U.K. authorities arrested 24 British Muslims suspected of plotting to bomb transatlantic flights. CAIR said the president's "hot button" terminology put the name of Islam and the Muslim community at risk.
One month later, Bush told a group of military officers that five years after the 9/11 attacks, "the terrorist danger remains." CAIR said that by focusing on al Qaeda, the president granted "undeserved legitimacy to extremists."