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Islamophobic Smears of ISNA Convention 2012 Rely on Deception and Hate

13 September 2012 Editorial 12 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

The ISNA Convention is one of the most important gatherings in the American Muslim calendar, so it is unsurprising that anti-Muslim activists focused on spreading misinformation and Islamophobia would target the convention with attacks and smears.

Well known hate groups, the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force (VAST) and the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) both claim to have jointly “monitored” the convention. These two organizations have been flagged by websites and organizations that monitor hate organizations, with the Southern Poverty Law Center labeling the TVC an “anti-Gay hate group.” It should also be noted that VAST is led by virulent anti-Muslim Islamophobe James Lafferty, an extremist who as RightWingWatch reported has gleefully bragged about how “proud” he was that “pickup trucks have been driven into Mosques in the South.”

In keeping with their long and repeated attacks on Muslim organizations, particularly ISNA they published an article that traveled across the Islamophobia echo chamber titled “ISNA Convention Offers Two Views of Islam–the Manufactured Public Persona and the Truth.” The title of the article itself indicates a predictable return to a favorite Islamophobic trope; the supposed “dual-nature” of Muslims.

The VAST and TVC smear campaign attempts to cast ISNA as a subversive organization based on their claimed monitoring of “several key briefings and presentations at the convention,” in other words they only went to a few presentations. Finding it difficult to scrounge up even the slightest crumbs of evidence to support their attacks on ISNA, VAST and TVC invent “evidence,” and sillily add “scary quote marks” to the titles of non-controversial panel discussions.

VAST and TVC first claim that some speakers at the convention criticized President Obama for “letting down Islam and not doing enough to advance its cause in America.” They provide no video or audio recording of such remarks but instead quote a speaker at one of the panels, CAIR president Nihad Awad pointing out that in today’s political climate Muslims are treated as “radioactive,”

“Even those who go to the White House and have a reception that’s great.  But their names are not published on the official list. Why?  Because Muslim money and votes are radioactive.”

Whatever you may think of the above quote there is no way to surmise that Awad is actually somehow claiming that Obama has let “Islam down” or isn’t “doing enough to advance its cause” in America. Such language is in fact eerily close to the type of rhetoric we hear from VAST and TVC’s anti-Muslim allies who routinely claim President Obama is a Muslim Brotherhood plant who has infiltrated the government.

The second claim that VAST and the TVC proffered as “truth” was that “a general rule established in many presentations was don’t talk to the FBI.” They attempted to buttress this point by highlighting that there was an ACLU lawyer on the panel, Mike German, as if that in itself is enough to render the ISNA convention too radical.

In reality, VAST and TVC contradict their own claim in the next sentence by pointing out that panelists actually encouraged convention attendees to talk to the FBI and other government agencies but to do so generally with “lawyers present.” This is a completely uncontroversial point, in fact it is a principle of American civil liberty that Islamophobes don’t seem to understand. American citizens whether Muslim or not have a right to the presence of an attorney. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez made this point quite sharply to Zuhdi Jasser during the Peter King hearings on “Homegrown terrorism,”

“The right to have an attorney present when speaking to law enforcement is a specific principle of American civil liberty,” Ms. Sanchez said sharply, adding, “So by what legal principle do you assert that any minority in America should waive that American principle?”

Next VAST and TVC try to pick on writer, ACLU board member, President of the Safe Nation Collaborative and immigration lawyer Rabia Chaudry who discussed the negative impact of the NYPD’s controversial spying on the Muslim community. That the NYPD spying program proved to be a disaster is an incontrovertible fact; it resulted in no actionable intelligenceno terror arrests, and led to an erosion of trust between the Muslim community and law enforcement, as well as a muddying of the civil liberties and the rights of all Americans.

The true import of the vilification of American Islam’s largest gathering is to divert attention from the true substance of the three-day long convention. The theme of the convention was “One Nation Under God: Striving for the Common Good,” only Islamophobes could twist such a theme into an insidious plot to take over the United States. The plethora of interfaith leaders, including Karen Armstrong, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Maureen Fiedler, Rabbi David Saperstein and others all participated in panel discussions and events. Maureen Fiedler wrote of her experience for the National Catholic Reporter, describing it as “enlightening,”

It was an enlightening evening, showing that American Islam is developing and moving in a distinctly American way.

The topics discussed during the convention related in one form or another to the maine theme, “One Nation Under God: Striving for the Common Good.” Family and the relationship between life and religion was discussed in panels such as “Raising the Next Generation,” “Nurturing the Mind and Soul, Revitalizing the Ummah [Muslim community],” and “Interweaving Religion and Life in a Moral Society.” One would think that such themes should resonate with those who espouse “family values.”

There was also much discussion about “social justice,” in the spheres of economics, politics, civil rights, and religious freedom. Panel discussions such as “Sacred Principles in Striving for the Common Good,” “Forming A More Perfect Union,” “Economic Growth and Justice as a Public Good, and “Honoring Human Dignity: Toward a Just Society” all targeted the issue of justice from various angles and perspectives with contributions from eminent scholars and activists from around the globe.

Events at the convention were not limited to panel discussions and seminars but covered a diverse array of programing, including a Bazaar, where various goods and products from across the United States were sold,

More than 400 vendors and businesses participate in the ISNA Bazaar consisting of more than 500 booths. Participants sell, promote, and market their products and services to a large customer base. Because the Convention represents the Muslim community inAmerica, this show also acts as a niche market for businesses. The Bazaar also provides an opportunity for businesses to communicate, understand, and cater to the needs of their customers.

The Art Exhibit at the convention was an opportunity for American Muslims to highlight their creativity and also bring their work to a wider audience,

ISNA organizes the “Art Exhibit” every year at its Annual Convention. This exhibit provides an excellent platform for participants, both professional as well as amateur, to showcase their work and form networks for further growth. The exhibit includes calligraphy, paintings, glass, ceramics, and other forms of art work.

Also a major part of the convention was the Matrimonial BanquetFilm Festival Quran Recitation competitionEntertainment and much more.

The attempted maligning of such a convention is par for the course when dealing with the Islamophobia Movement. They will do and say anything to fan the flames of hatred and suspicion of American Muslims, even if it means taking the largest gathering of Muslims in North America and twisting and stretching it into a meeting to “undermine” America.

Rational individuals who view the topics and themes of the convention, the program, the video footage, the academics, scholars, and entertainers participating will know that Ms. Fiedler is correct, the convention proves that Islam in the USA is “moving in a very American way.”

Instead of casting the convention as subversive, hate groups such as VAST and TVC have only validated the fact that the ISNA convention is a hallmark for rejuvenating the American Muslim community towards making America a stronger country, a country that is “one nation under God.”


  1. It’s too bad that I missed ISNA this year, went to the last one and it was a lot of fun. The Islamophobes are desperately pimping their xenophobic delusions to the rest of the populace hoping that they will drive the Muslims out of the west and nuke them like Eric Allen Bell calls for in recent weeks… The beauty of Islam is that it fits into any culture/society that it comes into contact with, there is a distinctly American Islam, and it is here to stay!

  2. Moral Society? Everybody knows what muslims mean when they say moral society, they have that perfect islamic state in mind that never existed and never will.

    Interweaving religion and life? Everyone knows what muslims mean when they say that too.

    Only when it wallops them personally – when precious child or sweet self is accused of blasphemy or shot out of hand will it dawn on them that it is a mistake to mix Caesar and God.

    i would say truth, justice and the Islamic way are trumped by muslim tribalism. Islamic morality becomes a winding sheet for women and an attack permit for men.

  3. Few years ago a muslim on said that Islam as practiced today is Mohammad centered Arab imperialism.

  4. The only hate here is coming from the Muslim groups who cry “Islamophobia” when someone criticizes their suicide bomber friends. ISNA is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood. THe SPLC is a hate group because they hate Christians, Jews, military veterans, and critics of radical Islam.

  5. “Islamophobia” is a term often used to cast aspersions on the person offering a reasonable criticism of Islam and any other facet of the religion or its believers. The term would be rightly defined as a fear of Islam. This is not the same thing as hating all Muslims…..Criticizing Islam is not racism.Islam has nothing at all to do with genetics. It is an ideology – a set of beliefs about individual behavior and the rules of society.Neither are Muslims a race of people. In fact, there are Muslims of all races. So, if Muslims are a race, Islam would not only be a racist ideology, but arguably the most hateful and destructive in history. Islam is an ideology that should be open to critical examination.While it’s clearly stated that Islam is not a race, anyone that questions Islam or anything else the Left promotes is called a racist. This is used to silence discussion on important issues. Nobody wants to be considered racist. The Jihadis use this fact as a weapon.So we need to carefully and effectively explain to everyone why criticism of Islam is quite different from hate speech, Islamophobia, or racism. Make this distinction clearly and persuasively. People need to hear about Islam, but as long as they have this barrier to their listening, you can’t get through.Islamophobes include: Hindus, Christians, and Jews who don’t want to be forced into a political system that treats them as third-class citizens.Homosexuals who don’t want to be beaten to death.Intellectuals who value freedom of conscience and public dissent.Females who want to keep their clitoris. Muslims who would like the freedom to leave Islam. ….Wilders, a notorious anti-Muslim activist who once called Islam “the ideology of a retarded culture. Is it not true that jihad terrorists around the world point to passages from the Qur’an and Hadith to justify their terrorism? A fear of terrorism is reasonable in today’s world. The fear of an ideology does not make one a racist. If this were so, anyone who feared Republicans or liberals would be a racist.The term “Islamophobia” is being used to suppress all criticism of Islam whether the criticism is right or wrong.You can say Christians are war mongers, racists, hypocrites, thieves, and a danger to our country. You can say these things and no one will call you a racist or “Christianophobe.” Our leaders have failed to answer the question, “What does a civilization do when a minority culture is not satisfied with simply being accepted, but demands that their culture legally dominate the civilization even while they remain radical separatists?”We are living in the middle of a global jihad.All human beings have equal value, but all cultures are not equal.The purpose of the word “Islamophobia” is to place restrictions on free speech. It is being used to blackmail our culture.

  6. Truly whatever is in the hearts of people will always appear on the tongues of men. You 2 people are truly a product of the paranoid mentality that runs in the fabric of “some” Americans. I pity your narrow, uneducated little angry minds that you are living with and wish for a better future filled with knowledge and understanding.
    This can only come from “GOD” and I pray the you are guided to reality one day and not left to the miserable world you live in now..anon and rocky.

  7. Actually a lot of people no longer care whether they are called racist or not, the term has been so overused to beat only white people over the head, while everyone else is allowed to be as racist as they wish.

    It’s not working anymore. Some people laugh off the label Nazi, too. Raus!

    People who have been an oppressive majority elsewhere – muslims, latinos – are apt to want to recreate the same dominance in their new surroundings. They are thus unpopular with the host country.

  8. Joey JoJo Shabadu,

    “The beauty of Islam is that it fits into any culture/society that it comes into contact with” so you have no problem with freedom of speech? you support the film makers right to make his film? you support the right to burn the koran, desecrate the koran, insult the prophet? cool.

    “there is a distinctly American Islam, and it is here to stay!” so why does there have to be a distinctly american islam, if the beauty of islam is that it fits into any culture?


    “Truly whatever is in the hearts of people will always appear on the tongues of men.” not always. some are very good at hiding their true intentions.
    “You 2 people are truly a product of the paranoid mentality that runs in the fabric of “some” Americans. I pity your narrow, uneducated little angry minds that you are living with and wish for a better future filled with knowledge and understanding.”

    paranoidmentalitypitynarrowuneducatedlittleangryminds. your comments are so lacking of any logic you are truely scary. you are clearly a devout muslim. talk about paranoidmentalitypitynarrowuneducatedlittleangryminds
    Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57:

    Narrated ‘Ikrima:

    Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’”

    “This can only come from “GOD” and I pray the you are guided to reality one day and not left to the miserable world you live in now…” fuck your god, hopefully you will blow yourself up one day, in fullfilment of your craziness. please exist this world as quickly as you can. there is a paradise awaiting you. go embrace it. jk. but really, your comments are so rediculous i just can’t help it.


  10. It is good that the MB and other islamist parties are now out in the open and participating in the political process. Now they are no longer pipe dreams in a basement, they have to deliver.

    If all they can produce is fashion gangs and minority bashing, they will have a problem.

    A prize photo in NatGeo contest was of an afghan woman in a yurt stuffed with electronic info gadgets. More than in my yurt, certainly. Recently I saw a reporter present a mic to a little african lady in a red and yellow shift and she piped right up like she was gov. of Arizona.

    Perhaps humans, even female humans, will increase in value in some of these places.

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