On Oct. 24th, Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, shed light on “Islam in the West: Five years after 9/11.”
It was the Islamic world and the way it’s viewed by the western world in the CMU Ballroom amidst the controversy that hovered around accusations at CAIR for having links with a terror organization.
Rehab, an American-Muslim activist, joined CAIR in August 2004. Since then, he has been working on harnessing a better relationship between Muslims and Americans.
Though he was equally active prior to joining CAIR, he said Sept. 11 came as a calling that inspired him to advocate in this field, which also involves empowering the Muslim community.
Just before the speech, a man was seen distributing a seven-page article in the MSUM area titled “Hamas for Hipsters” by Joe Kaufman. It labeled CAIR as a terrorist organization.
When asked about its authenticity, Rehab said, “Kaufman, he is just an amateur blogger, he is not a journalist. If I start listening to such pieces, I won’t have a job. …So we don’t pay attention to such materials.
“We are working with professional, real journalists–we don’t focus on bloggers.”
Adding more, Becky Boyle Jones, assistant director of campus activities, the group that put on the event, said, “According to the FBI, they (CAIR) are not; I would go with the FBI than some random guy on the Internet.”
Rehab said, “The Muslim world is as diverse as the world itself.” He added ignorance is one of the main factors behind Americans’ line of thought regarding Muslims.
“American’s don’t hate Islam, they hate what they think Islam is,” he said.
Rehab said, “Mainstream media is not anti-Muslim.” He said the media is separated into two divisions: news reporting and news commentary.
“(With news reporting) you got to have citation and you more or less need facts. News reporting more or less depends on the theory of truth,” Rehab said.
Whereas news commentary, Rehab said, “has become more of an infotainment. …You can say whatever you want to say,” he said. “But that’s not the same media that the true reporters go through every day.”
During the speech, Rehab gave the Wall Street Journal’s survey as an example. Published in Aug. 24, 2005, by Bret Stephens and Joseph Rago, it concluded: “American’s Muslims tend to be role models both as Americans and as Muslims.”
This survey was based on the rate of crime, rate of paying taxes and the rate of following law.
Rehab said: “Within the news commentary industry, in a few main areas, there are the talking heads, the global talk shows on cable. … There are the radio stations, and then there are the blogs,” where one can find anti-Muslim bigotry. He said it is important to distinguish between these two.
“The majority of Americans are open to engage in dialogue. It’s only people like Kaufman, who try to sabotage dialogues, prevent people from knowing the truth,” he said.
Rehab added, “Dialogue shatters the mist that silence creates,” so dialogue bridges the gap between two communities.
Manandhar can be reached at email@example.com
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