How American Muslims are reacting to Koran burning threat
For American Muslims – already in the eye of a political storm over the proposed mosque near ground zero in New York – a Florida pastor's Koran burning threat is seen as a teachable moment crucial to how the US public views Muslims and Islam.
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CAIR's Awad will be going to Gainesville Friday to give the sermon for the end of Ramadan. He will also hold a news conference there on Saturday following any Koran burnings.Skip to next paragraph
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The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has issued a “precaution advisory” to members of the Arab, Muslim, South Asian, and Sikh-American communities advising places of worship to have an emergency plan, listing FBI field offices, and urging parents to report incidents of bullying or harassment at schools.
CAIR recently issued an online “Teachable Moment Community Response Guide” designed “for representing Islam and Muslims to your local community in the media and to successfully respond to current challenges and other possible incidents against our community.”
“We as a community must use this trying time as a perfect opportunity to tell our own story,” the guide states. “By being proactive, we make it easier for our friends and allies from other faiths to stand with us, as they have already shown they will.”
'Islam under attack'?
In New York, the imam in charge of the Islamic center two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center says he might not have chosen that location if he'd known what trouble it would cause but that to change now would play into the hands of Islamic radicals.
"If we move from that location, the story will be the radicals have taken over the discourse," Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told CNN's Soledad O'Brien on "Larry King Live" Wednesday night. "The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack."
Asked whether he would consider moving the site, Imam Rauf said that "nothing is off the table.”
“We are consulting, talking to various people about how to do this so that we negotiate the best and safest option,” he said.
Controversies over the Koran burning and the mosque near ground zero come as another story focuses on Muslims in the US.
In Eugene, Ore., a federal jury is deciding whether a man's failure to disclose $150,000 on federal tax forms was an effort to smuggle money to Muslim fighters in Chechnya or just an oversight by an accountant, the Associated Press reports.
Prosecutors allege that Pete Seda was a Muslim radical with ties to groups that smuggled cash to the mujahideen in Chechnya. His attorneys portrayed the Ashland, Ore., man – an arborist and immigrant from Iran who had lived in the US for more than 30 years and been a US citizen for 16 years – as a pillar of the community who stood for moderate Islamic principles.
Mr. Seda, also known as Pirouz Sedaghaty, has pleaded not guilty to a count of conspiracy to defraud the US government and a count of filing a false return with the IRS. Although Seda was the head of the US chapter of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc., which has been declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, he is not charged with terrorism.