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June 10, 2005
Islamists Infiltrate Oakland Tribune?

Little Green Footballs has a breaking story this morning related to the arrests of alleged members of an Islamist terror cell in Lodi, California earlier this week. Today's Oakland Tribune runs a typical celebration-of-multiculturalism article that inevitably accompanies such arrests in American cities. Entitled "Area Mosques Should Not Engender Fear", Tribune staff writer Sajid Farooq explains why mosques present no danger to American communities:

After at least five Lodi men, including two imams, were detained by the FBI, the makeup of community mosques falls under the curious eye of the public.

But despite suspicions and fears of backlash, several members of the Bay Area Muslim community said mosques though sometimes isolated from the communities they are in are not strange places to be feared.

Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in Near Eastern studies and ethnic studies with a specialty in Islamic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said there is no single way American mosques are run. Some are only used for five daily congressional prayers, while others double as community centers, and some run full-time schools in addition to religious services. ...

Often, the immigrant mosques are more internally focused and less known in the community because they are more concerned with preserving native languages and culture than working with interfaith groups, for example. But Bazian said there are affluent immigrant communities that do a better job of getting to know their neighbors, such as the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara, the Bay Area's largest mosque.

I agree with this assessment, to a point. Mosques in and of themselves present no more of a danger than a Mormon temple or a Christian church. That's because the buildings themselves have a neutral effect on the community. The danger comes when radical and violent people preach at any of these examples and attempt to use the mosque, church, or temple as a building block for terrorist activity. That allegedly is the case in Lodi.

In fact, Farooq selects an odd source to quote in his quest to soothe the Tribune's readership. Hatem Bazian, it turns out, does not always speak with such deference to America and the cause of peaceful and ecumenical co-existence. Bazian, a lecturer at nearby UC Berkeley, led a rally in April 2004 with the exhortation to start an intifada in America to match the one in the West Bank and Gaza Strip:

Are you angry? [Yeah!] Are you angry? [Yeah!] Are you angry? [Yeah!] Well, weve been watching intifada in Palestine, weve been watching an uprising in Iraq, and the question is that what are we doing? How come we dont have an intifada in this country? Because it seem[s] to me, that we are comfortable in where we are, watching CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox, and all these mainstream... giving us a window to the world while the world is being managed from Washington, from New York, from every other place in here in San Francisco: Chevron, Bechtel, [Carlyle?] Group, Halliburton; every one of those lying, cheating, stealing, deceiving individuals are in our country and were sitting here and watching the world pass by, people being bombed, and its about time that we have an intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here. And we know every Theyre gonna say some Palestinian being too radical well, you havent seen radicalism yet!

Does that sound like a proponent of ecumenical peace, or the kind of source that gives one comfort when asserting that mosques hold no danger to America? If not, then perhaps the next question is why Farooq decided to interview Bazian for this article. If the Oakland Tribune had checked into the extra-curricular activities of its staff writer, it would have discovered that Sajid Farooq used to organize Muslim rallies at UC Berkeley:

For attendees of Saturday's Generation M conference, this was no accidental symbolismthe all-day gathering put a new face on a religion for young people who have grown more accustomed to Tupac Shakur than the "Adhan," the Muslim call to prayer.

The first of its kind in Berkeley, the event mixed lectures, readings from the Quran and socially conscious rap.

Several hundred students dressed in both traditional Islamic wear, Timberland shoes and Fat Albert T-shirts attended workshops titled "Muslim Sellouts" and "Muslim Youth: Vanguard of the Islamic Revival." ...

First held in Ottawa, Canada in the 1980s, the event was created to fend off stereotypes that Muslim youth were spiritually and politically apathetic, said organizer Sajid Farooq.

Perhaps the Oakland Tribune may want to rethink its assignment of Farooq to the multicultural beat, especially when Farooq engages in a bit of sophistry to transform a radical professor who calls for violent means of change in America as a voice of reason and peace. The Tribune's readers should certainly know this whenever they read anything about the peaceful nature of the Muslim community with Farooq's byline attached.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 10, 2005 12:29 PM

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