Monday, April 16, 2007

The Incredible Persistence of a Proven Lie

By Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey
MAS Freedom Civil and Human Rights Director

Yet Another Unprincipled Attack on the Muslim American Society and our President, Dr. Esam Omeish

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MASNET) April 16, 2007 - When Dr. Esam Omeish, the President of the Muslim American Society, spoke at the mass rally against the U.S. war in Iraq on March 17th March, he put his remarks in the context of a patriotic response to a war that he, and MAS, both believe to be unjust and illegal. He called for an end to the war and the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq.

More than 30,000 demonstrators that day, and a majority of the population of the United States, apparently agree with him.

Dr. Omeish, for the record, is a highly acclaimed surgeon and activist for justice and community service. He is also a naturalized American citizen, an honors graduate of Georgetown University and the Georgetown Medical School, and a man who has devoted his professional time and resources selflessly to both Muslims and his non-Muslim neighbors. In fact, he was one of the doctors who offered treatment to the casualties of the September 11th, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.

Yet Dr. Omeish, according to a diatribe written by Paul Sperry for on April 9th, is nothing more than a closeted terror supporter in league with Al-Queda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and assorted other domestic and international individuals and organizations whom the writer claims to be agents of violence directed against the United States and the West.

To quote the late African American singer Marvin Gaye, it’s enough to make you want to holler and throw up both your hands.

It’s no secret that Muslim activist organizations have numerous detractors, especially on the political right, who are never reluctant to express their disdain, and even hatred, for Muslims and the religion of Islam. That comes with the territory of simply being who we are, regardless of our ideological professions or actual deeds, in a national atmosphere polluted with both Islamophobia and racism.

But the often-repeated slur that MAS (and many of our associates) are fronting for “Jihadists” or other violent opponents of the United States has become, once again, the central, and provocative, untruth upon which many of our opponents base their excoriations.

Never mind that Dr. Omeish is, quite openly and publicly, both a respected physician and a man celebrated for both his professional brilliance and his commitment to humanity. Never mind that the Muslim American Society (and the MAS Freedom Foundation) are both above-board, transparent, and certified tax-exempt organizations doing charitable and service work throughout the United States and the world. Never mind that, as an example of our “extremism”, we have organized food drives, Boy and Girl Scout troops, provided emergency relief for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and registered thousands of Muslim voters.

All that matters for the opponents of MAS, and Muslim haters, is the baseless claim that we are simply associated with the “terrorist” Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt (with whom, by the way, the Democratic House Majority leader met last week on an official congressional delegation to the Middle East), and a laundry list of many others on the hit list of the U.S. security agencies.

No “proof” of our guilt is necessary for them, of course. All that is required is for them to say that “terrorist X met with suspect Y in the vicinity of of Masjid Z, which is in the same town as the MAS office and the home of Dr. Esam Omeish. And presto! The Muslim American Society is transmogrified, by specious association, into a violent organization fronting for the “Death to America” crowd.

MAS has stated, repeatedly, that we oppose all forms of violence and extremism, including violence committed in the name of our faith. And we are an indigenous Muslim American movement, with organized chapters in 35 states. We take no marching orders or directives from anyone outside the country, despite the international scope of our concerns and our work.

But we are also quite open in our support for the democratic right of Muslim citizens to organize, politically empower ourselves, and speak out against any and all forms of injustice, racism, and violence committed in the name of the people of the United States. And we are, indeed, part of the American people.

In a democratic society, or at least one professing democratic principles, freedom of the press is a sacred right. We support that right, even for those who vehemently disagree with us, or who even oppose the religion of Islam.

But we will not be silent when confronted with blatant lies, distortions, and false claims about unproven linkages between the Muslim American Society, or our leaders, and other opponents of the policies of the United States.

MAS welcomes open and honest discourse with our detractors about our faith, our works, and our organizational vision. Such a discourse, we believe, is in the best tradition of American democracy. Our participation in numerous national and global interfaith (and trans-political) dialogues underscores this commitment. We are quite prepared to discuss, with anyone, both who we are and who we are not.

But we also believe that there is a critical difference between the expression of free speech and honest disagreement, on one hand, and vicious, unsupported slander on the other.

Mr. Don Imus learned that painful lesson last week. And we pray that Allah (Most Exalted and Glorified), who is the Knower of all Truth, will help Mr. Paul Sperry and to learn this important lesson as well.