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Questioning Muslims' Attitudes Toward Terror

July 17, 2002

Khaled Abou El Fadl unfortunately contradicts himself when one compares his July 14 and Sept. 14 commentaries ("U.S. Muslims, Unify and Stand Up" and "What Became of Tolerance in Islam?"). On Sept. 14 he wrote, "Muslim and Arab organizations have rushed to issue condemnations of terrorism and hate-motivated violence," while on July 14 he suggested that such condemnations were sporadic following Sept. 11. Condemnations were abundant, as anyone who followed the media back then would know.

I am not sure why Abou El Fadl, whom I admire and respect, would make such an accusation against Muslim organizations that could be legitimately criticized in many other ways. Criticizing Muslim groups for not distributing bumper stickers with his pet slogan is silly.

Ahmed Shaikh

Encino

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Abou El Fadl's words were welcome, in that he acknowledged the Muslim community's responsibility to completely distance itself from terrorism. However, there is one fatal flaw in his essay: He not once condemned or even mentioned suicide attacks against innocent Israelis. His words thus breathe life into the belief shared by many in the Muslim world that there are "good terrorists" and bad ones. His essay is, therefore, as fruitless as the half-measures taken by the Muslim community that he condemns.

Jeremy Margols

West Los Angeles

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As someone who grew up with Abou El Fadl, I was devastated to read his article. Abou El Fadl has fallen into the simplistic trap of Muslim-bashing.

As a member of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, I am personally aware of dozens of events commemorating the victims of 9/11, as well as condemnations issued by American Muslim organizations and leaders. The problem is not silence by American Muslims; the problem is the deaf ears of the media. I can list several events sponsored by American Muslim organizations where the media failed to provide any coverage whatsoever.

Furthermore, the three suggestions made by Abou El Fadl were implemented months ago by Muslim groups including the Muslim Public Affairs Council. A unified statement was issued by all major American Muslim organizations on 9/11, as this was the day American Muslim leaders were scheduled to meet with President Bush (a meeting that was postponed and took place three weeks later). Muslim organizations are already working in partnership with the FBI to deal with the scourge of terrorism. Muslims under an organization formed in New York (American Muslims Against Terrorism) visited ground zero and expressed in no uncertain terms our solidarity with the victims. Here in Los Angeles, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, in a public forum, offered thanks and donations to police and fire personnel.

Summer Hathout-Blackshire

Pasadena

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