Sunday, April 30, 2006

CAIR airs concern over lack of Muslim voice in DC Darfur rally

While many of our friends and supporters of the noble endeavor to bring attention and awareness to the cause of ending genocide are down in DC as I type this, I wondered how I let this important detail slip by: no Muslim groups are being represented at the rally.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent this press release out via their mailing list...

Lack of Muslim speakers calls into question rally's 'true agenda'

(WASHINGTON, DC, 4/30/2006) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today questioned why no representatives of major American Muslim groups are listed as speakers at the Save Darfur Coalition "Rally to Stop Genocide" this afternoon in Washington, D.C.

CAIR and other American Muslim groups, including the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, are members of the coalition. But no representative from these, or any Muslim coalition member, is listed on the latest rally program. (Several Muslims will speak, but they do not represent Islamic groups that are coalition members.)

The Washington Post reported that rally organizers "rushed this week to invite two Darfurians to address the rally after Sudanese immigrants objected that the original list of speakers included eight Western Christians, seven Jews, four politicians and assorted celebrities -- but no Muslims and no one from Darfur."

Earlier this month, after noticing the lack of Muslim speakers on the program, CAIR wrote to rally organizers asking to have a representative speak at the rally. The Save Darfur Coalition never replied to CAIR's letter, despite the fact that the Washington-based Islamic civil liberties group is an original signatory of the coalition's founding " Unity Statement."

"It is unfortunate that the Save Darfur Coalition chose not to list any mainstream American Muslim groups in the rally program," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. "This disturbing omission calls into question the coalition's true agenda at the rally."

Awad said rally participants would have benefited from hearing American Muslim leaders offer support for those suffering in Darfur and in neighboring areas. He added that CAIR recently renewed its call to end the violence and suffering in Darfur, and asked American Muslims to contact their elected representatives to urge government action.

Awad also said that all too often, the conflict in Darfur is portrayed in racial and religious terms, with "Arabs" killing "black Africans." He cited a recent article, " 5 Truths About Darfur," in which the Washington Post's East Africa Bureau Chief Emily Wax pointed out that: "1 Nearly everyone is Muslim, 2 Everyone is black, 3 It's all about politics, 4 This conflict is international, and 5 The 'genocide' label made it worse."

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.