On the evening of January 9, I attended a panel discussion at the Islamic Center of Orange County Mosque in Garden Grove, California. The topic was the "Crisis of ISIS". The panelists were head imam of the mosque, Muzammil Siddiqi, the CEO of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Salam al Marayati, and the head of CAIR in Southern California, Hussam Ayloush. In addition, there was another young lady whose name I didn't catch, but I believe she was the wife of the imam at the Irvine mosque. Except for myself, a couple of other persons, and local press, the audience was entirely Muslim.
I videotaped the event, but I will provide a synopsis. Imam Siddiqi led off with a statement by the Fiqh Council of North America condemning the Paris attacks. He then went on to say that what occurred in Paris was against Islamic teaching. He was followed by Ayloush who gave a brief historical background of ISIS. Marayati followed and briefly talked about the importance of American Islamic youth who were being hit with all these conflicting influences and messages.
The last speaker was the aforementioned young lady. Her first few minutes were interesting because she addressed the Paris attacks and brought up the fact that certain conspiracy theorists were already opining that someone other than Muslims (like the Israeli Mossad) had carried out the attacks. She said if we assume that were true, why do we have all these Muslim voices on social media applauding the attack? (Are you reading this, Greta Berlin?) She mentioned one unidentified person who had sent a message on her own social media that those who insulted the prophet had to die. Later, during the q and a, she referred to differences within the community and said that she and her husband had attended an MPAC dinner in which they had a problem with one of the speakers. They had stayed outside the hall until that speaker (not identified) was finished at which time they went back into the hall. Yet, she said, they still supported MPAC. (Tape 127 9:40 mark)
The question and answer session was constructed so that questioners had to write their questions on cards which were passed up front. About 5 were chosen not including mine.
While answering one question, Ayloush mentioned that the fact that some "twenty" American Muslims had gone off to join ISIS did not justify the US Government spending millions of dollars investigating the Muslim community. He then said that it was only the Muslim community that was coming under scrutiny in this regard. He said that you don't hear about counter-violent extremism programs going on in synagogues in regards to the thousands of young Jewish men going off to join the Israeli Defense Forces killing people in Gaza He also said you don't hear about counter-extremism programs in Christian churches. (This is on tape 126 at the 8:58 mark.)
Actually, that fell in line with the question I sent up front which read:
"We hear reports about hundreds if not thousands of Western Muslims who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. Are you aware of any Western Muslims who have gone there to fight ISIS?"
In connection with the Paris attacks, we also heard comments that the Prophet Mohammad had forgiven those who had insulted him. Yet, contrast that with British Muslim leader Anjem Choudary, who has just said this in response to the Paris attacks:
"The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, "Whoever insults a Prophet kill him."
But to me the most note-worthy comment of the night was when Ayloush compared Jewish American men going to join the IDF to defend Israel with American Muslims going to join ISIS. In effect, he was comparing the IDF to ISIS.
Really, Mr Ayloush?
To be sure, ISIS was condemned. It was said more than once that ISIS was neither Islamic nor a state. I believe the young lady who spoke was sincere. As for the other speakers, I have heard them speak before, and I have never been convinced by their words. I suspect much of what they said was directed to the local press, who were filming. In the final analysis, at least to me, the question of why there is so much violence, intolerance, persecution and hate by so many Muslims in the world today was hardly resolved. It just doesn't square with world events.
Here is the video.