Muslims and Security


BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: In the wake of the failed Christmas Day airplane bombing, the Obama Administration took new steps this week to improve airline security. President Obama ordered US agencies to move faster and more accurately to prevent future terrorist attacks. He said while the vast majority of Muslims reject al-Qaeda, the US must develop a strategy that addresses the challenges posed by lone recruits. Under new TSA [Transportation Security Administration] procedures, passengers traveling from 14 nations, most of them predominantly Muslim, are facing enhanced screenings. Many American Muslim groups say while they are concerned about security, they are still worried that their community is being unfairly targeted by what they call “religious profiling.”

Joining me is Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles. Mr. Marayati, welcome. What’s the matter with tougher airline security?

SALAM AL-MARAYATI: Nothing wrong with tougher airline security, but when we stigmatize and profile a population, that divides our country, making it more difficult to counter the threat. We have to be united against extremism and united against hate.

ABERNETHY: Well, for instance, are head scarves a problem? Shouldn’t—and certainly somebody who, a lone guy gets on an airplane and pays cash for a one way ticket, shouldn’t those things raise alarms?

AL-MARAYATI: There’s a difference between behavior profiling and religious profiling. If someone buys a one-way ticket with cash only without baggage, flying from Africa or Asia to the United States, of course that should raise suspicions. But going after women with head scarves is ineffective.

ABERNETHY: So are you saying that you and other Muslim leaders come down more on the side of individual freedom that you do on security?

AL-MARAYATI: No I think we have to have both. If you are going to stigmatize or isolate a population, that feeds into radicalization. Part of the radicalization problem is when a community feels isolated, and when one person—and we’re talking about now the concern over lone wolves or lone recruits, if that person feels desperate, depressed, then he becomes prey for extremist recruiters, and we should do anything and everything to help accelerate integration of Muslims into American society.

ABERNETHY: After the Christmas Day near-disaster in the air near Detroit, and some other recent events, too, do you sense a growing backlash against Muslims in this country?

AL-MARAYATI: There’s a rise of the mob mentality. You read the comments on a number of stories, you get the emails, you get the phone calls, and I feel, unfortunately, that the level of hostility against Islam and Muslims is at an all-time high, and I’m very concerned.

ABERNETHY: Many Americans think that Muslims leaders in this country and in the Middle East should be doing a lot more to combat and condemn the interpretation of Islam that is so popular among many young radical extremists. Do you agree with that?

AL-MARAYATI: Well, I think that we as Muslims have done a lot in terms of the message against extremism. Our problem is that we have not been able to develop an effective way to get the message out. We don’t have the capacity in terms of public relations, if you will, in terms of making our message of moderation more newsworthy than the sensationalist message of extremism.

ABERNETHY: Do you think there is a role for the Unites States government in combating the ideology of radical Islam?

AL-MARAYATI: The Unites States government will not be able to defeat ideology of radicalism. It needs the Muslim American community in partnership, for those people unfortunately who are being recruited by extremists, they don’t regard the United States government as an authority, but they regard Muslim leaders as authorities. So it is our task, Muslims, who will help win the victory against radicalism and extremism

ABERNETHY: Many thanks to Salam Al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

AL-MARAYATI: Thank you.

  • Rachida Djebel

    The first major problem with this interview is that you have chosen some one who only represents a fraction of a people who profess Islam, and who by his own words tacitly holds fast to what are traditions rather than the actual tenets or practice of Islam.

    The second major problem is that he has used the expression Muslim-American which for me and for others is abhorent; a muslim is a muslim is a muslim; not hyphenated and not nationalistic! No one says Algerian-muslim, or Syrian-muslim, or French-muslim or Malaysian-muslim…In fact it is antithetical to Islam’s tenets to do so.

    The third major problem is that this interview implys and suggests that muslims all dress in some way that would distinguish them from their fellow humans. This is NOT true and is not even a condition of being muslim. We all do NOT wrap ourselves in 7th century clothing, hide our hair, face or hands, or hide in some compound adjacent to a mosque. We do however dress and behave modestly. We work in the places most are employed in and in the many professions, businesses and labor that others who are not muslim do. We may or may not be naturalized citizens, and we may or may not be formally associated with a mosque. We join our communities and our neighbors and our colleagues in their projects and social settings, whether or not they are muslim. We build bridges because we understand that seeing is believing, and that to combat the fear which has been artificailly created because of a very few miscreants have attempted to or have succeeded in causing death and destruction to others-which is prohibited in Islan I might add. Because the fear is increased because of people like your interviewee, we must be the ones to invite others to see us as they would see themselves: as humans with the same needs, wants, desires, asperations, dreams and hopes as they want for themselves; that we all are the family of mankind, subject to the same conditions and responses and reactions as the rest of humanity.

    We respond to inaccurate portrayal of Islam and of our nationalities in all the ways open to us.

    In Islam, there are NO muslim authorities anymore than there are people designated as ‘superior’over the rest of us. An imam is a leader of congregational prayers-only-not some self-proclaimed leader or even authority. Read the Qur’an if you doubt this.

    This man talks in double-speak, thus muddying any non-muslim’s underatanding of Islam or of muslims.

    I would suggest that if you want a better understanding of Islam and its message of peace, equality, fairness and co-habitation with all of the rest of the world, interview someone like Khaled Abou Al Fadl who has a far better knowledge of Islam and its rightful place in the world than does Al-Marathy. John Esposito is also far more knowledgeable or Karen Armstrong.

    The true muslim does not advertise him- or herself to be victim!

    I leave you with these words of the Qur’an:

    I created mankind in diversity not so as to cause emnity but so that you would know one another.

    To save a life is to save all of humanity; to destroy one life destroys us all.

    Do not treat another in ways you would not wish to be treated.

    I created the earth wide and spacious; therefore, if you fear trouble, move away…


  • E.Patrick Mosman

    Correction:The Metropolitan Museum is the latest to cave into the fear of Islamic retribution by removing pictures of the Prophet from an exhibition.
    Mr Al-Marayati said ” Well, I think that we as Muslims have done a lot in terms of the message against extremism.” That is a worthy effort but neither he nor any one Muslim or Muslim organization speaks for Islam. Any Islamic mullah can issue a Fatwa, an Islamic license to kill, on anyone for any perceived slight of Islam, the Prophet or whatever reason he thinks justifies a death sentence. In the real world, issuing an order to or soliciting for someone to kill another person is a criminal offense and subject to arrest and trial but political correctness allows Muslim clerics to order killings without fear of punishment and the Western world cringes at the idea that a fatwa might be issued for an author, publisher, movie director, actor, historian, or even a University, Yale is the most recent example, et al, and so practices self-censorship and political correctness.
    Until the first arrest order is issued for a mullah who declares a fatwa against anyone for any reason, the rest of the world is under the control of radical Islam.
    What is Mr. Al-Marayati’s position and did he speak out on the following:
    “Fatwas were issued against a number of innocent individuals, Salman Rushdie, author, who was forced to live in hiding under British security for years, to authors, against the two writers ‘Abdallah bin Bajad Al-‘Uteibi and Yussif Aba Al-Khayl in response to two articles they wroAl-Riyadh newspaper.

    Fatwa was issued against Danish cartoonists by “Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi, prayer leader at the historic Mohabat Khan mosque
    in the conservative northwestern city of Peshawar, announced the mosque and the Jamia Ashrafia religious school he leads would give a $25,000 reward and a car for killing the cartoonist who drew the prophet caricatures — considered blasphemous by Muslims.”

    Fatwas were issued against Dutch politicians Geert Wilders, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
    Yale University self-censored an author’s book on the Danish cartoons fearing reprisals as did America’s media including PBS.
    What is Mr. Al-Marayati’s position on fatwas, has he spoken out against those mullah’s who issue them, has he supported the freedom of the press to publish the Danish cartoons without fear reprisals by Muslims?

  • robertson smith

    TO AL MARAYATI : how do you propose to “help win the victory….?

    How about a few schools to enable Muslims to serve as translators and/or to “help”
    in Afganistan as fighters?

    How about American Muslims, as an organization talking directly to Islamic States?

    How soon do you think a woman with a headscsarf will attempt to martyr herself on an airplane?

  • frank

    This is a perfectly meaningless collection of words. Nothing of interest or value is introduced.

  • MM

    I think Mr. Al-Marayati will soon find that a growing number of Muslims are getting fed up with having themselves portrayed as helpless victims. The extremist Muslim ideology threatens Islam much more than it threatens the United States. Only the Muslim community can isolate and neutralize this threat. Many Muslims are well aware of this and are working towards a solution. Mr. Al-Marayati might wish to consider joining them.

  • E.Patrick Mosman

    Since my comment was not published I resubmitted it and get the following response:
    “Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!”
    That is correct and it was truthful and raised specific actions by and questions about Islam yet it was not posted. Was it not sufficiently PC, not sufficiently deferential to Islam or pointed out that Islam was not and is not a peaceful religion?
    Would you kindly explain what was wrong with my post that deemed it unworthy for posting. Thank you.