- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2007

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE / DEVELOPING:

Membership in the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has declined more than 90 percent since the 2001 terrorist attacks, Audrey Hudson will report in Tuesday’s editions of The Washington Times.

According to tax documents obtained by The Times, the number of reported members spiraled down from more than 29,000 in 2000 to less than 1,700 in 2006, a loss of membership that caused the Muslim rights group’s annual income from dues to drop from $732,765 in 2000, when yearly dues cost $25, to $58,750 last year, when the group charged $35.

The organization instead is relying on about two dozen individual donors a year to contribute the majority of the money for CAIR’s budget, which reached nearly $3 million last year.

Asked about the decline, Parvez Ahmed, CAIR board chairman, pointed to the number of individual donors to the organization.

“We are proud that our grass-roots support in the American Muslim community has allowed CAIR to grow from having eight chapters and offices in 2001 to having 33 today,” Mr. Ahmed said.

The self-described civil liberties organization for Muslims seeks to portray “a positive image of Islam” through public relations and the media, but has instead alienated some by defending questionable accusations of discrimination.

Critics of the organization say they are not surprised membership is sagging, and that a recent decision by the Justice Department to name CAIR as “unindicted co-conspirators” in a federal case against another foundation charged with providing funds to a terrorist group could discourage new members.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, director of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, says the sharp decline in membership calls into question whether the organization speaks for 7 million American Muslims, as the group has claimed.

“This is the untold story in the myth that CAIR represents the American Muslim population. They only represent their membership and donors,” Mr. Jasser said.

More details Tuesday, online and in print editions of The Washington Times.
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