- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Muslims versus Muslims

Religious and ethnic lobbying groups generally try to encourage demonstrations by the people they represent.

But in the case of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and some Minnesota Muslims, the latest demonstration went against the group.

Linking to a report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Ed Morrissey of Hot Air said the demonstrations were prompted by the disappearance of about 20 young Somali men who attended the same mosque, including at least one who committed a suicide bombing in his mostly Muslim homeland.

“The local Somali community wanted answers. They wanted to get those answers from the FBI, but as they soon discovered, another force didn’t want those answers at all. The Somalis took to the streets yesterday in opposition” to CAIR, Mr. Morrissey said, going on to quote the Star-Tribune report:

“At a protest outside the Brian Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, Abdirizak Bihi … accused the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Minnesota chapter of discouraging local Somalis from cooperating with the FBI. … About 50 people attended the rally, waving signs and hollering, ‘CAIR out! Doublespeak out!’ ”

The Star-Tribune cited Jessica Zikri, communications director for CAIR Minnesota, as saying the group does not mean to discourage anyone from speaking to investigators but wants to guard Muslims’ civil rights. She told the paper CAIR would be willing to meet the missing Somali men’s families.

Mr. Morrissey concluded: “Why is CAIR so interested in shutting up Muslims who want to cooperate to find their sons before they might commit suicide as well? An organization that wanted to serve American Muslims should be more interested in finding the missing young men than in silencing their families. Unless, of course, CAIR has a completely different agenda. Even without the speculation, clearly CAIR has angered the community it purports to represent.”

Church versus state

Remember those demonstrations in Connecticut that the Catholic Church turned out in March over a bill that would have used the state’s incorporation laws to impose a democratic form of government on parishes, contrary to church teaching?

The bill was withdrawn, but the Connecticut Office of State Ethics says that’s not the end of the story. A furor erupted in the Catholic blogosphere last week over the office’s claims that the Diocese of Bridgeport was acting as a lobbyist - without registering as one, of course; churches tend not to think of themselves as “lobbies” - when it provided transportation to Catholics for a rally in Hartford and when its Web site urged Catholics to call state lawmakers on the bill.

“Pretty outrageous conduct, eh? Apparently, we’re all lobbyists now,” wrote Stephen Dillard at First Things blog First Thoughts.

Erin Manning, who was substitute-blogging at the Beliefnet site Crunchy Con, called the probe “outrageous.”

“If a Catholic diocese - or any church - is going to be considered a ‘lobbyist’ any time its leaders speak out on issues of concern to the members of their faith communities using the communication resources they already have in place, then the effect will be to shut down the free speech of church leaders. If spreading the Gospel includes such things as speaking out against an attempt to interfere with the Church’s internal governance, or protesting against, say, the death penalty, that is not lobbying; it is free speech and freedom of religion,” she wrote.

Obama versus gays

Story Continues →