- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

As eyes strain to bring the contours of a faraway battle line into focus, it's impossible, if not foolhardy, not to glance over our shoulders at the home front. After all, not only were last week's attacks launched from American soil, they were carried out by men who lived and even trained in the United States. All of them were Muslims. All of them were from Arab nations. So, too, are scores of people under arrest or sought by authorities in direct connection with the terror operation. And so, too, are millions of law-abiding Americans, who should not, as our leaders have repeatedly declared, be confused with the guilty.
Understandably, such confusion is of grave concern to America's 6 million Muslims. But short of relying on the enduring tolerance of the American people, what can they do to dispel any existing confusion between what is known as Islam and Islamic fundamentalism? Indeed, what did Islamic and Arab-American leaders do last week?
Even as they condemned the attack, they issued warnings against hate crimes and braced for a backlash that, thankfully, hasn't materialized. "Regardless of who is ultimately found to be responsible for these terrorist murders, no ethnic or religious community should be treated as suspect and collectively blamed," the Arab American Institute stated last Wednesday. The Council on American Islamic Relations issued a form via e-mail for reporting hate crimes against Muslims. "While we would like to mourn like everybody else in America," said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, "we end up looking over our shoulder because someone is pointing a finger." It would seem that the strike by radical Islam inspired American Islam its national leadership, anyway to reach for the protective mantle of victimhood.
It's doubtful that such a response will kindle much in the way of confidence, let alone solidarity, in the population at large. A more frank assessment of the facts is in order. In an extraordinary letter to the Wall Street Journal, an American Muslim named Tarek E. Masoud attempted just such as assessment, writing with an unflinching honesty about confronting the reality that "our co-religionists have visited slaughter upon our compatriots." This, in today's climate, is an astonishing, if salutary admission.
Mr. Masoud, a Yale graduate student, goes on to aver his belief in Islam, while acknowledging the credence of non-Muslim doubts. "Could it be that Islam is not the religion of peace that I've been telling everybody it is, but instead a faith of bloodthirsty fatwahs that exalts murder and suicide?" he asks. "No. It cannot be. But if I a man born and raised in the faith, of Arab parents and with a deep love for the culture of the Arab world can ask [such a question], what questions must my Protestant and Jewish and Catholic friends be asking?"
Taking the American Muslim leadership to task for its reflexive victimhood and "rumblings" against profiling, Mr. Masoud believes an apology is in order. "How," he asks, "can we not apologize, knowing that [the attacks] were brought to us by people who claim to act in the name of the faith we call our own? Instead of jealously protesting our innocence and girding against repercussions, we should be asking, 'What else can we do?'" As a patriot, Mr. Masoud has already managed to do something.

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