- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 22, 2002

Muslims in the United States have organized another advocacy lobby, only this group will focus on appealing to Americans to help Muslims abroad defend their rights there.
The Indian Muslim Council USA announced its organization this week to keep Americans apprised of Muslims suffering under what it calls "fascist" suppression from nationalist Hindu groups in India.
"American people are very fair-minded," Shaik Ubaid of New York, president of the group, said yesterday. "We think they will care because no other country owes up to its own [discrimination] mistakes like America does."
The council, contrary to Islamic custom worldwide, endorses a "secular and democratic India with human rights, dignity, peace and justice" for minorities such as Muslims, Christians and others who are not Hindu.
Human rights and civil liberties groups say aggrieved minorities from all over the world often set up lobbies in the United States. But in the case of Islam, it is good to hear them arguing about religious liberty and civil rights, others said.
"Every group's credibility depends on the evenhandedness of their approach," said Adrian Karatnycky, president of Freedom House. "The idea that Muslim immigrants or Muslims born here are adopting the language of human rights is a good sign."
Most countries that are predominantly Muslim restrict civil or religious liberties. In Saudi Arabia, for example, a new head of the religious police was appointed yesterday to enforce strict religious codes, punish conversions and curtail public practice of any other religion.
In the past decade, U.S. Muslim-rights groups have proliferated.
They included the American Muslim Alliance, the American Muslim Council, Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Muslim American Society, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Muslim Alliance in North America, and American Muslims for Jerusalem.
The Islamic Society of North America is an older mosque-based organization rather than a political interest group.
While these groups argue for rights of Muslims in their adopted societies, few lobby for general human rights in predominantly Muslim countries.
Only the Islamic Supreme Council of America, a small group formed just a few years ago, has criticized the others for their support of more extremist groups abroad.
Christopher Taylor, a professor of Islamic studies at Drew University, said he and the Muslims he knows want more Islamic commentary on the lack of liberty in predominantly Muslim societies.
He asked about Islam's religious intolerance last week when a delegation of the Muslim World League, founded by the Saudi government in 1962, ended its American public relations tour.
"It was the regular response about Islam meaning peace," Mr. Taylor said. "None of us went into the meeting naive. This was a photo op for the Saudi state, not a real interfaith dialogue."
Yesterday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a poll of U.S. Muslims who said they were worried about their rights in the United States after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
While nearly eight in 10 said they have felt support from Americans of a different faith, nearly six in 10 (57 percent) said they experienced discrimination and nearly half (48 percent) said their "lives have changed for the worse."
A large majority (67 percent) also said "the media have grown more biased against Islam and Muslims," citing Fox News as the worst and PBS, the BBC and ABC as "worthy of praise."

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