- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

Members of a leading Muslim advocacy group gathered on Capitol Hill yesterday to educate the American Muslim community on ways to lobby Congress in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
Leaders of the American Muslim Council, which began its four-day annual convention yesterday, said the community has an enhanced responsibility to educate mainstream Americans about Islamic religion and culture in the aftermath of the attacks blamed on Islamic terrorists.
"Civil rights violations against Muslims in the U.S. have noticeably increased since September 11," said Mohammed Ali Khan, chairman of the council. "We seek to bring to light [such] issues like racial profiling, detentions and hate crimes."
The convention, which has been presented as an attempt by the U.S. administration to improve relations with the Muslim community, has revealed the complications of the process.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who is scheduled to address the convention today, has been criticized for accepting the invitation from the group accused of supporting Islamic militants in the past.
According to several conservative and Jewish groups, the council's founder, Abdurrahman Alamoudi, reportedly has ties with the Palestinian Hamas and Hezbollah militant groups. Critics also accuse the council of accepting contributions for two charities, the Global Relief Foundation and the Holy Land Foundation, whose assets have been frozen by the U.S. government.
"We categorically deny any of these allegations and this is a smear campaign against the council by hate-mongers," said Mr. Khan. Mr. Alamoudi "is no longer part of the council and the only Hamas I know is a Middle Eastern restaurant," he said.
An FBI spokeswoman confirmed that Mr. Mueller is scheduled to speak at the convention, but refused to make any further comments.
Mr. Mueller's participation "is a great step forward for the council as this would help in building the bridges between the [Bush] administration and the Muslim community in the U.S.," Mr. Khan said.
The council advocates greater political participation of Muslims and the convention is one of the tools for their empowerment, said Faiz Rehman, spokesman for the council. Speakers from the government, media and academia would be invited to "provide direction" to young Muslim Americans seeking to enter the political arena, he said.


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