Muslim leaders were refused a chance to accept the Fox News challenge to condemn “Islamic extremism” on air, and on Friday, Fox News refuted claims made by Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Fox News is being criticized for issuing a challenge for Muslim leaders to condemn “Islamic extremism,” and then refusing to let any leaders from the Muslim community come on the network to participate in the challenge.
On Oct. 6, 2014, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren challenged Muslim leaders in the U.S. and around the world saying, “So here’s my offer. I will give any Muslim leader of national or international stature the platform right here ‘On the Record’ to condemn Islamic extremism and to make a call to arms of every Muslim leader of every mosque to do the same. Condemn Islamic extremism.”
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, Fox quickly reneged on the offer when contacted by CAIR. According to a statement by the organization “Despite CAIR’s immediate agreement to have its National Executive Director Nihad Awad appear on her program to repeat the American Muslim community’s consistent condemnation of religious extremism and terrorism, Van Susteren’s producers changed the terms of the challenge and ultimately dropped Awad’s appearance.”
CAIR then released a video, “CAIR Video Calls Out Fox News’ Faux ‘Condemn Islamic Extremism’ Challenge to Muslim Leaders.” In it Mr. Awad, on behalf of his organization and the Muslim community, unequivocally condemns terrorism. He goes on to state that anti-terrorism this has been the consistent and regular viewpoint of CAIR and Islamic belief, across numerous written statements, rallies and press conferences. In the video, Mr. Awad also insists that Fox News show hosts, producers and other staff have been regularly informed about the denouncements of terrorism, but refuse to air it.
But Fox News officials responded Friday to CAIR’s allegations, refuting claims made by Mr. Awad in her posting titled “What CAIR didn’t tell you…” Ms. Van Susteren writes on her website:
“In an ‘Off the Record’ commentary last month, I made the offer to give any Muslim leader of national or international stature the platform to condemn Islamic extremism ‘On the Record.’ After CAIR reached out to our team to take me up on the offer, one of my producers indicated to CAIR that we wanted a leader of a mosque and asked for their help in finding one. When they said no to that, we offered to have a CAIR official in addition to a mosque leader on the show. CAIR insisted on only having their National Executive Director Nihad Awad join us. We’re interested in talking to Muslim leaders in the community, not just the head of an advocacy organization.
” ‘On the Record’ remains committed to speaking with Muslim leaders. In fact, our correspondent Griff Jenkins was at an event today where he spoke with several imams. You will see Griff’s report tonight ‘On the Record’ at 7pm [Friday].
“PS: I do appreciate CAIR condemning Islamic extremism. I mentioned an open letter signed by CAIR denouncing ISIS in my ‘Off the Record’ commentary and here on GretaWire.”
In a separate instance on Aug. 12, 2014, Sean Hannity, another Fox News personality, said, “As we witness the rise of radical Islam all across the globe, and thousands of innocent non-Muslims are being terrorized for their faith, I can’t help but wonder, where are the Muslim leaders? Now, since September 11, 2001, radical Islamists have attacked all the places that you see there highlighted on the map on your screen, including, let’s see, New York, Madrid, Moscow, London, Washington, D.C.
“So the question is, will prominent Muslims denounce and take on groups like ISIS, Hamas, and condemn and also fight against their unthinkable acts of terrorism?”
The statements by Mr. Hannity aired one day after CAIR had issued a statement, saying “As we have stated previously, American Muslims view the actions of ISIS as both un-Islamic and morally repugnant. No interpretation of Islam condones the torture and murder of civilians, the destruction of houses of worship or the targeting of religious minorities.
“We reiterate our condemnation of the violent actions and religious extremism of ISIS and reject the false claim that it in any way represents mainstream Islamic thought or practice. ISIS’s actions are neither Islamic nor humane, they are simply insane.”
On Aug. 21 on the show “Fox and Friends,” news host Anna Kooiman discussed the brutality perpetrated by ISIS, and said “But what should other countries be doing? Specifically Muslim countries and what about Muslim groups? We aren’t hearing much from them this morning.”
However, before that episode aired, CAIR issued an Aug. 20 press release, condemning the killing of news reporters by the Islamic State and saying, “We strongly condemn this gruesome and barbaric killing as a violation of Islamic beliefs and of universally-accepted international norms mandating the protection of prisoners and journalists during conflicts.
“The Geneva Conventions, the Quran - Islam’s revealed text - and the traditions (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad all require that prisoners not be harmed in any way. There can be no excuse or justification for such criminal and bloodthirsty actions.
“We also call on those holding Steven Sotloff and other prisoners to immediately release them unharmed so they may return to their loved ones.”
“Fox News believes that if they haven’t reported it, then is hasn’t happened,” says the CAIR director, complaining about the long-standing stereotype that Muslims do not condemn terrorism.
This summer, several dozen American Muslim groups condemned the Islamic State, issuing a “American Muslim Joint Statement On Crisis In Iraq”: “We condemn, in the strongest terms, the violent statements and actions of ISIS, and believe that no legitimate cause can ever be accomplished by terrorism, violence against innocents, or through sectarian hatred.”
There have been numerous instances of notable Muslim leaders condemning terrorism in general, and often times specifically condemning terrorist groups and organizations.
Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Sistani, this year released a statement demanding that Iraqis join the military and support its efforts to combat the Islamic State.
In Egypt, the Grand Mutfi of the Al Azhar seminary, Sheikh Shawqi Allam, condemned the Islamic State as well, calling the terror group a “danger to Islam.”
Anti-terror efforts by Muslim communities also have gained prominence this year, with massive rallies in England, Norway and the United States.