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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Charlotte Muslims Claim To Be Under Attack & NAIT Terrorist Ties

Charlotte Muslims Claim To Be Under Attack After Town Hall Meeting With Rep. Sue Myrick

Just weeks after trying to make nice at a town hall meeting, Muslim leaders and the office of U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., are again trading charges and counter charges.

At a news conference Wednesday, leaders of the Islamic Center of Charlotte said they and other local Muslims were victims of "a campaign of fear and smear" that has sought to link them with terrorism.

Jibril Hough, a spokesman for the mosque on Progress Lane, blamed the "baseless attacks" on Sue Myrick's office and on WBT (1110-AM), which gave the claims wide airing.

Observer calls and e-mails to Myrick's office were not returned. Neither was a call to WBT.

At issue is a charge first leveled at the end of the Feb. 26 town hall meeting by Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim physician and political ally of Myrick's who heads the Arizona-based Islamic Forum for Democracy.

At the town hall meeting - Myrick turned the microphone over to him - then again on Keith Larson's morning show on WBT, Jasser pointed out that the deed to the Islamic Center of Charlotte's property is held by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), which he charged has ties to terrorism.

Larson also had Hough on his show, confronting him with the charges.

In 2007, the Indiana-based NAIT was among hundreds of Muslim groups named as "Unindicted co-conspirators" in a Federal case in Dallas.

The U.S. Justice Department charged that the Holy Land Foundation, a Muslim charity, had funneled money to Hamas, which has been labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. government. The case ended in a mistrial and, on retrial, produced convictions.

After the Larson show, during which Hough acknowledged that NAIT held the deed, Myrick's office sent reporters links to the radio show and a follow-up report on WBTV (Channel 3).

On Wednesday, Hough and Izzat Saymeh, who also spoke at the news conference, said NAIT holds the deed for their mosque - and for more than 300 others in the United States.

NAIT, founded in 1973, holds the deed "in order to protect the status of the property. ... (Mosques) are traditionally looked after by a trust," said Saymeh, the mosque's volunteer outreach coordinator. It also offers interest-free loans, in accordance with Islamic law, though the Charlotte mosque did not borrow from NAIT, said Saymeh.

Hough and Saymeh also said the Islamic Center of Charlotte has local leaders, who independently decide its mission and policies.

"There's no real contact (with NAIT), except when we're getting ready to buy or sell a piece of property," Hough said. "(NAIT) doesn't send down a school of thought and they do not dictate."

In addition, Hough said, the Charlotte mosque - with 800 worshippers who've come from 30 different countries - has good relations with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the FBI, and is involved in interfaith and other outreach efforts.

Asked about NAIT's status as unindicted co-conspirator in the Dallas case, Saymeh said, "I highly doubt that they are (tied to terrorists). If they were, the government would have brought them to trial. ... Muslims have been experiencing, in the last nine or 10 years, guilt by association. They're guilty of being Muslim."

Also at the news conference, the Muslim leaders handed out brochures that included passages from the Quran, their holy book, that condemned the killing of innocent people.

Sue Myrick Meets With Muslims After Controversial Comments

U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) met face-to-face Thursday in a town hall meeting with members of Charlotte's Muslim community, defending controversial comments she's made about Islamic extremists.

Myrick stepped into the fire last year when she began talking about her concerns that radical Muslims are "infiltrating" American institutions, including the U.S. government.

In the foreword to a book titled, "Muslim Mafia," Myrick wrote, "America is asleep to the danger that confronts us. Since the 1960s there has been a concerted effort on the part of radical Islamists to infiltrate our major institutions."

Myrick also publicly requested an investigation into the Council of American Islamic Relations, accusing the civil rights organization of "infiltrating" the offices of key members of Congress by placing interns there.

In November, when Army Major Nadal Hasan shot 13 people at Fort Hood, Myrick said some of her fears were realized.

Supporters call her words courageous. Several Muslim groups, including the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and it's founder Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, support her.

Myrick said the purpose of Thursday night's forum was to reach out and discuss those topics, especially with many Muslims who complained the congresswoman was painting their community with too broad a brush.

The Government Center auditorium where a forum was held was packed. Many people in the crowd wore traditional Muslim head coverings, but there were also dozens of non-Muslims who told NewsChannel 36 they came to learn or to support the congresswoman.

"When I talk about that, I talk about people who are supporters or sympathizers with a radical agenda that they would like to see implemented. It isn’t all Muslims are bad or that all Muslims are trying to do this," Myrick explained. "Radicalism is like a form of cancer that humanity has and we have the means to cure it...We need to stand up against it and find ways to solve it."

"I feel the hurt of Americans, but I also feel the hurt of Muslims who have nothing to do with what's going on," said Khalil Akbar, a local man. "No one has ever said to me, 'Blow up anything,' because if I heard that kind of rhetoric I would be the first one to deal with it."

"As citizens of a non-Muslim country, we have a contract with America, not a contract on America," Jibril Hough, spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Charlotte, said.

Hough and Akbar both encouraged Myrick to visit a mosque or Islamic center and continue the conversation.

As she left for Washington Thursday night, Myrick pledged to make this just a first step. "We'll see where we go from here," she said.

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Sources: McClatchy Newspapers, NAIT, WCNC, Wikipedia, Youtube, Google Maps

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