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Islam is not the enemy!
By Askia Muhammad
Senior Correspondent
Updated Sep 10, 2007 - 10:25:00 AM

WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) - A coalition of Muslims, totaling dozens of participants from Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina is angry after they were turned away from a pre-approved forum in a Capitol Hill meeting room August 11. The group had scheduled a six-hour conference in the Canon House Office Building under the theme: “Islam Is Not The Enemy.”

The group was denied access to the building because of a decision by the House Sergeant-At-Arms, according to El Hajji Mauri Saalakhan, director of the Peace and Justice Foundation, who convened the conference.

“As we see it, the decision to cancel our use of the peoples’ property emanated from one or more of the following reactionary impulses,” Mr. Saalakhan told The Final Call. “Religious bigotry; security fears resulting from religious profiling; and political expediency, not wanting to offend certain powerful interest groups.”

The office of the Sergeant-At-Arms did not return calls for a comment from The Final Call.

“This certainly seemed to me to be the red-flagging of a Muslim group,” Jameel Alim Johnson, chief-of-staff for Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said in an email to Mr. Saalakhan. “For the Sergeant-At-Arms to call out of the blue on the last day to make sure (Rep. Meeks) is going to be there and is sponsoring the function is unusual and unfair.”

“I think what we have witnessed here today, has the strong smell of Islamophobia, ”Jibril Hough, chairperson of Islamic Political Party of America, told The Final Call. “I think there are elements behind the scenes here in Washington and in New York that fear Islamic presence. They fear Islamic peaceful presence, and they fear Islamic political presence. Putting us on this stage today would be taking our community off the streets, into a new arena and getting us into the mind-set of getting politically organized.

“We’re here today to use the ballot, not the bullet. We’re here today to organize peacefully. And ask why is there such a fear of a few Muslims coming together, organizing peacefully? Why? We have to ask that question. Why do they fear us more?

“They fear this Islamic political empowerment. They fear our creed, that: ‘There is No God But Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.’ They are afraid. They are afraid of our presence, our peaceful presence, mind you. Not violence. Not terrorism. Not nothing like that. They fear peaceful Muslims,” said Mr. Hough, who organized three van-loads of passengers to attend the scheduled forum from North Carolina.

The topics various panelists were to deal with may have set off “red flags,” with security-jittery officials in the office of the Sergeant-At-Arms, said Mr. Saalakhan. Some of the issues on the table included: “The insertion of informants and agent-provocateurs in the Muslim community; the selective and “malicious” enforcement of immigration laws; and the open-ended detentions of Muslims, in this country and overseas.

Authorities may have simply not wanted to give Muslims discussing such topics a “stage” at the U.S. Capitol.

“The people who are presently controlling our government are determined to make sure that Muslims are going to be isolated and marginalized and they are willing to go to any degree to do that,” Sister Anisa Abdu-Fatah, founder and chairwoman of the National Association of Muslim American Women, told The Final Call.

An abbreviated, last-minute meeting was held to deal with some of their subjects at the nearby Mecca Learning Center, said Mr. Saalakhan.

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