Although the White House has declined so far to release the names of the "Muslim leaders" who met with President Obama at the White House Wednesday, according to comedian Dean Obeidallah, he and Farhana Khera, a lawyer and executive director of Muslim Advocates, were two of the fifteen.
Obeidallah, born in New Jersey, the "son of a Palestinian father and a Sicilian mother," according to his website, hosts a SiriusXm radio show and produced a documentary called "The Muslims Are Coming!" to help "foster understanding and dispel misconceptions about Muslims." In an article for the Daily Beast entitled "Muslims Infiltrate the White House! Me Included!", Obeidallah noted "there are certain ground rules to these meetings, so I can’t disclose everything", but that "clearly the No. 1 issue raised [was the] alarming rise in anti-Muslim bigotry in America."
Attendees approached the issue from different ways. For example, Khera noted the need to “enact a tougher federal policy that would ban racial and religious profiling by law enforcement.” The reason being it gives others the sense that it’s acceptable to treat Muslim Americans less fairly simply because of their faith.
My comments were specific to the Republican elected officials who have made demonizing Muslims an increasingly visible part of their platform.
Obeidallah fingered Oklahoma State Rep. John Bennett, Congressman Jody Hice, Texas State Rep. Molly White, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as examples of Republicans who are "demonizing Muslims". The comedian did not let Democrats completely off the hook, however:
My point was that while bigotry from certain Republicans is nothing new, I’m alarmed about the Democratic response to these comments. What is the Democrats’ response, you ask? Simple: silence.
We hear nothing from the leading Democratic elected officials in response to these dangerous remarks. I can assure you that if we heard racist, anti-Semitic, or homophobic remarks by Republican elected officials, Democrats would speak out.
Obeidallah said the president's response was "heartening":
While I can’t share the president’s exact response, I can tell you that he expressed his strong commitment to our community to fight anti-Muslim bigotry. I fully understand it’s not easy problem to remedy. But it was very heartening to hear the president’s passionate response.
While Farhana Khera has not directly confirmed her participation in the meeting, she did retweet a New Day report of the meeting which said she and Obeidallah had attended.
President Obama told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that 99.9 percent of Muslims reject radical Islam. He made the comments in response to a question about the White House avoiding using the phrase "Islamic terrorists."
White House press secretary Josh Earnest explained to reporters today that the United States needs to "redouble" efforts to explain "what the tenets of Islam actually are." He made the comments in response to a question about how the U.S. might respond to the terror attack today in France.
Here, in the parlance of the times, is a “pro-tip.” When attempting to rebut the notion that anti-Semitism in Europe is largely a problem caused by young Muslim men, don’t cite two horrific anti-Semitic atrocities perpetrated by . . . young Muslim men.
A band of Muslim raiders sacked Rome in 846 a.d., plundering the city’s churches and getting clean away with their loot. They had come from Palermo, in Sicily, which had been in Muslim hands for 15 years. Sicily was then on its way to becoming a predominantly Islamic and Arabic-speaking island, and it remained under Muslim rule for over two centuries, until the Normans conquered it in the late 11th century.
The Boston Marathon bombings highlighted, once again, the challenges of assimilating Muslim youth. And while the onus of accountability ought not rest exclusively on Muslim Americans, it understandably weighs most heavily on them. Indeed, any fair-minded assessment of recent events must underscore the inadequacies of Muslim-American leaders. Yet the usual criticisms are wide of the mark and fail to identify the institutional as well as intellectual weaknesses of these leaders.
Kosovo, the Albanian-majority Balkan republic, is probably best known for its fervent pro-Americanism, understandable given the role of U.S.-led NATO forces in assisting its 1.8 million inhabitants against Serbian oppression in 1999. American troops in Kosovo are drawn from National Guard units and have fallen below a thousand, but continue to symbolize a commitment that Kosovars consider indispensable to their future.
The small republic of Kosovo, with a population of less than two million—90 percent ethnic Albanians, of whom 80 percent are Muslim—is the Balkan zone offering the greatest resistance to radical Islam. Some vignettes from recent interviews may impart the flavor of the debate over Islamism in the country:
Tariq Ramadan is the latest in a long chorus to criticize the Obama administration for killing Osama bin Laden. The organization that his grandfather Hassan al-Banna started, the Muslim Brotherhood, along with its Palestinian branch Hamas, mourned the death of the holy warrior, while more moderate voices, like the Sheikh of Al Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb, simply complained that his death rites were inappropriate. Ramadan seems to align himself with the latter. “It's very strange,” Ramadan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “that we drop his body in the sea, against all the Islamic rituals, and we are told the Islamic rituals and principles are respected.”