RELIGION
10/09/2014 12:24 pm ET Updated Oct 15, 2014

Muslim Leaders Asked To Condemn Extremism ... Again

WASHINGTON -- Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Monday offered Muslim leaders from around the world an invitation to appear on her show to condemn Islamic extremism and "make a call to arms of every Muslim leader of every mosque to do the same."

But Muslim leaders from nearly every major Islamic organization have already condemned the Islamic State and terrorism in the name of their religion. And representatives from two major Muslim leadership groups said they have yet to actually receive an invitation from Van Susteren's producers.

Ibrahim Hooper, the communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Huffington Post that he was surprised by Van Susteren's "challenge." Hooper has been on her show before, and CAIR's Oklahoma representative was interviewed on Van Susteren's program a few days before her call for Muslim leaders to appear.

The civil liberties advocacy group has not been invited to come on the show since Van Susteren issued her invitation, Hooper said.

"Quite frankly, I haven't received a call from her producers," he said. "I am sure they have our number since they've contacted us before."

Edgar Hopida, the communications director for the Islamic Society of North America, said none of the group's staffers have been approached by the producers at Fox News.

"No, they haven't [called us]. And even if they did, I wouldn't accept their invitation, because of the way they treat their guests on the show," Hopida said. "They have an agenda to put out. If they want to show how bad Muslims are, they're going to show it by yelling and shouting down at their guests -- which they have done in the past."

Hooper echoed that sentiment. "We're not interested to go on the program if it's going to be an exercise in Islam-bashing. If she truly wants national Muslim leaders to come on and condemn Hamas, ISIS, religious extremism, encourage mutual understanding and tolerance, we're more than happy to do that."

Islamic leaders have already condemned the Islamic State on multiple occasions. Four months ago, CAIR denounced the group and urged American Muslim leaders to continue to speak out against the terrorist organization.

"We condemn the actions of ISIS and reject its assertion that all Muslims are required to pay allegiance to its leaders," CAIR said in a July 4 press release. "CAIR strongly urges American imams and other community leaders to speak out against American Muslims traveling abroad to join extremist groups and sectarian militias."

And following the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning on Oct. 3, Muslim leaders from around the world expressed their grief and condolences, including several Islamic leaders in the U.K.

On Monday, Van Susteren did acknowledge an effort last week by 120 Muslim scholars worldwide, who sent an open letter to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that condemned the group's actions. She said, however, that the letter wasn't enough, since "living in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol and the White House" led her to believe that "letters end up in black holes."

Some Muslims have questioned why they even need to speak out against the Islamic State at all. Maha Hilal, the director of outreach and member engagement at the Peace and Collaborative Development Network, told HuffPost recently she doesn't think Muslims should feel compelled to defend Islam.

"When I am watching TV and I see pictures of ISIS fighters, I don't feel any relation to them, I don't feel any connection to their theology," Hilal said. "I want Muslims to get to the point where we see an act of terror and don't have to think, 'How will I get blamed?'"

But despite the fact that Muslim leaders have spoken out, some in the media don't seem to want to hear it. As Media Matters pointed out, Fox News host Sean Hannity did a segment on Aug. 12 headlined, "The Silence of Muslims," claiming that Muslim leaders are not speaking out against radical Islam and the violent actions carried out by the Islamic State. And conservative radio host Laura Ingraham also said on Aug. 11 that there wasn't any condemnation of the Islamic State from the Muslim community. "You're not hearing enough of those voices, if any. I mean, where are those people?" she asked.

Hopida and Hooper said that if news organizations still think Muslims need to condemn extremism, then reporters simply aren't doing their jobs.

"I'm surprised that after all the Muslim representatives that have been on CNN and other networks, they would still make such a non-factual thing. All you have to do is go on Google, use keywords like 'Muslims condemn terrorism,' and you get millions of hits of various Muslims on the record and television programs condemning terrorism, condemning Islamic extremist groups, like Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Al Qaeda, et cetera," Hopida said. "It's just bad reporting on their part. They haven't done the necessary research."

"The reality is that we have held rallies, we held news conferences, we've issued open letters, we've gone on a number of media outlets -- just shouting from the rooftops that American Muslims and Muslims worldwide condemn ISIS, condemn religious extremism," Hooper added. "And if they haven't heard it, I don't know what else we can do."

UPDATE: 1:12 p.m. -- Hooper told HuffPost on Thursday that the Council on American-Islamic Relations had contacted Van Susteren's program and been invited to go on the show.

UPDATE: 10/15 -- On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations told HuffPost that Greta Van Susteren’s producers eventually retracted their invitation for the group to come on her Fox News program.

According to Hooper, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad was scheduled to be on the show on Oct. 10. However, Van Susteren’s producer said they preferred to have an imam from a local mosque rather than a national leader.

“Now they are saying they want someone from a 'local mosque,' not a national leader like Nihad, even though they asked for a 'national leader,' said Hooper. "She [Van Susteren's producer] said, 'How about someone who signed the letter [by scholars against ISIS ideology]?' and I reminded her that Nihad signed the letter."

On Monday, Greta Van Susteren offered another test for Muslim moderates to come on her show to condemn ISIS’ interpretation of the Koran, saying that "silence is not an option" against Islamic extremism.

CAIR is waiting to hear back from the network.

HuffPost

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