Marlowe's Shade

Monday, December 20, 2004

ISM PR Blitz: Part II

From The Boston Globe Dec 18

Condemning past statements of anti-Semitism by one of its trustees, top officials of the Islamic Society of Boston yesterday pledged to screen teachers and prayer leaders at a new mosque and cultural center it is building in Roxbury in order to prevent any statements of extremism or religious hatred from being espoused.

Board member Anwar Kazmi said at a news conference yesterday that the society would review the background and beliefs of all teachers and would screen literature disseminated at the $22 million mosque and cultural center, which is scheduled to open in June, to ensure that instruction is free of hatred or extremism.

"We are very, very concerned about bigotry of any form against any religious group or ethnic group, period. We stand totally against it," Kazmi said at the Roxbury Crossing construction site of the facility, which will be New England's largest mosque when completed. "We have guidelines that have been prepared for speakers or any other literature that is circulated at the institution. They will be carefully screened."

Concern about the society's teachings arose during the fall when it was learned that Dr. Walid Fitaihi, a former director and current trustee of the society, wrote an article for an Arabic-language newspaper that called Jews "murderers of prophets" who should be punished for their "oppression, murder, and rape of the worshipers of Allah."

It also seems that something went amiss with the orchestration of the press conference.

The news conference was scheduled to allow leaders of several groups and community organizations to offer their support to the society and voice concern about possible acts of violence or hatred toward Muslims. Although officials said last week's arson at Springfield's Al-Baqi mosque was not a hate crime, the fire was cited often by speakers who stressed the need for religious tolerance.

Two of the city's largest religious organizations, however, decided against attending the news conference. While expressing support for the Islamic Society of Boston, the Archdiocese of Boston and the Massachusetts Council of Churches said in a joint letter to Abou-Allaban that they were concerned that a news conference "whose tenor you cannot control" would not serve "your interests or positive interreligious and civic relations."

Both the Catholic Church and Teh MCC have a strong "ecumenical" agenda, and it is significant that they seem to be distancing themselves from the ISB.

While any attempts of the ISB to purge themselves of radical elements, I think that the ISB is continuing to whitewash this story. At the press conference, ISB board members Anwar Kazmi and Yousef Abou-Allaban say that Fitaihi had been repremanded, but in a response to the charges on their website, they continue to justify his comments are not being anti-Semitic. And according to the article, he is still on the board of trustees.

And they still host an article on their site with derogatory references to non-Muslisms and Jews that also advocates wife beating.
papijoe 7:27 AM