As an ally and friend of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), I lament that the United States of America has neglected to consult with ISNA leadership before publicly designating the organization as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the alleged terrorist funding activity of the Holy Land Foundation. One of the greatest strengths of the United States is diversity. Yet since September 11th, it has become increasingly socially acceptable to fear difference in others, occasionally even in the arenas of law and public policy. In the Holy Land Foundation case, the government has neglected to respectfully question and consult ISNA leaders as fellow Americans about the nature of their involvement with this case. Without the opportunity to defend themselves, ISNA has been presented to the public as guilty until proven innocent: a violation of their Fifth Amendment rights. The label of “co-conspirator” is damaging to the excellent reputation of ISNA and those who collaborate with them to build a better America.
Like the National Council of Churches (NCC), ISNA not only serves as a
resource for the spiritual development of the faithful, but also offers a
religious response to the pressing social issues of our time.
Muslim-Christian dialogue is more important than ever for promoting the
essential building block of peace: mutual understanding. For this reason,
NCC and ISNA have been engaging in rich Muslim-Christian dialogue since January
of 2008. In my experience working with ISNA, their leaders have offered
the United States a strong and consistent Muslim voice for peace. From
their interfaith collaboration to end nuclear weapon proliferation to their work
to prevent domestic violence, ISNA has collaborated effectively with others to
promote national security. For this reason, support of violent terrorist
tactics seems diametrically opposed to the character of this distinguished body
of the North American Muslim faithful.
It is my sincere hope that the damage done by this discriminatory action can be reversed and that ISNA will continue to manifest God’s peace in North America.
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has been privileged to work with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in an effort to advance tolerance and interreligious dialogue among our adherents in the United States and in the Middle East. In our interactions with ISNA, we have found the organization to be a valuable partner in pursuing our shared vision of peace and cooperation. ISNA’s voice is an important one, adding to America’s religious prophetic voices seeking to make our world a better place.
Because of the positive relationship we have nurtured with ISNA, we lament the organization being labeled by the government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation case. This charge includes no accusation of wrongdoing by ISNA, yet it nonetheless has a clear connotation of guilt which could greatly hurt the organization in its work to advance the cause of justice in our country. Particularly concerning are reports that the government has informed ISNA’s lawyers that the naming was only a legal tactic and that ISNA is not a target or subject of any criminal investigation. Because ISNA is one of the nation’s largest Muslim umbrella organizations, the charge is also damaging, and has a chilling effect on, the entire American Muslim community.
It is our sincere hope that the damage that ISNA has had to endure by being labeled an “unindicted co-conspirator” can and will be properly reversed, so that together we can all work to fulfill God’s vision of a world at peace with ourselves and with one another.
I am personally
offended by the United States Justice Department’s apparent designation of the
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) as an unindicted co-conspirator in the
Holy Land Foundation Case. This reminds me of the so-called communist
“which hunts” of the 1950s. It is unfortunate that the authorities failed
to consult with either the leadership of ISNA or any of the interfaith
organizations that have worked closely with ISNA over the years before rushing
to make such a harmful accusation.
As a United Methodist pastor and former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, I find that the arbitrary designation of ISNA by the Justice Department’s lawyers shows an astounding lack of respect for the damaging consequences of their actions in this post 9-11 environment. One wonders if this was politically pressured or an unintended consequence of the lack of research by the lawyers involved in the Holy Land Foundation Case. Whatever the reason, I urge that this harmful designation be “expunged” immediately.
As a former United States Congressman, I know the importance of protecting our national security, but attacks on responsible American cultural and/or religious organizations without cause are a blatant violation of civil rights. As you know, we are not a “Christian Nation.” Our founding fathers and mothers, after years of persecution, were smart enough to create a nation that respects “religious pluralism” and cultural diversity. The United States Constitution insures “justice for all,” not “justice for some.”
As the President of Common Cause, a 38 year-old good government institution, I respectfully urge the Court to remove the “unindicted co-conspirator” designation from the Islamic Society of North America.