Bush Invited to Speak to ISNA Muslims

President Bush has been invited to speak to the Islamic Society of North America over the Labor Day weekend.

U.S. Muslim Leader Seeks Bush’s Support (AP)

A leading U.S. Muslim group called on President Bush Wednesday to show his support for mainstream Islam in this country and worldwide by meeting with the group next week in Chicago. Bush could make a powerful statement to the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims by appearing at the annual meeting of the Islamic Society of North America, just as he showed his support for adherents of the religion when he visited a Washington mosque a few days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said Sayyid Syeed, the group’s secretary general.


“His coming to Chicago would send a powerful message to the Muslim world and the world at large that America’s fight is not against Islam, it is not against Muslims, it is against extremism and terrorism,” Syeed said. Next week’s meeting follows a recent fatwa, or religious edict, by U.S. Muslim scholars condemning terrorism, and the convention will include other steps to check the spread of Muslim extremism and terrorism in this country, Syeed said.


The Bush administration will be represented at the ISNA meeting by Karen Hughes, a Bush confidante who recently was confirmed as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. Her tasks include improving the U.S. image in Muslim countries.

While I doubt it would make any impact on the perception of Muslims outside the West, most of whom are captives of state controlled media if they get media at all, this strikes me as something worth doing.

The ISNA website claims,

Since its establishment in 1963, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has been active in bringing people and communities together. Our goal has been one of bridge building between Muslim community and the American society at large. The powerful alliances with people of different Faiths and institutions with similar goals have given a prestige and influence that can only increase with time.

The president could use the opportunity to reinforce the dividing line between radical Islamists and ordinary Muslims–and call on the latter to do more to isolate the former. He could give the conventioneers an opportunity to demonstrate their influence. It likely would not work but sometimes gestures are worth making.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Why would he do that when he won’t even speak to the NAACP?

  2. Mark says:

    Oh, why not DC? After all, it’s not like ISNA ran ads accusing Bush of killing a black man by chaining him to a pickup truck and dragging him to death or anything like the NAACP did.

  3. flurry says:

    For Bush to speak to muslims is tantamount to accepting their paganist and terroristic ways. Bush is going soft and betraying the country’s Christian heritage.

  4. Anderson says:

    The president could use the opportunity to reinforce the dividing line between radical Islamists and ordinary Muslims–and call on the latter to do more to isolate the former.

    Should he do this before or after he condemns radical Christian Pat Robertson?

  5. James Joyner says:

    He’s already condemned Robertson’s comments. And, incidentally, Robertson has not led a movement that has attacked America hundreds of times and killed thousands of our citizens. Otherwise, though, he and Osama bin Laden are identical.

  6. flurry says:

    Should he do this before or after he condemns radical Christian Pat Robertson?

    Robertson is a Christian prophet and a man of God. He–like God–should be obeyed. Muslims are primitive heathens and pagans. Its a different circumstance.

  7. Anderson says:

    He’s already condemned Robertson’s comments.

    Do you have a link for that? Bush personally, not “the State Department” or “Rumsfeld.” Just curious.

    Flurry, your irony is making my eyes hurt.

  8. Anderson says:

    Another glitch, btw—JJ’s apostrophes were in the text box of my preview window, but not in the top part, and not in the posted comment. Of course JJ knows where to put apostrophes.

  9. James Joyner says:

    Anderson: Not that I’ve seen. I always presume that the press spokesman is speaking for the president, though.

    And, frankly, I dont’ expect the president to personally condemn idiotic comments from private citizens.

  10. Anderson says:

    All well & good, but before asking Muslims to clean their house, Bush (who has made his faith very prominent) should set an example. Remove the log from thine own eye, etc.

    Politically, he has very little to lose by condemning such a wild remark, and he would then deflect an obvious retort from the Muslims.

  11. Marcia L. Neil says:

    “From sea to shining sea…” also includes the EurAsian pools? The President has the power to do something necessary that none have yet done: order the technological investigation that will contain [in jar or bowl] a tiny archeological artifact now protected beneath a limestone monu-ment in the state of Pennsylvania.