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.
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.