US 'educational' Islam awareness site links to anti-Semitic content

ADL reveals WhyIslam directs its viewers to sites promoting extreme anti-Israel rhetoric.

why islam 88 (photo credit: )
why islam 88
(photo credit: )
It is the Jews' fault that American Muslims have been treated with suspicion since September 11, 2001, according to an anti-Semitic Web site linked to an American educational campaign called "WhyIslam." The Anti-Defamation League revealed on Thursday that the WhyIslam Web site directs its viewers to several Internet sites promoting extreme anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric. WhyIslam was launched in 2008 by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), which presents itself as a responsible civil rights movement. The educational campaign is currently running ads on the sides of 50 public buses in Washington, DC. There are five different bold statements featured in the ads, such as "Why are so many people like you becoming Muslim?" and viewers are directed to the WhyIslam Web site. Similar campaigns have previously run in Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, and 18 other cities in the United States. ICNA says it is aiming to educate the public about Islam and "clarify many of the misconceptions" about the religion. Naeen Baig, a representative of ICNA, explained that "many Muslim-Americans feel threatened by the negative attitude towards them and they see it as ICNA's responsibility to educate the public about the positive aspects of Islam." The WhyIslam Web site calls for interfaith dialogue, stating, "religious hostility can be greatly diminished, if not completely eliminated, if we make a sincere attempt to understand the 'other.'" But the Web site also provides links to conspiratorial anti-Semitic material as resources. For example, there is a link to "Jews for Allah," an extreme anti-Israel organization that aims to convert Jews to Islam. That Web site claims that "whilst trying to destroy Islam through this instrument of the media, the Jews clearly try to portray an image of themselves as being the oppressed people." WhyIslam also refers users to Web sites like IslamOnline, which according to the ADL is closely tied to a radical Qatar-based group that refers to Zionism as a "cancer." This group also claims that the close ties between the US and Israel demonstrate the Jews desire to oppress Muslims. The ICNA's Baig explained that "ICNA continues to support interfaith dialogue and rejects all forms of racial hatred. However, the ICNA is run by volunteers, many of whom recommend Web sites to be attached to various campaign Web sites. We do not have the manpower to check all the information that is on these Web sites." ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman noted that the ICNA's denial of responsibility for the Web links does not change the fact that "an otherwise positive effort to promote public awareness about Islam is providing links to sites that would be considered extreme by any measure in their expressions of hatred for Jews and Israel and taints their message."