Billboards placed in suburban Chicago by an American Pakistani organization urging Muslims to report suspicious activity are being attacked by CAIR and other Islamic Organizations.
The billboards read: "Muslims to Muslims: See Something. Say Something. Save Innocent Lives." They were paid for by the Association of Pakistani Americans of Bolingbrook.
Talat Rashid, founder of the association, said the message to Muslims is to report any activity that might be indicative of a planned terror attack. To Americans, the message is meant to be that most American Muslims are also against terror attacks.
It’s his way of doing something productive as well as countering Islamophobia. A report in a local news outlet, the Belleville News-Democrat writes, “Rashid said he and members of his organization knew some people wouldn't like the billboards, but that the members believe the message is a proactive way of teaching the public about the difference between Muslim beliefs and extreme radicals who aren't welcomed by the community.”
CAIR is one of those that objects to the billboards. Ahmed Rehab, executive director of Chicago's Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), says there is no data that proves that Muslims don’t speak up when they see suspicious activity and thinks the billboard can create problems of Islamophobia for the Muslim in the community.
"I'm in the business of countering Islamophobia. I know that work needs to be done," Rehab was quoted as saying. "I just don't think that cementing a misperception on a billboard is going to help."
Rehab is being disingenuous. Ironically, it was a CAIR branch in California that started a campaign with two slogans: “Build a Wall of Resistance” and “Don’t talk to the FBI.” The poster was made to promote a 2011 conference called “FBI Raids and Grand Jury Subpoenas: Know Your Rights and Defend Our Communities.”
When objections to the poster were voiced, CAIR twisted the facts to play victim (its often-used modus operandi). “The entire American-Muslim community is under the microscope right now with a cottage industry of Muslim bashers,” said Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director and spokesperson for CAIR, at the time.
“We’re used to this kind of attack by the Islamophobic hate machine,” he added.
At the time, Hooper magnanimously acknowledged, “There is some justification in terms of the possibility of misinterpretation of this poster.”
Still, the poster and its message have been long-promoted.
Mohammed Kaiseruddin chairman of the Council of Islamic Organization of Greater Chicago, also objected to the billboard. “It’s so vague,” he said. “‘See something.’ That could mean profiling. That could mean somebody Middle Eastern wearing a long beard. And ‘Say Something?’ Say to who?”
Kaiseruddin is also being disingenuous. He knows very well who suspicious activity should be reported to. By asking the question, “Say to Who?” it is understood that he doesn’t not trust law enforcement with such information.
His fear that Muslims would be “profiled” due to such a slogan is also meant to turn the tables to play victim. One would assume that since the poster is aimed at the Muslim community, “somebody Middle Eastern wearing a beard” would not cause alarm in and of itself in a community where being Middle Eastern can be the norm as can wearing a beard.
When Islamists and their allies filed a lawsuit against the NYPD for their legal intelligence-gathering activities in New Jersey, the judge threw the suit out, saying, “The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself … The motive for the program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but to find Muslim terrorists hiding among the ordinary law-abiding Muslims.”
In fact, many terror attacks in the U.S. were foiled because Muslims spoke up against radicalized members of their communities. A Homeland Security report showed that three-fourths of foreign fighters arrested in the U.S. were caught due to confidential informants close to them. In many and probably most cases, these informants were Muslims.
If CAIR and its allies were really interested in countering “Islamophobia” as well as promoting civil rights for all Americans, they would jump on the bandwagon of this campaign.
If “average” Muslims were perceived by the greater American public as actively fighting Islamist terrorism, there would be far less prejudice against them. And if more terror attacks were prevented because of it, all Americans would be enjoying a greater level of security.
Who could object to that?
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org