http://www.newsrealblog.com/2010/08/31/ ... backfires/
CNN’s Mosque Tolerance Roadtrip Backfires!
2010 August 31
by Paul Cooper
tags: CNN, mosque, Muslim, prejudice, Racism, Radical Islam, Terrorism
Pages: 1 2 3 4
At least 1 of 3 Mosques CNN visited has terrorist connections.
CNN has decided to take on the task of helping people learn about and be more tolerant to Muslims. One way to do that was send a journalist and a photographer on a road trip with two Muslim young men from New York who are visiting 30 mosques in 30 states during Ramadan. I don’t think CNN expected that one of the three mosques they visited would have a strong connection to a terrorist organization.
Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq decided they would blog about their 30 mosque visit to teach people that Islam isn’t how it is portrayed in the media.
We’re trying to humanize Islam and give people a three-dimensional experience of what Muslims are like. – Ali
CNN interviewed the duo in Atlanta and decided to go on the Southern leg of the journey with the two men. The two Muslims and the two guys from CNN all were convinced they’d see a lot of prejudice against the two Islamic travelers. They even went to a big Confederate merchandise outlet expecting to have problems. But to their surprise, the only prejudice shown was their own.
We see this huge, massive Confederate flag just waving in the air. We all agreed in the car that this place was too racistly awesome to pass without taking a photo.- Ali
The people at the Confederate shop (which CNN compared to the cast of the movie Deliverance) were exceedingly welcoming and nice to the men. The owner explained how he hates racism and feels the Confederate flag has gotten an unfair bad reputation. They were treated with, as CNN calls it, “southern hospitality”.
One of the Ramadan road-trippers recognized his own prejudice but the other one and the CNN journalist couldn’t let their feelings of these Southerners pass.
Here I was, expecting that people would be prejudiced towards me. But in fact, it was I who was being prejudiced towards them. – Ali
My problem is what do you think they’re saying about us now?- Bassam
I still had one eye toward the back of the car, wondering if someone would give chase.- CNN
Not only were the guys treated well wherever they went, the only truly scary moment came when they went to the final mosque of the CNN trip. The first two mosques visited were big, urban mosques that were called ahead of time about the CNN visit. The two CNN guys were treated graciously in both places. But the final place was a different experience. I’ll let the CNN journalist describe it.
We head to the Islamic Society of Mobile, a nondescript facility not far from the campus of the University of South Alabama. It looks like an old ranch home…
We take off our shoes and step inside. A barrel-chested man with a long beard is putting out fresh dates for breaking the evening fast.
“These guys, they are from CNN,” Bassam says.
Before we can utter a word, the man takes one look at us and, like an umpire tossing a baseball manager from a game, slaps his hands and points toward the door.
“Outtttttttt!!!” he shouts.
We quickly comply…
Aman and Bassam are allowed to pray inside. But they’ve soon rejoined us at the car, embarrassed by what we just experienced.
We didn’t know it at the time, but the mosque has been under scrutiny — a man wanted on terrorism charges once attended there. Omar Hammami, a 26-year-old from the nearby town of Daphne (a town I once lived in), has been charged with providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to provide support to a Somali terrorist organization with al Qaeda links. Now known as Abu Mansour al-Amriki, “the American,” he’s believed to be in Somalia, according to the FBI.
I later call the home of the mosque’s president, Shafik Hammami, seeking a better explanation of what transpired…He declines to comment. Not only is he the mosque’s president, he’s the father of the wanted terror suspect.
So CNN’s plan to make mosques seem like wonderful places of peace gets a bit spoiled. This mosque’s President is the father of a radical who is part of a Somali terrorist organization. In early August the US Government charged Omar Hammami and 13 others as being part of “a deadly pipeline” of terrorism to America. No wonder outsiders were not wanted there.
The interesting thing is how the Muslims road-trippers reported this story. Their take was very different from CNN’s.
All four of us enter the mosque and prepare for our shoot. A stoic man with a stunning white beard appears and introduces himself as the Imam of the mosque.
“What are you guys doing?” He asks.
I introduce myself and Aman and then point back at our CNN friends.
“These guys, they are from CNN,” I said.
Robert smiles at the Imam hoping to soften him up.
The Imam looks right at the CNN guys and points to the door.
Within seconds, our CNN friends were out the door. Which left just Aman and I with the Imam. An awkward silence takes over the room and then he continues.
“Why didn’t you guys contact us before coming?” he said.
We apologize for the last minute visit we planned but tell him we tried to get in touch with the mosque but no one picked up.
The Imam stayed quiet.
“Is it okay if we pray here?” I ask.
“Ha, of course,” he says. “This is the house of Allah. I can’t stop you from praying.”
That’s it. That is all the young Muslims say about the event. They transform a screaming Imam into a guy asking people to politely leave. They make zero mention of the terrorist connection the mosque has. Ali and Bassam present the event as just a problem of not asking to visit first.
Herein lies the problem with this cultural battle over Islam right now. The side supporting the mosque at Ground Zero can’t seem to see real radicalism when it is staring them in the face. They gloss over it. Moderate Muslims seem to be wearing rose colored glasses when it comes to real issues with more fundamentalist followers of their faith.
We are told by the media and moderate Muslims that Radical Islam is rare. But after seeing one out of three mosques having terrorist connections, just how rare is it? Hopefully we can all (moderate Muslims and journalists too) get to the point where we start taking the dangers of the spread of Islamo-facism a little more seriously.
30 Mosques in 30 States is Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq’s Ramadan road trip across the United States.
Beginning August 11 in New York City, the two will spend each night of Ramadan at a different mosque in 30 states around the country. The two’s 12,000 mile route will essentially take them on an outline of the entire country and conclude in Dearborn, Michigan – home to one of the largest concentrations of Muslims in the country.
Muslims for the month of Ramadan are required to fast, going without food or drink from sunrise to sunset. There are an estimated 7 million Muslims living in the United States that come from a wide mix of ethnic backgrounds including African Americans, South and East Asians, Arabs and East Africans.
Each day during Ramadan, Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq will visit a different state and blog about the experience each night, highlighting stories about the people they’ve met, the mosque they prayed in and of course the tasty cuisines each place has to offer.
For more information contact:
8/12 New York, NY
8/13 Augusta, ME
8/14 Boston, MA
8/15 Philadelphia, PA
8/16 Washington DC
8/17 Charlotte, NC
8/18 Atlanta, GA
8/19 Jacksonville, FL
8/20 Birmingham, AL
8/21 New Orleans, LA
8/22 Houston, TX
8/23 Oklahoma City, OK
8/24 Wichita, KS
8/25 Denver, CO
8/26 Santa Fe, NM
8/27 Phoenix, AZ
8/28 Los Angeles, CA
8/29 Las Vegas, NV
8/30 Salt Lake City, UT
8/31 Boise, ID
9/1 Bozeman, MT
9/2 Fargo, ND
9/3 Minneapolis, MN
9/4 Milwaukee, WI
9/5 Cedar Rapids, IA
9/6 Chicago, IL
9/7 Memphis, TN
9/8 Lexington, KY
9/9 Columbus, OH
9/10 Dearborn, MI