Middle East studies in the News
Report: Muslim Conference Targets 'Islamophobes in America' [incl. John Esposito]
by Drew MacKenzie
Muslim leaders will be setting their sights on "Islamophobes in America" when they hold their annual "Stand with the Prophet" forum in Texas this weekend.
The conference is billed as a "movement to defend Prophet Muhammad," with event organizers saying that anti-Islamics have turned their spiritual leader "into an object of hate," according to The Washington Free Beacon.
However, in the wake of 12 people being killed by radicalized Muslim terrorists in last week's attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the Saturday meeting at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland may well draw some protesters.
Siraj Wahhaj, a controversial New York imam and an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings trial, was expected to attend the meeting. In the past, Wahhaj has reportedly called the FBI and CIA the "real terrorists."
The forum's keynote speaker is Georgetown University professor John Esposito, founding director of the school's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which was attacked for hosting a "9/11 Truthers" meeting and Egypt's Nazi Party, the Beacon said.
The event's organizers blame the American media for Islam's deteriorating reputation in the West, while claiming that Islamophobes have "invested at least $160 million dollars to attack our Prophet and Islam."
"This is not an event; it is the beginning of a movement," organizers wrote on their website. "A movement to defend Prophet Muhammad, his person, and his message.
"All these accusations were invented by Islamophobes in America. As we celebrate the Prophet in our now annual, nationwide event: Stand with the Prophet, we recommit ourselves to rectify his image, peace be upon him."
The "respect and honor" conference is aimed at combating attacks on Muhammad, such as the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in France mocking the prophet.
The magazine is planning to release a new edition on Wednesday featuring a cover cartoon with Muhammad weeping over the magazine's murdered employees.
"Frustrated with Islamophobes defaming the Prophet? Fuming over extremists like ISIS who give a bad name to Islam? Remember the Danish cartoons defaming the Prophet? Or the anti-Islam film, 'Innocence of Muslims?'"
The conference, costing $20 a head and $5 for children under age 5, is sponsored by several Muslim groups, including MuslimFest, SoundVision, an Illinois-based website that provides advice to Muslims, and RadioIslam, an AM radio station based in Chicago, according to the Beacon.
The forum hopes to raise money for a "Strategic Communication Center for the Muslim community, which will develop effective responses to anti-Islamic attacks, as well as to train young Muslims in media."
The organizers said on the website: "When real events warrant, like the Danish Cartoon controversy, Sharia ban, Quran burning, Boko Haram kidnappings. [Islamic State] brutality, we articulate fresh talking points and content quickly, and in a timely manner, working with professionals to disseminate it through community spokespersons and our allies."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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