CSID Statement Against Bigotry and Ignorance
We noticed with great disappointment and dismay the attack on Prof. Akbar Ahmad, one of the valued members of our community and one of the most prominent and respected scholars of Islam, in pipelinenews.org’s scurrilous article Who Is Behind The State Department Hyped Muslim Da’wa Film, “Journey Into America?”. As the attack is also against the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy, we would like to take this opportunity to categorically reject and deny the unsubstantiated claims made in the article. This method of defaming any person or institution that writes objectively about or explains Islam creates an atmosphere of fear so that only voices of intolerance are heard.
CSID is proud to be a multi-faith organization. CSID uses no “religious test” for our supporters, members and even board members, just like the U.S. Constitution is blind to religion for the purposes of standing for public office. We estimate that about half of these are not Muslims, but Christians, Jews and others who share a desire to live in peace and harmony with Muslims, both in America and in the World. CSID has consistently, and for the past 10 years, spoken in favor of toleration, peaceful coexistence, religious dialogue and harmony, respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, and democracy in America and throughout the world.
CSID has never been a “Saudi Think Tank” and has never received a single penny from the Saudi government. Even when we organized a conference on Islam and Democracy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2004, it was funded by the congressionally funded and mandated United States Institute of Peace (USIP), and not by the Saudi government. CSID has consistently spoken against theocracy (whether in Saudi Arabia or in Iran) and in favor of Muslim democracy, which is based on Islamic values, and respects and provides equal rights to all its citizens.
Such attacks do not stem only from ignorance or difference of opinions. They are part of a well established and orchestrated campaign to stir up bigotry and hatred of Islam and Muslims and create division among people. Such ill will and intent is not rooted in religions (whether Islam, Christianity, or Judaism) but in closed minds and dark hearts.
Pipelinenews.org’s bigotry and hatred of Islam and Muslims become strikingly obvious when it makes the preposterous assertion that Islam is not one of the three “Abrahamic faiths,” and in addition states that those who say that Islam is one of the three Abrahamic monotheisms are creating a “false sense of kinship and moral equivalency with Judaism and Christianity.” (link)
CSID believes very strongly in interfaith dialogue, cooperation, increased understanding and mutual respect. CSID’s programs, membership and board are ample proof that we not only strive for these within CSID, but that we also encourage it and promote at every opportunity. We reject the idea that the intelligent, scholarly discussion of religion and democracy is a “means of recruiting converts” nor is there any evidence that this occurs. CSID simply accepts the fact that there are three monotheistic “Abrahamic faiths”. CSID provides the vision that governance in Muslim-majority countries can be improved with a deeper understanding and a robust development of democratic institutions as compatible with religious faith. CSID simply asserts that tolerance and respect among those of different religions is preferable to the ignorance and hatred that the authors of this attack on CSID and Akbar Ahmad so amply demonstrate. It is precisely because CSID pursues a thoughtful, respectful and moderate course that so many scholars, officials and democratic activists of all three faiths (and others) from so many countries have endorsed CSID, participated in its programs, and supported its mission and activities.
This is why the work of CSID has been praised by world-renowned scholars and leaders, such as Professors Larry Diamond and Francis Fukuyama:
“The CSID is doing vital work to explore and demonstrate the compatibility of Islam and democracy, and to promote innovative thinking, fresh analysis, informed assessment, and free debate on the need for democratic development and reform in the Muslim world. Now, more than ever, when we need understanding of Islam in the United States, and tolerant, moderate, and democratic voices of Islam to be heard worldwide, we need the CSID, and it merits generous support.” Larry Diamond, Stanford University
“The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy has for seven years played a critical role in setting out a vision of a Muslim world that would be modern and democratic, in promoting debate about the political development of the Middle East, and in promoting better appreciation of Islam at a time when distrust and misunderstanding are rampant.” Francis Fukuyama, Johns Hopkins University
For more endorsements of CSID, please click here.
This is also why CSID has been funded for the past 10 years through grants from the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, as well as by hundreds of individual donors, members, and supporters.
One might well suspect that the virulence of these false attacks on CSID is a recognition of its success in bringing people of various faiths together in support of a positive way forward. All else aside, such errant propaganda and irredeemable ignorance are embarrassing and damaging to long term peace and harmony among all Americans and destructive of a productive relationship between the United States and the rest of the world.
Radwan A. Masmoudi
CSID Board of Directors
Asma Afsaruddin, Chair
Antony T. Sullivan, Vice Chair
Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Ali Nawaz Memon
S. Abdallah Schleifer
Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID)