July 4, 2009 – Independence Day: Defending Equality And Liberty at DC ISNA Conference
On July 4, Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) members stood outside of the DC Convention Center in the Mt. Vernon Square across the street to challenge the Washington DC ISNA convention on the issue of extremism. Per our previous article announcing this protest, we explained why we felt it was necessary to challenge ISNA on this Independence Day – where R.E.A.L. is calling for independence not just for America, but for the rest of humanity from extremist and totalitarian ideologies. On this Independence Day, we are also calling for independence from those oppressed by extremists as well.
At today’s protest, we stated that as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized the ideological challenge of “white supremacism,” so we too today recognize the ideological challenge of “extremism.” While we realize that such a challenge is not popular with some, we feel that if we are true to courage of convictions on human equality, that on July 4, as on every other day, we must defy such extremist ideologies.
We challenged ISNA that without equality, we have no life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. We challenged Americans to remember, especially on July 4, that in our Declaration of Independence we view human equality as “a truth that we hold self-evident.” Equality is the foundation to all of our other universal human rights.
We asked ISNA this question: “when will you condemn extremism?”
We asked ISNA – “when will you start addressing the stonings and honor killings of women and homosexuals by extremists around the world?” We asked ISNA – “when will you acknowledge the use of Sharia in the deaths, mutilations, and amputations of women, non-Muslims, and Muslims around the world?” We spent two hours going over specific examples of the repression, torture, mutilations, stoning, honor killings, and murders of women, other Muslims, non-Muslims, homosexuals and others who Islamic surpremacists have viewed as a threat. We stated that on this Independence Day, we must speak for those suffering from oppression from extremism around the world.
We explained that our universal human rights are not dependent on any religion, and we explained our universal human rights must be consistent for all people around the world. Some ISNA convention goers stated to us that universal human rights don’t matter to them; they stated that the only rights that matter to them where those based on their religion. We challenge extremist views on “human rights,” both as Americans and as fellow human beings. We declare that our universal human rights apply – no matter your religion, your gender, your race, or your identity – our universal human rights apply to every human being.
We also announced our ORANGE RIBBON campaign for equality and liberty, and provided handouts to those going to the ISNA convention to educate them on their universal human rights and our campaign to defend such rights. We have chosen ORANGE as our symbol for universal human rights that apply to all our fellow human beings on Earth.
Several individuals going to the ISNA conference did not like what we had to say. Those individuals sought to shout us down. However, the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department stepped in to defend our right to freedom of speech.
We also asked ISNA how it could have a theme of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” when it not only ignored the foundation of EQUALITY that is the basis for all of our universal human rights, but also had speakers who have defended or been unwilling to challenge extremism.
– Siraj Wahhaj was a character witness for convicted 1993 World Trade Center terrorist “blind sheik” Omar Rahman, has called for replacing the American government with a caliphate. According to Siraj Wahhaj, “if only Muslims were clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional govt. with a caliphate. If we were united and strong, he said, we would elect our own emir and give allegiance to him. Take my word if 8 million Muslims unite in America, the country will come to us.”
— Hamza Yusef (also spelled Hamza Yousuf or Hamza Yousef) has described Judaism as a “most racist religion,” and who promotes Violent Extemism stating that Violent Extemism is the duty and responsibility of all Muslims, further stating that “Violent Extemism is actually considered a Rahma (mercy) in Islam.” Yusef’s idea of “compromise” is that “There are times when you have to live like a sheep in order to live in the future like a lion.”
– Zaid Shakir has stated “Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country”
— ISNA’s Ingrid Mattson has defended the idea of an extremist caliphate, and has portrayed Christians as a threat to Jews. On the idea of the Islamic supremacist caliphate, she has stated that “the overthrowing of the caliphate… was a plan of European powers for many years. This deprived the Muslim world of a stable and centralized authority, and much of the chaos that we’re living in today is the result of that.” Ingrid Mattson also claims that “Muslim women have the same legal rights as Muslim men,” when we see daily how women are treated as second-class human beings by extremists who seek the same “caliphate” that Ingrid Mattson defends.
On July 3, the ISNA conference also had Ihsan Bagby speak on “compelling history of Islam in the Americas and highlight the extraordinary contributions of Muslims to the American experience.” But what has ISNA speaker Ihsan Bagby said about America? According to Ihsan Bagby, “we [Muslims] can never be full citizens of this country… because there is no way we can be fully committed to the institutions and ideologies of this country.”