A D.C. cannabis activist moves to Maryland to organize against a Republican Congressperson. Virginia's legislature is back for a special session to craft a budget, but will Medicaid expansion continue to be a sticking point? All that and more on the Politics Hour.
They’re religious communities that are part of the Washington region’s cultural fabric. But Muslim communities nationwide are also at the center of a burning debate about the relationship between religious radicalism and terrorism. We learn about the history of our region’s Muslim community and explore what life inside them is like in today’s political and social environments.
- Johari Abdul-Malik Outreach Director, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center (Falls Church, Va.)
- Mohamed Elsanousi Director of Community Outreach, Islamic Society of North America
- Hadia Mubarak Doctoral Candidate, Islamic Studies, Georgetown University; Former National President, Muslim Students Association
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. The number of Muslims in the United States is on pace to double by the year 2030. It's a demographic trend that reflects the natural rhythms of the American melting pot, but fairly or unfairly, it's also a touchy part of our sociopolitical discourse. So intense is the political spotlight that one member of Congress has plans to hold hearings this month on the radicalization and recruitment of people within American Muslim communities by terrorist groups. Today, we're joined by three people from Muslim communities in the Washington region to explore what life is like inside those communities and how their relationships with the rest of the Washington region are changing. Joining us in studio is Johari Abdul-Malik. He's the outreach director at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va. He is the former chaplain at Howard University. Johari, did I pronounce that correctly?
MR. JOHARI ABDUL-MALIKYou did good. You did good.
NNAMDIYeah. Johari has been bugging me like this for years. Hadia Mubarak is a doctoral student at Georgetown University, where she also earned a master's degree in contemporary Arab studies. She was the first national female president of the Muslim Students Association. Hadia Mubarak, thank you for joining us.
MS. HADIA MUBARAKThanks for having me.
NNAMDIAlso with us is Mohamed Elsanousi, director of community outreach for the Islamic Society of North America. Mohamed, good to see you. Thank you for joining us.
MR. MOHAMED ELSANOUSIThank you for having us.
NNAMDIYou too can join this conversation. Call us at 800-433-8850. You can also send e-mail to email@example.com, a tweet, @kojoshow, or you can simply go to our website, kojoshow.org, and join the conversation there. What do you think can improve the relationships between Muslim communities and the rest of the Washington region? Johari, Muslim communities are part of Washington's cultural fabric, and these communities are growing.
NNAMDIA recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion on American life predicted that the Muslim population in the United States is likely to double in the next 20 years, but you wrote a piece for CNN last year in which you said that the struggle for acceptance in the broader American community is going to continue, along with that growth, a struggle that echoes the African-American experience. Where do you make that connection?
ABDUL-MALIKWell, you know, just like every community when the majority society doesn't know you well, there's certain fears or certain stereotypes. There's stereotypes associated with black people. Whites who had never met a black person, they'd only seen them or heard about them. Even the characterization in the media, except for WAMU, may present fear, and in the same way, people and the Council on American-Islamist Relations...
ABDUL-MALIK...CAIR, did a study and said that how do you change that attitude of fear of anxiety, it is by knowing one Muslim. Pew said by knowing one Muslim and knowing something about what they believe, what their faith is, that is what makes the difference, and that means, just as African-Americans had to go out of our way to let white people know that we weren't the stereotype. African-Americans have led that to say to Muslim Americans now that they have to do the same thing.
NNAMDIIt's important to note the diversity that exists within American Muslim communities. I'd like you each to tell us briefly a little bit about your background and where you're from, starting with you, Johari Abdul-Malik.
ABDUL-MALIKOh, well, I'm a poor boy from Brooklyn. I grew up the parents -- my parents -- father from Barbados, not far from Guyana.
NNAMDIThat's where we connect, yes.
ABDUL-MALIKAnd my mother from Louisiana. I grew up an Episcopalian. I came to Howard University where I was exposed to so many different kinds of ideas and expressions, of faith. I got involved, as you did, with a lot politics and Africa and those things, and as a natural progression of that study, I accepted Islam.
NNAMDIWe mentioned that Johari Abdul-Malik is not only the outreach director at Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., he is the former chaplain at Howard University. Hadia Mubarak, tell us about your background and where you're from.
MUBARAKWell, my parents came to the United States as immigrants in the late '70s. My father is from Syria, and my mother is from Jordan. And I was born in New Jersey, but I grew up in northwest Florida. And I moved to Washington D.C. in 2003 to pursue my master's degree and then got married shortly after, and I've been here since.
NNAMDIYour background, Mohamed?
ELSANOUSIWell, I'm originally from the Sudan. I was born in the Sudan in the middle of the Sudan. I grew up in the Sudan, but my education, actually, is quite an international one. I went to the high school in Qatar, Doha. I did my bachelor's degree in Sharia law in Islamabad. That is Pakistan. And I came to the United States 12 years ago to do my master's in law, and also, I did my Ph.D. in law. And for the last eight years, I'm working with the Islamic Society of North America, moved to Washington area four years ago focusing on inter-faith relations and government relations.
NNAMDIYou did your master's and Ph.D. at Indiana University in Bloomington?
ELSANOUSIRight, in Bloomington, Ind. That's Hoosier State.
MUBARAKHadia, you grew up in a Muslim community in Florida. You're now starting a family here in the Washington area. How does the community in which you are raising your child now compare to the community you grew up in?
MUBARAKThere are some similarities, but overall, it's quite different. I think one unique feature of the Muslim community in this region is we have the privilege or luxury of choosing which community we want to belong to, depending on the religious mindset or outlook of the community, its general activities, the services they provide. And here, there's a variety of mosques from which to choose, and they're all very diverse. In -- where I grew up, in Panama City, Fla., there's one mosque, and that mosque is the community. So either you go to that mosque and you're part of the community or you don't. And there is no other option, and that is definitely unique, because if there's, you know, if there are individuals who come to the mosque who for some reason don't agree with some aspects of, you know, the administration or leadership, they really don't have any other choice, either they continue to come and bring their children to the mosque because they want their children to have a sense of Muslim identity or they don't go to the mosque. And then, they are somewhat alienated from the Muslim community, and that's been sort of the experience that I've seen.
NNAMDIMore specifically, I read an essay where you wrote about that, and you said that the mosque you grew up in Panama City was very different from the one you found when you went to college at Florida State University in Tallahassee. What was the difference?
MUBARAKAbsolutely. Very different. One thing that my experience has taught me is that the physical space given to women in a mosque, there's a strong correlation between where a woman sits on a mosque and then the overall role they're given in managing that mosque's affairs and whether or not their contributions are valued. In Panama City, where I grew up, women were part and parcel of the community. They could be seen. They weren't relegated to mere observers, you know, cordoned off in another room where they can't be seen. They were part of the main common prayer area, and also, they were part of the general assembly meetings. They were part of the board. Our weekend school was run by a woman.
MUBARAKWhen I went to Tallahassee, Fla., it was the complete opposite. We were cordoned off into a shed that was carpeted and affixed to the main building of the mosque, and the only connection between us and the main center was, you know, the sound speaker. So really, I felt relegated to just a mere observer where I could never be seen or heard, and I felt, in a sense, that was a huge contradiction to what I understood Islam to be and the rights that I felt and knew that Islam gave to women where, you know, historically, women were always a part of the community. They could be seen, they could be heard and their contributions were valued. And there was a clear contradiction in that mosque in Tallahassee. Unfortunately, they also had told us that we couldn't vote as women because our husbands were voting on our behalf. Of course, I was a single college student at the time. And we protested that and eventually, you know, they changed -- they did change. But it was a huge contrast to the mosque in which I grew up in Panama City, Fl. So one thing, I would argue is that there is no single blueprint to the American mosque.
NNAMDIJohari Abdul-Malik, to what extent is the widespread American perception that the Muslim mosque is homogenous that is the same any place you go, that they worship in the same way under the arrangements are the same? To what have you had to explain to people as you are now that there's a lot of diversity in mosques around the United States and around the world?
ABDUL-MALIKYou know, this kind of diversity really exemplifies something else and that is that as people come from different places to America, they bring their cultural baggage with them. Although, we may be reading from the same Qur'an, we believe in the same God, the same God that Christians and Jews believe in, but we bring toward a certain flavor, a certain culture. And Islam has provided an opportunity for that opening but sometimes it also brings along chauvinism, aspects of racism, class all manifest themselves in this. So it is usually easier in a Washington D.C. area. It's so cosmopolitan. People will say, I wanted to take my church to visit a mosque, but when I visited that mosque, I figured that wasn't the one I should bring him to, right? I should bring him to a different -- and so what Hadia is saying is that there are so many aspects of diversity. But what I'm finding now is that many of the centers are saying we want to drop that cultural baggage we've brought from back home. We really want a mosque that's more like what we experienced in America that all of us go to the check out together. We don't go to the bank together. We can all go to the mosque together.
NNAMDIIndeed, Mohamed, you grew up in Sudan. In your work with the Islamic Society of North America, you have traveled across the United States...
NNAMDIWhat would you say, if anything, makes the Muslim communities here in the Washington region unique?
ELSANOUSIWell, they -- the community here is very unique and, Kojo, to your point earlier regarding the diversity of the Muslim community, I was visiting with the Islamic Society of Baltimore this past Sunday and, in fact, and meeting with the board of directors there and they mentioned to me they did a survey two years ago and they found out they are 86 nationalities in one Islamic center that Islamic Society of Baltimore.
ABDUL-MALIKWow. Right. We have 37 language groups in my mosque.
ABDUL-MALIKBut 87 is tremendous.
ABDUL-MALIKEighty-six is tremendous.
ELSANOUSIEighty-six nationalities. They did the survey two years ago. And then they did a international food festival and they had from the Sunday school which about 200 kids there, they brought food representing 18 countries. This is just in one Islamic center. So...
NNAMDIBut it really underscores the point that Johari was making...
NNAMDI...when he calls it cultural baggage, people practice their religion in different ways based on the cultures they come from, based on the nations in which they live.
ELSANOUSIOf course, that's true, you know? Of course, there are some fundamentals in Islam people would agree upon, but there are cultural issues but the fundamental system is the same.
NNAMDIHow was life inside of the communities you belong to changed in the past 10 years? Hadia, I know that you wrote for The Washington Post that since 9/11, a lot of Muslims you know have felt an impulse to retreat so to speak or even give their children Anglo-Saxon names in public rather than represent their faith and reach out to others.
MUBARAKMm-hmm. Well, I think, there's been a double impact upon the community. On one hand, I think, a certain segment of the population has felt, like you said, an impulse to retreat and sort of felt sense of intimidation and alienation and was, you know, do not wanna identify outwardly as Muslim. On the other hand, I think, there is a segment of the community and I would consider myself a part of this segment that really felt a sense of responsibility towards the larger community and the Muslim community to, you know, go out there and represent ourselves and speak out on behalf of Muslims, because we realize there was a void and as long as that void existed, you know, there will -- others will -- were going to speak out on behalf whether they were Muslim, you know, radicals or extremists or whether, you known right-wing Islamophobes, you know, who are going to represent Islam on my behalf and the behalf of millions of other Muslims living in this country. So there were sort of this double impact were on one hand, some members of the community felt like, no, we need to reach out to the wider community and explain who we are.
NNAMDIHow do you -- Johari, how do you work against that impulse that some people obviously feel to retreat?
ABDUL-MALIKYou know, my job at my mosque was created really on September 11. The question is there were many immigrants who were in the mosque who were saying, I can't speak to this issue. Anything I say, people are gonna look at me with a jaundiced eye, they're just saying that we're against terrorism and so on and we don't really speak the language well. We don't understand the idiom. I was in Howard University Hospital seeing patients for the sickle cell center on September 11. I saw the smoke coming from the Pentagon, from the wing of the hospital. I knew that day that my weekend job was probably gonna take over my day job.
ABDUL-MALIKThe mosque called me and said, can you come in and help articulate this on behalf of the community, because you're an African-American. You already experienced racism segregation. We want you to speak up in a way to explain to people our position with the kind of authenticity that an indigenous person's voice can bring. And there were people who said I'm afraid on my job. I said, brother don't be afraid. They went to African-Americans on the job and said look, man, can you speak up for me because I think they're discriminating against me, but I trust you -- would you and get -- and that engagement, that outreach encourages people. And if you lead it, then they'll follow. So I can take 100 people to our community, actually, the community forum and they'll say, I'll come -- and I'll come with you. I'm afraid to go by myself but if you're gonna lead us then Imam, I'll follow you.
NNAMDIWe're taking you in a way inside the Muslim community in the greater Washington area and inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. What do you think can improve the relationships between Muslim communities and the rest of the Washington region? Or what do you find are the most common perceptions or misperceptions of the Muslim communities in our area? Call us at 800-433-8850. That's 800-433-8850. Or send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mohamed, Sharia law, you have studied it as a scholar. Some states in the U.S. like South Carolina are considering bills targeting Sharia law. What do you make of that trend and why do you feel so many Americans seem to look at Islamic values systems as incompatible with American values?
ELSANOUSIWell, you know, I think there is a lot of misperception out there. And, in fact, people -- when they hear Sharia, basically, they don't quite understand what that term means because they see some of the -- and Islamic practices in the Muslim world and, you know, in the name of Sharia. Then that is probably is going to scare people here. That's why you find people, you know, scared and fearful about the term Sharia. But I don't see any, you know, there is no way -- there are no intention for the American Muslim community to, you know, implement any kind of Sharia here in the United States and that's why we see this, you know. In Indiana, for instance, you know, there was an attempt also to pass the similar law which passed in Oklahoma but finally it didn't happen because they realized that with the activism of the American Muslim community and the engagement and the understanding that Imam Johari actually mentioned earlier that helped, you know, people when you meet and discussed some talk, you come with a kind of understanding so that people -- they know exactly what you mean. You know, the hope here is that to enhance understanding and the hope is that we want people to understand the religion correctly but not necessarily implementing any specific, you know, version of Sharia in the United States.
NNAMDIYou know, Johari, the shorthand version of Sharia here in the United States is women being stoned to death.
ABDUL-MALIKYeah. That's what people see.
NNAMDIAnd they think that's what -- the other aspect of this is that we think that it is something that imposed on people and they simply have to live under. What about that as a misperception?
ABDUL-MALIKLet's think about this. I grew up in Brooklyn. There's a Jewish community in Brooklyn. They are living much of their life under Jewish law, the dietary law, their religious practices, their prayers, their manner of dress. Those personal aspects are the aspects of Sharia defined by the Qur'an that a person who believes in Islam, they have accepted this religion and have decided that I'm not gonna eat pork because Sharia says don't eat pork. I'm not going to engage in certain types of behaviors because those behaviors are against my religious teachings. But in the manner of the society, that 99 percent of the laws in Sudan -- I'm gonna pick on Sudan because I was there... (laugh)
ELSANOUSIYou were there. I knew that, yeah.
ABDUL-MALIK...are manmade. They are trying to create a society that's based on -- but the rules of the faith, you can practice them anywhere you like as long as there is freedom. And so the issue is we're free in America as Muslims to practice my dietary laws, to practice my prayers, to fast at the prescribed times according to the religion. But that's not gonna cause my neighbor to have to keep kosher or to change his manner of dress or to grow a beard or whatever.
NNAMDIWe're gonna take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue this conversation with Mohamed Elsanousi, director of Community Outreach for the Islamic Society of North America. Hadia Mubarak is a doctoral student at Georgetown University, where she also earned a master's degree on contemporary Arab studies. She was the first national female president of the Muslim Students Association. And Johari Abdul-Malik is outreach director at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va. He's the former chaplain at Howard University. We're gonna take a short break. And when we come back, we'll be continuing our winter membership campaign. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking about the Muslims who live in the Washington area, taking a look inside their lives on how events over the past 10 years or so have affected them. We're talking with Mohamed Elsanousi, director of Community Outreach for the Islamic Society of North America, Hadia Mubarak, a doctoral student at Georgetown University. She's earned a master's degree in contemporary Arab studies there. She was the first national female president of the Muslim Students Association. And Johari Abdul-Malik, outreach director at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va. He is the former chaplain at Howard University. I'll go directly to the telephones, starting with Bill in Arlington, Va. Bill, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BILLYes. Hi, Kojo. Thank you for having me on. I had two points or questions, first of all, in the acceptance of Muslims. The problem that I've seen is that, as was said by one of your guests, the cultural baggage is getting in the way of being accepted. A Muslim woman wearing a burqa in the United States is not gonna be accepted no matter what by the rest of American society because we don't wear burqas here nor do our women. And as long as they continue to bring that kind of stealth with them and not integrate into American society the way everybody else is then they're gonna have a hard time being accepted no matter what they say, and they're bringing it on themselves essentially.
NNAMDIBill, what did you think about what Johari Abdul-Malik said about some of the orthodox Jewish communities in New York, which have been there for years and which dress in their traditional religious dress?
BILLThe traditional religious garb doesn't totally hide their face. That's the difference. You know, the women will wear scarves, the men wear hats, they wear coats, but you can see their face, you can -- and we, in America, have our interaction by facial expressions and looking at people. If you don't know who's under the burqa and what their facial expression is or any of that stuff, how can you possibly deal with them as an American?
NNAMDIYou do raise a cultural issue there, Hadia Mubarak, the notion that here in America, we tend to like to look into people's eyes and be able to interpret what we see on their faces. How do you deal with that? Your face, for instance, is not covered.
MUBARAKNo, it's not, but my hair is covered...
MUBARAK...and that's the question, you know, I would pose to Bill is, you know, where do we draw the line? Personally, I don't think it's necessarily wise to cover your face in the United States for many reasons, health reasons, safety reasons, et cetera. But at the same time, do we, you know, force everyone to, you know, uncover their faces. Or, I mean -- the question again is, you know, when we say we provide -- the United States stands for religious freedom, my question is where do we draw the line? I can understand if there's a safety issue or health concern or whatnot. But, you know, I know that there are people who look to me and -- wearing my head scarf and think that immediately assume that I don't speak English, or I remember I was pulled over by a police officer here in Virginia or, you know, close to D.C. and asked if I was looking for the immigration office. This actually happened to me here in Virginia, very close -- around Arlington...
NNAMDIMerely because your head was covered.
MUBARAKExactly. And so, you know, these stereotypes exist. And I think, you know, one of the fundamental problems in our society at large is this, you know, the correlation between Islam and foreign culture. And we tend to assume that any outward manifestation of Islam, such as donning head scarf, such as, you know, wearing, you know, having a beard or, you know, the building of mosques, that it's somehow a rejection of American culture. And I wanna challenge that stereotype because I think at its root, it's xenophobic because it assumes that our culture is exclusively Judeo-Christian and that, you know, the outward manifestation of Islam or any other religion is somehow a departure from American culture.
BILLWell, I think the scarf or hat is acceptable. I don't see any problem with that. It's when you're cutting yourself off from society wearing a complete covering is where I see the problem and where that generates more issues. The second point I was gonna make is I think your guest far too simplify the Sharia law issue. You know, the Sharia law in my understanding is you can't just pick and choose which laws you want to obey under Sharia law. If you're under Sharia law, you're under Sharia law, and Sharia law essentially makes women third-class citizens. And that is not the way we do things in America.
NNAMDII'll turn to our expert here on Sharia law and that is Mohamed Elsanousi. Care to respond to Bill.
ELSANOUSIWell, it's, you know, it's not pick and choose basically. What Imam Johari said actually -- and compare that, you know, some of the religious communities other than Muslims, actually, they're practicing their faith and using, by the way, the way of the Sharia basically. If he mentioned, you know, the Jewish community, you know -- I also wrote about the Hasidic Jews in New York and the way actually they -- it is very socially closed community. They have specific, you know, way of life. I mean, by the way, they are actually implementing their Sharia in their personal lives. So here also, we, as Muslims, we practice our religion in a personal level and we do not impose that to that entire society.
ELSANOUSIYou know, I was discussing with one of our friends, you know, the issue of Sharia and all of this misunderstanding and misconception about the Sharia law. And we're seeing that, you know, for instance, my (word?) the, you know, some of the evangelicals, for instance, right now, they are against abortion, let's say, but they cannot impose that in the entire society, right? Because -- so there are religious communities here that cannot even impose their own way of thinking and religious practices.
NNAMDIBill, thank you very much for your call. I'd like to move on to Mumin in Chantilly, Va. Mumin, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MUMINThanks for having me. Yeah, I'm Mumin with Montgomery County Muslim Council. Question is -- Congressman Peterson King plans in holding hearings on radicalization of American Muslims. Question number one is what do the guests think about the upcoming hearing on radicalization of American Muslims….
NNAMDILet's talk about -- let's deal with one question at a time, because as Mumin has pointed out, Peter King is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. He's gonna be holding hearings investigating the radicalization and recruitment of American Muslims by terrorists. I'd really like to hear not only what you think about that, but what was the reaction of people in your community to that announcement of these hearings, and what do you make of the stated purpose of these hearings? First you, Johari.
ABDUL-MALIKI mean, categorically, all of the Muslim organizations have said this is really inappropriate. It's almost un-American. The idea that one could single out a particular religious group and then attribute any acts of terrorism to the whole group and therefore we need to investigate American Muslims to see what about their religion is making them so radical. This is totally unacceptable, in the same way we would never have acts of the Ku Klux Klan be attributed to all Christians or Timothy McVeigh because he's a Catholic and he had some friends who are Catholic that now we need to investigate the Catholic Church in Oklahoma City. It really is offensive. I think it's really more of a political agenda. I, as an American Muslim, I am one -- my stepmother was at ground zero on 9/11, so I have my own personal feelings about terrorism as it relates to my own family. But then, someone tried to drive my wife off the road and yelled to her, why don't you go back to where you came from -- she's from Ohio, right?
ABDUL-MALIKThen, the notion that if I have any anxiety about the suffering of Muslims in other countries, then I'm considered to be a traitor, these are the kinds of issues that are fermented inside the Muslim community that when you say we're going through something along with our American neighbor, and then our congressman, rather than leading us to how we can work together as a community -- we are on the frontline. I just came back from Afghanistan with the State Department to talk about what it means to be a Muslim in America, what freedom means to practice your faith. And then to have a congressman who's probably projected all over the Muslim world as someone who's Islamophobic, I think it's outrageous.
NNAMDILet's give the best of intentions to the congressman in this situation, Hadia, and talk about what your concerns are or hopes for young people in your community and how they are influenced by people who may be trying to radicalize them. Because I suspect what's driving a lot of these stories about a group of young men from Virginia who ended up going to the Middle East and ended up being arrested in Pakistan and they were -- it was thought that somehow people got to them here and radicalized them. What are your concerns about this, Hadia?
MUBARAKWell, it's definitely disturbing. But if I could speak to the, you know, Congressman Peter King...
MUBARAK...issue first for a second, I mean, coming from academia, you know, one of the issues I have is that it's operating on a very faulty premise, which is it presumes from the onset by the questions he's asking that there's a correlation between Islam and radicalization. That it is the religion that is driving these people to commit, you know, acts of terror or radicalizes -- or Islam itself, you know, is an inherent radicalizing factor in this question. And, you know, I mean, if he is serious about making the United States more secure and really, you know, solving the problems of extremism, I think he would try to operate on a neutral ground and find out what are all the factors that motivate people, you know, to do X, Y or Z, or what actually motivates. So, I mean, I think study after study has shown...
MUBARAK...that Islam itself has nothing to do with individuals who go abroad, like you said, and wanna commit these acts of terror, that there are other driving factors -- psychological issues of alienation and political, you know, where -- and Gallup studies have shown -- this is a very important study by Robert Pape -- that also show that political issues tend to be the driving force for many of these individuals.
NNAMDIJohari, Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric who's been accused of communicating with several people who've tried to attack American citizens, including the shooter at Fort Hood last year, used to belong to your community in Falls Church. But you have asked online vendors to stop carrying recordings of his lectures. Why?
ABDUL-MALIKWell, first, let's be clear. When Anwar al-Awlaki was at our mosque on 9/11, after 9/11, he was a proponent for engagement. He was condemning terrorism on behalf of the mosque as the Imam. He was written up in Time magazine and really put forward as the kind of moderate and American Imam that we need. That wasn't us. That was Time magazine -- it was New York Times. Anwar al-Awlaki went back home and was incarcerated. And he claims he was tortured by the Yemeni government and that they said that we are torturing you because we want information that the United States government is asking for. And they couldn't torture you, so we're gonna torture you. And I think after those experiences, if you look at his timeline, after that he got kind of salty on America and began saying negative things.
ABDUL-MALIKI don't think that the Anwar al-Awlaki that was with us was the same man that they created during his incarceration. So, now, that Anwar al-Awlaki is saying that not only is American a target, but that American Muslims are targets. And when he crossed that line, I sent out a notice that said to the vendors who sell his material, which was completely legitimate material. But it's a slippery slope. If a young person reads something or listened to a tape that he produced in 2000, they may look for the latest recording, which is now an angry, hostile and radicalized Anwar al-Awlaki. And so to prevent that, I asked him to remove, and they did remove those materials from the local stores that sell his tapes.
NNAMDII should point out that one of the things that Johari also said was I also believe that the protocols of the elders of Zion serves no useful purpose in an Islamic bookstore. The Islamic bookstore, unlike a library, should carry books that present the positions of facts and not racism or anti-Semitism. Therefore, I am urging all Muslim bookstores and online vendors of Islamic lectures to discontinue carrying the recorded lectures of Anwar al-Awlaki. On now to Muhammad in Washington, D.C. Muhammad, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MUHAMMADYes. Hi. How are you, Kojo, and everybody else? I just -- the thing that bothers me the most is the misconception of women rights in Islam. Actually, Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings be upon him, was the first man to give rights to women. And I think if people just pay a little bit more attention and see the rights of women and how women live in the Middle East, they will change their mind very quick. I happen to be a director of a mosque in Washington, D.C. And I will let you know that the burqa, for example, is not affirmed on the women. It is a cultural thing that was adopted by certain groups, certain countries, and they chose to wear it. But the woman is only -- was to cover her head only. Now if we look at the Christianity, for example, we look at the pictures that they projected of Mary, the mother of Jesus, she has covered her head. If you go to churches and you look at the nuns, they cover their heads, and nobody says anything about that. I think...
NNAMDIOkay. Muhammad, unfortunately, we're running out of time very quickly, and I'd like to get at least one more call in before we go. But thank you very much for your call. Final call would come from Jean in Springfield, Va. Jean, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JEANYes. I just like to say that as American neighbors, we have a duty to meet our Muslim neighbors and learn from them. I did that a number of years ago. It was right after 9/11. And I could not have had a more wonderful friend. They even brought me dishes during Ramadan.
NNAMDIThat's very interesting. Johari has never brought me any dishes during Ramadan. You should know that he and I are friends for a long time.
JEANThis was an Afghani young woman. And I just, you know -- it was just a wonderful experience.
NNAMDIAnd I think that's an appropriate note to end on because what we wanted to provide with this broadcast was some insight into how Muslims live in the Washington area, some of their hopes and dreams and some of their fears. Johari Abdul-Malik is outreach director at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va. He is a former chaplain at Howard University. Any final words, Johari?
ABDUL-MALIKIf you really wanna get a sense of what's really happening among young people, there's a young -- a new place called the Nur Café -- people can go online -- where you can hear spoken word. I think we've got...
NNAMDIWhere is it?
ABDUL-MALIKIt's in Falls Church, Va. We've got the Crescent Moon Nights. If you go online, young people who are doing spoken word, hip-hop, speaking truth to power, it's a monthly set. All young people, but it's run by young Muslims. If you really wanna get in touch with what young Muslims are thinking about, go to Crescent Moon Nights.
NNAMDIMohamed Elsanousi is director of community outreach for the Islamic Society of North America. Mohamed, thank you for joining us.
ELSANOUSIThank you so much. I just wanna say a few words regarding Peter King's hearing.
NNAMDIMake it brief -- briefly.
ELSANOUSII will make it very brief. I think the real issue here is that we really need to be united to protect our nation. And singling out the Muslim community for political show trial does not accomplish that. So I think we really need to work together.
NNAMDIHadia Mubarak is a doctoral student at Georgetown University. She earned a master's degree there in contemporary Arab studies. She was the first national female president of the Muslim Students Association. Hadia Mubarak, thank you so much for joining us.
MUBARAKThanks for inviting us.
NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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