After the United Arab Emirates’ move to link American Islamic advocacy groups in a terror list along with Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Taliban and the so-called Islamic State, Muslim and non-Muslim leaders alike in America and abroad are pushing back and asking for answers.
"We call on the United Arab Emirates to remove the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) from their designated terrorist groups list,” Azhar Azeez, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the oldest and largest American Muslim umbrella organization, told OnIslam.net.
“These mainstream American Muslim organizations are US based, with a rich legacy of service and dedication to protecting, promoting and supporting Muslim communities and defending the civil rights of Muslims in North America.
“They are being inaccurately labeled and associated with terrorist groups,” she added.
This is the same line taken by the MAS and CAIR, which are now deemed terrorist organizations by the United Arab Emirates..
In a statement released expressing shock over the designation, MAS said, “The Muslim American Society is a religious community service organization that serves people in the United States. We have no dealings with the United Arab Emirates and hence are perplexed by this news.”
Nihad Awad, the executive director and founder of CAIR, recently appeared on CNN expressing his surprise at what he called the UAE’s “bizarre move.”
“This is quite frightening to us that a state like the UAE would designate (as a terror group) an American civil rights and advocacy organization like CAIR… and that’s why we’re seeking clarification (about why we were included on this list),” Awad said, emphasizing that CAIR is an independent American outfit and “one of the strongest opponents to extremism and terrorism.”
He added that MAS and European advocacy groups also named as terrorist organizations are doing the same.
CAIR and MAS joined 83 other groups on the list including the Muslim Brotherhood – the first group named –the Muslim Association of Britain, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) and Islamic Relief UK (IRUK). As of press time the UAE had not stated its reasons for including these groups on its list.
Sharif Aly, national spokesman for Islamic Relief USA which is not on the UAE terror group list, spoke out against Islamic Relief Worldwide’s inclusion, calling it “absurd.”
“There’s no merit to it whatsoever,” Aly told OnIslam.net.
“We have worked with (IRW) for years, and we find them to be an admirable partner who works and strives to serve people in poverty all around the world.”
Islamic Relief Worldwide released a statement on November 17 strongly denying any involvement in terror activity, calling the listing a mistake and promising it will lobby for its removal from the list.
“We abhor terrorism in all its forms, and we categorically refute any allegations of links to terrorism and any such accusations that have been made by the UAE.”
Despite the UAE’s silence about how they compiled the list, the United States and other governments are looking for an explanation.
It was announced that Norway’s foreign minister has made a public inquiry about why the Islamic Organization, his country’s largest Islamic group, made it to the list.
In addition, the US State Department said Monday it would be seeking answers from the UAE, confirming it does not consider prominent Muslim American groups as terrorist organizations.
Moreover, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) asked UAE on Tuesday to remove American Muslim organizations from its designated terrorist group list.
"We call on the United Arab Emirates to remove the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) from their designated terrorist groups list,” ISNA said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
“These mainstream American Muslim organizations are US based, with a rich legacy of service and dedication to protecting, promoting, supporting Muslim communities and defending the civil rights of Muslims in North America. They are being inaccurately labeled and associated with terrorist groups.”
Links to Brotherhood?
Many commentators have suggested that CAIR and the other groups’ inclusion is a nod to their alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. However, Awad emphatically denied that CAIR has any links to the group.
“It has no factual basis in reality and should be challenged publicly and legally, and we do not feel that they (the UAE) have any moral, judicial or political basis that makes sense,” he said.
Despite distancing his group from the Muslim Brotherhood, Awad refuted the UAE report that the group is a terror organization, saying it is “widely recognized as the largest social opposition (to Egypt’s former regime) by the West and by independent researchers.”
MAS, however, has clear links to the Muslim Brotherhood, as members of that group founded MAS in Illinois in 1993.
In fact, many of the surprise inclusions on the UAE terror list have some kind of links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
So that is why many analysts consider the inclusions of groups in the list, given that the UAE’s criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood is no secret, especially following the incarceration earlier this year of many people the UAE suspected of being linked to the group.
However, the move to put so many people behind bars was frowned on by the many countries and earned the UAE criticism by Amnesty International, a three-million membership strong human-rights organization with support from all corners of the globe.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which was declared a “terrorist” organization by the Egyptian and Saudi government last year, is Egypt’s oldest and largest Islamist movement.