Nihad Awad: ' The Oklahoma City bombing was a watershed event for our nation and its Muslim population"
CAIR: Extremism Resurgent 15 Years After Oklahoma City Bombing
Muslims initially blamed for bombing by agenda-driven terror 'experts'
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/19/2010) -- A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today marked the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City by calling on all Americans to challenge the recent resurgence of the same anti-government extremism that lead to the bombing masterminded by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.
[NOTE: CAIR-OK Executive Director Razi Hashmi attended the 15th anniversary memorial today in Oklahoma City. He may be contacted at: 405-248-5853, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org]
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In a statement, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
"As we commemorate the 15th anniversary of the terror attack in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people and join the victims' families in remembering their loved ones, we must also recognize that the same anti-government extremism that lead to the attack is growing and is unfortunately moving toward the mainstream.
"The Oklahoma City bombing was a watershed event for our nation, and in particular for its American Muslim population. Just as Muslims and Arab-Americans were targeted in the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, they are being targeted today by the same extremists and 'experts' who sought to blame them for the 1995 attack.
"We must all challenge any form of hate rhetoric, stereotyping and blind extremism that clouds rational thought, creates unnecessary divisions within our society and will inevitably lead to more acts of violence."
He cited the recent politically-motivated terror attack on the IRS facility in Texas, the shooting of guards at the Pentagon and the arrests of anti-government militia members who allegedly planned to kill law enforcement officers to spark an anti-government revolt similar to that envisioned by the Oklahoma City bombers.
Awad also noted the growing collaboration between anti-government extremists and anti-Muslim hate groups nationwide. A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), titled "Rage on the Right," noted that "so-called 'Patriot' groups -- militias and other organizations that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose 'one-world government' on liberty-loving Americans -- came roaring back after years out of the limelight."
SEE: CAIR Concerned About Reported Rise in Militias, 'Patriot' Groups
Fla. Muslim Asks FBI to Probe Harassment by Hate Group
While many cautioned against a rush to blame any particular group for the attack, Steven Emerson was one of the so-called "terrorism experts" who initially blamed Muslims for the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. He told CBS News the bombing was a reflection of "a Middle Eastern trait." (4/19/95) [One American Muslim, Ibrahim Ahmad, was even arrested following the bombing and held for two days before being released without charge. Emerson is viewed by many as one of the nation's leading Islamophobes who has made a career out of promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.]
SEE: Stereotyping Muslims
Steven Emerson's Crusade (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting)
Smearcasters: Steven Emerson
That and similar unsubstantiated rhetorical links sparked a wave of anti-Muslim hysteria that resulted in almost 250 incidents of harassment, discrimination and actual violence against American Muslims or those perceived to be Middle Eastern.
According to the Daily Oklahoman newspaper: "Sahar Al-Muwsawi, 26, said...she was watching reports of the bombing on television on April 20 when she heard a car's brakes squeal outside her Oklahoma City home. Then she heard objects hitting the window and thought people were shooting at the house. Muwsawi, who was nearly seven months pregnant, grabbed her 2-year-old daughter and another child in the home and took them to the bathroom and locked the door. She said she started bleeding and called her husband, who rushed home and took her to the hospital. A stillborn baby boy was delivered several hours later." (5/20/95) That baby boy was named Salaam, or "peace."
Other incidents ranged from a suspected arson attack on a mosque, to drive-by shootings at Islamic centers and assaults on Muslim students. Many Muslim institutions around America also reported phoned bomb threats, and in one case, a fake bomb was thrown at a Muslim day care facility. Individual Muslims reported a great increase in harassment by co-workers and in public. The harassment led to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the Muslim community.
CAIR documented the anti-Muslim backlash following the Oklahoma City bombing in a report called "A Rush to Judgment." That report was the first of CAIR's now-annual reports on the status of American Muslim civil rights.
To view CAIR's annual civil rights reports, go here.
Shortly after the bombing, CAIR's executive director, representing a number of Muslim organizations, met with the governor of Oklahoma and delivered to him checks totaling $21,000 for the Victims and Families Relief Fund.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787 or 202-341-4171, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org