Director’s Desk, November 18, 2013


My appointment as Executive Director has continued to generate media attention. I was interviewed last week by Radio Sawa, a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week Arabic-language radio station broadcasting in the Arab world. The station is a service of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, and is publicly funded by the U.S. Congress. Read the story (in Arabic) at

I was also interviewed on AslanMedia, the website of best-selling American Muslim author Reza Aslan.

Around Philadelphia

Last week, I represented CAIR at a meeting of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light, a community of faith-based organizations responding to climate change as a moral issue, through advocacy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, and the use of clean, renewable energy. PAIPL is planning a city-wide interfaith conference in the Fall of 2014 to address such issues as the energy industry’s proposal to turn Philadelphia into an “energy hub” for compressed natural gas. This would require the dangerous transporting — by pipeline or train through a large urban center danger — of combustible and dangerous fuels, and lead to expanded “fracking” as a method of extracting natural gas.

We should note that of all religious communities in the world, it is the Muslim Ummah (in the Arab Gulf, India, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia) that is most at risk from raising sea levels due to human-induced climate change.

To learn more about this important issue, please read the article “Climate Change and Global Warming: An Islamic Perspective” by Imam Ebraima Kebba Saidy, Imam of the Daru Salaam Islamic Centre and Member of the Imam Committee of the Islamic Council of Norway.

I attended an evening lecture at the University of Pennsylvania by Paul Cobb, UPenn Professor of Islamic History, on “Getting Crusaded: Medieval Islam and the Pointy End of Christian Holy War.”  Cobb presented a view of the Crusades from the perspective of the Muslims of the Middle East who were invaded by European armies they considered as uncultured, if not barbaric. Middle Eastern Muslims left rich and detailed accounts of these strange European invaders. This lecture was a useful corrective to the standard Euro-centric view of the Crusaders as chivalrous and brave knights bringing Christianity to the infidels of the East. (We should also remember President George W. Bush’s unfortunate use of the word “Crusade” in referring to his “War on Terror.”)

(Above: Richard the Lion-Hearted battles Salah-ah-Din in a contemporary Christian depiction.)

For more information about this subject, see the book “The Crusades Through Arab Eyes” by Lebanese author Amin Maalouf.

My Listening Tour

As the new Executive Director of CAIR-Philadelphia, I and members of the chapter’s Executive Committee have been on a listening tour to hear about your concerns as Muslims of the Philadelphia region, and what you would ideally want this CAIR chapter to concentrate on. We will continue over the next weeks and months to hold these “Meet and Greet” events in community members’ home across the Delaware Valley. If you and group of CAIR supporters and future supporters would like to set up a meeting, please feel free to contact me in the CAIR-Philadelphia office.