Dr. Farouque Khan of the Islamic Center of Long Island was kind enough to answer a few questions about Peter King, and his relationship with the Center and Muslims before and after 9/11.
Dr. Khan among others at the Center have been branded "extremists" by King but the truth is far from what King says.
King Watch: How long has the center been open and what is your title/connection with the Islamic Center of Long Island?
Dr. Khan: Since 1984, Mosque building completed in 1991. I have served as president of the excutive comm. and currently serve as chair of the board of trustees for a three year term-2006-2009--all voluntary.
King Watch: How long have you known Rep. Peter King?
Dr. Khan: Since he was first elected, I believe in 1992 when I visited him, after that he visited my home($$$$), the mosque several times, including a book discussion of his first novel--Terrible Beauty-in which he describes the evolution of IRA and "Bernadette Hanlon" a housewife who becomes a 'terrorist' after her family suffers at the hands of the British etc.
On Aug 13 2001,he wrote on this book: "To Dr Faroque Khan--with my thanks for your friendship--All the best."
This pretty much covers our pre 9/11 relationship, cordial, professional, he sometimes called me and sought my views regarding medical questions and his chief of staff Gene Turner was in regular communication.
Congressman King attended my son's wedding reception as well. I also visited him in Washington when I was part of American College of Physicians-ACP- delegation and shared some ACP proposals regarding healthcare with him.
King Watch: King's comments about the 85% of Mosques being run by "extremists" coincided with the release of his book about muslim terrorists. Do you think his attacks on american-muslims was to increase his media presence and promote his book?
Dr. Khan: For well over a year post 9/11 2001 I was receiving regular mailings and responses from Cong King, his attacks and statements seemed to 'coincide' with the release of his book. If he was aware of statements from me or other's post 9/11 why did he wait for well over a year before speaking out??.
King Watch: King has made charges against you citing an incident at Temple Beth El in October 2001. He says attendees walked out while ou were speaking. What exactly happend and why is King saying differently?
Dr. Khan: As per Rabbi Jerome Davidson, a family left the sanctuary while I was speaking as they were running late for an event to celebrate a kid's birthday etc.
Rabbi Davidson stated this in a letter he wrote to Newsday in 2004 and incidentally Cong King was not present at that event.
King Watch: King contributed to your book "Story of a Mosque in America," saying "My visit to ICLI was memorable.I couldn't help but be impressed with the work ethic, devotion to family and spiritual commitment so evident at the center. It has been gratifying for me to help build a political awareness in this, the fastest-growing religious group in America."
Why do you think Kings views have changed?
Dr. Khan: I am puzzled and have requested Cong. (King) several times to let us know what specifically is bothering him, he has not responded to several written and personal invites.
King Watch: According to FEC filings, King took contributions from you after his attack on the Islamic Center. Did he attempt to return the contribution?
Dr. Khan: No, and he received and kept a sizable donation from the current president of Islamic Center--Mr Habeeb Ahmed within the past few months, who also invited Congressman to visit and meet with ICLI executive and board.
King Watch: Has King tried to make amends with you or the Islamic Center? Have you met with him since his original comments? Have you reached out to him?
Dr. Khan: We have invited King to our interfaith events, to our annual dinner and he has not responded.
King Watch: In the NYPost opinion piece by Adam Brodsky, he attributes some quotes to Ghazi Khankan. What did Mr. Khankan say and was it taken out of context or distorted?
Dr. Khan: I have no idea.
King Watch: How would you characterize yours and the Centers relationship with the Long Island Jewish community?
Dr. Khan: We have hosted several Jewish groups at ICLI, ourmdialogue with Temple Beth El in Great Neck--American Muslims and Jews in Dialogue-AMJID- is active and going strong, AMJID is used as a model in USA,we have hosted American Jewish Congress and there guests like Rabbi Rosen from Israel and last month a twelve member delegation from Israel. ICLI was selected for a unique Abrahamic delegation that visited Israel/Palestine in Feb 2006 with Rabbi Berman, Sternstein, two Catholic priests Fr Williams/Eichner and me along with 16 Catholic/Jewish/Muslim 11th graders, this was written up in Newsday/NY Times and featured as a special on God Squad--need I say more.
King Watch: Peter King is sending out a letter to what it looks like only Jewish constituents with the NYPost piece attached.
The letter states "For instance, leaders at the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury have publicaly stated that the CIA and the "zionists" may have been responsible for the 9/11 attacks." and on political contributions "What I am concerned about, however, is the larger issue of what it means to have people, who accuse Jews and he CIA of being responsible for 9/11, taking such an active role without the public knowing just who they are and what they stand for."
Do you think this is an attempt to create a wedge between Long Island Muslims and Jews for the sake of votes?
Dr. Khan: Clearly the facts outlined in my previous answer contradict what the Congressman is saying and yes, this letter has the potential of undoing all the good work many of us have been doing in building bridges between faith groups. Incidentally in 2004- AMJID--received the faith fellowship award for our pioneering work with the Jewish community and in Oct. we are planning a joint Sukkoth-Ramadhan celebration at ICLI, last year we had this event in Temple Beth El in Great Neck, I will invite Cong King to the event.
King Watch: How do you feel about Peter King questioning your right to participate in the political process and those of other muslims?
Dr. Khan: He never questioned our rights in the past, in fact his chief of staff Gene Turner gave a session at the ICLI some years ago on how to become effective citizens.
Thank you for your time Dr. Khan.