Friday, September 15, 2006

People of Different Faiths Respond to NYPost Smear

The NYPost had a bit of dirty politics smear op-ed with Adam Brodsky's attack on Long Island Muslims and Dave Mejias.
King is using the op-ed for a campaign mailing along with a letter he is sending out to only Jewish constituents in hopes by creating divisions and foster fear, he can win re-election.
Peter King Watch is in receipt of letters sent to Brodsky and the Post, all of which never saw print.
We present them below.
Note the cross-section if faiths represented in the letters defending the Long Island Islamic Center.

The NYPost op-ed can be found here.

Mr. Brodsky,

This letter is in response to your article Pete King's Muslim Mess. Have you ever sat and talked with Dr. Khan or visited the Westbury mosque? I have and Dr. Faroque Khan is a rational, intelligent and diplomatic person. To associate him with extremism or terrorism is so far from the truth. He puts great effort and time in the Muslim and local community working to make a peaceful world. The Westbury Mosque is a beautiful integration of all people of Islam. Members are from diverse backgrounds including Egyptian, Indian, Pakistani, African American, Moroccan, Bangladesh, and "white" American to name a few. We work to improve ourselves and the community through prayer and charitable efforts.

It seems that you are the one spewing extremism in your article. I urge you to open your narrow field of information and sit down with Long Island Muslims and see who we really are. The unsubstantiated opinions you write are offensive to anyone who has a mind and can think. Peter King is pressing for racial profiling and condemning an entire religion. Isn't that reminiscent of what the Germans did to the Jewish community during Hitler's reign? I am a Muslim born and raised on Long Island. I love this country and the freedoms it gives me, one of which is the freedom of speech. I also know that along with freedom of speech there comes responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to speak with truth and knowledge and not just repeat propaganda and political rhetoric. Muslim Americans want the same for their children and grandchildren that all Americans want- the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. I do not think we create a safer world through scapegoating. I think we create a safer world through dialoguing and diplomacy. I am saddened when I hear educated members of the American community and our leaders propagating hatred and fear of Islam. I believe their words are based on ignorance and misinformation. Maybe they should educate themselves, open their minds, look at all sides of the world situation and work towards real peace.

Barbara Cartabuke, Smithtown New York

Dear Mr. Brodsky:

In response to your 9/3/06 Post column, "Peter King's Muslim Mess," I have the following questions for you: Have you ever visited the Islamic Center of Long Island? Have you ever spoken personally to Dr. Faroque Khan, or read his writings?

If not, how do you know that they have "pushed a virulent anti-Israeli agenda for years." And, by the way, how many years?

I have actually known Dr. Khan for (actual) years (since 1999) and have visited ICLI and listened to sermons there on numerous occasions (at least 10 over the same period of time), bringing groups of medical residents and Sunday School students with me (as part of a series of field trips to the great faiths' houses of worship to give them a better appreciation of the role of religion in the lives of their fellow-citizens) . I have heard only one sermon there that had any inflammatory tone at all, and I promptly criticized it to mosque leaders after, without any refutation from them. All the others were about the serious practice of religion, not politics - some interesting, some boring. (Sermons are given by a large variety of laymen, and are not subject to prior censorship. Imagine a church or synagogue which invited most laymen to give sermons, without screening: do you think maybe an occasional extreme thought would occur about a pet topic?) I have personally heard Dr. Khan advocate a negotiated settlement in the Middle East that includes Israel's security as an essential element. He is one of the chief American voices for Muslim moderation in the world at large, and for peaceful, lawful civic participation by Muslims in America.

The fact that Sami al-Arian once chaired ISNA prove that the latter is extremist any more than the fact that New York once elected Paul O'Dwyer (who was a lawyer for Irish-American sympathizers who ran guns for the IRA) City Council President makes New York (or its government of the time) an extremist community. Another term for the guilt by association that you delight in is "McCarthyism."

Clearly you know very little about what you talk about. But the fact that the Post lets you prattle on in prime space about a subject you have not researched for yourself is no surprise after seeing how "fair and balanced" Rupert Murdoch's Fox News can be. (And let me add, Peter King may be a favored Murdoch Republican, but he is a lousy news source on this subject - once a visitor to ICLI and friend to Dr. Khan, King began to fling accusations when he had a novel to market, allegations which a local Great Neck rabbi has refuted and which King never substantiated.)

You should be as ashamed of yourself. Your column suggests that you are a character assassin and a yellow journalist, a purveyor or hatred and extremism yourself. Faroque Khan is a much better American than your column shows you to be, since he believes in and practices fair and reasoned speech. You might learn something from him if you visited ICLI and listened to him give a sermon - like the one my Sunday School class and I heard in 2004 about America's blessed Thanksgiving holiday. If you want to actually read something that Dr. Khan has actually said, please request a copy from me, and I'll email it to you. It might be a start back towards the truth - the truth your Mom probably once asked you to make your standard when you speak (or write).

Frederick A. Smith, MD,
Garden City, NY

Mr. Brodksy,

I was greatly dismayed by your character assasination of Dr. Faroque Khan, and your inflammatory comments about Long Island's Muslim community, in your September 3 article on "Pete King's Muslim Mess." Dr. Khan has been a voice of moderation, tolerance, understanding and peace for years. Nobody I know - whether Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jew or Hindu - has ever characterized him as an extremist. I suspect you will receive many comments and e-mails expressing similar sentiments in his defense.
The issue of racial profiling is a very serious one, and one that deserves to be looked at cogently and carefully. To label someone's comments as proof of extremism because he or she has raised objections to racial profiling, or because that individual supports a Congressional opponent's point of view, is unfair and does a disservice to the readers of the New York Post and the public at large.

Maj. Humayun J. Chaudhry, USAFR, MC, FS

Mr. Brodsky,

Although I'm sure you have already set your mind in the wrong direction, let me try in any little way to redirect your thinking. I am personally acquainted with both Mr. Ghazi Khankan and Dr. Faroque Khan for at least 9 years and can assure you that you have mislabeled them and misquote (or misrepresented quotes....whichever the case, you have done your readers a great disservice). I am an American born white woman who converted to Islam 17 years ago. Never considering myself, or my husband (who isn't even really practicing by the standards of most Muslim) to be drawn to extreme people of any type, I can attest to the fact that we have both had very enjoyable times with these fine gentleman discussing everything from religion to politics, from property taxes to college tuition. I have had dinner at Dr. Khan's house with his family, whom are highly educated and VERY down to earth (or western some might say). Mr. Khankan has attended events with my husband and myself. Never have I heard a hateful thing come from their mouths, not against America (their adopted homeland...where they raised their children), not against Jewish or Isreal, and DEFINITELY not in support of the views of Islam or actions taken by the terrorists groups we hear about daily in the our free press. I think it is your responsiblity, as a report who is educating the uneducated on a daily basis, to never misrepresent or slant the truth. Do you know WHY the Islamic Center of Long Island has withdrawn their support from Mr. King? Did you CONTACT either Dr. Khan or Mr. Khankan to find out what they really think, or feel? I find it sad that someone who is given the priviledge of spreading knowledge to the common person in the street would choose to publish a story before checking out for themselves where the real truth lies. Why don't you ask the congregants of the many churches and temples ICLI has been involved with what they think of these men and their views? Why don't you ask their own community how they view these men? Before rushing to your own ill informed judgement, and then passing that view onto your reader, educate yourselves in the facts. It is the ill informed reporters of our press that are helping to keep the unconfortable feeling my children have about their heritage alive. STOP THE HATE for my children's sake!

Laura Maksoud


Dear Mr. Brodsky
I know it is fashionable to bash Muslims, but sir have you no decency. You brand Faroque Khan as an extremist yet cite absolutely not one word written or oral by Mr. Khan to support your outlandish claim. Your column is replete with innuendo but not one FACT. Even columnists who have been given great latitude with the facts - should have at least one fact to support such a claim. Perhaps your love affair with Pete King has clouded your judgment. You are entitled to your bias in favor of Rep. King and antipathy toward Mr. Mejias. As politicians they are fair game for your invective. But to brand Mr. Khan as an extremist! Nonsense. I have talked with Mr. Khan and his wife and they are not extremists. We need more thoughtful people like the Khans during these difficult times. Your column is not helpful.

Allen Breslow

Response to Breslow from Brodsky:

Readers can make up their own minds about his associations with ISNA and other organizations, including the mosque itself, his failure to condemn some of the outrageous conspiracy suggestions by his colleagues and a political agenda (described in the piece) that some may consider less than helpful in the War on Terror.

Rebuttal from Breslow to Brodsky:

Dear Mr. Brodsky:
Thank you for your response. Just so I understand your position, you brand Mr. Khan as an "extremist" because of his failure to condemn "some" outrageous statements. What about all his work and words to increase understanding among the various faiths in Nassau County. I suggest you talk with Mr. Khan and visit the Islamic Center in Westbury before condemning him. It is ludicrous to suggest that anyone who contributes to Mejias' campaign or who opposes King is an extremist or a terrorist sympathizer. If it is your contention that INSA is a terrorist sympathizer what is the Bush administration doing by sending high officials (e.g . Gordon England, Dep. Sec. of Defense) to the INSA convention.
Allen Breslow


Dear Mr. Brodsky,

It was with great displeasure and sadness that I read your Sept 3rd article titled Pete King's Muslim Mess. As an American, a Muslim, a mother , and congregants of Islamic Center of Long Island I'm very much an active member of interfaith committee within the Mosque, I take a great deal of offense and am outraged by your unsubstantial and baseless article calling our leader Dr. Faroque Khan an extremist and claiming that our center "often mask their extremism - through "benign" interfaith and other programs".

As a member of the interfaith committee of ICLI and a long standing member and a board member of ICLI, I may suggest that you and your entire editorial board should do a bit more research or should I say do your homework well instead of just copy and paste from some other baseless sources before writing any article on American Muslims, particularly American Muslims living in Long Island and claiming that I as a congregant of the Mosque am not aware of the happenings within my Mosque. Your ignorance and lack of knowledge, knowing and communicating with the Muslim community is so limited and its very apparent in your article.

With this, I along with my husband and three children take the opportunity to invite you to my Mosque, Islamic Center Of Long Island (ICLI) which has an open door policy to anyone and everyone who has an interest to find out about our community or has any question about our center or our programs. I strongly suggest you as reporter should take my advice and become well educated and well informed about us "The American Muslims in Long Island" before writing any article about our center (ICLI) or our leader Dr. Farouque Khan in the future . I'm looking forward to see you publish a retraction of inaccuracies and misstatement of your article

Homaira Mamoor


Dear Mr. Brodsky,

I was dismayed to read your September 3rd comments about Faroque Khan whom I have known for a number of years to be someone who has worked hard to further good relations with Jewish and Christian groups on Long Island. I was privileged to stay with his family in Kashmir almost two years ago and had many very deep conversations with them about a variety of sensitive issues involving Muslims and Jews. Never have I even caught a whiff of extremism either from him or his family; on the contrary, I have found them to be very intelligent, sensitive, caring people. I really have difficulty with your charges about him. They strike me as an unwarranted smear.

We live in such difficult times, especially for Muslims and Jews. Of course Muslims are going to have strong feelings about attacks on their civil liberties and about the Middle East, but I think it is unfair and unwise to fan the flames of anti Muslim sentiment without any real hard information. It accomplishes nothing except to further incite both groups against each other. There are too many people out there who delight in polarizing the rest of us. Dr. Khan is not one of them.

Marcia Spector
Member of Health Welfare Council Board.


We write in response to Adam Brodskys ("Pete Kings Muslim Mess" 9/3/2006) unwarranted attack on the character and patriotism of Dr. Faroque Khan and the members of the Islamic Center of Long Island. Dr. Khan has spent the better part of his life working tirelessly on behalf of religious dialogue and inter-religious understanding. The Islamic Center of Long Island is likewise committed to such goals. Having worked with Dr. Khan on several occasions we know Mr. Brodskys charges to be untrue and are appalled that they were published this week, when we are all engaged in commemorating those who lost their lives almost 5 years ago. Ultimately, we hope readers will recognize that Mr. Brodskys attempt to describe all Muslims as extremists plays directly into the hands of that tiny minority who do pursue their goals by violent means. Instead, we encourage readers to pursue the path of dialogue and understanding, a path blazed on Long Island by religious leaders like Dr. Khan and organizations like the Islamic Center of Long Island.

Warren G. Frisina, Chair Hofstra University, Department of Religion

Markus Dressler, Hofstra University, Department of Religion

Dan Varisco, Hofstra University, Department of Anthropology


We are responding to your "Peter King's Muslim Mess" article. Unfortunately, this article is just another example of the poor reporting and journalism that our society is afflicted with. A classic "Cut and Paste" of character assassination tack tick conformed on baseless and uninformed judgment. Perhaps you should consider a different field of work if you cannot take the time to meet and investigate the individuals that you grossly misstated and judged. As a reporter, shouldn't you have done your research before writing such a piece of grossly misstated and out of context arguments??? Perhaps you should start with The New York Times, Newsday, News 12, WLIW television station as resources for your retraction of your article I can bet your career that they would have a lot more positives to share with you about Dr. Faroque Khan, Mr. Ghazi Khankan and the Islamic Center of Long Island over your Mr. Peter King.

Simply Disappointed and Disgusted,

Sal and Hoda Spiteri,
North Babylon, NY


You obviously do not know the man whom you accuse in your Sept. 3 column of being a Muslim extremist. Dr. Khan is one of kindest, gentlest peacemakers I know, and he has been a powerful voice within his community and in our region for rejecting violence and building interfaith understanding. He created an extraordinary Jewish-Muslim exchange group more than a decade ago and has been a key supporter of both the Long Island Multi-Faith Forum and interfaith dialogues about creating peace in the Middle East.

Rather than attacking Dr. Khan for going to a meeting of the Islamic Society of North America with guilt by association, you might note that ISNA (a predominantly Sunni group) heard a keynote address by a prominent Shia scholar--clearly an act of grace and peacemaking within the Muslim community. You have heard, haven't you, that Shia and Sunnis are killing each other in Iraq? At this same meeting, ISNA elected a woman as their President. What do they have to do to convince you that they are moderates? Elect a female Methodist?

Every community has its extremists--I am currently represented in Congress, for example, by someone with close ties to what was once a terrorist organization in Ireland. It takes a fair amount of chutzpah for Congressman King to cast stones at others when it comes to terrorism, but I would be the first to give him credit for having used his contacts with Sinn Fein to help bring about peace in Northern Ireland. Who knows, if we had a few congressmen with ties to the LDF and the LVA--Protestant paramilitary groups who killed far more indiscriminately than the IRA ever did--Ireland might be even further along in its reconciliation.

The Rev. Thomas W. Goodhue,
Executive Director , Long Island Council of Churches


In your recent article you described the Islamic Center of Long Island, which is four blocks from my house, as Islamic extremists hiding behind the facade of acceptability. Not only is the center a neighbor, but as a professor of religious ethics, I have gotten to know several of the leaders well on a personal and professional level. Far from your characterization, I see the center as the hope for the future of Islam.
In fact, I have seen changes there, which in my view, are for the better. For example, during community meetings in the prayer center, men and women are no longer separated. And even during prayer services, guests can sit without separation by gender if they so wish.
There may be extremists in the center. I don't know that, but who would be surprised if this were the case? But they are not the leadership and the center is moving in a moderate (I would say Enlightenment) direction. Rather than brand them as extremists, I think I wiser course would be to encourage the liberalization that has occurred.

Prof. Arthur Dobrin
Westbury, NY

RESPONSE FROM Brodsky to Prof Dobrin.

The associations by the mosque's leaders with pro-terror groups like CAIR; their outrageous statements over the years (which, to my knowledge, they've never retracted); their support of anti-American, anti-Israeli wackos (like Cynthia McKinney), and their long record of virulent anti-Israel positions and opposition to counterterrorism, combined with what law enforcement and even some Muslims say is a lack of sufficient cooperation on the anti-terror front, belie your hopeful impression. I wish that you're right that there is "liberalization" -- ie, moderation -- at the mosque underway, but your examples do not provide much hope.
Thanks for your letter. I'll forward it to our letters editor; they may want to run it, with your permission.
Adam Brodsky


I was dismayed by Adam Brodsky's article in the New York Post entitled, "Pete Kings Muslim Mess," that accused the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury and its leadership of Muslim extremism. If the charge were not so absurd and defamatory, it would be laughable. I would also label it utterly irresponsible.

Fifteen years ago Temple Beth-El of Great Neck engaged in a dialogue program with the Islamic Center that continues to this day. The members of the dialogue began to teach each other about their respective religions, preparing presentations on customs, beliefs, holidays, the Bible and the Koran, the role of women, the Muslim and Jewish family, with new themes emerging all the time.

Then the circle became larger. The Muslims were invited to a Shabbat service and to bring other members of the Mosque as well. A hundred came. We invited them to an interfaith Seder. They invited us to their service and a dinner following and to bring members of the congregation along with us.

When the home dialogues seemed to have run their course, open sessions were held in the Mosque and the Temple for the two communities. They came to us in large numbers to join in a session discussing Islam in America. One presented a diary of his Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca at a Havdalah service. We brought members of our congregation to speak to their community on a Sunday morning on the challenge of being a minority in a gentile land. Another Sunday morning a year later, we spoke on civil rights issues, church-state challenges that both communities face.

Our religious school children meet with Muslim youngsters a couple of times a year in both our Temple and the Mosque. We are planning a gathering in a few weeks to jointly celebrate the Jewish festival of Sukkot and Islams Ramadan, to learn more about one anothers faiths.

These are not, as Brodsky charges, benign interfaith programs? that mask extremism. They represent the best of America: tolerance, respect and the freedom that allows different peoples to sit down together in peace.

As for discussions regarding the Middle East, differing points of view are, of course, expressed within both communities and when we come together. All share, however, the hope for peace and security among Jews and Muslims everywhere.

So why is Representative King beating his demagogic drum? Perhaps an election is coming.

Rabbi Jerome K. Davidson,
Temple Beth-El of Great Neck


Indeed Rabbi, an election is coming and King hopes to divide rather than bring together.
To quote Sen. John McCain regarding Peter King "...there is little in Mr. King’s singularly unimpressive legislative record to suggest that he is motivated by anything other than a compulsion to utter provocative sound bites."

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