"Ethnic American" really does mean Muslim
Urban Tulsa Weekly reporter Brian Ervin digs deeper into the controversy over the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council (GEAAC) and its gift of a special centennial edition of the Koran to state legislators. As BatesLine first reported back in May, the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council was created by executive order of Governor Brad Henry. Its meetings are held in state office buildings and its activities are supported by taxpayer-funded employees of the state's Office of Personnel Management. Unlike the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, which offered centennial editions of the Bible to legislators, the GEAAC is a government agency, not a private religious group.
Ervin provides, for the first time in print, the full text of the e-mail from GEAAC chairman Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour to legislators offering "the holy book of Quran." He also provides the full text of State Rep. Rex Duncan's response, also for the first time in print. (Chris Medlock had it online previously.)
Ervin saved the biggest news for last. After Henry's spokesman denied knowing whether the GEAAC was exclusively Muslim -- "I do not know if all members are Muslims because we do not ask appointees to any board to disclose their religious affiliation." -- and denied knowing the reason that Henry chose the awkward name for the group, Ervin asked Seirafi-Pour about the reason for the name:
"The name wasn't of my choosing, but we were happy with it. You'd have to ask the Governor why we're called that," she said.
She offered her best guess, though.
"The thing is, Islam is not limited to the Middle East--there are Muslims of West African descent and other nationalities from around the world," said Seirafi-Pour.
"If it had been called the 'Middle Eastern American Advisory Council,' it would have limited membership to Muslims of Middle Eastern descent," she added.
MORE: There are videos on YouTube of the press conference held at the Islamic Society of Tulsa (IST) in response to the centennial Koran controversy. The user who posted them has disabled embedding so you'll have to follow the links below to watch the video.
It was more of a rally than a press conference. No questions from the press were allowed. Speeches were given by representatives of the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance (the anti-evangelical lobby group), the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, the Oklahoma Conference for Community and Justice, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR, the PR arm of the Wahhabi lobby in the United States), Say No to Hate, the Islamic Society of Tulsa, and the Jewish Federation of Tulsa.
From their remarks, it seemed that none of the speakers had read Rep. Duncan's complete e-mail, despite it being only three sentences long.
It's interesting that the OCCJ spokesman acknowledged that the GEAAC was "made up of American Muslims of Middle East countries," a fact that was omitted by mainstream coverage of the press conference. (That's about 20 seconds into part 2.)
I imagine Jamal Miftah finds it ironic to hear all these people talking about tolerance at the Islamic Society of Tulsa.
UPDATE: Jamal Miftah's wife, Nageena Shahnaz Miftah, sent me an e-mail with her reaction to the Islamic Society of Tulsa press conference, with a message to each of the participants, including one from her daughter to Allison Moore, a leader in IST who had been her daughter's Sunday school teacher prior to Jamal Miftah's expulsion from IST. (I've added some identifying notes in square brackets for the speakers she addresses.)
Here is my message to all the participants of this drama; Please come and talk to us and find out why my husband was declared anti-Islamic, anti Muslim in the very same place (the so called Al Salam Mosque) where Mr. Duncan and his fellows are now being condemned for refusing to accept Q'uran because of the passiveness shown by the Muslim leadership when it comes to condemn terrorism or take practical steps to stop terrorist activities.
My responses to each of the speakers is as under:
1- Mrs. Sandra Rana is probably the same lady, who didn't even had the courage or decency to speak truth about my husband's situation to a fellow Christian, Mr. James Mishler back in 2006.
2- Mr. Marlin Lavanhar [of Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry]: Please investigate to find out about the unapologetic bigotry of IST, CAIR and ISNA toward my husband. The way the leadership of these organization reacted (or remained silent) to my husband's op-ed piece condemning terrorism is suggestive of their real objective which appears to be promotion of violence and siding with terrorism.
3- Mr. [Keith] McArtor [of Tulsa Interfaith Alliance] please; who are you giving all these good lessons to?! the IST leadership? Please find out what they did to my husband when he had come peacefully to offer his prayers to the so called peace mosque on November 18th, 2006.
Sir, they have two faces: one is when they want to fool American people with beautiful faces and voices of people like Sheryl Siddiqui, Sandra Rana, Allison Moore etc. The other one is for their own members where they use the street gang sort of tactics through other leaders of the so called mosque to suppress the voices of moderate muslims against terrorism like the one of my husband.
4- Now to Justice Waidner, Say No to Hate. Ma'am you are in the wrong place and with the wrong group. Please don't waste your time on their face saving maneuvers. Come talk to me.
5- Mr. [Oliver] Howard [of Oklahoma Conference on Community and Justice], although me and my family are saddened with Mr. Duncan's refusal to accept the gift of Quran, we understand the obvious reason; hypocrisy of muslims' leaders around the world in the west and the US and especially within the leadership of IST, CAIR and ISNA.
5- Mr. [Razi] Hashimi [of Council on Islamic American Relations], where were you hiding when my husband Jamal Miftah was expelled from the so called Al Salam Mosque where you are lectuing on peace. what was his fault? Condemning Terrorism!
6- Mr. David Bernstein [of Jewish Federation of Tulsa], you are in the wrong place you should have come here and heard the prayers for destruction of Jews and Christians by the then Imam of this so called Mosque, Ahmad Kabbani, during the period of war between terrorist of Hizbullah and Hamas with Israel. When my husband refused to participate and agree with those prayers, the said Imam single him out in an attempt to ridicule him.
7- Now for Allison Moore, my daughter Syeda Mufleeha Miftah who used to go to Sunday school to her classes prior to November 18th, 2006:
"Ms. Moore, I was very disappointed when I heard from my friends that you lied about my father's article by saying that he has written in his article that Tulsa mosque is supporting terrorism. This was in fact a misinformation campaign about my dad started by IST leaders to which you were a party. Why are you now complaining about misinformation? What you sow so shall you reap."
The reason that my husband was expelled from Tulsa mosque is he was not giving the IST leadership the free hand to work in gray areas by laws of the land and laundering money to people/organizations of dubious credentials for which he has documentary evidence besides letters sent to the IST leadership during the year 2005 through certified mail. He would not let them use the mosque to preach hatred to the community members and has always condemned terrorism by his words and deeds.
Would all the speakers, minus the hypocrites, come and talk to us?
Nageena Shahnaz Miftah
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The truth is, nobody's saying what the truth is: After Henry's spokesman denied knowing whether the GEAAC was exclusively Muslim -- "I do not know if all members are Muslims because we do not ask appointees to any board to... Read More
I received an e-mail from Nageena Shahnaz Miftah, the wife of Jamal Miftah, responding individually to the seven people who spoke at the recent "press conference" (really a rally) held at the Islamic Society of Tulsa for the purpose of denouncing State... Read More