FMC Blog: Free Speech Zone

Ten years after September 11

Ten years after September 11

A Muslim perspective

Kamal Nawash

I will never forget the morning of September 11, 2001. My sister was living with me and I had just walked into the living room after getting dressed. My sister was watching the news and she said it appears a plane hit one of the towers. I saw a fire from one of the towers but the event was yet to be dramatic. I walked to the kitchen to make coffee and seconds later I heard my sister scream "oh my God a plane just hit the second tower." I immediately sat down as if I became paralyzed. Minutes later, my building shook. I live near the Pentagon in the tallest residential building in the Washington DC area. We were all scared. I remember climbing down 26 floors for fear of getting into the elevators. The shaking was the third plane striking the Pentagon.

At that time I was the first Muslim and Arab American to be nominated by the Republican Party to run for public office in Virginia. Initially, I was not sure who committed the terrorist act but I knew Muslim and Arab organization needed to respond immediately with condemnation.

After I got myself together, I ran over to the offices of one of the American Muslim organizations. I wanted them to contact the other Muslim organizations and ask them to come out with a strong condemnation of the terror attacks. I offered to write them a press release.

I started calling other Muslim organization to ask that they offer strong condemnation. They asked me why were I assuming that Muslims did the attack? Well, as it turned out, Muslims did perpetrate 9-11.

As to my political career, I suspected it was over and my suspicions were confirmed when all my volunteers quit and never showed up again. I was left by myself in my campaign office with campaign stickers and signs but no campaign.

Prior to September 11, my routine included going house to house knocking on doors asking people to vote for me. This was particularly difficult because I am naturally shy and I needed someone with me. I recall that two or three days after the attacks, a17 year girl named Aisha called me up saying she wanted to help me and after I explained my routine she said that she would knock on doors with me. I said Great, please come over. What showed up was an ultra orthodox Muslim girl from Pakistan who covered her hair and wore a black robe. When I saw her, I thought "oh my God, that is all I need." I used every excuse in the book not to go with her and later she figured it out and even offered to take off her scarf.

By the third day, I said to myself "I can't just sit here in fear feeling sorry for myself." I decided to go out knocking on doors again. I was surprised when people treated me so kindly. They felt compassion for me. I remember receiving a call from the Speaker of the House of Delegates, Vance Wilkins, who offered to help me in any way he could and he did. I will always hold him in the highest regard.

Several days later, I was scheduled to attend an event for the Fairfax County Republican Committee where all the candidates were to be introduced. I became nervous while waiting for my turn as one candidate after the other was called to the podium. Finally the chairman said "from the 46th District, Kamal Nawash." I began walking and for a few seconds there was absolute silence in the room. Suddenly one person started clapping and then the entire room of approximately 200 stood up and began clapping. On that day, I felt proud to be an American and I felt genuinely loved.

As to the Muslim leadership and their response to September 11, I watched in horror as one Muslim leader after the other went on TV and made an ass of himself and in the process gave the impression that Muslims were insensitive and cruel. The truth is, most Muslims don't belong to any Muslim organization and are not even aware that most of the Muslim organizations exist. Most Muslims are busy paying their bills and raising their kids.

At the time of 9-11, most Muslim organizations in Washington, D.C. were managed by unsophisticated immigrants who simply did not understand American culture nor did they know how to communicate to the media. Prior to 9-11, most leaders of Muslim organizations in Washington belonged to the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood which seeks to establish utopian theocratic "Islamic" governments in the Muslim countries. They believe that such governments would eliminate most of the developmental problems in the Muslim world and help propel the Muslim world forward. The reality is they have accomplished nothing other than to convince women to cover their hair and men to grow beards. They are an unsophisticated bunch of ideologues who dream of the glory of the past rather than the possibilities of the future.

The Muslim organizations' lack of sophistication did not matter before 911 because very few of them appeared in the news. Their ability to cause damage was limited to the people they communicated with personally. After 911, every news agency wanted to talk to them and the average Muslims paid the price for their "leaders'" ideology and lack of sophistication. For example, rather than condemn terrorism in no uncertain terms, they would say "well…we need to look at why those people committed the violent acts." This standard response gave Americans the impression that Muslims justified the attacks or implied that the attacks were justifiable. The average Muslim paid a heavy price for their bearded "leaders'" stupidity.

As for me, 911 had a deep psychological impact. I was horrified to see people jump to a certain death in order to save themselves from the agony of being burned. I developed a fear of flying and I became extremely angry with all Islamist movements and their ideology. For two years I approached various Muslim organizations about changing their rhetoric and their response was that they knew better. Finally, two years after 9-11, I realized that a new Muslim organization was needed to say the right things, to represent average Muslims and to reduce the number of TV appearances made by the traditional Islamist organizations. The idea of creating the Free Muslims Coalition Against Terrorism was born in 2003 and formalized in 2004.

The plan worked. By 2004, the Free Muslims were making TV appearances every other day and showing Americans that Muslims were divers, sophisticated, patriotic and sensitive. Soon others followed with organizations such as the Islamic Forum for Democracy taking a leading role in challenging the archaic traditional Muslim organizations. Some traditional organizations went out of business and those who remained had to change their ways and became more sophisticated.

However, the damage was already done and many Americans now view common Muslims negatively or with suspicion. The Average Arab or Muslim became the target of attacks from hundreds of talk show hosts and politicians wanting to make a name for themselves. Arabs and Muslims became the untouchables of the United States.

Many Muslims became reclusive and refused to cooperate with law enforcement because of the perception that law enforcement was out to get them.

Nevertheless, many terrorist suspects, who were arrested in the United States, were arrested with the help of other Muslims who contacted the FBI. But Muslims continue to be demonized. Any Muslim who wants to achieve any position of prominence is usually attacked by groups who do nothing but attack Muslims and Arabs over unfounded allegations and paranoia.

The demonization of Muslims and Arabs must stop. The average Muslim and Arab does not support the Islamist organizations in Washington DC nor does he want to create an "Islamic state." The Islamist message is dying out and the world is better off.

There is a new dawn and reason for hope. For years, the Islamists who supported the Muslim Brotherhood believed that if only the countries of the Muslim world became democracies, people would choose "Islamic" governments or religious based governments. Well, the world has watched as the "Arab Spring" replaced four long time leaders. In those countries where people have a choice no one has demonstrated for a Binladen or jihadist type government. And while it is premature to make a final conclusion on the outcome of the Arab Spring, there appears to be significant opposition to any government based on religion.

As to the role of the new Muslim organizations, they need to focus on countering the message that religion and state must be mixed. There is ample religious justification for arguing that Islam supports the separation of religion and state. Muslims are not extreme. It is the ideology that mixes government and religion that produces outrageous results. The same happened when Europe mixed religion and state and in fact that period is called the dark ages.

In the mean time, Americans should not view Arabs or Muslims with suspicion. Arabs and Muslims are good neighbors to have and are necessary to fighting and catching extremists.

Please help us continue the fight against extremism. We are all volunteers but we can use all the help we can receive. Please donate online: http://freemuslims.org/support/donate.php

Please respond to the this article by posting here: http://freemuslims.org/blog/?id=148

For more Information contact Kamal Nawash, 202-776-7191, president@freemuslims.org, www.freemuslims.org

Posted September 08, 2011 by Kamal Nawash

Comments

Kamal,

With all due respect, the very single fact that you are with the Republican party shows yet another example of someone voting against his interests. I have no respect for your political choice whatsoever. You are obviously blinded by the extreme means, funds and intelligence invested in ignorance.

Regards,

Posted September 09, 2011 by Alain

I was in China on Sept. 8th, 2001. By some very odd circumstance, I found myself in the same meeting room with two Saudis, one an extended member of the royal family. We were both doing business with the same supplier. We were sitting at two different tables, about 10 feet apart. The royal Saudi was paying no attention to his business meeting, which he left to his assistant and was watching me. Not just watching but glaring, with a big grin and deep, pervasive sense of satisfaction, best described as if he just had slept with my wife--and did so just to piss me off. What made this so extremely odd was the last time I had any proximity to Saudi royals about a decade earlier, they (2) would not even look in my direction, let alone make eye contact and they appeared very disturbed--just sharing the same air with me. Shallow breathing, a bit of sweat on the foreheads. This guy seemed euphoric.
Three days (evenings) later, right about dusk, I realized that he (in my humble estimate) had known what was soon coming. The earlier encounter was no longer a mystery but quite understandable and logical.
I had spent 15 years building a business that supplied the vacation trade. Not long after, my bank replaced my loan officer with an Arab guy, (yes, you heard it correctly), who then called the note (on demand) and (falsely) put my company in "default". They then prevented me from obtaining Federal Disaster Relief funding, which I was entitled to and had been approved for--as a supplier to the vacation trade. The same bank then spent $5-million in court expenses litigating a $1.5-million note. Which is even less logical because I had little money to pay them and even less, after paying my side of the legal expenses.
I have spent the last ten years in a frenzy, working 60+ hours a week and am still daily struggling to stay out of bankruptcy court. (Kinda like a cross between the first scene in "Apocalypse Now" and the last scene in "Goodfellas"). I have not had a week off in the last 10 years.
I come here to send a letter to the future. Like "Winston" in "1984".

Posted September 09, 2011 by Trollstein

Dear Kamal, I thank you for that heart felt letter. You remind me of many Americans who have a religion and do not know what it teaches, but because their parents were in it, they too were.

Why would a good man like yourself and many others called 'muslims' remain part of such an obvious hoax? No one, who can reason and question can come away from reading the 'qruan' and know that any real god had anything to do with its content. The 'qruan' states boldly in Surah 10:37 that is confirms the "books that came before" the Bible. You are a learned man, and therefore know that the 'quran' and the Bible are exact opposites and have nothing in common but characters names.

In your letter you mentioned nothing about the vile evil of the 'quran' nor of its author muhammad and his alter ego, allah. Please Kamal, if you indeed love your people and America get to Isa. I sure you know or have heard of Dr. Ali sina. You and others who love people and living in freedom need to look him up Faithfreedom.org.

BTW: the comment by Alain, is just the opposite of truth, and no more than liberal.

Posted September 09, 2011 by rocketman

Kamal---I think it’s almost too late. 9/11 has changed the every nation in the world.

After 9/11 there’s no way of even achieving an rapprochement between Americans and Muslims. The Christians and Jews will see to that.

Of course Muslims are not going to leave—living in America is the best place any one who can contrive to manage it – in Europe, Asia, Middle East, South America, etc. – offers the best one can hope to live moderately well as a free man.

You may think this strange, but the only future for Muslims in this country is if King Abdullah travels to the Israeli Knesset and welcomes the Jews in the Arabian Peninsular.

If he does, we will see a “World Spring”

I can think of nothing else possible to save the day. It’s just too late for anything else. Tears and regrets are insufficient

Posted September 09, 2011 by Martin

Bonnie Wren:
It was a true recount.
What does a true recount have anything to do with a name?
Do you normally ridicule every Sept-11 victim you see?
BTW, the handle is intended to be a sarcastic projection.

Posted September 10, 2011 by Trollstein

A story worth telling a thousand times. Most of our "Islamic" leaders are more liability than asset. We Muslims in general must come out of the nightmare of "Islamic State".

Best, Kamal.

Posted September 10, 2011 by Hasan Mahmud

Dear Kamal,
You and I first communicated about five years ago, when I phoned you at your office in Washington,D.C. Since that time, I have read your e-mail messages with interest. To my mind, you and your worthy organization consistently represent a voice of reason and good will.
This message, in particular, moves me deeply. I can only begin to imagine the anguish that you felt on September 11, 2001.
It is my earnest conviction that you should have the contents of this e-mail publicized in our U.S. media--be it "The New York Times" newspaper, "US Today", "Time Magazine" and CNN TV. It is a message that is both timely and necessary. Our fellow Americans need to be reminded that there are Muslims who are loyal Americans and who reject all terrorism; and who share deeply the anguish we all feel about 9/11. Your interpretation of the "Arab Spring" is also heartening.
I hope and pray that, in the near future, your aspiration to American public office will be achieved. We need you in our government.
With all good wishes and blessings, I remain among your supporters and friends,
Rabbi Dr. Chaim Joseph Wender

Posted September 10, 2011 by Rabbi Dr. Chaim Joseph Wender

i was up stairs at the computer mi aun who lived that time in manhaten she called so we watched cnn.

in a way of speaking i am maby in words
bomp these bastards bomp these asses
i had enough of jihad sharia law
can t mention israel sharia zone
can t walk with a cell phone

but this is voise of reason
with zuhudi jasser nonie darwish
i was on a bahrein car forum 2
1 was run by 2 brothers 2 members
1 brother e mail me i am your friend
i support suicide bomps
he is not mi friend.
maby zuhudi jasser nonie darwish or kamal and chapters might disagreements
those are mi friends mi brother sisters

9/11 is t about me not kamal or nonie
was about westeren nation.
first try israel and the u.s are buisy in europe.
hamas or taliban or hezbolah they destroy the few voise of reason in america.freemuslims and zuhudi would never put on a sharia law zone forbid to walk with a cell phone.
they as i am embrace the west.

sometimes i can t take it annymore

god bless usa

Posted September 10, 2011 by alberto gorin

Posted September 10, 2011 by Anonymous

Mohammad never said Islam is religion and State. Show me where he said that

Posted September 10, 2011 by Kamal Nawash

Hello

Are you willing to debate Islam with ex-muslim activist Ali Sina of faithfreedom.org

As an ex-muslim atheist I am absolutely convinced Muhammad the founder of Islam was a terrorist himself and his followers who emulate him become one too. If you have a bit of humanity or rationality in you, you too would leave this cult and join humanity.

Enough is enough. It is time to bury these silly religious fairytales in the history. The age of reason is dawning. Wont you join the hundreds of thousands of ex-Christians, ex-Muslims, ex-Jews, ex-Hindus who call themselves secular humanists?

All the best

Posted September 10, 2011 by Arshad

I applaud your efforts. That said, until Muslims speak out against the demonization of Israel, I can't support your organization.

Posted September 10, 2011 by Shlomo

Mr. Kamal,
Check all the reports and documentations and the books that the French writer wrote
before making these assumptions that the Muslims did. It was more than that.

What ever happened to the two thousand Jews working at these towers daily.
What ever happened to all the Gold reserves which were emptied few days before this happened.
What about the 20 or so TV and camera crews who happened to be Jewish doing filming the event.

Zionist are 100 stronger in what they do.
Study these and other facts before you blame your fellow Muslims



Well, as it turned out, Muslims did perpetrate 9-11.

Posted September 10, 2011 by Akram

As a muslim American I am sick and tired of our so call leaders accepting anything the government tells them about 9-11. There's more to 9-11 than the American people been told. I've been studying American foreign policy for over 40 years. We have a violent and bloody history! An author by the name of Stephen Kinzer wrote a book recently; America's century of regime change; from Hawaii to Iraq. William Blum a former U.S. Diplomat. Mr. Blum got so disgusted with the things we were doing around the world he resigned and left politics. He's now an author. Why don't you contact him? I deplore violence. No matter who's doing it. I prefer to be diplomatic. In the 20th century we had a history of invasions, economic sanctions etc. that cause the suffering and deaths of millions of people! Who's the real extremists? Rashaad

Posted September 10, 2011 by Rasheed

Dear Mr. Kamal Nawash: Greeting
9/11/2011

It seems you are overwhelmingly interested in pleasing and appeasing the Jewish-controlled American political establishment more than you are in pursuing the truth and serving the Muslim community.

We are Muslims and we are proud of our religion, yes we reject al-Qaeda, but we are not willing to malign Islamic movements, or indeed Islam itself, either brazenly or implicitly, in order to find acceptance in America or elsewhere. We condemn terror in the strongest terms, but we will defend our rights and honor and religion with all means at our disposal.

We don't need to apologize to America anymore for a regrettable incident that happened 10 years ago. We have already apologized ad nauseam and we don't need to apologize again and agin and again. That would cheapen us in their eyes and be injurious to our dignity.

It is America's turn now to apologize to Muslims for murdering hundreds of thousands of Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine where Muslim children are incinerated with White Phosphorus and their homes are destroyed by one-ton bombs provided by the U.S. and their land is stolen from them thanks to the pornographic American embrace of Jewish Nazism. Why are you silent about this? Are Muslim children in Palestine and Iraq and Pakistan and Afghanistan children of a lesser God?

America is the author of every Muslim tragedy from Pakistan to Palestine. America is the tormentor of Muslims everywhere. America is the main purveyor of terror and violence and oppression throughout the Muslim world. America is the backer, sustainer, bankroller and abettor and guarantor of tyrannies and despotic regimes all over the Muslim world.

Your lumping of the Muslim Brotherhood and Binladen is pathetic. It is the product of ignorance, maliciousness and dishonesty. The Muslim Brotherhood strongly condemned 9/11 but wouldn't grovel before US feet as you are apparently doing. The Muslim Brotherhood (I am not and have never been a member of this honorable organization) will not just keep silent and look the other way when Judeo-Nazi war criminals in Israel murder our children on their way to school or murder them while asleep in their homes at night? Terror is terror even if committed by Jews. A genocide or an attempted genocide doesn't become innocuous or benign if committed by a "Chosen people" or a "master race." Can you bring youself to uttering these words?

Yes, you are endearing youselves to the Americans and their Zionist master, Israel, in a brazenly disgracefu and indignified manner, You desperatedly seek a certificate of good conduct from the Americans and the Israelis and you think the way to receive one is by vilifying Islam and Muslim organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Well the Muslim Brotherhood, in case you don't know, is the leader of the Arab spring. It is the main opposition party everwhere in the Arab world. In Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, and even Syria it is the main political force. We are Muslims and we reject godless secularism

You have written so much, apologizing to the Americans for 9/11. But you have never protested the numerous 9/11s America has been waging against Muslims. You never protested the mass murder of millions of Muslims at the hands of the American empire?

This is why you don't represent Muslims in any genuine way. Yours is a voice of a small cowardly group of assimilationists and desperados who would even apologize for merely being Muslim, however nonminal the epithet may be.

With such weakness of character, cowardice, ignorance, lack of rectitude, you will lose your world, lose whatever respect the Americans might still have for you and the line of thinking you represent, and above all, you will lose your hereafter.

Allah will not honor those who don't honor themselves.

Khalid Amayreh
Journalist and political commentator
Israeli-occupied Jerusalem

Posted September 10, 2011 by Khalid Amayreh

A beautiful message, Kamal. We should get together some time!

Posted September 10, 2011 by Michael

I remember finding your Free Muslims website back in 2003. After 9/11, I had been looking hopelessly for a Muslim perspective that showed some degree of outrage for the violent act perpetrated by Islamic radicals. I was losing hope ... there were no Muslims anywhere standing up and saying "This Was Wrong."
I waited and waited, as did all Americans. Americans were angry and were frightened, and it went against our grain to direct that anger and fear toward the Muslim guy we work with, or the Muslim family down the block, etc. But how could we not feel some degree of suspicion when all we heard from the Muslim community was virtual silence? When I found the Free Muslim website and began receiving your emails at that time, I felt hope for the first time. Still though, after all these years, voices such as yours are few and far between. I blame also the media which for some reason doesn't seem to want to seek out people like you. Perhaps they feel that offering a platform to Muslims that speak out against other Muslims is not politically correct. Instead of seeing the endless images of our beautiful World Trade Centers coming down, the media should spend time interviewing people like you. It would help people like me understand that there IS a positive, hopeful message to be found in the Muslim community - and, of equal importance, it would help to heal the wounds that must be healed in order for us all to move forward. Thank you and keep up the good work.

Posted September 11, 2011 by Marialina

Marialina

Thank you very much

Posted September 11, 2011 by Kamal

There are many problems with a one-state solution. First of all, it would eliminate the autonomous haven for Jews from persecution and defense against it. Secondly, a single state in which Jews would be dependent on the kindness of non-Jews, especially I am sorry to say Muslims, gives absolutely no security at all to the Jews resident in it, even if they accepted abandoning the Israeli welcome extended to Jews escaping persecution elsewhere. Just a quick look at the Christians of Lebanon or of Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia and elsewhere shows that this problem in regard to actual Muslim treatment of non-Muslims is not limited to Jews. It is not even limited to non-Muslims: sectarian and other warfare and feuding is endemic throughout the Muslim world, with more Muslims dying at each other's hands than from anything non-Muslims do. They are incapable of offering genuine security to others. Even more pointedly, Israelis would be suicidal to accept the idea of a single state with Palestinians who have been raised from infancy to justify hate and violence against Jews, and who believe that Israel maliciously and illegally "stole" their homes and their land. A "right of return" for Palestinians would produce a genocidal bloodbath as they sought to "reclaim" their homes from present Jewish residents. Arafat always disowned responsibility for the terrorism he unleashed by saying he could not control his people; how could a much enfeebled but still hateful PLO and a fanatically ferocious Hamas leadership "control" the people if a "Right of Return" were implemented and a single state created?

These are not minor problems with your thesis. They are deal-breakers. I am sure that as you are a decent and well-meaning individual, you will see the force of the points being made here. I hope that you will grasp that to push a one-state solution is not rational nor is it ethical. In any case, there is no chance of Israelis accepting national suicide in the way you recommend. That, surely, is an insurmountable obstacle. So I would, with all due respect, suggest that you give up your theory and develop a different scheme that accepts a Jewish state and a two-state solution. The basic change of attitude must come from the Palestinians, and the Muslim world more widely, as even some of the Muslim posters here demonstrate.

Posted September 11, 2011 by Ben Tzur

Dear Kamal,

This is an amazing and very powerful article. As a non-Muslim, I am a strong supporter of your mission and the mission of your organization. And stirring up hatred of people based solely on the fact they are Muslims is wrong. Being an African American, I know how it is to be targeted for the crimes of others and this is completely unfair and ridiculous.

While I recognize the inherent injustice in pinning the crimes of one member of the group on the entire group, I have to say that frankly, I am deeply disappointed in the Muslim community in America and around the world. While I support groups such as your organization, the Free Muslims Coalition, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, the Islamic Supreme Council of America and several other like minded organizations which do wonderful things, I don't see the critical mass of Muslims supporting these groups.

I look around the world, I see Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza strip, declaring that they will exterminate every last Jew. I see numerous terrorist organizations around the Arab world committing terrorists acts against their Christian minorities, while the governments take, in most cases either ineffective action to protect these people or simply do nothing. Outside of the Middle East, I see Islamic terrorists in Thailand fighting Buddhists for no other reason than they have a different religion. Muslims supported by Pakistan are trying to steal Kashmir which is Hindu land owned by India. Then when we look at Sudan, we have Africans still being enslaved and oppressed at the hands of Arab Muslims. I see the entire Arab League stepping forward, saying that they support this. I see, in Arab Muslim countries, some of the most oppressive countries towards my fellow Africans because of the deep institutional racism and hatred towards my people among the governments and many of the people in these countries. The only word for it is apartheid. The Arab world, while crying crocodile tears for the plight of the Palestinians at the hands of Jews, while at the same time practicing discrimination against Palestinians living in their own countries, far worse discrimination than Israel has ever done. One example of this is the Kuwaiti expulsion of Palestinians in 1991. Another example is the treatment of Palestinians by Lebanon.

And I see, in the face of all these injustices, besides a handful of courageous organizations, almost complete silence. Yet when we see a handful of Turkish jihadists die at the hand of some Jews defending their borders, almost complete and uniform anger coming from all areas of the Islamic world, from the streets of Dearborn, Michigan, to the offices of every major Islamic organizations in North America to every city and country with a large Islamic majority. We see huge protests when someone prints a cartoon making fun of Prophet Muhammad. Is this offensive? Yes, of course. But why the huge protests against a cartoon and yet no protests in the face of deaths of countless Muslims and non-Muslims at the hands of Islamic extremists? How about protesting terrorist Islamic groups if for no other reason than the vast majority of their victims are other Muslims? This lack of moral outrage I see as the main reason behind "Islamophobia."

Best,
Adam

Posted September 12, 2011 by adam

After that muslim can't live in peace. :(

Posted December 26, 2016 by Happy New Year 2017