Misguided suit against imam
By: Aref Assaf
Paterson, Feb. 18
Regarding "Imam, Islamic Center face suit" (Page L-1, Feb. 18):
So center members accuse the imam of using $88,000 of the group's money for legal fees:
Disgruntled as they may be, these members will burden us with unnecessary negative media focus while maintaining irreverence to our larger issues of discrimination and religious intolerance. Some will infer that the center and similar Islamic institutions cannot be guaranteed to properly oversee their finances and that they could be funneling money to illegal entities. But the crux of the complaint is much more than lack of fiscal accountably by certain center employees. They claim the imam should have paid for his own legal troubles. As someone who was intimately involved in the imam's legal and community campaigns, I can say with certainty that it was the community, and not just the Islamic Center's members and board, who adopted the imam's case as theirs.
From fundraising to protests during his trial, the larger community stood by the imam, who has repeatedly offered to "lose" the case and agree to leave the United States. It was the collective Muslim community that persuaded him to suffer for us so that we may prevail in our fight for political and religious rights.
Shame on the foursome for their misguided efforts.
Dr. Aref Assaf is president of the American Arab Forum, a think-tank specializing in Arab and Muslim American affairs, www.aafusa.org.