NAT’L SECURITY ADVISOR STRESSES MUSLIMS AS PART OF ‘AMERICAN FAMILY’ DURING SPEECH AT ADAMS CENTER
(Plainfield, IN March 8, 2011)The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim Public Affairs (MPAC) today welcomed a speech by Denis McDonough, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, on Sunday, March 6th at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS). Ahead of Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) controversial hearing on “radicalization within the Muslim American community, McDonough’s recognition of Muslim Americans as part of the “American family” and focus on the importance of community partnerships are an important message for all Americans.
The speech, a first-of-its-kind in a mosque by the Obama administration, outlined the important roles all Americans of faith are playing in contributing to a vibrant pluralistic society and in keeping our nation safe. McDonough also outlined the positive contributions of the Muslim American community in all walks of life and stressed that the Muslim American community is seen by the Administration and Americans as part of the “American family,” as stated by President Obama in his most recent State of the Union address.
“This is a place where Americans come together – not only to practice their faith, but to build stronger communities, with people of many faiths …
You create jobs and opportunity as small business owners and executives of major corporations. You enrich our culture as athletes and entertainers. You lead us as elected officials and Members of Congress. And no one should ever forget that Muslim Americans help keep America safe every day as proud soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. Indeed, some of these heroes have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and now rest in our hallowed national cemeteries.”
As Imam Mohamed Magid, President of ISNA and Executive Director of the ADAMS Center, said during his opening remarks, “It is this belief, of being one family, that makes our public servants serve every member of society, and not single out any member of any community for discrimination or isolation. My friends, it is this belief of being one family that makes America a great country, full of diversity and respectful of minorities.”
As the President’s top advisor on national security, McDonough also broadened the discussion and stressed that the relationship between communities and the government transcends the prism of national security. He stressed that all communities, regardless of faith, share a civic responsibility to ensure that our country remains safe and secure:
“We must resolve that, in our determination to protect our nation, we will not stigmatize or demonize entire communities because of the actions of a few. In the United States of America, we don’t practice guilt by association. And let’s remember that just as violence and extremism are not unique to any one faith, the responsibility to oppose ignorance and violence rests with us all ……
But we’ve also recognized that this engagement can’t simply be about terrorism. We refuse to “securitize” the relationship between the government and millions of law-abiding, patriotic Muslim Americans and other citizens. We refuse to limit our engagement to what we’re against, because we need to forge partnerships that advance what we’re for – which is opportunity and equal treatment for all.”
McDonough also highlighted some of the Administration’s strategies to continue outreach to the Muslim American community and include members of all faiths in the strategy to counter terrorism. In the coming weeks, the Administration will unveil the entirety of its new national strategy to address the issue of violent extremism. McDonough stressed that this strategy will be broad in nature and not single out any group of people based on religion or race. He highlighted how Muslim American institutions, both locally and nationally, have been key in ensuring that communities are places where faith and civic life flourish and where extremism is unacceptable.
While some elected officials exclude Muslims from dialogue and stereotype an entire religion based on the mis-guided actions of a few, Mr. McDonough’s speech at the ADAMS Center underscores the importance for all Americans, regardless of their faith, to be able to critique or disagree with both domestic and foreign policy:
“We must resolve not to label someone as an extremist simply because of their opposition to the policies of the U.S. government or their strong religious beliefs. Under our Constitution, we have the freedom to speak our minds. And we have the right to practice our faiths freely knowing that the government should neither promote nor hinder any one religion over the other.”
McDonough also acknowledged the involvement of the ADAMS Center and Imam Mohamed Magid, its executive director and the President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), with fostering strong relationships with interfaith leaders and law enforcement.
The Muslim American community is a diverse, contributing, vibrant part of the American community. It is our belief that a partnership of trust is the most crucial component in a relationship between our government and its citizens. The Deputy National Security Advisor’s speech confirmed that this is the approach of our government as it seek to keep our country and communities safe and secure