Yesterday, at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, the audience for President Obama’s speech reflected an Islamist’s vision of today’s Muslim-American community. That setting, promoted by the media and the White House, was meant to teach the American people—and, certainly, the growing number of Muslims in America—what an authentic Muslim looks like. It was a collection of hijab-clad women and long-bearded, severe-faced men.She takes a few paragraphs to note the connection of that particular mosque not only to the Muslim Brotherhood but to al Qaeda. Then, she challenges the President's conception of his agenda here:
The choreographed scene didn’t represent American Muslim immigrants like me—reformers, humanists, and critical thinkers—who find no place in Islamist mosques in this country, and are shunned by similarly Islamist pressure groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Sabah Muktar, the bright young college student who introduced Obama, whom the president applauded for pursuing an education and acceptance in an American community, wouldn’t be seen as an equal within her own mosque nor be given space equal to those granted to men. There would be no opportunity for voicing herself or engaging in dialogue during Friday’s khutbah. The heartfelt speech Muktar gave in front of a diverse audience of men and women wouldn’t exist in that mosque outside the vacuum of a presidential visit. Her voice would never be heard.As I suggested below, though, the real agenda of the speech was completely unspoken. The President's remarks were aimed not at the congregation, but at the American people. But the real purpose of the visit was outreach to the Brotherhood itself. It was a foreign policy speech that never mentioned foreign policy.
Obama speaks of the “threats and harassment of Muslim-American [that] have surged,” but he doesn’t speak of the threats and harassment that come from within our own community that silence the debate within Islam that has been an organic part of the faith up until the last 50 years.
As Muslim-Americans, we don’t need our ego stroked; we need our egos challenged. Obama spoke of Muslim excellence and heroism in everyday life, but the greatest act of Muslim heroism today is to tackle a decrepit faith.
Shireen Qudosi isn't on that agenda. She has no power to help quell the crises in the Middle East, which President Obama desperately wants to subside. He is looking for partners over there, and he's willing to sacrifice some things over here in order to get them. Qudosi and Muktar's interests are among those things.