On September 11, 2001, within hours of the attacks, CAIR
, the largest Muslim civil rights group in the US, released a statement condemning the attacks. CAIR is the most politically connected Muslim organization, so it makes sense that they be the prominent ones with the statement. Also, scores of other Muslim
groups condemned the attacks, but they only received local recognition.
CAIR statement on the events of September 11
We condemn in the strongest terms possible what are apparently vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.
All members of the Muslim community are asked to offer whatever help they can to the victims and their families. Muslim medical professionals should go to the scenes of the attacks to offer aid and comfort to the victims.
We at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), along with the entire American Muslim community are deeply saddened by the massive loss of life resulting from the tragic events of September 11. American Muslims utterly condemn the vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all American in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.
(Soon after, CAIR took out a full page ad in the Washington Post, on September 16).
American Muslims, who unequivocally condemned today terrorist attacks on our nation, call on you to alert fellow citizens to the fact that now is a time for all of us to stand together in the face of this heinous crime.
--September 11 letter to President Bush, signed by the leaders of the American Muslim Alliance, the American Muslim Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Muslim American Society, the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Muslim Alliance in North America, and American Muslims for Jerusalem.
These groups represent most of the seven million Muslims in the United States.
"We are no less American than we were on September 10. I was born in the United States. I took my first steps on this soil. I have been a ball boy for the Chicago Bulls. I have been to four U2 concerts. I am a second-year law student specializing in international human rights. I and my 7 million Muslim brothers and sisters are contributing members of American society."
"Two members of President Bush's Cabinet are of Arab descent. It was a Muslim who was the architect for the Sears Tower. Islam is the fastest growing religion in America and in the world. We are doctors, lawyers, engineers, mechanics, teachers, and store owners."
"We are your neighbors."
Arsalan Tariq Iftikhar, Midwest Communications Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, St. Louis, Mo.
There were many international condemnations of the attacks, AFAIK every Muslim country except Iraq (under Saddam Hussein's rule) condemned the terrorist attacks. Iran held a candlelight vigil, Kuwait sent so many flowers to the American embassy that it formed a ring around the fence, Bangladesh held a rally against terrorism, Indonesia did the same. Unfortunately, all people seem to remember is the footage of a few Palestinians cheering that the US, the main supplier of weapons to Israel, was attacked.
As a Muslim, I remember many people telling me to my face that Muslims "haven't done enough" to speak out against terrorism. I certainly did my best, but I was brushed off. Apparently I needed "proof" aside from my own experience. The question on many people's minds was, "why didn't I hear any Muslim voices?" The closest analogy that I can think of (and a poor one at that), is when an abortion clinic is bombed in the US, pro-life groups rush to condemn the act, to show that their members have nothing to do with it nor support it in any fashion. In a sense, I would blame the media (who doesn't?) for not covering it in a decent fashion; they got some talking heads and analysts and "experts" but didn't knock on any Muslim's door or ask people on the street. Looking back, I wish they had gone into people's homes with cameras and asking them if they supported Al Qaeda, their vehement reaction would have made good television and helped the image crisis that Muslims suffered under for a period. I also remember that nobody really seemed to be asking any prominent Arab-Americans or Muslim-Americans what they thought of the situation (also, how many Middle Eastern celebrities are there anyway?), as Arab comedian Hood said on Comedy Central once, "At most, could you ask Casey Kassem if Osama is on his top 40?" Living in New York, I am aware that there were over 500 Muslims who died in the WTC, and PBS later interviewed a Muslim firefighter to hear what he had to say.
I know many people here consider the issue old, but in February 2004, New York Congressman Peter T. King inflamed Muslims in New York by saying that instead of condemning terrorism, they were protesting against the bombings in Afghanistan. Many other members of Congress condemned King's remarks, even the FBI, who said that the Muslim community was very helpful in cooperating to catch terrorists, but the comment seemed to rekindle some ill will towards the Muslim community.
For a list of Muslim Leaders and scholars condemning the September 11 attacks, see
http://groups.colgate.edu/aarislam/response.htm (with photographs of overseas rallies)