CNN Smears Prominent Brooklyn Imam
- Prominent American Muslim imam associated with criminal terrorist
acts during CNN American morning segment
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
TRANSCRIPT FROM CNN AMERICAN MORNING - 07/22/2208
[ ... ] CHETRY: Well, it's not the message but the messenger that's
causingquite a debate over a new ad campaign that's set to go up
here in NewYork City's subways. The posters will try to fight
negative stereotypesabout Islam during the morning commute. But it's
the man behind the ideathat's raising some eyebrows. Mary Snow has
more on the plan to educate city commuters that could gooff the
rails -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, a group promoting
Islam istrying something new. It's targeting New York's roughly five
milliondaily subway riders with ads. But it's the face promoting
those adsthat's prompting discussion that organizers are trying to
erase. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SNOW (voice-over): Q: Head scarf? Q: Islam? These subway ads are
designed to battle negative images of Islam. Theyaren't even put up
yet but they've already sparked this "New York Post"headline "Jihad
Train." "The Post" story focuses not so much on themessage as the
messenger, an imam who's now promoting the project tospread
awareness about Islam to millions of subway riders. (BEGIN VIDEO
IMAM SIRAJ WAHHAJ, AL-TAQWA MOSQUE: Imagine them seeing the word
Muhammad. Imagine them seeing the word Islam. Imagine them seeing
theword hijab. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: Imam Siraj Wahhaj draws attention because he's among
170unindicted co-conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing
case.And he served as a character witness to the man convicted of
being themastermind of that bombing, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman (ph).
IMAM SIRAJ WAHHAJ, AL-TAQWA MOSQUE: The context of me being a
characterwitness for Sheikh Abdel-Rahman (ph) is what we knew about
him beforethe incident.
SNOW: A former U.S. prosecutor in the case says while Wahhaj was on
alist of unindicted co-conspirators, he was never charged.
ANDREW MCCARTHY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR (ON THE PHONE): I think
thelist is probably an interesting footnote to people. I get asked
about it every couple of years when some story or another about
Wahhaj comes up. But I, you know, I think it's -- the list is a
tempest in a teapot.
SNOW: Wahhaj says while he may be a controversial figure, he was
alsothe first Muslim to lead a prayer before the session of the
House ofRepresentatives in 1991. But he admits there are things he
said heregrets, such as calling the FBI and CIA terrorists.
WAHHAJ: What I was saying is that no, not that all of the FBI
areterrorists or the CIA are terrorists. But there are some elements
inthere. So if you want to accuse some Muslims, OK. These Muslims
didthat. But don't undermine the entire faith. That's really the
message. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SNOW: The group behind the ads, the Islamic Circle of North
America,says it welcomes the imam's promotion of their campaign.
They say he isoften portrayed the same way Islam is portrayed. The
ads are slated togo up in 1,000 subway cars in September to coincide
with Ramadan -- Johnand Kiran.
CHETRY: All right. That was Mary Snow for us. And again, shesays
these ads are scheduled to go up in subway cars. The MTA looking to
make about $48,000 out of that ad campaign.
The NY Chapter of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and it's
877-WHY-ISLAM project have put together an informational ad campaign
about Islam where 1,000 ads will be running in 1,000 New York City
Subway cars this upcoming Ramadan for 30 days.
The campaign has already generated serious media attention (see to
right). Alhumdulilah even before having one ad placed in the subway
millions of people have seen the ad and many have visited our
website or called our 877-WHY-ISLAM information hotline.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj has been maligned in the media simply for
supporting this effort. We should stand firmly by his side and
defend him and defend freedom of religion and speech.
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