On September 9, 2007, a pre-9/11 celebration of sorts will be taking place in New York City, as Islamists from across the Tri-State area will congregate there for the 22nd Annual Muslim Day Parade. If past parades are any indication, law enforcement will need to be on high alert, as the participants have been amongst the most radical in the nation. Will the city allow this denigration of a very somber day to take place, or will it remember its many victims of terrorism and shut it down?
The parade is being run by the Muslim Foundation of America (MFA), an organization located in the Astoria section of Queens that was founded in 1983, around the time of the first annual parade. In actuality, both the MFA and the parade appear to be the same entity with different names, as the MFA’s website, since it was first created in October of 2003, has been devoted almost entirely to discussing the parade.
Thousands are expected to attend this year’s event. In the past, the number of parade-goers has varied. While some participants may be coming out to experience a day of fun with their fellow religionists, others have an alternative agenda.
The Grand Marshal for the 2006 parade was Siraj Wahhaj, a Brooklyn imam who is known for his fiery speeches, including those that have been considered threatening to the United States. In February of 1995, Wahhaj was named – along with such people as Osama bin Laden and bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam – as a potential co-conspirator to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Another Grand Marshal of a past parade was Muzzamil Siddiqi, the former President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a mosque umbrella organization that was recently named a co-conspirator to the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. Siddiqi, like Wahhaj, has also verbally threatened the United States, stating in October of 2000, “America has to learn. If you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of G-d will come.” There are pictures of Siddiqi speaking at the parade, on the MFA site.
Also pictured at the parade are:
- Ashrafuzzaman Khan, the ex-Secretary General of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), which is one of the sponsors of the parade and a top donor to a Pakistani charity that has been providing tens of thousands of dollars to the head of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal. Khan is accused of being a death squad leader for Al-Badr, the Muslim Brotherhood of Pakistan’s former paramilitary wing, during the 1971 massacre that led to Bangladesh’s independence, believed to be personally responsible for the murders of seven Bengali teachers at Dhaka University.
- Dhabah “Debbie” Almontaser, the former Principal designate of the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), a controversial Arabic-language children’s school that is set to open its doors less than a week before the parade. Almontaser resigned from her position with KGIA, after it was discovered that a group she was affiliated with – the SABA Association of American Yemenis – had a connection to t-shirts calling for an intifada (violent uprising) in New York City. Almontaser defended the shirts by saying that they were an expression of solidarity with New York.
On the MFA website, in addition to the parade photo gallery, there is also a section titled, “USEFUL LINKS.” Four out of the five links listed (complete with their logos) are national organizations which have been found to be part of the violent Muslim Brotherhood overseas. They include the aforementioned ICNA and ISNA, as well as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Students Association (MSA). CAIR was created by the American propaganda wing of Hamas, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), in 1994, and the MSA was the first organization created by the Brotherhood within the United States, in 1963.
Along with the parade, the MFA will be holding an essay contest for children and young adults. The themes for the different age groups vary. For those age 9 – 13 it is ‘Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the best Role Model,’ for ages 14 – 18 it’s ‘The Man is the Best Creation of Allah (SWT),’ and for ages 19 – 23 it’s ‘The Purpose of my Life.’
Shamsi Ali, a member of the parade’s Board of Trustees, runs a children’s madrassa – the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens – where boys sit all day, Monday through Friday, and memorize the Quran by rote. One of his students and possible participant in the essay contest, a 13 year old named Sameer Uddin, explained to The New York Times his reasons for staying enrolled in Ali’s class. Bringing up disturbing illusions to thoughts of future martyrdom, Sameer stated, “I want to take my parents to heaven.”
The organizers of the parade state that one of their objectives is “to demonstrate and clarify Islamic values and traditions.” However, considering the individuals that have been participating in this parade, and understanding the radical nature of the groups that appear to be aligned with the MFA, we must ask what values and traditions they are talking about. Despite its name, as the American Muslim Day Parade, it is clear that this event has nothing to do with American values and traditions and has more in common with the ideology of the 9/11 hijackers.
The fact that this parade is taking place so close to Ground Zero is an insult to the memory of the 3,000 people who perished there six years before. The event should be taken as a threat to public safety and, therefore, it is incumbent on the city of New York to not only watch all of those involved, but to work to shut down the event completely, along with the sponsoring organizations.
If you are concerned about this parade taking place in New York City two days prior to the anniversary of 9/11 – if you are concerned this parade is taking place at all – contact the Mayor’s office.
Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the founder of CAIR Watch. Beila Rabinowitz is the Director of Militant Islam Monitor.