Muslims Excluded from Capitol Hill Meeting on Sudan

Congressman Frank Wolf's office has admitted that Muslims were not included in a meeting the Washington Times described as aiming to "galvanize U.S. Policy on persecution in Sudan."

Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the American Sudanese League and a constituent of Rep. Wolf's district, was denied access to the February 9 meeting after the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) submitted a formal request.

In his letter to Wolf, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote:

"American Muslims have grown increasingly concerned that the issue of Sudan is being used by those with anti-Islamic political or religious agendas to stereotype Islam and Muslims worldwide. Having a Muslim representative at your meeting would go a long way toward dispelling that troubling impression. It would also help American Muslims to participate more effectively in the effort to end human rights abuses by all sides in the Sudanese civil war."

In an interview with, Wolf's chief of staff Dan Scandling admitted that a wide range of organizations, including members from the U.S. Holocaust Museum were invited to attend, but that no Muslims were included.

Scandling said that some Catholic organizations and members of the U.S. Committee on Refugees also attended, but refused to reveal other names or individuals or organizations, which were included in the meeting.

The meeting also included members of the Congressional Black Caucus and unnamed human rights organizations, according to the Washington Times.

But Muslim activists, including officials from CAIR, fear the meeting also included officials of the American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG) and Christian Solidarity International (CSI), the two most prominent groups lobbying for sanctions on Sudan.

CAIR officials say political and religious agendas of both groups are in question, because of associations with the extremist wing of the pro-Israel lobby or with those who are trying to convert residents of Southern Sudan to their version of Christianity.

"Wolf's decision seems to confirm our suspicions that the sponsors of the Sudan sanctions campaign are not interested in hearing from anyone whose views might differ from their own. We can only hope that foreign policy will be formulated based on American interests, not on those of special-interest groups," said Awad.

Muslims have been suspicious of the political and religious agendas of both groups, saying they are often associated with the extremist wing of the pro-Israel lobby or with those who are trying to convert residents of Southern Sudan to their version of Christianity.

According to a previous investigative report by, AASG founder Charles Jacobs has led or been associated with at least four hard-line pro-Israel groups. One of AASG's co-founders was an official of the rebel South Sudan Independence Army (SSIA). The State Department says the SSIA massacred more than 100 residents of the southern Sudanese town of Akot in 1994.

AASG also publishes communiqus of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the largest rebel group fighting the Sudanese government. Furthermore, the SPLA has been widely criticized by mainstream American news outlets, including the New York Times, for behaving "like an occupying army, killing, raping and pillaging".

Christian Solidarity International promotes the controversial practice of "slave redemption," in which captives taken during the course of inter-tribal fighting are redeemed for cash. Critics say this practice is open to fraud and only serves to provide funds used to buy weapons that help prolong the 17-year-long civil war.

Groups like CSI and AASG have been accused by other Christian-run organizations of mischaracterizing the conflict in Sudan as a struggle between the "Arab Muslim" North and the "black African" South.

Meanwhile, Scandling played down the importance of the meeting, saying that the group was not going to "dictate U.S. policy on Sudan" and stressed, "no concrete initiatives were put in place".

When asked whether the congressmen would be interested in meeting with Muslims in the future, Scandling refused to comment, saying he'd have to consult with Wolf first.

"We don't want to be perceived as anti-Muslim," said Scandling. "He (Wolf) has done many things for Muslims."

But Imam Magid says he's not aware of anything the American lawmaker has done for the Muslim community.

"He hates Muslims and Islam," said the Imam, who is also the spiritual leader for the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Herndon, Virginia.

Imam Magid also accused Wolf of taking "every opportunity to attack Muslims."

He also charged the Virginia lawmaker of harboring a secret agenda on Sudan.

"They are doing this to plan something in the dark and not to have anyone counter their argument," said Imam Magid.

  Category: Faith & Spirituality
  Topics: Council On American-Islamic Relations
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