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December 01, 2002

U.S. MUSLIMS ARE BEGINNING TO QUESTION SAUDI DONATIONS:

"For too long we've depended too often on overseas financing to keep our institutions alive. This comes at the price of our intellectual independence and integrity," said Mairaj Syed, a UCLA graduate student in Islamic studies.

His comments sparked an online debate about the donation on San Francisco-based AMILAnet, a Muslim-oriented discussion group. . . .

Saudi Arabian donations have helped finance more than 1,700 mosques, Islamic centers and schools around the world. The kingdom has fully or partially financed Islamic centers in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Fresno; Chicago; New York; Washington; Tucson; Raleigh, N.C.; and Toledo, Ohio.

I think that they're right to question the money, which is in support of an agenda that is, quite literally, anti-American.

UPDATE: Here's a longer version of the story from the L.A. Times. Excerpt:

Some Muslim scholars have argued that such leanings are fundamentally intolerant and, taken to their extreme, are used as a religious justification for the terrorism of Osama bin Laden and others.

"The main reason we lack legitimacy among many Americans is because we don't take a critical look at the theological orientations within the Muslim community that could produce ugly acts like 9/11 or the Taliban regime's destruction of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan," Syed said in an interview.

Others argued that acceptance of foreign donations could prevent American Muslims from criticizing the human-rights records of Muslim states.

"Saudi Arabia is a corrupt, dictatorial, fascist state that is an embarrassment to Islam and Muslims," wrote Sarah Eltantawi, communications director of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council. Accepting foreign donations from such regimes "could set us back decades, or keep us in the 'straddling the fence' posture vis-a-vis Muslim dictators and oppressors that we seem to be shamefully stuck in today," she wrote.

In his own posting in the online debate, Aslam Abdullah, the editor of Minaret magazine in Los Angeles, called on Muslims to reject all donations from Persian Gulf monarchies because they constitute "immoral money" earned off oil revenue and other sources that rightfully belong to the people of the Gulf countries, not to their kings.

Bravo. A lot of bloggers have been calling for moderate Muslims to take this kind of a stand. Now some are doing it. Let's support them.