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The Silence of Muslim Leaders is Deafening

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. POMPEO. Mr. Speaker, it's been just under 2 months since the attacks in Boston, and in those intervening weeks, the silence of Muslim leaders has been deafening. And that is sad, but perhaps most importantly, it's dangerous.

There have now been at least a dozen attacks by Muslim terrorists on U.S. soil since Ramzi Yousef's parked rental van exploded in the basement of the World Trade Center on February 26 of 1993. Some have caused death and injury, such as the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and Nidal Hasan's mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.

Other attacks, such as Faisal Shahzad's fizzled Times Square bombing, or the unsuccessful underwear bombing of a flight, were thwarted or aborted.

But yet, fatal or not, all of these attacks were successful in scaring Americans, successful in reducing our freedom in the most freedom-loving Nation on Earth, successful in slowing our economy, and successful in demonstrating that an open society can potentially be vulnerable.

They were, in former Attorney General Mike Mukasey's words, ``crimes that are nonetheless meant to send a terrorist message.''

When the most devastating terrorist attacks on America in the last 20 years come overwhelmingly from people of a single faith, and are performed in the name of that faith, a special obligation falls on those that are the leaders of that faith. Instead of responding, silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts and, more importantly still, in those that may well follow.

If a religion claims to be one of peace, Mr. Speaker, its leaders must reject violence that is perpetrated in its name. Some clerics today suggest that modern jihad is nonviolent, and is only about making oneself a better Muslim. Perhaps that's true for moderate Muslims. But extremists seek to revive the era when most Islamic clerics understood jihad to be holy war.

Mr. Speaker, decades of Middle Eastern oil money have propounded this more extreme, violent interpretation in mosques around the world. Less than 2 months after the 9/11 atrocities, an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood preacher, who is probably the most influential Sunni cleric today, declared suicide bombing to be legitimate. He said, ``these are heroic commando and martyrdom attacks and should not be called suicide.''

So what is it that these Islamic leaders must say?

First, that there is never any justification for terrorism. No political goal legitimizes terrorism. Terrorism is never excusable as resistance. Imams must state unequivocally that terrorists' actions, killing and maiming, sully Islam.

They must also publicly and repeatedly denounce radical clerics who seek to justify terrorism. There is a battle of interpretation within Islam. It's not enough to deny responsibility by saying one's own interpretation doesn't support terrorism. Moderate imams must strive to ensure that no Muslim finds solace for terrorism in the Koran. They must cite the Koran as evidence that the murder of innocents is not permitted by good, believing Muslims, and must immediately refute all claims to the contrary.

Finally, Muslim leaders must say that there is no room for militant Islamism in the religion of peace. These statements must be made publicly, frequently and in the mosques, yes, in the mosques and in the madrassas, where many learn their Islamic religion.

You know, we have to call evil by its name in order to stamp it out. Downplaying atrocities and rampages ensures more of them. Every Muslim leader must unequivocally proclaim that terror committed in the name of Islam violates the core tenets of the Prophet Mohammed, and they must do so repeatedly, period.

My own faith has occasionally been hijacked in the name of violence and cruelty, including in Kansas, my home State, by Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church. In response, hundreds of Protestant ministers preach that Mr. Phelps' actions violate the most fundamental Christian traditions, and they have denounced him and his church's evil acts.

Pope John Paul II similarly apologized, in 2000, for the Catholic Church's failure to do more to speak out against the evils of Nazism, and to protect Jews from the Holocaust.

Just as these religious leaders have called up those who have killed and acted brutally in the name of their faith, so too must Muslim religious leaders refute terrorist theology.

We're now 2 decades into Islamic radicals attacking Americans on U.S. soil. I know that not every Muslim supports these actions. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy has spoken out in a clear and consistent way. So has Zainab al-Suwaij of the American Islamic Congress.

But the silence in the face of extremism coming from the best-funded Islamic advocacy organizations and many mosques across America is absolutely deafening. It casts doubt upon the commitment to peace by adherents of the Muslim faith. This is utterly unacceptable, it is dangerous, it must end.


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