Anti-terror marches: Marching towards alienation

No shoving, please

&After weeks of publicity, a Muslim March Against Terror was staged last Saturday in Washington DC, attracting 50 people (who didn’t really march at all). While a number this low would hardly justify international attention (and for the most part, didn’t), the real news was behind the scenes. Billed as the first mainstream Muslim rally against terror in Washington DC (the qualifiers came after rallies were pointed out elsewhere, notably AMILA’S well-documented march in 2002), the march was organised by the Free Muslims Against Terrorism, or more accurately by its president Kamal Nawash. However, the march’s low turnout highlighted the leader’s notoriety for high publicity (in non-Muslim circles and Fox News) and rejection by most mainstream Muslim groups (of which FMAT claims to be part of). “For certain people, I’m a hero. For certain people, I was sent by God,” said Nawash, prior to the event (with angels fluttering above, no doubt). “Someone described me as the Martin Luther of Islam. To me, that’s not bad.” Nawash has been criticized in the past by Muslim-watchers such as Daniel Pipes for his defense of Abdurahman Alamoudi while working as an attorney for the ADC (he has since won back Pipes graces and left the ADC). But a recent critique (to put it mildly) by former ADC colleague and Progressive Muslim Union board member Hussain Ibish highlighted Nawash’s failed political aspirations and accused him of selling out. “It looks like an effort to force people into choosing to give Kamal completely undeserved credibility by joining him, or face possible denunciation as agents of terror by declining the poisoned offer,” predicted Ibish (somewhat correctly). “It’s a typically crude ploy, and nobody should be fooled for a second by it.” Furthermore, the bizarre list of supporters (including groups who said they never signed on and a sneaked-through anagram insult to Nawash) undermined claims of mainstream Muslim support. Before the march, even some would-be supporters flogged the organisation for not going far enough or for rehearsing a terrorist plot. Still, despite the setbacks, Nawash remains undeterred. ;If we’re so small and insignificant, then just ignore us,” he said. “But they’re scared, because we’re breaking their monopoly over our community.”

Zahed Amanullah is associate editor of He is based in London, England.

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