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Petition to ISNA Leadership to do more for Syria

This petition had 314 supporters


September 03, 2015

Dear respected ISNA leaders

Assalam Alaikum

Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala, asked us to stand up for the oppressed and against transgression. The Holy Quran warns us from apathy during tribulations, while others are being persecuted, displaced and killed. Our prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, said “Allah shall help those who help their brethren”. 

This is not a traditional letter asking for ISNA support in fundraising or adding a session about Syria in your coming convention. We are a diverse group of Syrian and Muslim American leaders and humanitarians who believe that ISNA, and other Islamic American organizations, can do more to address the worst humanitarian crisis in our lifetime. This sentiment is shared, not only by Syrian American Muslims, but by many other Muslim leaders and communities, who believe that ISNA, the most diverse American Islamic organization, should represent the Islamic values of solidarity, standing for the oppressed and helping the refugees.

We will not argue on what ISNA, and other American Islamic Organizations, should, could or would have done differently in the past four years. We believe that most American Muslim organizations have not tapped into their full potentials. Issuing press releases, having a few sessions at a conference and holding fundraising events are not enough to address a crisis of such magnitude.  We do not agree with the commonly stated claims that the Syrian crisis is morally ambiguous or complicated beyond repair. We believe that we all should do more collectively. Advocacy is the key and Syria is the moral cause of our time.

We don’t have to detail the scale of the Syrian crisis. If you are watching the news or reading the papers, you can judge for yourself the despair and trauma that millions of Syrians are facing, who are killed by all types of weapons, displaced by the millions by a tyrannical regime, placed under suffocating siege, bombed by cheap brutal barrel bombs and pushed to join extremist groups out of despair and helplessness. The world, including unfortunately many Muslim countries and organizations, have turned a blind eye to our brothers and sisters in humanity in the blessed land of Al-Sham.

Syria has become the first country in the world in number of refugees, surpassing Afghanistan, and the first country in the Middle East in which people fleeing the country are using boats as a source of escape – boat refugees. An average Syrian lost 20 years of their life expectancy in the past 4 years. The pictures of the dead bodies of Syrian children, like Alyan 3 years old and his brother Galib 5 years old, washed to the unwelcoming shores of Europe has caused public outcry in Germany and Sweden to save the lives of the desperate refugees and open the doors to them. ISNA, and other Islamic countries and organizations, were strangely silent.  These young dead bodies are reflective of the dead consciousness of our world.

When a child in Aleppo, Syria, was asked to draw a picture at school, he painted a world on fire: helicopters were dropping bombs, and a house was collapsing into rubble.  He drew himself crying on his knees, surrounded by his friends — dead, dismembered, decapitated, and bleeding.

Some of us who visited Syria in medical missions have witnessed the desperate situation of our brothers and sisters in the ancient cities of Aleppo, Der Alzour, Idlib, Homs and besieged Ghouta, around Damascus. We saw children shot in the head by snipers. We saw them burned, mutilated, and dismembered by barrel bombs and mortar blasts. We witnessed the tragedy of the Talib family, when both parents, the grandmother and 3 young children, Sarah 3 years, Aisheh 2 years and Mohammed 1 year, suffocated to death while asleep after a Chlorine Bomb fired from a Government Helicopter fell on their basement in the agricultural city of Sarmin. We witnessed children in Ghouta dying from starvation because of a barbaric Government tactic called “Kneel or Starve”.

These atrocities take place right under the watch of international officials, yet without real accountability, there is no end and attacks continue to devastate the lives of Syrian civilians. After four years of atrocity and inaction, the Syrian people deserve better. They deserve protection, solidarity and more importantly the feeling that their brothers and sisters are with them during this unprecedented ordeal. 

We ask ISNA to rise up to the challenge and deliver on the expectations of our community by committing publicly during your coming convention to the following steps:

1.    ISNA should establish and lead a Syria Taskforce, a coalition of Muslim, faith and civic groups advocating for an end to the crisis and addressing its ramifications from public policy and grassroots perspectives. Syria Taskforce would include the main American Islamic Organizations in addition to the main faith organizations (Christian denominations, Jewish, Buddhists, Sikh and others). The Muslim community has a successful example of the Bosnia Taskforce to emulate, a model that can serve as a platform for community organizing.

2.    The leaders of ISNA should pledge in its convention to address the multiple aspects of the Syrian humanitarian crisis and encourage all Muslim organizations, leaders and speakers to do the same. ISNA’s outreach and Interfaith effort must include the Syrian crisis and refugees plight as part of the agenda items and topics including, but not limited to: post-crisis recovery, building social capital among communities after conflict, transitional justice and accountability, refugees resettlement and repatriation, protection of civilians and healthcare workers in time of conflict, sectarianism, religious extremism, combating ISIS and peace, democratic reforms, justice and development in the Middle East.

3.    ISNA should use its grassroots network to pressure the U.S. Congress and the President to end the crisis in Syria by all means necessary, make Syria a priority in the administration’s foreign policy agenda and expedite the resettlement of Syrian refugees. Only 1800 of them out of 4.2 million were resettled so far in the US, compared to more than 80,000 resettled in Germany and similar number in Sweden. It is a shameful indictment of our government’s policies on Syria.

4.    ISNA should start as soon as possible a public awareness campaign to pressure Iran to end its support to the tyrannical regime in Syria and pressure all Muslim leaders in the US to take a principled stance against oppression and for justice. Some Muslim communities in the US have turned a blind eye on the atrocities committed in the name of Islam by Iran and the militias it supports in Lebanon and Syria.

5.    ISNA should start a grassroots education campaign to educate the Muslim community on the Syrian crisis and raise awareness of their responsibilities. 

6.    ISNA leaders should meet with representatives of this group during its convention in Chicago to address this letter.

We are not here to criticize or undermine an organization that we all supported and grew proud of, but are reminding you of your responsibility to the drowning, suffocating, starving, exploited and mutilated children of Syria. 

Martin Luther King Jr. said “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends”.

“And remind for verily a reminder benefits the believer" (The Holy Quran 51:55)”.


Sincerely, 

 

Dr. Jamal Badawi

Dr. Hatem Bazian, President, American Muslims for Palestine

Rami Nashashibi, Inner City Muslim Network

Salam Al-Marayati, President, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Laila Muhammad, Imam WD Muhammad community, Chicago

Naim Baig, President of Islamic Circle of North America 

Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin, Chairman of Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, “Would request ISNA leadership to adopt the campaign at next Majlis Shura”

Kareem M Irfan, Past Chairman of CIOGC and Council of Religious Leaders of Metro Chicago

Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid, President of Sound Vision Foundation

Imam Jamal Said, Mosque Foundation

Imam Kifah Mustapha, Orland Park Prayer Center

Dr. Zahid Bukhari, Executive Director, Center for Islam and Public Policy 

Oussama Jammal, Chariman of Public Affairs & Civic Engagement at Muslim American Society (MAS-PACE)

Dr. Mohammad Yunus

Linda Sarsour, Executive Director, Arab American Association of New York 

Dr. Zaher Sahloul, Syrian American Medical Society

Junaid Afeef, Past Executive Director of CIOGC, Muslim Bar Association

Ahlam Jabara, Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugee Rights

Suzanne Akhras, Syrian Community Network

Kareem Shora, (In his individual capacity)

Safa Zarzour, Past Executive Director of ISNA

Mohamed Khairullah, Mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey

Sarab Al-Jijakli, National President of Network of Arab American Professionals

Dr. Yahya Abdel Rahim, Syrian American Medical Society, Tampa, Florida

Dr. Shaker Al-Sayed, Imam of Dar Al-Hijra

Imam Aziz Abdin, Vice President of American Open University

Dr. Esam Omeish, Past president of MSA and Muslim American Society

Kadoor Alsaid, Past president of NAIT

Shakeel Syed, President of Islamic Shura Council of Southern California

Dr. Mohammad Qatanani, Imam of Islamic Center of Passaic County, NJ

Humayun Kabeer, President of Islamic Council of New England

Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR Chicago

Sherif Soydan, President of Niagara Foundation

Azeem Ibrahim, Executive Director of the Scotland Institue

Imam Mahmoud Harmoush, Islamic Center of Yorba Linda

Akram Elzend, Executive Director of Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights

Fatome Obaid, Education for Syria

Bambade Shakoor-Abdullah, CMECCA School, Chicago

Imam Matthew L. Ramadan, Chicago One Community

Dr. Shakir Moiduddin, Interfaith Committee of CIOG and ISNA

Dr. Mazen Duwaji, Executive Director of Islamic Council of New England

Mirna Barq, President of Syrian American Council

Husam Ayloush, Chairman of Syrian American Council and Executive Director of CAIR, LA

Dr. Yahya Basha, Chairman of Coalition for a Democratic Syria

Dr. Mohamed Khawam, President of Syrian Emergency Taskforce

Dr. Bassam Osman, NAIT, MECCA

Azam Nizamuddin, CIOGC, Muslim Bar Association

Dr. Ahmed Tarakji, President of Syrian American Medical Society

Dr. Jihad Qaddour, President of Syria for Relief and Development

Dr Amjad Rass Chairman of Syrian American Medical Society Foundation

Dr. Abdul Rahman Zanabli, Syrian American Medical Society, Charleston, West Virginia

Imam Hassan Aly, MECCA Mosque, Willobrook, Illinois

Dr. Abdel Ghani Hamadeh, President, MECCA Mosque, SAMS

Dr. Munzir Krad, Orland Park Prayer Center

Dr. Omar Salem Chairman of Karam Foundation

Lina Sergie Attar, President of Karam Foundation

Dr. Abdel Ghani Sankari, SAMS, Detroit, Michigan

Muhammad Saiduzzaman, President, Dar-us-Sunnah Masjid and Community Center

Sima Quraishi, Executive Director, Muslim Women Resource Center

Mouna Hashem, Executive Director of WATAN USA

Dr. Mazen Tinawi, Swasia Charity Foundation

Nadia Alawa, President of NuDay Syria

Dr. Mazen Kawji, President of Hope for Syria

Mohamad Shirazi, Islamic Oasis

Dr. Yousef Kayyas, President of Shaam Foundation

Imam Chadi Zaza, Rahma Relief Foundation

Dr. Mazen Hasan, Chairman of Syrian Expatriate Organization

Dr. Mazen Rachid, Vice President of Hope for Syria

Muna Jondy, Chair of Government Affairs at United for Free Syria

Mohamed Samer, Syrian Emergency Taskforce

Dr. Iyad Azrak, Vice Chairman of Syria Expatriate Organization

Mohamad Al-Bradan, Syrian Expatriate Organization

Dr. Ahmed Aljebawi, President of Alhuda Foundation

Dr. Abdalmajid Katranji, Vice President of Foundation for Justice and Development

Dr. Mazen Hashem

Anas Osman

Omar Hossino, Syrian American Council

Yasser Tabara, Syria Forum

Dr. Bashar Kashlan, MECCA

Dr. Malaz Atassi, Syrian American Medical Society

Dr. Waleed Najeeb, President of SAMS Wisconsin chapter

Janan Najeeb, President of Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition

Mouaz Moustafa, Executive Director of Syrian Emergency Taskforce

Kenan Rahmani, Syrian American Council

Mazen Asbahi, General Counsel of SAMS, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Rafiq Jaber, American Muslims for Palestine

Nida Sahouri Chairwoman of American Muslims for Palestine, Chicago

Abdel Baset Hamayel, Director of American Muslims for Palestine, Chicago

Noor Hasan, Executive Director of Muslim Women Alliance

Kassem Eid, Survivor of August 23, 2013 Chemical Weapon Massacre in Ghouta, Syria



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