Rep. Sue Myrick Hosts ‘Moderate Muslim Summit’
by THE EDITORS
July 31, 2009
Leaders from eight moderate Muslim organizations met on Monday with U.S. Agency heads, Members of Congress and congressional staff at the U.S. Capitol. These meeting were part of an historic Moderate Muslim Summit organized by U.S. Representative Sue Myrick (NC-09). The summit was a first of its kind because it assembled the largest group of diverse Muslims in the U.S. Capitol to discuss issues and policy impacting Muslim communities and societies.
At the summit, Muslim leaders were able to meet with representatives from the State Department, USAID, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense in order to emphasize the importance of having a diverse Muslim voice when addressing Muslim communities and societies. They shared their thoughts and opinions on U.S. foreign policy and aid, and how the U.S. government can do a better job at reaching out and hearing from a more diverse group of Muslims rather than just the largest Muslim organizations that represent a minority opinion in the Muslim community.
“I’ve been working with many of these leaders for several years now,” said Rep. Myrick. “They give us valuable input on policy and provide us with new ideas on how to stamp out extremism in their communities and societies around the word. We set up this summit so we could introduce them to other Members of Congress and U.S. agencies in hopes they will use them as a resource as well. It was very successful and I believe this summit was the first step to empower these leaders so that they will be a strong force in helping our government in combating radical Islamists and extremism.”
Leaders from the following organizations were present at the Summit:
- Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi – President World Organization for Resource Development and Education (WORDE)
- Zeyno Baran – Director for the Center for Eurasian Policy at the Hudson Institute
- Farid Ghadry – President of the Reform Party of Syria
- Manda Zand Ervin – the founder and director of the Alliance of Iranian Women
- Dr. Ali H. Alyami – Executive Director, The Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
- Omran Salman – Arab Reformists Project, 'Aafaq (Arabic for “horizons”).
- Dr. Zudi Jasser – American Islamic Forum for Democracy
- Karim Bromund – Director of Inter-Religious Affairs for the Islamic Supreme Council of America
Dr. Walid Phares, Senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and academic advisor to the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus, moderated the summit. "This first summit of ideologically moderate Muslim American NGOs and leaders held in the U.S. Congress is only a first step in a new direction so that an alternative voice would be added to the debate within the community and about the issues related to foreign policy, defense, national security, and radicalization," said Phares. "This meeting is a sample of the forthcoming initiatives and projects that the NGOs have in mind. Future summits will include a wider circle of leaders and groups. But note that even at this early stage, the Myrick sponsored summit included representatives from various backgrounds: Sunni and Shia, Arab and Iranian, American and foreign born, religious and secular, etc."
Phares added: "The issues discussed with representatives from the State Department, the Defense Department, and US Aid covered a wide range of concerns from terrorism, counter radicalization, humanitarian assistance to community participation in national perception of Muslim public affairs." Phares said that the initial idea, as raised by Representative Myrick who serves as co-chair of the Anti-Terrorism Caucus in the US House, "is to help diversity grow in the debate among Muslim Americans and within the national community on issues important to all citizens." He said that the voices of democracy and pluralism seeking Muslim Americans should be heard by legislators, the Administration and the public."