United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said protests over cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad that resulted in violent demonstrations by Muslims around the world are being fuelled by extremism. “Those who shout loudest or act in the most provocative ways, are not necessarily typical of the group on whose behalf they claim to speak,” Annan said yesterday, according to the UN’s Web site. “We must appeal to the majority to speak up and denounce those who disrespect values.” Religious and other leaders must promote discussion between Islamic and Western societies, Annan told a meeting in Qatar of the High-Level Group for the Alliance of Civilizations, a panel he set up last year to bridge gaps between Islam and the West. Protests have taken place in countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia and Turkey since newspapers in Europe earlier this month reprinted cartoons first published in September in Denmark. Any visual depiction of Muhammad is considered blasphemy, according to the teachings of Islam. One of the cartoons depicts Muhammad wearing a bomb in place of a turban. More than 20,000 people attended a rally yesterday in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi, the latest in a series of protests in the country over the cartoons, Agence France-Presse reported. At least five people have been killed in violence during rallies in Pakistan. Pakistan Arrests Police detained several political leaders in Lahore yesterday to prevent a protest march taking place. They included Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the head of a six-party alliance of Islamic groups in Pakistan, and Imran Khan, a former captain of Pakistan’s cricket team, who formed the Movement for Justice Party, AFP said. The 12 cartoons were first published in Denmark’s largest broadsheet, Jyllands-Posten in September. They were reprinted earlier this month in France, Norway, Austria, Germany and other counties sparking Muslim protests. Editors in European countries said they were defending freedom of expression by reprinting the cartoons. Carsten Juste, editor-in-chief at the Aarhus-based Jyllands-Posten, apologized for offending Muslims in a statement on the newspaper’s Web site Jan. 31. Violent protests earlier this month left at least 11 people dead in Libya, 16 people killed in Nigeria and 11 in Afghanistan. “Some of the violent reactions have encouraged extremist groups within European societies, whose agenda is to demonize Muslim immigrants or even expel them,” Annan said, according to the UN. “The republication of the cartoons, and the support for them voiced by some leaders in Europe, have strengthened those in the Muslim world who see Europe, or the West as a whole, as irredeemably hostile to Islam and encourage Muslims to always see themselves as victims.” Left to Extremists Without the efforts of groups such as the High-Level panel, the exchanges between Islam and the West will be left to extremists, Annan said. Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and theologians such as Ismali Serageldin of Egypt and Mehmet Aydin of Turkey are among the members of the panel. Annan two weeks ago called on Muslims to refrain from violence over the cartoons. Muslims should accept the apology given by the Danish newspaper, he said Feb. 5.
By ASIF SHAHZAD About 25,000 people – some chanting “Death to America!” – rallied against the Prophet Muhammad caricatures in Pakistan’s largest city Sunday, but police prevented a rally in the eastern city of Lahore by arresting the religious ringleader and detaining scores of supporters. In Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and economic hub, where the provincial government has not banned such rallies, protesters also chanted “Down with the blasphemer!” and “End diplomatic ties with European countries!” No violence was reported. About 25,000 people joined the downtown rally organized by Tahafuz-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat, a Sunni Muslim religious group, said Shaukat Shah, a Karachi police officer. The protest was the biggest in the port city since 40,000 rallied there Feb. 16 against the cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September but have been reprinted across Europe since. In Lahore, clerics, opposition lawmakers and religious school administrators were among 150 people arrested or detained without charge Saturday and Sunday in a bid to thwart the illegal protest, police official Amir Zulfiqar said. Pakistan banned such rallies in Lahore after several demonstrations turned deadly. Police blocked all streets leading to a central Lahore mall where the protest was to be held. Some 15,000 policemen and 3,000 paramilitary troops were deployed in the city, guarding major traffic intersections, government buildings, mosques and foreign consulates, Lahore police chief Khawaja Khalid Farooq said. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, a leader of a coalition of six radical Islamic parties, attempted to lead the rally but was taken away in a police vehicle after trying to break through a barricade, Zulfiqar said. Nearly 100 of Ahmed’s supporters chanted “Punishment for insulting the Prophet is death!” as they stood near the police blockade. There was no violence. Parliamentary opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman, who was prevented by police from boarding a flight to Lahore from Islamabad, vowed that the protests would continue. “By arresting religious and political workers, the government displayed a dictatorial attitude which is condemnable,” Rahman said. “The government has shattered democratic values and by its steps it has strengthened those forces which have insulted the Prophet.” Protests targeting President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the United States and the caricatures are scheduled for March 3 – a day before President Bush visits Islamabad. Police also detained former cricket great Imran Khan, a lawmaker who now leads the Movement for Justice party, and 10 of his supporters near the venue of the planned rally, Zulfiqar said. The prophet drawings have ignited violent protests across the Muslim world that have killed at least 45 people. Muslims have denounced the drawings – one of which shows a prophet with a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse – as offensive to their religion. Muslims consider any physical representation of Islam’s prophet blasphemous. The caricatures were first published by a Danish newspaper in September, then reprinted by other Western media, mostly in Europe but by some U.S. outlets, in the name of free speech and news value. In Hong Kong, about 1,000 Muslims staged a peaceful rally in a downtown park Sunday. “Any insults to the prophets will hurt Muslims,” read placards held by some of the protesters. “Don’t abuse the freedom of speech.” “I cannot describe how hurt I feel. The Prophet Muhammad is not only the prophet we follow, but he is dearer to us than our own selves,” said Wael Ibrahim, an Egyptian sales manager who lives in the city of Shenzhen, across the border in mainland China. In Malaysia, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he had ordered the suspension of a third newspaper that published a photograph showing the cartoons. The Berita Petang Sarawak, the only Chinese-language evening daily on Borneo island, will be banned from publishing for two weeks, Abdullah said. The government earlier ordered the suspensions of the English-language Sarawak Tribune and Chinese-language Guang Ming newspapers for reproducing the cartoons.
Muslims protesting the publication in European media of cartoons depicting Mohammed have once again directed their anger at the United States despite the fact most American mainstream newspapers have not reproduced them. Sentiment about the allegedly blasphemous cartoons appears increasingly to be blurring into a broader anti-U.S. feeling in some parts of the world, with some angry Muslims using President Bush’s scheduled tour to India and Pakistan early next month as a rallying point.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) – Bill Clinton says he thinks Muslims have “squandered” an opportunity to build bridges to the West. The former president today denounced the violent protests that have rocked the Muslim world in recent weeks. The cartoons depicting Muhammad were first published in Denmark last fall but have since sparked destructive riots, including protests aimed at the U-S. Clinton commented during a visit to Pakistan, one of the countries rocked by violence.
Pakistan’s ambassador to Denmark has been called back to Islamabad “for consultations” amid a continuing row over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, the foreign office said on Friday. The move comes shortly after officials said that Denmark, where the drawings were first published in September, had temporarily closed its embassy in Islamabad.
How to defuse cartoon-related violence? Definitely not by publishing more offensive cartoons. The German embassy in Tehran came under attack on Tuesday after a German paper did just that. And in Pakistan, a protest got out of control. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been no stranger to the media in recent weeks. Given the uproar over the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published first in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten and then reprinted in papers across Europe, Rasmussen’s mission of late has been damage control — trying to tamp out the embers of flared tempers on both sides of the debate. How hard has it been? On Tuesday, Rasmussen said that the cartoon-related violence has been the small Scandinavian country’s most difficult foreign policy challenge since World War II. As for defusing the ongoing crisis, Rasmussen told reporters that it would be a “very difficult task.” Indeed. On Tuesday, violence related to the Muhammad cartoons flared once again. In Pakistan, over 1,000 demonstrators stormed into the diplomatic district in the country’s capital Islamabad. A separate mob of protesters in the eastern city of Lahore targeted Western businesses, damaging a Holiday Inn hotel as well as Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald’s fast food outlets. Some 200 cars were likewise attacked in addition to dozens of shops and a portrait of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Two protesters were killed by security guards in Islamabad when they tried to force their way into a bank, according to the Pakistani interior minister. Police were able to halt the demonstrators before they damaged any of the embassies within the compound, but protesters gathered outside burned tires and broke street lamps while shouting “Death to America.” “We have come to the doors of the embassies to take our voice to the ambassadors,” said hard-line cleric Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, who led a group of lawmakers to protest before the gate leading to the embassy compound. “There is anger in the Islamic world. If they do not listen, their problems will increase,” he told the Associated Press. It was the first time that cartoon protests in Pakistan — which have been going on for over a week — had become so violent. In Iraq, the Basra provincial council on Tuesday demanded that Denmark withdraw its 530 troops from southern Iraq until the Danish government apologizes for the publishing of the cartoons. Denmark denied the request with Danish Defense Minister Soeren Gade telling reporters that Denmark would “certainly not” meet Basra’s demands. “Our foreign policy is not being decided by the provincial council in Basra,” Gade said. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Tuesday defended Denmark, saying in an interview with Jyllands-Posten that freedom of speech is a “fundamental value” in the European Union and that “it’s better to publish too much than not to have freedom.” It was the first time Barroso had commented on the brouhaha. Additional violent protests were seen in Iran on Tuesday as dozens of Iranian students attacked the German Embassy in Tehran with Molotov cocktails. While German facilities had emerged largely unscathed by cartoon-related protests so far, the publishing last Friday of a caricature depicting the Iranian national soccer team as suicide bombers in the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel has nerves raw once again. “Germany, you are Fascists and the willful servants of Zionism,” the students chanted. The cartoonist responsible for the caricature, Klaus Stuttmann, has received a number of death threats since Friday and has moved out of his Berlin apartment for safety reasons. The Iranian Embassy has sent the paper a letter of protest calling the cartoon “tactless” and demanded an apology. The paper has said the cartoon was misinterpreted and that it is protected by the freedom of the press. In an effort to show its impartiality on the issue of cartoon insults, Iran on Tuesday officially protested the publishing of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary caricatures by a newspaper in Azerbaijan. The Iranian Embassy condemned the sketches as “rude and immoral.” Iran itself, meanwhile, has become the target of complaint. The Central Council of Sinti and Roma in Germany has sent a letter to the Iranian Ambassador in Germany complaining of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statements that the Holocaust is a “fairy tale.” “The government in Tehran must respect these historical facts if it wants to become part of the international community,” read a letter sent to the embassy. Between 250,000 and a half-million Gypsies were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
LAHORE, Pakistan – Thousands of protesters rampaged through two cities Tuesday, storming into a diplomatic district and torching Western businesses and a provincial assembly in Pakistan’s worst violence against the Prophet Muhammad drawings, officials said. At least two people were killed and 11 injured. Security forces fired into the air as they struggled to contain the unrest in the eastern city of Lahore, where protesters burned down four buildings housing a hotel, two banks, a KFC restaurant and the office of a Norwegian cell phone company, Telenor. U.S. and British embassy staffers were confined to their compounds until police dispersed the protesters, some of whom chanted, “Death to America!” Witnesses said rioters also damaged more than 200 cars, dozens of shops and a large portrait of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Vandals broke the windows of a Holiday Inn, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s. Two movie theaters were torched, and clouds of tear gas and black smoke from burning vehicles outside Citibank and Metropolitan Bank branches drifted through streets in the city center. A security guard shot and killed two protesters trying to force their way into a bank, Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said, adding that paramilitary forces were deployed to restore order. Mohammed Tariq, a doctor at the state-run Mayo Hospital, said three people were being treated for serious bullet wounds, and eight more suffered injuries during clashes with police. The protest was organized by a little-known religious group supported by local trade associations and one of the main Islamic schools in the city. Intelligence officials, however, suspected that members of outlawed Islamic radical groups may have incited the violence. Raja Mohammed Basharat, law minister for Punjab province, of which Lahore is the capital, said the organizers promised Monday that the demonstration would be peaceful. No one has been arrested for the violence, but those responsible would be punished, he said. The unrest began Tuesday in the nation’s capital, Islamabad, about 180 miles northwest of Lahore, when between 1,000 and 1,500 people, mostly students, marched into a fenced-off diplomatic enclave through the main gate, as about a dozen police looked on. The stick-wielding crowd charged about a half-mile down the road to the British High Commission, or embassy, where the students rallied briefly until police fired tear gas. Outside the enclave, protesters smashed street lights and burned tires while chanting “Death to America!” and other slogans. Police rounded up about 50 protesters and put them in pickup trucks. Another protest in Islamabad drew about 4,000 people. Separately, about 50 lawmakers from religious and moderate parties marched from Parliament to the diplomatic enclave, where they stood silently for five minutes before dispersing. Hard-line cleric Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, senior leader of an opposition coalition of six religious parties, said, “We have come to the doors of the embassies to take our voice to the ambassadors. There is anger in the Islamic world. If they do not listen, their problems will increase.” People in this conservative Muslim nation have been enraged by the publications of the drawings, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September. Papers in other countries, mostly Europe but including some in the United States, reprinted them. One of the caricatures depicts Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with an ignited detonator string. Islam widely holds that representations of Muhammad are banned for fear they could lead to idolatry. In Copenhagen, Denmark, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the uproar posed the biggest foreign policy challenge to his nation since World War II. Fogh Rasmussen said it would take time to defuse the crisis, which he called “a very considerable task.” “We don’t see the solution around the corner,” he said. “We find ourselves in the biggest foreign policy challenge Denmark has faced since World War II.” The Danish government has said it cannot apologize for the actions of an independent newspaper. A Danish Muslim leader said his group would accept part of the blame for the international protests, but he insisted the group took its complaints to the Middle East because Denmark’s government would not listen. Ahmad Akkari, 28, told The Associated Press his network was willing to accept one-third of the responsibility for the firestorm, if the government and the Danish paper that first published the drawings shared the rest. “Let’s say we bear one-third of the responsibility. Could the other two parts not take their responsibility?” Akkari said in an interview at a mosque in northern Copenhagen. There have been a series of mostly peaceful protests across Pakistan against the cartoons, and last week Parliament adopted resolutions condemning the drawing. Lawmakers also called for a nationwide strike on March 3. But Aitzaz Ahsan, a lawmaker with the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, said he will propose that the government call off the March 3 protest strike because of the prospect of further violence. “It’s really gotten out of hand,” Ahsan said. “The violence is spiraling out of control.”
News Report, Jehangir Khattak NEW YORK – The American Muslim community is expected to raise more funds for the victims of earthquake that struck Pakistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan on Oct. 8, than the $50 million dollars in aid pledged so far by the United States government. More than a dozen national Muslim organizations and groups have already raised $20 million in relief aid for the earthquake victims in Pakistan and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. During interviews with the Muslims Weekly, managers of these Islamic and Pakistani relief groups and community organizations sounded upbeat while claiming an overwhelming response to the huge disaster of unimaginable proportions in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir that has killed 54,197 people as of Oct. 26. As the donations of money, food, medical supplies and other needed goods continue to be made by individuals and mosques around the country, the long-term contribution from this minority group is expected to climb beyond the initial $50 million aid package offered by the U.S. government. Some Muslims are fearful of donating money to Islamic organizations which the U.S. government could investigate for terrorist connections so have contributed large sums to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mercy international and many American and United Kingdom groups. If those sums are included in the total donations, then the Muslims community’s pledges might already exceed the government’s aid package. After 9/11 American Muslims and Muslim charity organizations in the U.S. came under extreme government scrutiny and a number of leading charity organizations were closed. Such actions spurred fear among American Muslims that the government may charge unknowing donors for “funding terrorism,” according to the Council on American Islamic Relations in a research titled, “American Muslims: One Year after 9-11.” Some non-Muslim aid organizations have complained in recent days that donations for the earthquake disaster have been lower than expected, blaming the low charity in the U.S. on “donor fatigue” following relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami last year. But reports from Muslim organizations do not express concern. “We have received a very positive and encouraging response from the Pakistani community and the larger Muslim and non-Muslim community,” Salar Rizivi of the Islamic Relief, which has pledged $10 million dollars aid for the quake victims, told Muslims Weekly over telephone from Burbank, California. He said the Islamic Relief had so far allocated a total of $4 million for the relief effort. “We are receiving constant feedback from our field offices in Pakistan and are sending the relief items accordingly,” Rizvi said. Islamic Relief sent a plain load of tents, blankets, hygiene and first aid kits to Pakistan from Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 17. It intends to send more relief goods in the coming days. Last year Islamic Relief-USA raised around $14 million from predominantly Muslim donors for projects in South America, Iraq, Palestinian refugee camps, Egypt, Chechnya, Pakistan and China, etc. The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Relief that had initially pledged a million dollar relief effort has now revised its pledge. “ICNA Relief is planning to raise $10 million for short and long-term Adopt the Village Rehabilitation Works,” the organization said in a statement. ICNA Relief is sending medicines worth $1.2 million (one of the most expensive consignments to leave for Relief from USA) to the region. “Besides this consignment, we have so far dispatched medicines worth $200,000 to the disaster hit regions in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir,” said Irfan Khursheed, Director ICNA Relief. The Pakistani community organizations, Islamic Centers and mosques across the country are also receiving overwhelming response from the community. The holy month of Ramadan is one reason for the surge in donations during which Muslims give Zakat (alm) to the poor and the needy. The over a dozen Muslim organizations that have announced the $20 million donation have joined hands under the umbrella of a permanent body called the American Muslim Taskforce for Disaster Relief (AMTFDR). It sent a letter to President George W. Bush, calling for forming an ad-hoc committee to offer coordinated relief to the quake victims, according to the U.S. Department of State’s information bureau. “The AMTFDR pledge effort is a cooperative attempt by the American Muslim community to provide relief in the most efficient and most abundant manner possible for the brothers and sisters of humanity that have suffered as the result of the significant earthquake in South Asia,” Ahmed Younis, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told a press conference while announcing the donation in Washington.
By H.D.S. Greenway I met Sher Khan in a caf_ near Leicester Square. It was Ramadan, so, although I had a coffee, he made do with nothing, waiting until sundown to break the fast that is obligatory for observant Muslims the world over. Khan was born here, but his family came from Bangladesh. His day job is in investments, but he works with the Islamic Society of Britain, an umbrella group that keeps tabs on how Muslims are faring in Britain. According to Khan, the minority problem in Britain used to be perceived in racial terms more than religious. But since 9/11, and especially since the suicide bombings of July, “we have a new identity marker, Muslim.” But Khan is quick to say that, although the majority of Muslims in Britain may originally have come from the Indian subcontinent, there are Arabs, Africans, Central Asians. Since the British empire was more diverse than other empires, so are the Muslims of Britain today. Khan and other British Muslims I have talked to mostly say that Britain is as good a place as any in which to be a minority. Since the English had to first absorb the Scots and the Welsh, and some of the Irish, multiculturalism had a head start here, they say. And just as Scots and Welsh are always annoyed when foreigners lump them together with the English, so does Sher Khan remark that even here in Britain, Muslims are lumped together as one. More often than not, ethnicity trumps religion among Muslims in Britain. Bangladeshis, on the whole, are further down on the social scale – and more discriminated against – than people from Pakistan, I have been told. Other Muslims, such as the Arabs, have felt swamped by the total numbers of those who came from Pakistan and Bangladesh, and some complain that most of the Muslim organizations are run by Pakistanis who, they say, don’t really speak for them. In France, the Muslim population is more homogeneous, for, although you find Muslims from every climate, North Africans predominate following the retreat of the French empire. Some Muslims have found it easier to adjust to the majority culture than others. Professor Philip Lewis, who teaches at Bradford University’s Department of Peace Studies, for example, told me that a very large proportion of Muslims in his former mill town, as well as in Britain as a whole, originally came from a few villages in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, according to Lewis, not far from the epicenter of the recent earthquake. They were originally rural people who might have had difficulty adjusting to life in Karachi, never mind in Britain. They have kept a very close-knit community, with even British-born second and third generations sending back to the old country for their imams and even for their spouses, making it harder for them to integrate. Lewis contrasts the Kashmiris to the Indians and Pakistanis who were expelled from East Africa. Having adjusted to being a minority once, the latter were more adept at it the second time around. Is it harder for Muslims to adjust in Britain than other minorities? Faisal Bodi, a freelance writer, says maybe it is. “Our two popular soaps, ‘East Enders’ and ‘Coronation Street,’ both take place in pubs, for example, and it is difficult for an observant Muslim to relate to the pub culture.” According to Sher Khan, the goal in Britain should be integration, not assimilation as in France. “Assimilation always requires a measure of coercion,” he says. Most British Muslims are feeling the post-suicide bombing heat, however, as the government rushes to introduce even tougher antiterrorism laws. Some of these proposals have been questioned by legal authorities, and it is hard to miss the uneasiness that British Muslims are beginning to feel. I asked Fred Halliday, a terrorism expert at the London School of Economics, what he thought about the new legislation. He said that such laws were necessary only to make people feel good. Governments had to show that they were “doing something,” but as for thwarting terrorism, such laws are useless. What it takes is “good police work and luck.” Terrorists, Halliday said, come from a tiny, transnational minority who, from perceived injustices and humiliations in their formative years, have found an answer in extremism – not unlike the way youths were drawn to and recruited by the Communist Party. “They want to change the world,” and understanding them has as much to do with the psychology of young people as it does with Islam.
LODI, Calif.–Though FBI vehicles and small-engine aircraft no longer circle the town, Muslims in Lodi, Calif., still feel under siege. Four months after the government launched a highly public terrorism investigation that ensnared five Pakistani men here in June, the community is still reeling, not just from the pressures stemming from the federal probe, but also from a pre-existing split in the community that some say the FBI exploited. “Everyone is just kind of hiding their head under the sand, hoping the storm will pass,” says Taj Khan, an outspoken Pakistani Muslim leader in Lodi. Father and son Umer and Hamid Hayat, alleged to have ties to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, now await trial in Sacramento County Jail. Local Muslim clerics Muhammed Adil Khan and Shabbir Ahmed and Adil Khan’s 19-year-old son selected to depart for Pakistan in August instead of fighting immigration violation charges. Equally contentious, though, is that the Farooqia Islamic Center, a Muslim school and community center Adil Khan and his prot_g_ Ahmed were planning, is now all but defunct. And those heading the existing mosque are not shedding any tears over its demise. Such conflicts within American mosques are becoming increasingly common as Muslim communities grapple with conflicting ideologies regarding “women, interfaith events, the West, education, civic service and marriage,” says Asra Nomani, activist and author of “Standing Alone in Mecca.” “Pakistan is undergoing a fierce battle for the hearts and minds of its people. It’s natural that this flows into immigrant communities,” Nomani says. Pakistanis have made Lodi their home for almost a century, and since 1978, the Lodi Muslim Mosque, an inconspicuous yellow building that was once a Jehovah’s Witness Hall, has served an estimated 500 members from a community of 2,500. Men relax on the mosque veranda between scheduled prayers, and boys in Pakistani tunics play basketball across the street. Females are not barred from entering the mosque, mosque members say, but the facility is not large enough to accommodate women, who traditionally pray in separate lines behind the men. Few Pakistani women are to be seen there or in other public places in Southeast Lodi, where many in the community live. Planners of the Farooqia Islamic Center envisioned an 18-acre establishment where women’s education programs, K-4 schooling and interfaith gatherings could be held. Adil Khan, who immigrated to Lodi from Pakistan in the spring of 2001 and was named mosque imam shortly thereafter, kick-started the project, organizing conferences with local Christian and Jewish leaders in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and publicly signing a “declaration of peace” with a rabbi and reverend. “I think the most important thing it would have brought is more open communication between Muslims and non-Muslims,” says Pamela Parvez, 48, a white Muslim from nearby Stockton who converted 20 years ago. “But it would also be nice to have a place where women can go … to read the Quran, to study Islam together.” County supervisors halted the Farooqia project on Sept. 27, citing land-use concerns. Parvez and other supporters — Taj Khan, in particular — blame the project’s defeat primarily on the terror allegations, but also on leaders of the existing mosque. Three months before Adil Khan’s arrest, in March, Lodi Muslim Mosque president Mohammed Shoaib and others sued Adil Khan and four other Farooqia organizers for $200,000, alleging fraud and deceit in the group’s fund raising, notably its sale of the mosque-owned land, which Adil Khan used to finance the purchase of a separate 18-acre plot for the center. In their suit, Shoaib and his faction indicated that Adil Khan had overstayed his religious worker visa. Taj Khan has steered the Farooqia project in Adil Khan’s absence, and his supporters claim Shoaib deliberately provoked the imams’ arrests. Shoaib denies that accusation, blaming the imams themselves for attracting the FBI. “If you believe in the justice system here, the court has convicted them,” he says. Taj Khan, who now attends a mosque in Stockton that advertises “Friday prayers for women also,” is now one of several plaintiffs suing Shoaib and others on the mosque board claiming the president resigned in 2004 and has no authority over the governing body. “These people are being used by FBI,” Taj Khan says. “They plan and conspire and do stuff against the rest of members of the community.” Author Asra Nomani says adding federal investigators into this kind of religious dispute makes conditions ripe for the kind of back-stabbing that occurred in Lodi. “People point fingers at each other trying to stoke this fear of Muslims,” she says. “It’s like walking on egg shells.” Both cases are still pending in San Joaquin Superior Court. Regardless of their outcome, they have revealed in the community a deep divide. Taj Khan says that most of Lodi’s Muslims backed the plans for a more open mosque, but that Shoaib and his supporters, many of whom are related, disliked the project’s progressive aims. “They’re following the Wahabi sect in Saudi Arabia, and other people don’t like that,” Khan says. Shoaib says that his opponents have mislabeled him, and that Adil Khan, an educated native of metropolitan Karachi, was an interloper who did not respect community members from the poorer districts of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier province, where most Lodi Muslims have their roots. “We’re not against women, not against another mosque,” he protests. “We’re against the way it is being run.” Whatever their differences, Khan and Shoaib agree on one thing: that the lasting feud has kept the community from regrouping. In mid-August, organizers called off an annual Pakistani Independence Day celebration in recognition of Adil Khan’s and Ahmed’s detention. Shoaib says that was a missed opportunity to show non-Muslims that the community had nothing to hide. Outside attempts to bring Lodi’s Muslim community together have faltered, as well. A proposed “Million Muslim March” — promoted by Lodi Mayor John Beckman and local conservative radio show host Mark Williams as a way to affirm the community’s stance against terrorism — was scrapped in July due to community division, Beckman said. The Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations organized talks to patch the rift, but they too fell through, says Shoaib. Reconciliation does not appear likely amid unresolved lawsuits and the imminent terrorism trial, according to six-year mosque member Sultan Afsar. “The wounds are too deep to be healed,” he says.