Unable to shake off allegations of connections to Egyptian Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) has done the Massachusetts equivalent of calling in the Marines: it has summoned the trial lawyers.
Qaradawi, considered to be a supporter of suicide bombings, is being sued in a Boston court for libel against Muslims. And the Islamic Society of Boston has not only sued an "Islamic cleric, a Christian political science professor and the Jewish daughter of Holocaust survivors," says The David Project, a Jewish group that educates and trains students and the Jewish community about Israel that is a defendant in the lawsuit, along with The Boston Herald, Investigative Project head Steve Emerson and Fox 25 News. They have also twice subpoenaed the Anti-Defamation League, which declined comment.
Photocopies of Islamic Society of Boston IRS tax returns from 1998, 1999, and 2000 which list Qaradawi as a trustee are included as evidence in the statements of several of the defendants being sued for libel. At the same time, notarized 1993 documents from the City of Cambridge also list Qaradawi as a trustee.
Lawyers on behalf of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in late February filed "friends of the court" briefs for the Islamic Society of Boston, accusing the defendants of seeking to "demonize and vilify" US Muslims. The American Jewish Congress was one step ahead, having filed a "friend of the court" brief for the David Project and other defendants last October.
At the same time Georgetown University scholar John Esposito filed his own affidavit which sought to distance the Islamic society of Boston from radical Islamic groups, saying that the defendants "misleadingly attempt to suggest a link" between the ISB and Wahhabism.
Suggesting he sought to set the record straight on the Islamic Society of Boston, Esposito goes on to say that he intends to correct the "gross mis-characterizations" cited by the defendants "...as their apparent excuse for attacking the ISB [Islamic Society of Boston] and its leadership."
However, Emerson, who in his written statement to the court worried that Boston might be looking the other way when it came to Islamic extremists, was the subject of much of Esposito's negative comments.
Emerson wrote in his affidavit that he was concerned that "Boston public officials" were worried "they may be subsidizing the significant expansion of a particularly extremist and minority sect of Islam."
The ISB, meanwhile, accused the David Project of being the "hidden hand" behind another lawsuit Boston resident James Policastro brought against the ISB, alleging that the David Project used Policastro to "keep the role of the David Project hidden from the public."