Islamist Watch submitted a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer exposing the ICPIC (Islamic Cultural Preservation and Information Council) New Africa Center, organizer of Philly's Islamic Heritage Festival, held on June 11 as part of the PECO Multicultural Series at Penn's Landing. (Note: PECO is the local electric utility; Penn's Landing is overseen by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, whose members are appointed by the mayor.) The full text is below:
Muslims should be recognized and celebrated no less than any other Philadelphians. However, the central role of [ICPIC director] Abdul Rahim Muhammad and his ICPIC New Africa Center in organizing the annual Islamic Heritage Festival, supported by PECO and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, is alarming.
Rahim Muhammad's museum has displayed artwork that asks, "Which will survive the war of Armageddon?" One side is labeled "Christianity," followed by the U.S. flag and the words "slavery," "suffering," and "death." The other is labeled "Islam," followed by a Nation of Islam-style flag and the words "freedom," "justice," and "equality."
The clash of values promoted by the illustration belies Rahim Muhammad's statement to the Inquirer: "The principles that govern this nation are already principles that are adhered to in our faith. … We don't see a conflict."
Rahim Muhammad also views Louis Farrakhan, a notorious racist and anti-Semite, as one of the "great giants" of American Islam and hung his portrait in the New Africa Center's hall of fame.
These and other facts were brought to PECO's attention but dismissed.
Muslims deserve better than to be represented by those who sow division while pretending to stand for tolerance.
The Inquirer published an abridged version of the letter on June 22. Though the editors kept the sugar, they removed much of the meat: all references to the New Africa Center honoring Farrakhan and PECO rejecting information provided to it by Islamist Watch were cut.
With Farrakhan in the headlines for calling President Obama an "assassin" and accusing Jews of fomenting war against Libya, Philadelphians might have been interested to hear of Rahim Muhammad's past praise for him. They also might have appreciated learning that PECO buried its head in the sand when confronted with unsettling facts about the New Africa Center.
In summary, the entire episode illuminates once again how willful blindness helps legitimize Muslim groups of dubious character. This problem has grown particularly acute in Islamist Watch's hometown of Philadelphia, where leading institutions act as if "brotherly love" can be pursued only in the absence of scrutiny and standards with respect to anything Islamic.