Last month, Islamist Watch called attention to a New York City grant program that gave thousands of dollars to Islamist organizations such as CAIR-New York, the Muslim-American Society, and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). The grant to ICNA was particularly problematic, since comments to the media by ICNA secretary general Muhammad Rahman suggested that ICNA would use the government money for religious proselytizing, which is a gross Constitutional violation.
As a result, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is challenging NYC’s grant to ICNA. In a sharp letter to the New York City Council, a FFRF staff attorney confirmed that using government funding to promote religious proselytizing violates longstanding Establishment-Clause precedent. Since “the top priority of [ICNA] is to promote their version of Islam, both to Muslims and non-Muslims,” and since Mr. Rahman openly stated that ICNA would use the money for religious events, FFRF is demanding “written assurances” that the ICNA grant will be used “only for entirely secular purposes.” Failing such assurances, “the grant to [ICNA] must be rescinded.”
FFRF’s challenge to ICNA’s planned abuse of New York funds is welcome, and should serve as a model for other civil-society groups who have for too long given Islamism a pass. Exploiting government programs to promote narrow sectarianism is wrong, and it does not magically become right when it is Islamists doing the exploiting. Activist groups who howl when Christian groups try to intermingle government and religion should do the same when it is Islamists doing so; yet far too often, they do not. Kudos to the FFRF!