Where Hanania really raised the ire of many Muslim leaders, though, was in his championing of the cause of Chicago-area Muslim Omar Najib, an observant?but modernized?Muslim who is battling the leadership of the Bridgeview Mosque, arguing that it has fallen into the hands of foreign-financed radicals. Without Hanania, Najib might have lacked a public platform.
It is impossible to determine how many Arabs and Muslims like Hanania and Najib are out there, in large part because of the intimidation that permeates the community. Speaking out is difficult and those who do almost always pay a price.
Najib, for example, has found himself on the outs with many in his mosque, and the leadership certainly has him in its crosshairs. And Nawash has found himself the target of repeated and vicious attacks from the leaders of supposedly moderate Muslim political organizations.
Because the climate for Arabs and Muslims to step forward and criticize radical Islam is already deeply inhospitable, every effort should be made to encourage such dissent. But part of that will mean having to listen to people who might not be at all supportive of Israel or even philosophically believe in the right of the Jewish state to exist.
In the end, though, if someone is genuinely critical of radical Islam, he has no choice but to unequivocally condemn suicide bombings or any other form of Islamic terrorism. With that as a basic ground rule, legitimate discussion should be possible. But the culture of conformity in the Muslim community in America?ruthlessly enforced by those who silence dissenters?has made nearly impossible any legitimate discussion amongst Muslims about the spread of radicalism.
For Nawash to succeed, he must do so by empowering the ?silent majority??if it is even that?among Muslims in America to fight back and reclaim the religion from the radicals.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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