Are Islamic Center programs non-political?

A recent article in the Fresno Bee entitled “Let’s talk: Islamic cultural center opens its doors to create more dialogue with other members of the community” highlights some of the activities of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno (ICCF) which are “designed to create better understanding between Muslims and other religious or ethnic groups”.

The article mentions a talk given by the evangelical Rev. Jim Franklin of the Cornerstone Church and a visit from Bishop John T. Steinbock of the Catholic diocese of Fresno. It continues, “The events feature guest speakers or panel members addressing a topic, followed by discussion. The center does not allow political debate” [my emphasis].

One event at the ICCF that the reporter did not mention was a lecture on April 13, 2007 by Michael Hubbart on the topic “The occupation: is it apartheid?”

Since I wasn’t able to attend, I don’t know what his answer was. However, we can get a clue from a similar talk he gave in March at the First Mennonite Church in Reedley:

Speaker: Michael Hubbart. Topic: The West Bank — It Sure Looks Like Apartheid to Me. In October Mike did a brief training with International Solidarity Movement and then worked with internationals at Birzeit University, at nonviolent demonstrations against the building of the wall at Bil’in and with the Tel Rumeida Project in Hebron.

Nope, no politics allowed. Or maybe politics is permitted as long as there isn’t any “debate”?

Another contribution of the ICCF to better understanding was to sponsor a series of events featuring the parents of Rachel Corrie, who spoke at the ICCF and several other venues in September of 2006.

The ICCF is certainly well within their rights in our free society to aggressively present their pro-Palestinian point of view.

But nobody should pretend that there’s anything non-political about it.

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