A Sept. 11 march on the United States capital aimed at drawing attention to Americans' alleged discrimination against Muslims has drawn the ire of patriotic followers of Muslim Prophet Muhammad who see it as a slight against America.
"These guys are basically exploiting an annual commemoration of an attack in which America lost over 3,000 lives to radical Islam," Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot's Fight to Save His Faith and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy(AIFD), told The Christian Post in a Tuesday interview. "It's part of this lobby of Islamist groups in America that believe America is to blame rather than taking ownership."
The Missouri-based American Muslim Political Action Committee (AMPAC) scheduled the event for Sept. 11, 2013, to commemorate the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but not in the traditional spirit of such meetings. Refusing to attribute the attacks to Islamic extremists, AMPAC is focusing on discrimination against Muslims. "Muslim and non-Muslim alike were traumatized, but we as Muslims continue 12 years later to be victimized by being made the villains," the group said in a statement.
"They're in denial, and they're blaming America," Jasser argued. He added that, rather than making Americans less afraid of Muslims, the group ends up spreading more fear "because Americans see Muslims as these wacko, wacky groups."
"I would expect Muslim Americans to condemn the attacks of 9/11," Zainab Al-Suwaij, co-founder and executive director of the American Islamic Congress, told CP Tuesday. She expressed surprise at AMPAC's decision not to attribute the strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as acts of terror. "On the anniversary of 9/11, we're still condemning these cowardly acts," she affirmed.
In response to criticism, AMPAC changed the event's name to "The Million American March Against Fear," but it hasn't fully caught on.
"Despite their attempts at rebranding in the final hour, the event remains an offense, not because I am opposed to Muslims airing grievances, but because the 9/11 attacks were an attack on all Americans, American Muslims included," Raquel Saraswati, an AIFD activist against gender-based violence, told CP in a statement.
Saraswati called the group "9/11 truthers," arguing that they believe the Sept. 11 attacks were orchestrated by the U.S. government to make Americans fear Muslims. "When American Muslims spoke out against their march," she explained, "the organizers called us 'House Muslims,' making the absurd claim that our criticisms were based in anti-Muslim sentiment."
"I would challenge our media to seek out the voices of Muslims who oppose this extreme, supremacist ideology, recognizing that the Muslim community is diverse and many of us are allies in the fight to protect American values," Saraswati proclaimed.
Despite the impressive name, the march is only expected to draw hundreds of people, not millions. "Police concur that the best estimate on the size of the march will be somewhere in the hundreds, not thousands, of participants," an office building manager in downtown Washington, D.C. wrote in a memo to his tenants. A counter-protest, however, is expected to be much bigger – involving an estimated three thousand bikers "trying to circle the march and drown out the sound of the speakers at the kickoff rally with their engine noise."
According to the memo, there are no street closures planned for the event.
AMPAC did not reply to The Christian Post's request for comment at time of this publication.