The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) held its seventh annual convention recently at the Convention Center in Long Beach, Ca where according to a report by U.S. Islamic media, over 1000 people attended and $456,000 was raised. A Jewish media source reported that although speaker invitations were sent both to the Republicans and Democrats running for president; only “fringe candidate” Mike Gravel, the former Democratic senator from Alaska, accepted and then cancelled his keynote address the night before because of pneumonia. As reported in an earlier post, other prominent invitees included:
- Ambassador Lawrence Butler (Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs)
- David Hiller (CEO/Publisher, Los Angeles Times)
- Shaarik Zafar (Office for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Department of Homeland Security)
- Steve Simon (Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies, Council on Foreign Relations)
Only David Hiller is confirmed as having attended where he was reported to have described his new friendship with MPAC Executive Director, Salaam Al Marayati:
Mr. Hiller spoke of his interaction with MPAC through its Executive Director, Salaam Al Marayati, and the friendship that they formed. Recently they both attended a meeting of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Upon their return to Los Angeles Mr Hiller invited young Muslims ‘” future leaders ‘” to the Los Angeles Times office for a second Muslim American Youth Summit. The first such summit had recently been held in Washington, D. C., and there future Muslim leaders were able to meet many government officials and become familiar with the government infrastructure.
Comments at the conference reported to have been made by Dr. Ingrid Mattson, the current President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), illustrate rhetoric often employed by the Brotherhood in responding to critics:
During an interfaith event a member of the audience asked in a confrontational manner how Dr Mattson could justify the Islamic treatment in Sudan of Gillian Gibbons. Dr. Mattson said that she turned the tables on her interrogator by asking him why she or any Muslim would be asked to justify it. She reminded him of a fellow Christian in Italy who contemporaneously with Ms Gibbons&’ experience suggested that immigrant lawbreakers in Italy be placed in concentration camps based on the Nazi model. No one, she said, would ask a Christian how he would justify that. The audience applauded in approval.
Instead of answering the question directly, Dr Mattson employs an analogy which does not take into account that the Sudanese actions were carried out by an Islamic government while the Italian “Christian” was presumably expressing his private opinion.