ISNA: Upholding Faith, Serving Humanity
ISNA’s theme this year was “Upholding Faith, Serving Humanity”. I loved it!
Unfortunately, it gave me some unjustified preconceptions. Preconceptions I could have avoided had I just taken a better look at the program. Had I taken a good look at the program I would have come to realize that “Serving Humanity” was going to focus on human rights issues that take place against American Muslims and Muslims around the world and towards motivating the Muslim community towards involvement within the landscape of American politics. Of course there were programs that focused on community service within the non-Muslim sphere but the theme seemed to lean towards the Islamic community.
After having gone to the convention Friday to register and then head back out to pick up my daughters I managed to make it back to Friday’s Righting the Wrong’s: Faith and Social Justice program which was held at the main large hall. The program was scheduled to begin at 8:30 but didn’t start until after 9pm (yeah – I know, I know – we never start anything on time – it happens to be a Bosnian thing as well).
David Cole gave an excellent presentation on civil rights infringements that have been taking place in the US since 9/11. His account of the Arrar case was a reminder of just how far reaching the hand of the war on terror stretched. His accounts of some of the tactics used in interogating terror suspects, such as waterboarding in which a person is tied to a board and then either dunked into a tank of water or have a towel wrapped around the head while water is poured over him in order to suffocate, were bone chilling. He reminded us all of how the US, the world’s most outspoken on human rights up until this time had become the transgressor with the war on terror and how even the red cross was not allowed into Guantanamo.
Yet, after all of this, Mr. David Cole left us with a sense of hope. He reminded us of how justice began to prevail, how the Bush administration started to back off on Guantanamo. More importantly he reminded us of the everyday Americans who stood up for liberty not only through that which we had allready seen through his own example but through other stories such as the students who stood up and turned their backs to Gonzalez as he defended the wire tap program.
David Cole’s words “Those who would sacrifice human rights for liberty and democracy deserve neither” are words that I will never forget.
Somehow, I missed Ebrahim Moosa’s presentation and I just couldn’t relate to most of what Siraj Wahaj was saying – I guess mostly because of his refrences to dogs and I since I actually have a dog and love him very much the message just didn’t move me as much as it must have moved those that have contempt for dogs.