Dr. Kaukab Siddique is the publisher and editor-in-chief of New Trend Magazine, an Islamic publication dealing with current events and issues relevant to the Muslim community. He is the author of several books and is involved in many humanitarian causes for the liberation of Muslim political prisoners as head of Jamaat-al Muslimeen, based in Baltimore, Md.
He was recently in Chicago to participate in activities related to the 40th Annual Conference of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) where he was interviewed by Final Call Online Correspondent Ashahed M. Muhammad.
Final Call (FC): Tell us something about the aims, goals and mission of both Jamaat-al Muslimeen and the Gulf Medical Relief Fund, which you are actively involved in.
Kaukab Siddique (KS): Jamaat al-Muslimeen is an Islamic organization seeking inspiration from the Qur’an and the authentic Hadith of the Prophet (peace be on him). We are working in support of political prisoners, in support of women’s rights and to help non-Muslims understand Islam. I also serve Gulf Medical Relief Fund (GMRF), a tax-exempt corporation helping children, widows, the sick and the needy in Iraq and other countries.
FC: What is the most important thing Muslims should be aware of as it relates to their existence in America and across the globe since 9/11?
KS: Post-9/11, we, as Muslims, must stand for justice, peace and understanding. We should help the people of America to understand that war has causes. We should address the causes of war rather than focusing on specific acts of death and destruction. We are living in difficult times, but as Muslims living in America, we may well be the people who can help find a way towards a future in which war is not used to solve problems.
FC: As a result of a general atmosphere of hostility against Muslims since 9/11, have you or members of your community been victimized by hate crimes or received threats as a result of your outspokenness?
KS: Fortunately, most Americans do not hate Muslims. African Americans, in particular, have been very supportive of Muslims. There have been acts of violence and hate, but these are few and far between. Persecution of Muslims is coming from the U.S. government, not from the American people. There are a few haters influenced by the media, but most people want to know what is really going on in the world that the media are hiding.
FC: President Bush, led by the neo-conservatives, is now moving across the globe in an apparent attempt to exert pressure on Islamic nations. What are your thoughts on the current situation in Iraq, and the possible impact on other nations such as Iran, Syria and Libya?
KS: The neo-cons have a view of the world based on ideas of White supremacy. It’s a new version of the concept of the “White Man’s Burden” under which the British conquered Africa under the guise of “civilizing” it. The neo-cons projected White Power into Iraq, in their belief that the Iraqi people would actually welcome them. They demonized President Saddam Hussein so much that they started believing their own propaganda.
Now, we see that the Iraqi people are fighting back and Bush has signaled a retreat from Iraq and is begging for United Nations forces to replace U.S. troops. With the Americans stuck in Iraq, their aggressive plans for other Muslim countries will have to be put on hold for the time being.
FC: You and your organization are actively involved in the plight of political prisoners. You have written on behalf of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and Imam Jamil Abdullah El-Amin. What is their status and what is your organization doing to shed light on the current situation regarding those two prominent members of the Muslim community?
KS: Dr. Omar ‘Abdel Rahman has been figuratively buried alive in a maximum security prison in Colorado. He is not permitted visits with relatives, community leaders, journalists or anyone else. Even his attorney was arrested and charged with “terrorism!” Similarly, Imam Jamil al-Amin has been placed in 23-hour lock-down; his religious rights are being violated. His wife is having serious problems and delays in communicating with him.
Our support network for both leaders indicates that there is widespread support for both of them. We need resources to organize and mobilize this support into mass action to secure their release.
FC: What is next for you and Jamaat al-Muslimeen?
KS: Jamaat al-Muslimeen is interested in alliances with independent and people-oriented groups. I am writing on a variety of such issues. I have written a book titled, “Return to Pakistan,” which also studies Afghanistan. I am looking for a publisher. I also want to get my books on women’s rights reprinted.
FC: Thank you.
(You can view the New Trend Magazine at www.newtrendmag.org.)