At a town-hall-style meeting February 21, Nezar Hamze stood to ask Allen West a pointed question. Hamze, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, asked West why he keeps claiming that the Qur'an instructs Muslims to attack America (read more about that exchange here). West cut Hamze off before he could say much more than that. So we asked Hamze to write up what he intended to say to West that night. Below is Hamze's response.
Congressman Allen West was once asked by a Marine why people would warp the religion of Islam to attack America. Mr. West replied to him: It's not a perversion; they are doing exactly what the Qur'an is telling them to do. So I called him out on his statements.
It was a very simple question I asked: Can you show me where in the Qur'an it says to
attack America, kill Americans, or kill innocent people? He replied that the Qur'an was written before America existed and mentioned something about the verse of the sword and killing infidels. Unfortunately the crowd was so excited and so vocal against me that my response was cut off. Mr. West lost his composure and told me "not to blow sunshine up his butt." Then he said that I attacked America and told me to go home. For the record, I didn't go home; I returned to my seat and finished listening to his presentation.
Mr. West, you have brought great shame to the United States House of Representatives. Your behavior that evening represents the antithesis of our democratic republic. We look to our leaders to answer difficult questions with dignity and composure. Your behavior represented that of a military commander barking orders at a soldier. Mr. West, you are no longer a military commander, and I am not your enemy. You looked at me and said, "You attacked us, you attacked us." I didn't attack anything, and for you to accuse me of such horrific events is just as baseless as your knowledge of Islam. Terrorists attacked us on 9/11, Mr. West. Terrorists attacked us!
I grew up in Fort Lauderdale just like any normal American boy. I was heavily into sports -- baseball, football, wrestling, boxing, golf, triathlons, and karate. I also hit the gym pretty hard. I studied automotive technology and took a career path into management. I continued my education in business management and specialized in operations management. I have authored leadership development courses and facilitated training for multiple companies. There's just one thing that sets me apart from most other people: When I was a child, I began practicing Islam.
I grew up with many friends of different faiths and always got along. I would even go to church and temple with them every once and a while. I've always been a law-abiding citizen and often volunteered for different groups. I was a Big Brother volunteer as well as always volunteering for my local community functions at the Islamic Centers. I currently have four beautiful children, and I am happily married. My two boys are following in my footsteps, and my two girls are getting ready to start playing softball.
I recently started with the Council on American Islamic Relations as executive director. As an American Muslim that practices Islam, I have seen our society change over the last 30 years. In the '80s, the most controversial event the American Muslim community had to deal with was the film Not Without My Daughter. Oh, how the times have changed. Today's society, the American people are still looking for justice for the terrorist attacks on September 11. While America has held many accountable, we still have not seen justice. Some are trying to hold the American Muslim community accountable, and some even go as saying Islam attacked America -- as Allen West said to me.
Allen West was brought to my attention by a member of the community, referring me to clips of his campaign events. As you review the clips, you quickly see Mr. West is presenting himself as a critic of Islam to the American people, while teaching them falsehoods about our faith. He is not the only politician trying to score points with his constituents using Islam as the punching bag. This unfortunately has become a nationwide phenomenon. The critics of Islam self-proclaim scholarly knowledge and feed the American public twisted, perverted explanations of the Qur'an that have no base and support.
Mr. West, you have developed an autocratic style of rambling off dates and names of wars mostly regarding imperial armies and the Ottoman Empire. You never actually go into the details of the war, you just name them, insinuating Islam was the problem. You have also surrounded yourself with the nation's most hateful anti-Islam propagandist. During your campaign, these propagandists gave you a stage and fueled your audiences with anti-Islam insults. There is also documented history that you have had relationships with these groups before you ran for office, while you were stationed abroad. Your progression in the pronunciation of Arabic words is a clear giveaway that you are not learning about Islam from a learned Muslim -- you are learning about Islam from non-Muslims.
You mentioned the verse of the sword and something about killing infidels when I asked you to show me a verse in the Qur'an. Well, Mr. West, there is no verse of the sword in the Qur'an and no mention of infidels. The word infidel is not even an Islamic word. The term infidel was used by the Christian crusaders against Muslims. That's right, Christians used to kill the infidels (the Muslims). I have yet to read a Qur'an that has the word infidel in it. Please feel free to do some research on the origin of that word.
I encourage you to actually read the Qur'an and not take a sentence out of context and change the meaning and historical relevance to suit your own needs. You can also reach out to the Islamic community that lives in your district. I will encourage them to contact you as well.
Mr. West, I have tried numerous times to reach out to you and explain the backlash that your rhetoric is causing. I am on the ground dealing with the product of Anti-Islam propaganda every day. For you to ignore my concerns regarding the Islamic community is irresponsible and does not reflect credibility on the United States House of Representatives. You work for us, the American taxpayers. We don't work for you.
In closing, I extend my hand in friendship as a father, as an American, and as a civil servant. I am not your enemy. When I stood in front of you that evening, I was representing the American Islamic community and the rights of all Americans. To live in peace, practice their faith without being harassed, and not be insulted by a United States congressman. We have all made mistakes, and we should learn from them. You have a unique opportunity to build bridges with the Islamic community and apologize to us for blaming Islam for the terrorist attacks on our great nation.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
-- Nezar Hamze
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