Friday, May 13, 2005

The Ugly and Ugly

There have been a couple of good recent articles regarding the latest Progressive Muslim Union NA media blitzes that are attempting to keep the "progressive muslim" brand distinctive.

On the latest media stunt...

Laugh? I nearly did!

Some background:

There is a marketing/brand promotion element to the Progressive Muslim Union campaigns, and Ahmed Nassef, the executive director of PMU NA, himself has a marketing background.

The PMU is being built around media hyped events. They use the mostly negative North American media attention focused on Muslims, to create a spectacle that would then give the PMU supporters and their high officials, prominancy in the American media. Being media savvy, they are fully aware of events that would get them this kind of exposure, and its implications for the Muslim community.

But media attention is only one part of any sucessful brand promotion campaign, that would then attract loyal consumers. The brand, in this case "progressive muslim union," must also appear to have integrity so that the consumer is willing to try out the product (in this case, the product is the "progressive islam" concept being manufactured by Omid Safi, secularist agnostic Hussein Ibish, Muslim Wake Up etc.).

BUT the brand has run into a snag: blogs! There are a number of Muslim blogs that have exposed the PMUNA: their lack of knowledge about Islam, their attacks on Muslim organizations, and cuddling up with right wing neo-con types such as FOX, and the anti-Palestinian group: Hillel.

Now Hussein Ibish is attempting to distinguish his brand from the other so-called "progressive/moderate Muslim" types. And in doing so he leaves out some critical facts about the PMUNA - such as that they had invited a bunch of neo-cons to their board, and only backed down on some of the most controversial characters, *after* they were exposed on the eve of their official launching.

An extended debate had taken place on various aspects of this group on the Network of Progressive Muslim e-list. During that debate - Ahmed Nassef, Omid Safi, Sara Eltantawi all defended their
choice of including these neo-cons on the basis of what they call "pluralism."

Hussein Ibish is one of the four co-founders of the PMUNA, and its vice-chair, and his name is part of the original invitation that was sent out, that included Bush lovers, and supporters of the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ibish is also a senior fellow of the "American Task Force on Palestine" whose founder, Ziad Asali was recently condemned by dozens of Palestinian groups. And Asali is also on the board of advisors of the PMU NA... surprise surprise!

The PMU may try to distinguish themselves, but it is their actions, and attitudes that determine what they are about. And given that they are more interested in attacking Muslim communities, and creating propaganda for Muslims' precieved lack of "progressiveness" - they are really not all that different from the other ugly "moderate/progressive" groups out there. It's Ugly and Ugly.

Indeed the PMU supporters regard the broader Muslim community as a "them" versus the good "us progressive types..." This is, of-course, exactly the kind of clear divisions that the Rand Corporation intended to accomplish. (A former employee of Rand is on their board of directors).

Meanwhile, the North American Muslim community might wanna tighten their seat belts, and hang on, as these nefarious groups attempt to take the community on a dangerous roller coaster ride. Perhaps best to watch the spectacle from the sidelines, and work on our own individual and collective iman during these times. And, at the same time to be aware that the "progressive muslim union" will continue striking at the North American Muslim community, and using the attack mode to push their own egotistical agendas.

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