Thousands of Muslims met at Detroit last weekend for one of the largest Islamic conventions in North America. The four-day event, organized by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), kicked off on August 29 and aimed at discussing the future of the Muslim community in the United States. In no time the convention stoked controversy, drawing criticism from several conservatives who tried to imply that the organizers are members of an extremist group and have links with terror organizations. ISNA refused to react to those statements.
The four-day long event was comprised of a 5K run along the Detroit River, a tour of several mosques in Detroit and lectures from many notable speakers. At the convention, ISNA leaders refused to clarify whether they share any ties with any terror organization but they did say they were trying to create a safe place for Muslims in America.
However, a statement on the organization’s website reads as follows:
“ISNA is not now nor has it ever been subject to the control of any other domestic or international organizations including the Muslim Brotherhood. ISNA rejects all acts of terrorism, including those perpetrated by Hamas, Hizbullah and any other group that claims Islam as their inspiration.”
After ISNA leaders at the venue made clear the purpose of their convention, esteemed Muslim speakers were requested to speak on a wide range of subjects including politics, Islamic law, business, family life and foreign policy.
Former President Jimmy Carter and current Governor of Michigan Rick Snyder who were also invited as speakers for the convention at Cobo Center, were criticized by conservative politicians for accepting ISNA’s invitations. Among those to criticize were tea party leaders and military veterans.
Gerald Bloomfield from Ypsilanti, whose 38-year-old son, Major Gerald Bloomfield II, was killed in Iraq in 2005 while serving as a Marine helicopter pilot, called the Governor’s office to object to Snyder’s acceptance of ISNA’s invitation.
“I don't think the governor should disrespect my family and thousands of other people who have had family die. I am very surprised that he accepted. I don't know why he would,” said Bloomfield.
ISNA was founded in 1982 after it broke away from the Muslim Students Association. In 2009, federal judge Jorge Antonio Solis ruled in a case involving a Muslim charity that the government had discovered sufficient evidence to establish that the ISNA had links with the terror group Hamas. The ruling also referred to a 1991 memo in which ISNA was listed as a Muslim Brotherhood organization.
This is the first time that the organization has conducted a convention of this scale in Detroit, which is generally considered the hub for all Muslim events in the United States.
Photo Credits: Act for America Houston