/ Sep 20, 2005
In mid-September my eye was caught by an article in my daily newspaper with the headline, “Muslim families gain their Great Adventure.” It was about a day set aside by the Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in Jackson, NJ for an event that was estimated to draw 15,000 Muslims.
“The idea”, said organizer Ashfaq Parkar of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) “is to provide a fun environment that adheres to Islamic principles.” And I thought to myself, why couldn’t a Muslim visit Great Adventure on any given day and have a good time?
The answer was that “The Azan, the Muslim call to prayer, will stream over the loudspeakers, instead of pop music.” The reporter went on to note that, “Crowds will take a break from the roller coasters and thrill rides to kneel and pray on tarps facing Mecca. Instead of eating hot dogs and pizza, they will feast on halal food prepared in accordance with Muslim law.”
So, at 1PM, 5PM, sunset and 9PM, “the rides will be shut down and the music turned off.” In some Muslim nations this is often the rule throughout the day. The organizer, Mr. Parkar, also pointed out that “Some Muslims don’t really like to go to a gathering where there is going to be loud pop music or where people are not dressed appropriately.”
Muslims are very big on proper dress, especially for women. A head-to-toe burka is the favored fashion statement throughout the Middle East. Only Great Adventure isn’t in the Middle East. It’s in New Jersey, one of the original thirteen States of the Union.
“For one day,” the reporter rhapsodized, Great Adventure “will transform itself into an Islamic-friendly theme park.” Turns out that Six Flags is “popular with religious groups, hosting Jewish youth groups and Christian organizations in the past.” If the goal of the Islamic Revolution is achieved, Six Flags will operate fulltime to provide the Azan, halal food, and any other rule some imam decrees.
What the reporter failed to mention in the course of the article is that the Islamic Circle of North America is a group that has been identified as having ties to international terrorism. ICNA is the subject of a Senate investigation into groups “which finance terrorism and perpetuate violence.”
One member, Imam Mazen Mokhtar of Masjid al-Huda in New Brunswick, NJ is under investigation for ties to a plot to blow up New York landmarks and is accused of operating an al Qaeda website. An ICNA campaign to help terror suspects was joined by a group called the Islamic Thinkers Society that in turn is connected to al Mahajiroun, all of whom are believed to support terrorist activities to advance the Islamic Revolution. It’s not like this information was not available with a fairly easy search of the Internet.
So I, like the other readers about happy Muslims at Great Adventure got a story intended to portray them as just another religious group out for a good time, just like the Jewish and Christian groups. Only ICNA is not like those Jewish and Christian groups. Those groups are not shot through with people plotting terrorist attacks. Those groups are not seeking to impose their codes of behavior on everyone else by flying planes in skyscrapers or blowing up innocent victims on buses and subway trains.
I was reminded of a report by Arab intellectuals that was commissioned by the United Nations and released in July 2002. It noted, according to an article in The New York Times, that the Middle East was “being crippled by a lack of political freedom, the repression of women and isolation from the world of ideas that stifles creativity.” Not unlike the isolation that requires taking over a theme park for a day in order to conform to the same religion that has rendered a large region of the world a place where ignorance and intolerance dominates to the point of utter and complete stagnation.
In America, we expect immigrants and those fortunate enough to have been born here to exercise tolerance for all other religions. We expect religious groups to refrain from plotting to take over the nation and impose their rules on everyone else. Most certainly, we don’t think of synagogues and churches as places filled with literature advocating the overthrow of America or where people gather to plot violent acts to bring about that goal.
Reading the story, it occurred to me that the reporter was being deliberately ignorant of all the facts regarding the ICNA because she wanted to encourage tolerance, understanding, and even good will as she took note of the many strictures required to turn the theme park into an “Islamic-friendly” place.
The sense of moral superiority expressed by the need to transform Great Adventure is the same driving force behind those Jihadists commanded to make war on other faiths until the “unbelievers” convert. And then I thought that lots of people in America and around the world do not have cause to be Islamic-friendly these days.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, “Warning Signs”, posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com.
© Alan Caruba, September 2005
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