Highlighting its 25th anniversary, the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council on Friday issued what it called a Declaration Against Extremism, an effort to change public perception by distilling the values of mainstream Islam.
“We have allowed the extremist voices to run rampant without effectively conveying our message,” said Salam Al-Marayati, president of the council, among the nation’s most influential advocacy organizations for American Muslims. “What this declaration represents is a higher level of conveying the message of Islam, the true spirit of Islam, which is based on spreading mercy, justice and engaging others in a pluralistic society.”
Among other principles, the council’s statement calls for respecting all cultures, equal treatment of women, and upholding the idea that authority comes from God rather than from individual leaders.
Conveying the ideas of Southern California Islamic leader Dr. Maher Hathout --- who co-founded the council and is now battling cancer -- the declaration also confronts extremism and violence in Islam’s name.
“Extremism to us is a major threat to our faith,” Al-Marayati said at a Friday news conference. “It disfigures our faith and it creates more misapprehensions about Islam, and indeed it creates misconceptions about Islam that fuels Islamophobia.”
The single-page declaration will be used by the Muslim Public Affairs Council for outreach to Muslims and the broader community, the organization’s leaders said.
Hathout, 77, will be honored this weekend at the councils 25th anniversary convention, to be held Saturday at the Long Beach Convention Center. The organization began with about 300 members and has grown to a membership of about 10,000, Al-Marayati said.
Aside from its L.A. offices, it also has a public policy wing in Washington, D.C.