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CAIR and 9/11
Daniel Pipes] 9/15/06
after the attacks of September 11, 2001, it is clear how terrorism
has set back the cause of radical Islam.
of 9/11 alarmed Americans and fouled the quiet but deadly efforts
of lawful Islamists working to subvert the country from within.
They no longer can replicate their pre-9/11 successes. This
fits an ironic pattern whereby terrorism usually (but not
the advance of radical Islam. For an illustration of this
change, consider an example from radical Islam's halcyon days
in the late 1990s how a prominent Islamist organization,
the Council on American-Islamic Relations, easily humiliated
the giant manufacturer of athletic gear, Nike, Inc.
Pipes is director of the Middle
East Forum, a member of the presidentially-appointed
board of the U.S.
Institute of Peace, and a prize-winning columnist
for the New York Sun and The Jerusalem
Post. His most recent book, Miniatures: Views
of Islamic and Middle Eastern Politics (Transaction
Publishers) appeared in late 2003. His website, DanielPipes.org,
the single most accessed source of information specifically
on the Middle East and Islam, offers an archive and
a chance to sign-up to receive his new materials as
they appear. [go to Pipes index]
introduced its "Air" line of basketball shoes in 1996 with
a stylized, flame-like logo of the word Air on the shoe's
backside and sole. When the elders at CAIR nonsensically declared
that this logo could "be in-terpreted" as the Arabic-script
spelling of Allah, Nike initially protested its innocence.
But by June 1997, it had accepted multiple measures to ingratiate
itself with the council. It:
to the Islamic community for any unintentional offense to
a global recall" of certain samples;
shipments of the commercial products in question from ‘sensitive'
all models with the offending logo";
organizational changes to their design department to tighten
scrutiny of logo design";
to work with CAIR "to identify Muslim design resources for
- took "measures
to raise their internal understanding of Islamic issues";
$50,000 for a playground at an Islamic school;
about 38,000 shoes and had the offending logo sanded off.
all pretense of dignity, the company reported that "CAIR is
satisfied that no deliberate offense to the Islamic community
was intended" by the logo.
director of CAIR, Nihad Awad, arrogantly responded that, had
a settlement not been reached, his organization would have
called for a global boycott of Nike products. A spokesman for
the group, Ibrahim Hooper, crowed about the settlement: "We
see it as a victory. It shows that the Muslim community is
growing and becoming stronger in the United States. It shows
that our voices are being heard."
by this success, Mr. Awad traveled to the headquarters of the
World Assembly of Muslim Youth, a Wahhabi
organization in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, one year later to
announce that Nike had not lived up to its commitment. He flayed
the firm for not recalling the full run of more than 800,000
pairs of shoes and for covering the Air logo with only
a thin patch and red paint, rather than removing it completely. "The
patch can easily be worn out with regular use of the shoe," he
complained. Turning up the pressure, Mr. Awad proclaimed a
campaign "against Nike products worldwide."
capitulated, announcing an agreement in November 1998 on "the
method used to remove the design and the continued appearance
of shoes in stores worldwide." It coughed up more funding for
sports facilities at five Islamic schools and for sponsorship
of Muslim community events, and donated Nike products to Islamic
charitable groups. The trade press also suggested a financial
contribution to CAIR.
this is distant history. CAIR still can bully major corporations,
as it did in 2005 with the Canadian
Imperial Bank of Commerce, but it can no longer shake them
down for cash, nor can it ride
a bogus issue like Air = Allah. The public is somewhat
more skeptical (though not
always enough so).
like the Nike capitulation inspired an Islamist
triumphalism pre-9/11. One apologist, Richard
H. Curtiss, captured its flavor in September 1999, when
he called a decision by Burger King to shut a franchised restaurant
in a Jewish town on the West Bank, Ma'aleh Adumim, "the battle
of Burger King." He hyperbolically compared it "to the battle
of Badr in 624 A.D., which was the first victory of the vastly
outnumbered Islamic community."
a trivial lobbying success as similar to a world-shaking
battlefield victory provides an insight into Islamist confidence
pre-9/11. No less suggestively, Mr. Curtiss wrongly predicted
that American Muslims would, "within the next 5 or 10 years," go
on to win more such battles. Instead, terrorists seized the
initiative, relegating lawful Islamists mostly to fighting defensive
skirmishes. Thus did mass violence, paradoxically, seriously
impede the Islamist agenda in America. CRO
piece first appeared in The New York Sun
2006 Daniel Pipes