We all know the saying – where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Except when wingnuts are the ones blowing smoke. A few weeks ago, RABid picked up on a piece from Front Page Magazine by Patrick Poole attacking local moderate Muslim Abukar Arman. I was going to attempt to provide supported counterarguments to every attack on this man, but I have a paying job I have to do, and I just don’t have the time. I will say that many of the quotes and statements of Arman are carefully selected to twist his message, and in some cases his intent is expressly misrepresented.

The basic gist of the claims is that Arman “supports terrorism” because he said “internally, ICU, with its various shortcomings, is the best thing that happened to Somalia in the past 16 years.” That’s not exactly a high bar to clear now, is it? In a country beset by civil war for 16 years, a group – flawed, as Arman states – that provides some kind of law, order, and civil service very well might be the best thing to come along for quite some time.

The UIC, which has brought some form of law and order to areas under their control after years of anarchy, has begun a massive clean-up campaign in the capital.

It is the first time rubbish collectors will have access to the whole city, which until last month was split up into fiefdoms controlled by rival warlords.

Correspondents say Mogadishu’s litter-strewn streets have been a visible sign that the city has had no central authority for more than a decade.

Hundreds of volunteers joined in to collect the debris on Thursday morning.

In today’s Dispatch, we learned that Arman lost his job and resigned from a board because of the allegations leveled by Mr. Poole. A background check by the county has shown no terrorist ties. Essentially, Mr. Poole wants Arman on a terror watch list because he’s Muslim, and has opinions different than Mr. Poole about how to achieve peace.

Don’t believe me? Check out Poole’s response to the Dispatch. Particularly telling is the bit about the end of the Dispatch article. What Poole concludes (and remember – he was not witness to the exchange, and all we have are the accounts of one side, so this is entirely Poole’s bias):

Abukar Arman and Asma Mobin-Uddin decided that they didn’t like this man’s bumper sticker and confronted him at his doorstep at the instigation of one of the “interfaith community” friends. They originally intended to make him “a poster-child of the prevalent assertive ignorance that is widening the post 9/11 political divide between Muslims and non-Muslims”, but instead decided on just haranguing him at his home.

Arman’s version of events:

Several months ago, a non-Muslim fellow in the inter-faith community brought to the attention of CAIR-Ohio a picture of his neighbor?s truck with a bumper sticker that read ?Jesus loves you, and Allah wants you dead?.

Some of us thought that the appropriate thing to do was to get media involved and use this truck owner as a poster-child of the prevalent assertive ignorance that is widening the post 9/11 political divide between Muslims and non-Muslims. Others, on the other hand, saw this as an opportunity for human contact, discourse, and to build bridges of understanding.

The latter opinion prevailed.

Therefore, I had the privilege of being one of three Muslims (2 male and a female with Islamic veil) who paid a neighborly visit to the truck owner.

What ensued was an interesting discourse that I found to be very educational (its final outcome notwithstanding).

The truck owner was a former Marine officer who served in Somalia and Iraq. Initially, as he opened the door, he was visibly apprehensive (and rightfully so).

We greeted him and introduced ourselves. We reassured him that we were only interested to get to know him, address any questions or perhaps grievance that he may have, and to give him a chance to meet and dialogue with ordinary Muslims.

Long story short: in a conversation that took place right outside his door and lasted for over an hour, the former Marine talked about how he was very suspicious of Muslims and how, both in Somalia and in Iraq, he and other Americans who ?came to help these two countries had their hands bitten??. He talked about how he did not believe there were any moderate Muslims and how organizations such as CAIR were deliberately silent about condemning terrorism. He also talked about being alarmed by the growing Muslim population in Central Ohio and how they may be hiding a terrorist who has in his possession a ?briefcase nuke?. He said, ?I don?t want to see a giant mushroom in Columbus? [I will come back to this point].

Lastly, he talked about his career in the private sector?how he worked as a ?corporate anti-terrorism expert? and a ?consultant to a numerous multinational corporations?…

Going back to the ?briefcase nuke?, in an effort to remind him that in such scenario none of us are safe, I told him ?I have four children. And between the three of us, we have eleven. How do you figure that such scenario ought to be concerning you and you only? The reality is that we are in this together?.

Did it convince the former Marine? Did this encounter build the bridges of understanding? I don?t know the answer. All I know is that we handed him an invitation and sent him a long list of condemnations [of terrorism], but he never came.

We report. You decide.

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