Event planned in uptown draws criticism from some members of Islamic faith

by: Peter Daut Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Thousands of Muslims are expected to gather in uptown Charlotte Friday for an event called “Jumah at the 2012 DNC.”

It's advertised on the host committee's website, under the events page. But it's also drawing criticism from members of the Islamic faith.

Jibril Hough hopes up to 20,000 Muslims pack Marshall Park for the event.  His organization, the Bureau of Indigenous Muslim Affairs, is organizing the outdoor prayer to coincide with the convention.

"The message is to remind the Muslims who they are, what their issues are, and to remain focused going forward," Hough said.

But some Muslim leaders believe radicals who embrace Islamist supremacy are behind Jumah, and they're concerned the DNC appears to have given the event its stamp of approval.

Dr. M Zudhi Jasser is the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. He said the beliefs of Hough and his group are potentially dangerous.

"It's important that we not allow the veil of political correctness, and yes, their religious freedom and their freedom of assembly, to cloud who they are," Jasser said.

Eyewitness News asked Hough about his views on several topics, including the war on terror.

"American troops are actually the insurgents. It's not the people who live there. The people who live there are defending their country," Hough said.

Hough does not consider himself to be a supremacist, but believes Muslims have not received the credit they deserve.

"This is a fact: Muslims have visited America prior to Columbus. It was a Muslim who guided Columbus on his voyage to the new world," Hough said.

He insisted he is not a radical, and said his beliefs are shared by mainstream Muslims.

Even though Jumah at the DNC is listed on its website, the DNC host committee said it is not endorsing the event.

"The Charlotte in 2012 Convention host committee does not endorse any events on the events page that are not denoted with a Charlotte in 2012  or Democratic National Convention Committee  (DNCC) logo. This event, like many others on the page, was user generated. This events page is intended to give local residents and convention-goers a comprehensive look at convention week activities and should not be considered an endorsement of any particular event or group by the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee or the DNCC," DNC Host Committee spokeswoman Suzi Emmerling said.

But Jasser said Democrats need to do a better job of distancing themselves.

"It gives recognition to individuals that have an ideology that radicalizes Muslims, and actually leads towards a higher risk for terrorism," he said.

The Islamic Society of North America, which is the largest Muslim organization in the U.S., did not want to comment.