Muslims Urge Peers in U.S. to Work on Reform; Cite Human Rights in a Call for action.(PAGE ONE)

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Witham, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Several Muslim social scientists from U.S. universities urged their fellow believers at a weekend conference in Washington to reform Islam's record on human rights, violence and treatment of women before Muslims demand full acceptance by Americans.

"We have to develop a culture of human rights and civil rights," Muqtedar Khan, chairman of international relations at Adrian College in Michigan, told the 31st annual conference of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists. "Which means we have to speak out on violations of human rights in the Muslim world."

Mr. Khan, who also criticized the USA Patriot Act for its assumption of extraordinary police powers and the "rewriting of the Constitution" to discriminate against Muslims, is considered a moderate in the inter-Muslim debate here.

Another social scientist regarded as a moderate in Muslim circles, Zahid Bukhari of Georgetown University, agreed. "We should address our own issues honestly and frankly," said Mr. Bukhari, who cited "extreme tendencies" in mosques. "Muslims in this part of the world are best positioned to check these situations."

Mr. Bukhari, who is conducting a demographic study called "Muslims in the American Public Square," said the goal of American Muslims should not be to change U.S. foreign policy, the goal of most Islamic organizations, but to promote fairness in America. "Our goal should be for social justice in society for every group," Mr. Bukhari told a gathering of more than 30 professors and students Friday.

Many of his colleagues, however, remain less apologetic and decry not Muslim insensitivity to mainstream American culture, but the loss of Muslim civil rights in America after September 11 and what they call the injustices of the West.

The Washington conference, which ended yesterday, was co-sponsored by the School of International Service at American University. The conference for a second year focused on American Islam after September 11 and featured 44 presentations. These ranged from an analysis of domestic politics and media coverage to Muslim pluralism, Western colonialism, war on Iraq and reform movements within Islam. …