U.S. Muslim leader calls for 'honest reckoning' following synagogue attack

Anila Ali is the president of the American Muslim & Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council

Updated: January 18, 2022 - 1:46pm

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Following the synagogue hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas, over the weekend, the president of the American Muslim & Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council is calling for an "honest reckoning" with Islamist antisemitism in the United States.

Anila Ali, the president of the non-profit women's rights organization, said following the attack, "We are relieved that the crisis at the synagogue ended with all hostages safe, and we are devastated that once again a Jewish house of worship has been attacked. Jews everywhere deserve to live in safety – and Muslim community leaders must step up to help ensure these attacks stop."

She thanked Jewish community leaders who have spoken out against a possible "counter-reaction of Islamophobia" following the attack by 44-year-old British Muslim Malik Faisal Akram, who was killed during a shootout with SWAT team members at the end of the rescue operation.  

Ali also touched on the broader issue of antisemitism tolerated and sometimes encouraged by Muslim leaders in the west.

"Silence is complicity – and we cannot stay silent about a climate of antisemitism tolerated by some Muslim leaders," Ali also said. "Just as the Tree of Life Synagogue attack forced American society to confront far-right antisemitism, the Congregation Beth Israel attack requires an honest reckoning with demonization promoted by Islamist extremists.

The Tree of Life incident in which 11 people inside the Pittsburgh synagogue were fatally shot occurred in October 2018.

Ali also specifically referencing Zahra Biloo, the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who said during a recent event: "We need to pay attention to the Zionist synagogues," and described "polite Zionists" as "your enemies."

"Muslim leaders must insist upon zero tolerance for both overt and the thinly-veiled antisemitism – otherwise we betray our moral and religious duties," she also said.

Akram, the Colleyville terrorist, had apparently flown to the United States to seek the release of convicted terrorist Aaifa Siddiqui – also known as "Lady Al-Qaeda" – who has been imprisoned at a federal facility in Forth Worth, Texas, for a decade.