Backgrounder: Islamic Circle of North America
Posted: July 17, 2009
Updated: January 18, 2011
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is a Muslim community organization established in 1971 and based in Jamaica, New York. The organization, which operates 22 regional offices in the U.S., says it "seeks to obtain the pleasure of Allah (SWT) through working for the establishment of Islam in all spheres of life."
ICNA is affiliated with a number of mosques and Islamic centers around the U.S., which provide various educational programs and services to local Muslim communities. ICNA is closely aligned with the Muslim American Society (MAS), organizing joint regional conferences with MAS throughout the year.
These conventions, which attract thousands of participants, have featured known anti-Semites and provided a platform for extremist rhetoric. At the 2010 ICNA-MAS convention in Rosemont, Illinois, several speakers delivered anti-Semitic remarks, including portraying the Jews as having undue influence on the U.S. government and linking Judaism to theft and oppression. One year earlier, the 2009 ICNA-MAS convention in Chicago served as a forum for religious scholars and political activists to rail against Jews, call for the eradication of the state of Israel and accuse the United States government as waging a war against Muslims at home and abroad.
The December 2009 convention was designated by ICNA, MAS and other organizations as a venue to begin the effort to combat radicalization within the Muslim community. This effort was announced in the wake of the arrests in Pakistan of five Muslim-American students from Virginia for allegedly attempting to join a terrorist group. The five youths, who were sentenced to 10 years in prison by Pakistan's anti-terrorism court in June 2010 for criminal conspiracy and funding a banned terrorist organization, attended the ICNA Islamic Center in Alexandria and participated in a youth group, the Young Muslims of Virginia (YMVA), affiliated with the center.
Young Muslims (YM), a national division of ICNA dedicated to serving the needs of Muslim American youth, provides programming and educational materials. Some of these materials are infused with overt anti-Semitism and expressions in support for terror. YM's Web site features an online resource library with several books by radical ideologues who advocate violent jihad, including five books by Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi and another five by Syed Abul 'Ala Maududi.
Local chapters of ICNA have also attracted anti-Semitic speakers to their organizational meetings and fundraisers. The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of ICNA invited Imam Amir Abdul Malik Ali of the anti-Semitic Sabiqun movement to its fundraiser on June 20, 2010.
Anti-Semitism and extremism have also marked many anti-Israel rallies endorsed by ICNA around the U.S. where protestors engaged in offensive Holocaust imagery likening Jews and Israelis to Nazis, as well as expressed support for terror. On January 3, 2009, ICNA endorsed a rally in New York City, which featured signs that read: "Israel: the Fourth Reich" and "Holocaust by Holocaust Survivors." (See the video here.) Protesters chanted numerous anti-Semitic slogans, including "Palestine is our Land, the Jews are our Dogs," "From the River to the Sea Palestine is Arab [land]," and "Shame, Shame USA! Bush, How Many Jews are in the Government?"