Things apparently did not go smoothly at last week's Chicago conference on "Islam and Muslims in America," which was sponsored by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
President Obama's special envoy to the OIC, Rashad Hussain, had been scheduled to address the event, held at the American Islamic College. But after news reports highlighted his participation, Hussain reportedly withdrew at the last minute, citing a "scheduling conflict." This earned him an angry rebuke from websites like this (which the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report asserts is "an arm of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.")
"Why is he submitting to the intimidation and smear tactics?" the Ikhwanophobia website asked. "Are the higher ups telling him to sit this conference out because it would be bad for PR? Do they and he not realize that this essentially empowers the goons on the far right?" Two other administration officials were scheduled to participate: presidential appointee Dalia Mogahed and Farah Pandith, the State Department's special representative to Muslim communities.
One who addressed the conference was OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who said the primary objective of the conference was to reach out to the American public with a message about the OIC and its relations with the United States.
According to an OIC press release, Ihsanoglu declared "Islamophobia" to be "among the major preoccupations and concerns facing Muslims nowadays. The OIC boss said Islamophobia "has shown how vulnerable basic misunderstanding and deep rooted bigotry" can "pit one part of humanity against the other." He emphasized the importance of "forging a new relationship and understanding through respect for cultural diversity."
In the name of diversity and cultural sensitivity, the OIC has sought to have Islamophobia recognized by the international community as a form of racism which can be prosecuted under international law. This would in effect put Islam off-limits from criticism. Read more here and here.