The American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin challenged the University of Delaware's Muqtedar Khan in a blog post, "Who Should Fund U.S. Muslim Groups" for criticizing the American Islamic Congress (AIC)'s American financial support.
Rubin hails the AIC's founder and director Zainab al-Suwaij as a moderate Islamic voice frequently denouncing Islamic extremism and a true champion of women's empowerment and individual freedom. A native Iraqi who grew up under brutal dictatorship, Rubin argues Suwaij wholeheartedly understands the values that contribute to America's greatness.
But Khan takes issue with the AIC's American funding.
"If AIC is surviving on U.S. money, then they have no legitimacy, especially if they came to the fore in the [George W.] Bush era," Khan told the Washington Post.
Rubin criticizes Khan for failing to specify why Muslim groups should shy away from American financing, but willingly accept Saudi money, like the more radical Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) have done.
"If Saudi Arabia is a cash cow for organizations like CAIR and ISNA that often apologize for terrorism, shouldn't organizations that take a more moderate tack and seek to promote both empowerment and respect for American values also have access to resources?"
Ironically, Khan is no stranger to American financial support. In 2007, he was in charge of managing a $50,000 State Department grant to the University of Delaware. The grant was intended to foster discourse between clerics in American and Muslim countries.
If the AIC's government money is no good, critics like Khan and other advocates should "foreswear foreign money," Rubin concludes. "It does say a great deal about Suwaij that she'd rather compete for American grant money and also a great deal about her critics that they see Saudi money as less tainted."