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October 8, 2020

Open letter from Emgage to the Muslim American community

As-Salaam ‘Alaikum,

Over the past several weeks a number of attacks have been lodged against Emgage. Some are legitimate clarifications that we must make, but others are by nefarious foreign actors who are spreading false and misleading information about our organization across the Muslim American community, a few weeks before the most consequential election of our lives. The purpose of this letter is to state Emgage’s position on these issues in a transparent manner and inshallah put these issues to rest once and for all so we can continue our mission to politically empower Muslim Americans across the country and focus on turning out the vote for the November Presidential Election. 

Emgage consists of a family of institutions that works to mobilize Muslim voters, advocate for public policy issues important to Muslim communities, and vets and endorses political candidates. The recent accusations against Emgage state that Emgage is a Zionist organization, its leaders collaborate with institutions that are harmful to Muslim Americans and the Palestinian cause, and that the organization is aligned with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) organization in India. All of these accusations are patently false. These issues have been addressed on our website in a Fact vs. Fiction section.  

Emgage has a track record of working alone and in broad-based coalitions consisting of faith-based organizations, communities of color and other civil society organizations. Because political engagement is about people and communities of various faith traditions, Emgage is committed to working with various religious groups and in interfaith coalitions including but not limited to Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other similarly aligned communities. Emgage rejects all forms of racism, bigotry, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism. 

There are several clarifications that we must make. Some have said that Emgage and its leaders are members of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); this is false. Additionally, some raised concerns over Emgage’s leaders that participated in the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI). While it is true that a few members of Emgage Foundation and Emgage Action’s combined twenty-one member board of directors participated in the MLI Program in 2015-2016, in early 2019 both boards of Emgage passed an official resolution prohibiting Emgage board and staff members from participating in MLI. The Chairman of our Board, Khurrum Wahid, also publicly clarified this recently. HERE

Another question about Emgage is whether we have joint programming with organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and American Jewish Committee (AJC). The answer to this is no. Emgage has no programming with the ADL or the AJC. Emgage has been in meetings and members of coalition groups that have involved these organizations. When we engage in these coalitions we do not always agree on many issues with every coalition member, but we also do not cede space and retreat from engagement when it can benefit the Muslim community. Examples include when meeting with law enforcement, the judiciary, and elected officials to fight for our Constitutional rights, push back on discrimination, and pursue equality. We have serious concerns with these organizations’ inconsistent track record on standing up to Islamophobia and on Palestinian rights. Thus, if and when we are part of coalitions that include these groups and others we make that very clear. 

We would like to remind our brothers and sisters that our faith obliges us to engage with those who we may not agree with. Allah commanded the Prophets Musa (as) and Haroon (as) in the Holy Qur’an to engage even Pharaoh with gentle speech that perhaps he may reconsider his position (20:44).

On the issue of Palestine Emgage has always supported the Palestinian people’s right to freedom, security, prosperity, democracy, human rights, and their own state. We actively support initiatives aimed at protecting and uplifting Palestinians who continue to endure unimaginable suffering and hardship. As a matter of principle, we have vocally opposed the continued illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and Israeli settlement activities that displace Palestinians from their homes and heritage. We have advocated in Congress and state capitals for the constitutional right to engage in the boycott, divest, and sanctions movement to end the occupation. We also support the Palestinian people’s just demand for freedom and equality, and the right of displaced Palestinians and their families to return to their homes. More information on our work on these issues can be found HERE.

There is no question that every institution can and should improve, but we categorically reject the substance and manner in which the attacks against us have been carried out. Institutions are not perfect and the people who run them are not perfect. Everyday, Emgage humbly and introspectively seeks ways we can do better and reflect the diversity of our communities that are  made up of every race, ethnicity and culture along with many denominations. We look forward to continuing to do our important work in service to Muslim communities and having deeper dialouge on these and other issues with our diverse communities. We are thankful for your support.  


Emgage Foundation Board Members

Emgage Action Board Members 

Emgage Staff