This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, July 1, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Muslim leaders in the U.S. are hoping to head off an Islamic backlash ever since terrorists beheaded Paul Johnson. A group of Muslims in New Jersey has taken out full-page newspaper ads to condemn his death.
Mr. Chaudry, big question: are enough Muslim groups speaking out to condemn terrorism?
ALI CHAUDRY, PRESIDENT OF THE CENTER FOR UNDERSTANDING ISLAM: John, yes, there are many, many groups, individuals as well as groups that have been condemning right after 9/11. The problem has been that our voices have not been heard.
And sometimes the silent majority doesn't get the attention in the media, so we felt that as a group of Muslims, American Muslims, who felt the same rage that every other American does about the first of all, the 9/11 and then of course, the horrific acts, the barbaric acts, I should say, of beheading innocent people in the name of Islam.
We felt outrage and we wanted to express that; we wanted to let our fellow Americans know that we, with every other American, feel the same horror and therefore, we wanted to express that and wanted to send our condolences to the Johnson family.
GIBSON: OK. Maybe you can explain something, because I think what a lot of Americans are confused about is they know the Muslim-Americans here with us are not with Al Qaeda (search).
CHAUDRY: That's true.
GIBSON: Maybe a sleeper here or there.
But what is it about Muslims in Saudi Arabia, in Jordan, in Egypt: places that have always been friends of the United States that they don't speak out about this, that they don't put pressure on these terrorists? It's almost as if these acts get approval from Muslims in those countries and that empowers these people to go out and do these things.
CHAUDRY: Well, unfortunately, the silence is read as approval, but it isn't really approval because the majority does not speak out. They have not had the wherewithal to come out and say, politically, put pressure on these groups to basically stop them from using Islam for the political purposes.
What we feel — and I think the leadership for the Muslim community throughout the world, I believe, will come from Americans Muslims, because we have the ability and the resources to be able to come out and come together and work with the communities.
Now, can we put pressure on Muslims in other countries? We can get our voices. I grew up in Pakistan, so I know that there's a majority of people in Pakistan that have always stood with America. In fact, Pakistan, as a country, has stood with America. And, therefore, the Muslims here — and incidentally, Muslims, of course, come from all over the world. You know, we are not a monolith community; we are a very diverse community of Pakistanis, Indians, Indonesians, Chinese-Muslims, Arabs, as well as Muslims from many other countries.
So I think it's very important to recognize that in each of those countries, the culture and the local politics will dictate as to who gets the voice.
GIBSON: You know, I have to ask you about some news, Mr. Chaudry. We're just receiving word that King Abdullah of Jordan, which obviously is a Muslim country, is offering to send troops to Iraq if the Iraqis ask for the help.
Do you think that Muslim countries have a special responsibility to, at this time, to help out the Iraqis as they are trying to get their government stood up and get going?
CHAUDRY: Well, I believe that all the Muslim countries — not just Muslim countries, all the counties, I believe — members of the United Nations, have a responsibility...
GIBSON: Especially who...
CHAUDRY: Especially Muslim countries, I think, you know, have a responsibility to stabilize the situation in Iraq so that the Iraqis themselves really, truly have full sovereignty so they can govern their nation under a democratic system as we do here.
GIBSON: All right. Ali Chaudry is president of the Center for understanding Islam, which took out an ad in...
CHAUDRY: I want to make sure that this ad was really done by individuals, by the Muslim community of New Jersey. I just happened to be a member of the Center for Understanding Islam, but there are many other organizations. But this is really the tribute to these 126 individuals who have, you know, brought the ad out.
GIBSON: Mr. Chaudry, thank you very much. Appreciate you coming on.
CHAUDRY: Well, thank you for the opportunity, John.
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