The Imam from Oklahoma

William Webb is a Christian preacher's grandson from Oklahoma, which makes him an unlikely voice for American imams.  But, as the leader of the Islamic Center of Boston Cultural Center, he has worked hard to give voice to what he calls the "pre-pubescent" American muslim community.  Webb, who spent time as a hip-hop DJ in his youth before converting to Islam, tells us in a podcast that the community is still growing, and is still far behind other religions when it comes to finding qualified leaders at the local level.  A sign of the challenge: the now widely reported incident of when Tamerlan Tzarnaev attacked an 'imam' for not being orthodox enough, the 'imam' was actually a community member who'd been drafted to give the sermon that week. 

As Webb puts it, that "mediocrity" of the imam corps means the community has a hard time answering the myriad questions that are aimed at the community in the wake of a terror attack, such as the Boston Marathon bombings.  Webb is working hard to solve that problem, by directly counseling any wayward youth and, more broadly, by confronting the challenges Islam and other religions face by modernity.  He's also building an imam seminary, to help recruit and develop imams.

Webb was at New America for an "Online Radicalization" event hosted by the National Security Program. You can see the full event here.

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Research-driven policy and analysis on terrorism, counterinsurgency, South Asia’s geopolitics and other national security concerns.