AIFD Statement on Virginia Commission on Immigration Controversy

1. Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine (D) is to be commended for accepting the resignation of Dr. Esam Omeish from the Virginia Commission on Immigration. It is unfortunate that the Governor did not more thoroughly vet Dr. Omeish prior to his appointment to the commission on immigration. 2. While Dr. Omeishメs appointment and resignation is a local Virginia matter, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix, Arizona has received a number of queries regarding its stand on his appointment. The AIFDメs position is that this embarrassment could have been avoided altogether had Governor Kaine’s office applied basic vetting criteria before appointing Dr. Omeish to such an important position. 3. The AIFD stands in opposition to the appointment and in support of the resignation on the ideological grounds that Dr. Omeish has repeatedly represented an Islamist agenda (political Islam) in his activism. The ideology of Islamism runs against the interests of a strong national immigration policy and American security. In Dr. Omeishメs press conference of September 28, 2007, he stated that efforts to question his appointment, モundermine a whole community of faith in a relentless campaign of ‘Islamophobia’ intimidationヤ. The AIFD reaffirms its belief that no organization or individual represents the モwhole community of faithヤ as Dr. Omeish asserts and such attempts at Muslim collectivism are defining manifestations of political Islam (Islamism). The AIFD stands against any mixture of the Muslim faith community with a specific political agenda of an individual or an organization whether in domestic or foreign policy. The AIFD also reaffirms our belief that positions by government officials, like that of Governor Kaine, against individual Islamists for their ideologies is not in any way Islamophobia and that such assertions by Dr. Omeish are intentionally deceptive. 4. Many of Dr. Omeishメs statements and activities in the past have in fact been a manifestation of political Islam and his attempt to use the Muslim community as a tool in a specific Islamist political agenda. This not only violates the core principles of the separation of religion and politics, which is a cornerstone of our nation, but is in fact the main mechanism of influence of transnational Islamism. His public advocacy of ムjihadメ in the Middle East by co-religionists implicitly via terrorist organizations like Hezbullah or HAMAS against Israel, an ally of the United States, should certainly highlight the toxicity of Islamism as a political ideology– regardless of the ideological jujitsu one uses to define ‘jihad’. This becomes especially concerning in an individual appointed to contribute to a more sound immigration policy because it begs the question: Will this appointee’s point of view be one primarily of American nationalism and security first, or will it be one of transnational global Islamism? 5. This inappropriate appointment and hasty resignation should yet again remind our elected officials across the country of the stakes in this global ideological conflict in which we are engaged. 6. While the engagement by government of the (actual) Muslim community is to be lauded and a necessary component of victory against the ideology of militant Islamism, that engagement must be done in the setting of clear ideological standards. Those standards could be articulated as follows: a- The Rejection of Islamism as a political ideology– Simply being ムanti-terrorメ does not make a Muslim necessarily moderate in the American context. It simply gives him or her a seat at the table of humanity. It is a core belief at the AIFD that political moderation within the Muslim community is manifested most significantly in a rejection of political Islam (anti-Islamism). b- A Rejection of the concept of the ムIslamic stateメ- Islamist Muslims may endorse democracies, elections, citizenship, and the rule of law, but they are driven by an overriding vision of a Muslim majority society led by theologians (imams and clerics) who run government through their interpretation and enactment of Islamic law (sharia). Our government should engage anti-Islamist Muslims predominantly and at the minimum- non-Islamist Muslims. The ideology of Islamism- or the desire to put into place an ムIslamic stateメ- is a clear and present danger to free people everywhere and directly conflicts with the interests of the United States. Muslim moderates are those who embrace both Americanism and a spiritual Islam while wholly rejecting Islamism as a movement for the body politic and government of every nation, and not just the one they happen to live in as a minority. Moderate Muslims unequivocally advocate for American Constitutional government above all other forms of governance whether Muslims are a minority or a majority. c- Identification of radical Islamist organizations by name as enemies of the United States- Moderate Muslims are able to both condemn terrorism as an act, as well as the individuals and organizations -by name -that utilize terrorism as a tactic for political change. Thus, a moderate Muslim should be able to identify radical Islamist organizations by name such as Al Qaeda, HAMAS, Hezbullah, and Islamic Jihad as ideological enemies of America. Similarly, moderate Muslims should condemn by name global Islamist organizations which seek to put into place Islamic states such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ut-Tahrir, or Tabligh Jamaat. While these organizations may at times “condemn terrorism” they often offer apologetics (if not justifications) for terrorism and seek the establishment of both individual Islamic states and a global or regional caliphate of them. Anti-Islamism is central to being moderate in the American context. d- The acceptance that the root cause of terrorism is political Islam. Terror is only a means to the ends of the Islamic state. While many Islamists may say they are against “terror,” moderate, liberty-loving Muslims accept the fact that the root cause of terrorism is the ideology of Islamism and its intoxicating dreams of the Islamic state poised against the ascendancy of western secular democracies. To blame American foreign policy and other conspiracy theories for terrorism is to live in denial. e- To articulate the toxic role that Wahhabism (a radical Saudi Arabian interpretation of Islam) has had upon the radicalization of some members of the Muslim community. We must acknowledge the relaity that 15 of the 19 terrorists who perpetrated the 9/11 attackes were indoctrinated in the Wahhabiist ideology of jihad and its global goals. f- To unequivocally recognize the state of Israel and its right to exist. Moderate Muslims accept the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian situation is not a religious conflict but rather a local Middle Eastern national conflict. g- Separate faith (spirituality) and nationalism. Moderate Muslims in the west reject the mixture of their membership in the Muslim community with their citizenship or membership in their nationメs military. Moderate Muslims understand that the personal practice of Islam, like all the world religions, is threatened when a government is driven by the interpretation of any one faith and not simply by overriding universal human principles ムunder Godメ. h- To advocate for individual freedom and liberty. Moderate Muslims stand firmly for gender equality, free speech and against Islamist laws concerning blasphemy and apostasy both within the Muslim community and outside the Muslim community. i- To articulate the same ideas in English and Arabic and both within and outside the Muslim community. j- To advocate for the rights of dissidents and liberty-minded Muslims in Muslim majority nations against the dictatorships and monarchies which oppress them: Moderate Muslims should not fear naming the leaders of Arab and Muslim dictatorships by name (i.e. Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, or Iran to name a few) as despots and oppressors. Similarly, they should not fear standing firmly and publicly for the need of wholesale cultural and political reform in those nations along with the liberation of their peoples. k- To acknowledge that much of current Islamic jurisprudence (sharia) is in dire need of ijtihad (reform) and being brought into the 21st century and modernity with a focus on liberty. Just as Chrisitianity an dother faiths underwent reformation, so too is much of the current legal doctrine of Islam in need of a similar modernization to be in full synergy with the principles of individual freedom, limited constitutional government, and the separation of religion and state. l- Moderate Muslims refuse to accept victimization as the focus of Muslim activism in the U.S. They accept the fact that Muslims should rather be leading counterterrorism against militant Islamists in the U.S. and around the world. 7. The viral nature of militant Islamism demands that we understand the root cause ラnamely political Islam. 8. To win the ideological war against Islamism, our elected officials must ensure that appointments and relationships with the Muslim community include most of these criteria when vetting potential partners. The enabling of Islamists in our government will greatly hamper us in our efforts to win the war of ideas against the Islamists. —###—- AIFD Office Phone: 602-254-1840 Web: www.aifdemocracy.org Email: zuhdi@aifdemocracy.org For Press inquiries please call the AIFD Press office: 480-860-8792

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