(Phoenix ,AZ, February 18, 2016) This week marks the start of a case absolutely everyone should be paying attention to: the trial of Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, 44, who is charged with helping to facilitate the armed attack on the “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas on May 3rd, 2015; as well as a bomb plot against the 2014 Super Bowl.
Just a few days after the attack against the cartoon event, one of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy’s (AIFD) own staff members, Courtney Lonergan, was interviewed in the local media about her work against radicalization. Lonergan, like Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, is a convert to Islam. Like Abdul Kareem, she has been a part of the Phoenix Muslim community for years. However, unlike Abdul Kareem, Lonergan refused to buy into the Islamist narrative that being offended – by a cartoon, for example – is the same as being attacked. Further, she refuses to buy into the narrative that her faith must be in conflict with her American identity. As such, Lonergan has been at the forefront of our efforts to engage Muslim youth against radicalization, and has facilitated our youth initiative, the Muslim Liberty Project, for several years as our Director of Community Engagement.
Chilling to note is that years ago, Lonergan herself went to the leadership of the local Muslim community, concerned that Elton Simpson – one of the Garland attackers – and Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem – seemed to have extreme views. She was dismissed. It was her experience with the local community that sent her looking for a group like AIFD. Yet most reports like this one from KPNX Channel 12 give Islamic Community Center of Phoenix mosque president and Islamist apologist Usama Shami an unchecked platform to deceive the public falsely stating that: “These guys they just came at some point and left. They tried to contribute to the community by volunteering and this and that, but that’s about it.”
Courtney’s story is not unique among those of us here at AIFD and the Muslim Reform Movement who are working to combat political Islam, and all of the ills stemming from it, from misogyny and gender-based violence to anti-Semitism and the censorship of dissidents.
It seems that the U.S. government should be listening to Muslims like us – and that any Muslim groups namely Islamists who attack Muslims like us should be dismissed as enablers of radicalization.
It also seems that major Muslim organizations in the U.S. should be clamoring to defend and support their Muslim brothers and sisters who raise an alarm about men like Abdul Malik Abdul Karim and Elton Simpson.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true: groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and their ilk have repeatedly been given access both to major media and the halls of power. Further, their leaders – like CAIR-Arizona’s own Imraan Siddiqi – have not just failed to stand with those Muslim who are vocal against Islamism – they attack us with enormous vitriol and vulgarity.
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, AIFD president and co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement, had this to say about the role of Islamists like CAIR in the Phoenix trial, and our responsibility to combat them: “With America’s first terror trial against a domestic ISIS operative, reform minded patriotic Muslims are asking yet again will this be the wake up call when media, government, academia, and the American public will own up to the unchecked conveyor belt of radicalization which Islamist supremacist identity groups like CAIR and their affiliated Islamist mosques and imams facilitate?”