As American stature and our embassies are attacked across the world, the U.S. needs to develop a clear vision of who we are and what we stand for in the free world. Anti-Islam films and cartoons are but cheap distractions. The challenge before the world could not be clearer — into the abyss left by ruthless dictators is a widening front in the battle for the soul of Islam:
Will Muslim majority societies heed the call of the Arab spring for the rights of the individual? Will they defend the rights of the minority over the collective, over the tribe, over the clerical oligarchs? Or will they just trade one autocracy for another? And will the U.S. stand on the principles we were founded on?
New ideas to the region like individual liberty and the separation of mosque and state are not turned on like a light switch. They are nurtured in a soil that has been tilled for critical thinking. Middle Eastern soil today is far from that. What we see today is more of the past battles between the evils of secular Arab fascism and theocratic fascism. In the information war between them, the liberals and secular democrats have been absent. Meanwhile, the fascists lie in wait for openings like the film and cartoons that exploit the imagined threat of American imperialism in order to legitimize their own ascendancy.
Islamists use these invented crises of faith to motivate spiritual fervor for the “Islamic state” and its legal instruments of shariah like blasphemy laws. While the Obama administration fecklessly condemns the violence and dissociates itself from “the video” grievance — rather than standing firm in defense of free speech and religious liberty — the Islamist agenda advances in full gear.
Consider the proclamations emanating from Al Azhar University, the world’s leading Islamist institution in Cairo. The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, condemned the West summarily telling Egyptians in reference to the film that “the West throughout history has not treated Islam with respect, but showed hostility [against it], and chosen the path of conflict, rather than understanding.
The Islamist narrative is that the defense of liberty is a license to denigrate Muslims and Islam. The U.S. has so far offered a paltry defense leaving reformers, secularists and our real allies ill-equipped and helpless.
Our motherlands face a number of hurdles before they even begin to enter modernity. But to patronize their societies with a different set of human standards than those embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a moral relativism that insults every Muslim.
Tough love is the highest form of respect. Demanding the minimum standard of non-violence is not enough. Moral relativism is exactly what the newly elected theocrats of the Muslim Brotherhood and their mentors at Al-Azhar want in order to widen rather than breach the divide between liberty and Islam.
We still have no strategy to engage real allies of liberty: the silent majority of liberals on the ground in the Middle East. We must signal to them that when it comes to democracy, there is no compromise on the defense of freedom of speech and that defense is inextricably wedded to the first freedom — freedom of religion.
For Muslims, we know well in the stories of the Prophet Muhammad that he sustained considerably more criticism than this movie, cartoons or any attacks of speech bring to bear. He either responded in silence or compassion.
As the old guards rush to fill the power vacuum, the voices of the “Arab Spring” standing up to the tyrants need to know the free world is on their side. The defense of free speech and religious liberty is not a war against faith, but a war against the oligarchs, the despots and the theocrats that would usurp their freedom. Any assumption otherwise is a bigotry our nation fought against not for.
M. Zuhdi Jasser is the author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith” and can be reached at email@example.com.
Amy Payne, September 13, 2012, The Foundry
Protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Yemen today and set fire to a building. Like the mob in Egypt on Tuesday, they tore down the American flag. Reports are also circulating of a separate protest in Tehran today with about 500 Iranians chanting “Death to America.” Meanwhile, a onetime mentor of Osama bin Laden called on his followers to replicate what happened in Libya and Egypt.
Following the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff, it is realistic to fear other attacks on U.S. diplomats. “Our men and women—in and out of uniform—are out there every day, protecting us and our interests. And that will always make them a tempting target,” Heritage expert Jim Carafano reminds us, commenting on the attacks in Libya and Egypt. Heritage’s Jim Phillips wrote in June about a larger Iranian campaign to assassinate foreign diplomats, including Israeli and Saudi diplomats, in at least seven countries over 13 months.
At this time, America’s first priority is the security of our personnel, and President Obama has ordered heightened security at America’s posts around the world.
We cannot allow terrorists and rioters to dictate U.S. missions and policy, and Washington must avoid knee-jerk reactions, such as yanking foreign aid, before we know the facts on the ground. As Phillips explained, the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt reflects the internal divisions in that country. At the same time, while there are dangerous anti-American factions in Libya, there are also many that appreciate the U.S. assistance and, and according to some reports, fought to help protect the U.S. compound before it was overrun.
There are still too many questions to be answered about the origins of the attacks, the state of security at the U.S. facilities, and the responses of the host governments. We should get the facts before we draw too many conclusions about what happened and why, much less what this should mean for the future of U.S. policy.
That said, this is no cause for declaring a moratorium on debate about U.S. policy in the region. There is plenty worth debating.
President Obama has consistently shown more enthusiasm in engaging hostile regimes in the Middle East than in protecting the interests of allies such as Israel. He has shown more concern about restraining Israel from acting than stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In fact, this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. is “not setting deadlines” for Iran and still considers negotiations “by far the best approach” to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public response was that “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
President Obama made matters worse by declining an offer from Netanyahu to meet when Netanyahu visit the U.S. later this month—despite the fact that Obama found time in his schedule for an appearance on David Letterman’s late-night comedy show and an interview with Miami rapper and radio personality DJ Laz.
The United States’s dysfunctional engagement with Israel and Iran is not the only problem. From North Africa through sub-Saharan Africa, al-Qaeda and its affiliates seem determined to plant the flag for new Afghanistans. Across the Middle East, the Arab Spring is far from unfinished business. Current U.S. policies clearly aren’t working. It is time to change course.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
9/11 Anniversary lost in presidential race
11 years following attack American Muslim Organization calls on candidates to maintain vigilance in the fight against radical ideology
PHOENIX (September 11, 2012) The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is calling on President Obama and presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney to use the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to reengage the national discussion into the root causes of this horrible attack that claimed nearly 3,000 American lives.
With the understandable concerns over the U.S. economy driving the 2012 president race, both the Administration and the Romney campaign seem to be content to not engage on important issues in the global arena. But eleven years since the attacks on our country the U.S. still has done little to address the ideology of political Islam which is the root cause that led Al Qaeda and 19 hijackers to attack our country. In fact with the Islamist political victories in the Middle-East since the “Arab Spring” it is clear that the ideology of political Islam, and the radicalism that is borne within the ideology, are growing in a post 9-11 world.
“We need our national leaders to reengage on the 9/11 issue,” said Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, author of the A Battle for the Soul of Islam. “The threat that the United States faces is ever more real and it needs a national focus on fighting an ideology that is at complete odds with American Liberty. President Obama and Governor Romney need to be advocating for a Liberty Doctrine in the Middle East so that we can eventually have an impact on the breeding ground of hatred against our country.”
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy has long advocated that the solution to the ideological war against militant Islamism is the development of a Liberty Doctrine. The United States needs to develop an unfaltering commitment to advocating the principles of our country. These ideas are the greatest tool we have to combat the morally bankrupt ideologies that have shackled the people of the Middle East for generations. As we saw with the fall of communism it is the ideals of individual liberty and freedom that can change the world.
“The lesson from the attacks of 9/11 is that the U.S. has to enter the ideological battle against our enemies,” said Jasser. “We can no longer idly sit by and allow the secular fascists and the theocrats to destroy movements for liberty. If we can become champions for liberty in the Middle East, we can begin to inoculate the people of the region to the supremacist mindset that creates the ideological underpinnings of Islamist inspired terrorism.”
About the American Islamic Forum for Democracy
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. AIFD’s mission advocates for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state. For more information on AIFD, please visit our website at http://www.aifdemocracy.org/.
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By Jessica Stanton, The Daily Caller, 9/17/12
During Saturday’s broadcast of “The Big Show” on ABC Radio’s Washington, D.C. affiliate WMAL, American Muslim activist and media contributor Dr. Zuhdi Jasser blasted the lack of leadership from President Obama, Washington and the West since the Arab Spring.
“What we’re seeing now I would basically look upon as Cold War 2.0 with an Islamic flavor,” said Jasser, the founding president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. ”We have let them define who we are. We have let their media define that America is the enemy and everything is to blame on the West and that has allowed them to avoid fixing their own condition.”
“And yet, when they do try to fix their own condition, like the Syrians and the Egyptians and the Tunisians have, we have gone and helped the wrong people — the [Muslim] Brotherhood, the Islamists.”
Jasser, the author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith,” criticized President Obama for recognizing the Muslim Brotherhood during a 2009 speech in Cairo as “legitimate.” Most Muslims, Jasser insisted, do not recognize the brotherhood as legitimate political leaders, but as theocrats.
“One of the biggest reasons we do not have credibility in the Middle East is they see us as allying with their enemies, with the dictators and with the theocrats. We have not been allying with the people on the ground,” said Jasser.
He also said President Barack Obama missed an important opportunity to address the Muslim Brotherhood’s dishonesty.
“The brotherhood was saying one thing in Arabic, cheering on the crowds; and on their English website, saying how they condemned it. And I would love to have seen President Obama call them on that. He didn’t.”
Jasser also characterized the anti-Islam video allegedly responsible for the violent Middle East uprisings as a “complete distraction.” Egyptian state-run media, he said, deliberately broadcast the trailer in an attempt to “consolidate their base by using a common theme: demonizing the West.”
“The Middle East has been torn between two fascisms: one of secular fascism of Mubarak, Gaddafi and the Assad’s of the world, and the other is theocratic fascism of radical Islam,” said Jasser. “This relationship between two heads of the same snake we are now seeing continue.”
by Sara Lynch and Oren Dorell, USA TODAY, 9/12/12
CAIRO — Days of planning and online promotion by hard-line Islamist leaders helped whip up the mobs that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya that killed an ambassador and three others.
As the U.S. tightened security worldwide at embassies and Libya’s president apologized for the attack, details emerged of how the violence began, according to experts who monitor Egyptian media.
Christopher Stevens, 52, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was killed, along with three other Americans, on Tuesday night when a mob of protesters and gunmen stormed the embassy in the eastern city of Benghazi.
The killings there followed demonstrations in front of Cairo’s U.S. Embassy, where protesters tore down the U.S. flag and scaled the embassy’s wall.
The protest was planned by Salafists well before news circulated of an objectionable video ridiculing Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, said Eric Trager, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was announced Aug. 30 by Jamaa Islamiya, a State Department-designated terrorist group, to protest the ongoing imprisonment of its spiritual leader, Sheikh Omar abdel Rahman. He is serving a life sentence in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
When the video started circulating, Nader Bakkar, the spokesman for the Egyptian Salafist Noor party, which holds about 25% of the seats in parliament, called on people to go to the embassy. He also called on non-Islamist soccer hooligans, known as Ultras, to join the protest.
On Monday, the brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri, Mohamed al Zawahiri, tweeted that people should go to the embassy and “defend the prophet,” Trager said.
Zawahiri justified al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks in an interview with Al Jazeera last month.
“If America attacks the Arab peoples and their regimes do not defend them, somebody who does defend the Arab and Muslim peoples should not be considered a criminal,” Zawahiri told the television network, according to a translation by MEMRI. “We have done nothing wrong.”
A U.S. official, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly, said the Obama administration is investigating whether the assault on the U.S. consulate in Libya was planned to mark the anniversary of 9/11.
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, whose political arm holds 47% of seats in parliament and is led by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, announced new protests against the film to take place Friday at Tahrir Square, Trager said.
“They’ve made no statements in Arabic against violence over this video,” he said. “They’ve also pinned this video incorrectly on the Coptic (Christian) diaspora. They’ve used this video to advance sectarian tensions in Egypt.”
The Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday condemned the violence.
by Michael Clancy – Sept. 12, 2012 04:27 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com
The United States should do its best to understand what happened in attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and a consulate in Libya before it definitively reacts, according to several experts in aspects of radical Islam and conflict in the region.
It’s just too soon to respond with sanctions, military action or other steps, they say.
Chad Haines, a professor of religious studies at Arizona State University, who has worked in Pakistan and Egypt, said blame and accusations will have anti-American repercussions. Policymakers need to recognize that both Egypt and Libya are still in the midst of dramatic changes after last year’s so-called Arab Spring.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a physician who founded the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, said the movie is just a distraction. He describes events in the area not as an Arab Spring, but ongoing convulsions. In such reactions, “governments like ours will be collateral damage.”
“It’s a long battle,” he said. “Democracy is not a light switch you can turn on.”
While the United States should be cautious in its response, it should not withdraw altogether, he said.
Jasser, who is from Syria and has family engaged in the conflict there, said the civil war in Syria and the incidents in Egypt and Libya are all part of the same reaction to the modern world.
“This may wake us up,” he said. “The war on radicalism is not over.”
Sid Shahid, a Muslim who works with the Arizona Interfaith Movement, said the United States needs a strategy for dealing with the implications of the incidents.
“Some of these incidents are very isolated,” he said.
Matt Kuivinen, who worked as a diplomatic security officer in Afghanistan and Yemen, noted that without the host country’s assistance, there is little a security staff can do in response to mob violence.
Using sanctions, such as threats to withhold foreign aid to nations like Libya and Egypt, can help provoke a government response, he said.
Kuivinen, who runs a security consulting business in Phoenix, said most radical rhetoric never leads to violence, and that security officials cannot react to all intelligence leads.
“You can only cry wolf so many times,” he said.
Shahid, who has given numerous talks in the community about his faith, said, “This is really disturbing for Muslims in general, especially American Muslims like myself.”
Mohamed El-Sharkawy, chairman of the Muslim Community Advisory Board in Phoenix, said community members are condemning the attacks.
“This is not the way true Muslims believe,” he said. “The people who were killed were our guests, and they deserved respect.”
He said the Muslim community would hold a candlelight vigil in memory of those who were killed will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Moeur Park, Curry Road and Mill Avenue, in Tempe.
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