11 Years Later: Addressing Political Ideologies and 9/11

11 Years Later: Addressing Political Ideologies and 9/11

The Voice of Russia Radio

Audio available here

President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney pulled their attack ads and did not make any campaign stops in honor of the eleventh anniversary of 9/11.

While the two presidential candidates withheld politics from the matter, some believe that U.S. leaders should use the date to engage Americans in a national discussion surrounding the terrorist attacks.

Host Jessica Jordan spoke with Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, about the root causes of the attacks and various ideologies involved, including American liberty and political Islam.

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser said prominent American leaders should use their positions to address the root causes of the attacks and discuss various ideologies involved, including American liberty and political Islam.

Last Minute, DNC Dissociates from Muslim Event- 9/2/12

How to fight ‘their Islam’

Stu Bykofsky: How to fight ‘their Islam’

Stu Bykofsky, Daily News Columnist
Philadelphia Daily News, September 14, 2012

THIS WEEK’S Islamic eruptions in Cairo and Benghazi came (coincidentally?) on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.

In Cairo, crowds were ignited by a defamatory movie about Muhammad. Meanwhile, “film critics” also attempted to storm our embassy in Yemen on Thursday.

In Benghazi, Libya, militants apparently used civilians protesting the film as cover for a pre-planned attack to mark 9/11.

Not a whole lot has changed since crowds in the Arab world danced in the streets on 9/11, despite President Obama’s overtures, which even go so far as to ban from official use the name of the enemy: radical Islam. So what we saw this week was a pesky “overseas contingency,” rather than terror by Islamists who do not believe in free speech or democracy because they find neither in their Islam.

I say “their Islam” because American Muslims stand on a bridge they built between their god and their culture. They can be good Muslims and good Americans.

Such a man is Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, who heads the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. “We need to help the people of these countries to go through a reformation and step into modernity and away from these irrational actions,” he said.

The seeds of this week’s work – call it offspring of the Arab Spring – were planted on Nov. 4, 1979, when government-supported Islamists seized America’s Iranian embassy and President Carter let them get away with it for 444 days.

This time an amateurish film ridiculing Muhammad, promoted by dim-bulb preacher Terry Jones, of burn-the-Quran fame, lit the fuse in Cairo.

Cairo was the curtain-raiser: Damage was done, but no deaths. Benghazi was the main feature, with the death of our ambassador and three others. Then Yemen. More to come?

In each case the governments in power (with U.S. support) did not sponsor the attacks.

Time‘s Bobby Ghosh said that there is an “extremist industry” that combs the Web looking for anything even vaguely anti-Muslim that they can harness into anti-American and anti-West blowups.

It is not Islamophobia to say that hate is a byproduct of fundamentalist Islam. So, what should our response be, as a democracy, a world leader and a nation tired of being hammered by bloodthirsty extremists?

The Arab world has no tradition of freedom of speech, and Islam does not tolerate inquiry, let alone anything seen as belittling the prophet, or even depicting him. That’s why Salman Rushdie was sentenced to death by an ayatollah in 1989 after his Satanic Verses was published, why worldwide riots followed the publication of cartoons in Denmark in 2005, why Christians and other “unbelievers” are murdered and why our diplomats were killed this week.

The “Arab street” is driven by a toxic brew of rumor, lies and disinformation. To this day, a majority of Arabs believe that Muslims had nothing to do with 9/11, according to the Pew Research Center.

It’s hard to overcome generations of ignorance, but there are some things we can do.

First, ramp up operations of the Voice of America, which can be harnessed to dispense “our side” across a broad range of media – radio, TV and, importantly, the Internet. It will take a long time, but we can use our ingenuity to crack open those closed minds a bit. It’s a smart use of soft power.

Second, having tried apologies and outreach, our government must proclaim American values, such as free speech, from which Muslims get no special immunity. No more acts of contrition. That’s moral power.

Finally, financial power. Cut off aid to any nation that does not support us. Buying friends? It beats funding enemies.



“A Battle for the Soul of Islam”

“A Battle for the Soul of Islam”

Bronson Stocking, 9/14/12, The Foundry

With violence erupting throughout the Arab world, it was a fitting time for Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser to stop by The Heritage Foundation to discuss his book A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith.

As a Muslim who is also a first-generation American and an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, Jasser’s aim is to spark a debate in the Muslim community about key questions, such as living out one’s faith in a pluralistic society. In his remarks, Jasser highlighted the absence of a separation between “mosque and state” in the Arab world and argued that this absence helps explain why Islamists fail to reconcile their religious faith with concepts of individual freedom—like the freedom of speech.

This bond between the mosque and the state is crucial to understanding the Islamist threat, Jasser warns. It is the politicization of Islam, he says, that creates secular forms of Islam and radicalizes many of the religion’s followers. Reflecting on the recent events in Libya and Egypt, Jasser recalls that Egyptian talk shows were awash in political discussions about “Islamophobia” just one day before violent mobs began their assault on U.S. embassies.

Just how the Muslim community can resolve this politicization is a discussion that Jasser hopes Muslims will soon have. But at the same time Jasser is calling for constructive debate, he is being attacked for his views at home. Abroad, others, like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), are seeking to establish the mosque-state connection as a matter of international law; since 1999, the OIC has been pushing the United Nations to pass “anti-blasphemy” resolutions, effectively stifling the freedom of expression.

While at The Heritage Foundation, Jasser also appeared twice on the Istook Live! radio show, a product of Heritage Action for America.

Watch Jasser’s talk here.

Bronson Stocking is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates “Better Elected Islamists Than Dictators” at Kaufman Center, October 4th

September 20, 2012, Wall Street Journal Market Watch


NEW YORK, Sep 20, 2012 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) — On October 4th, Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2US) will continue its fall season with a debate on Arab democracy, “Better Elected Islamists than Dictators.” The popular uprisings of the Arab Spring have left a leadership void that Islamist parties have been quick to fill. A longtime supporter of former strongmen like Egypt’s Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali, the U.S. now faces the uncomfortable result of Arab democracy–the rise of Islamist parties that are less amenable to the West than their autocratic predecessors. Will the Islamists, which once embraced violence, slowly liberalize as they face the difficulties of state leadership? Or will it mean the growth of anti-Americanism and radicalization in the region?

Reuel Marc Gerecht, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former Middle East specialist at the CIA’s directorate of operations and Brian Katulis, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress will argue in support of the motion. Daniel Pipes, one of the world’s foremost analysts on the Middle East and Islam and president of the Middle East Forum with M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy will argue against the motion.

Intelligence Squared U.S.’s fall season debates are streamed live on WSJ Live. Debates also air on more than 220 NPR stations nationwide and are televised nationally on the WORLD channel and in the New York area on PBS Channel Thirteen, WNET, WLIW, and NJTV.

WHAT: Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates “Better Elected Islamists than Dictators”

WHEN: Thursday, October 4, 2012 / Reception 5:45-6:30 / Debate 6:45-8:30 PM

WHERE: Kaufman Center/129 W. 67th Street (bet. Broadway and Amsterdam)/New York, NY 10023

TICKETS: $40 ($12 for students w/ID) To purchase, visit www.iq2us.org

The debate will take place in front of a live audience at Kaufman Center in New York City. Audience members will vote to decide the winning team in this provocative debate.


Named One of “Five Podcasts that Will Change the Way You Think” by Forbes, Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded in New York City in 2006 by Robert Rosenkranz, and has grown into an internationally syndicated series heard and watched by millions. The debates have attracted some of the world’s top thinkers including Paul Krugman, Karl Rove, Malcolm Gladwell, Alan Dershowitz, Peter Thiel and Arianna Huffington.

Based on the highly successful Oxford-style debate program originated in London, Intelligence Squared U.S. has presented over 60 debates on a wide range of provocative topics including global warming, the financial crisis, the marketing of organic foods, and the death of mainstream media. The Rosenkranz Foundation initiated the Intelligence Squared U.S. Debate Series and continues to provide major support. ABC News correspondent John Donvan is the moderator, and the executive producer is Dana Wolfe.

AIFD sends its prayers to the family of Ambassador Stevens and those that lost their life in this senseless attack




Attacks highlight the need for resolve in the face of the growing threats in the Middle East

 PHOENIX (September 12, 2012) – Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim and author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith” issued the following statement with regards to the death of U.S. Ambassador Stevens and Department of State personnel in Libya:

“The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) sends its prayers and condolences to the families of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and those who lost their lives in this senseless and brutal attack on the United States. Our prayers are also with their colleagues in the Department of State who by all accounts have lost an ardent defender of freedom and human rights in the Middle East.

The actions of the mob in Libya and the clear interventions of the former regime are nothing short of pure evil and in no way representative of the teachings and practices of the faith of Islam.

At this time of grief it is important that we steel our resolve against this evil.  We must not blink in the face of this irrational reaction to the mere words of a little known filmmaker.  Apologies from our government to this absurd mob are ridiculous and counterproductive to establishment of true human rights within this region.

It is clear that Islamist leadership in Egypt and the remnants of the fascistic Gaddafi regime in Libya are using this movie as a tool for their own agenda as they have done countless times before.

We need a bold strategy in this region to foster the liberty minded Muslims in these countries to work against these elements of hate and anti-Americanism.  We need to help the people of these countries to go through a reformation and step into modernity and away from these irrational actions.

That process begins today by our government stepping away from the typical politically correct language that forgives these attacks and justifies their cause by condemning the free speech of the moviemaker.  There is no justification for the actions of this mob.  Any act of contrition on our part is essentially an acceptance of the OIC’s “insult to heavenly religions” and an affront to the principles that built the United States.”

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/.

MEDIA CONTACTS:        Gregg Edgar

Gordon C. James Public Relations




Sept. 11 terrorist attacks awakened us to a ‘battle for the soul of Islam’

Guest Voices–Other Views on Faith and Its Impact on the News

The Washington Post 9/18/12

By M. Zuhdi Jasser


Link to story at The Washington Post

For Americans, the iconic face of terrorism has become the devastation of the Twin Towers. For many American Muslims the attacks of Sept. 11. 2001 were an awakening to the urgency of the long festering struggles deep within our faith communities. Radicalism does not spontaneously arise out of thin air. Al-Queda, Hamas, the Taliban, or Hezbollah are but symptoms of a far more pervasive ideology that has both violent and non-violent components. “Violent extremism,” as some like to call it, is only one terminal end point of an insidious ideology that provides a conveyor belt with many endpoints. Liberal Muslims know that none end in genuine liberty, and all end in some form of theocratic supremacy.Enjoying a deep love of God and the role which Islam plays in my own soul and conscience, I have long known this central conflict to be a deeper more nuanced one between political Islam (Islamism) and liberty (liberal democracy). Many of us had already long begun to confront the deep seeded elements within various Muslim mindsets and institutions of political Islam (Islamism) and its incompatibilities with modernity and American freedom.
But Sept. 11 shook me and many of us to the core, out of our old complacency to defer change to future generations. It catapulted me into the realization that we had a unique responsibility or calling both as Americans and as Muslims to lead that change now.
The U.S. gives us a unique laboratory to engage in the debates within Islam that only we as Muslims can wage. And we should not squander that opportunity. After all, American Muslims are uniquely positioned to counter Islamism globally and thus turn the tide against radicalism. In fact, devout, God-fearing Muslims are the only ones with the credibility and the inherent self-interest in the faith legacy we leave our children and country necessary to effectively take on the root cause of Islamist inspired terrorism.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks we established the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (http://aifdemocracy.org/)  with a mission of lifting up the ideas of liberty within the Muslim consciousness and identity.
We have an obligation to the families that lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 attacks to speak truth to power. While many Muslims living comfortably in the U.S. may have reformed and brought our personal practice in line with modernity, the theological power structures in our faith community are generally still far from needed reform and critique against Islamism and its progeny.
The obstacles to this work have been too numerous to count. We have sadly since found our nation for the most part generally unwilling to engage with Muslims in a “tough love” toward open reform.
In a post-Sept. 11 world predominant beltway politicians and news media who only see the world through partisan polarity have simply reserved discussion of Muslims to a convenient minority checkbox that is invoked when politically expedient. Both sides have been complicit at times. One using Muslims to falsely paint the other as “bigots”, and the other using Muslims to highlight their mastery of national security. Both are losing site of the core problems and solutions that the attacks highlighted for us.
Meanwhile, many Muslim groups claiming to speak for Muslims in America, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups (CAIR (http://www.cair.com/) ,ISNA (http://www.isna.net/) , MPAC (http://www.mpac.org/) , or MAS (http://www.masnet.org/main/) , i.e.) derive their fuel from those very forces that insist upon looking at us Muslims as one collective. That has given them all the room they need to deny reformists ideological diversity, to deny the need for reform, and to deny the link of Islamism to radicalization. These groups have thrived in the victimization mantra, fear mongering, and pigeon-holing of Muslims in order to circle the wagons, stifle debate, and perpetuate denial within.
The strategy of Islamist groups in America has only stoked the flames. Deference to political correctness has also suppressed debate.
In the end, there can be no better way to ebb the tide of fear of Muslims in the West than for Muslims to demonstrate that we are the most important asset in defeating the very ideologies that attacked us 11 years ago. This requires an embrace of a public critique of our faith leaders and institutions. All other approaches have been proven failures. The deep seeded reform needed against the idea of the “Islamic state”, the political ummah and its inherent public instruments of shariah (not the personal pietistic shariah but that in government) will do more to normalize relations with Muslims than any other strategy .
The massacre at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009 steeled my resolve more than ever that we needed to trace back and publicly dissect every component of the separatist ideas that drove Maj. Nidal Hasan to hate his nation and commit his act of terror and kill 13 of our fellow soldiers. We can no longer compartmentalize domestic threats from foreign ones. We need a Liberty Doctrine (http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/6187)  in our approach to Muslims.
The central problem remains the same whether it’s Sept. 11 or Hasan or “Green on Blue” attacks in Afghanistan. Until American Muslims can lead the long overdue journey away from Islamism and towards modernity and actually begin to wage A Battle for the Soul of Islam (http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Soul-Islam-American-Patriots/dp/1451657943) through the separation of mosque and state, the threats we all face at home and abroad will only grow.
M. Zuhdi Jasser (http://www.mzuhdijasser.com/)  is the author of the recently released book, “A Battle for the Soul of Islam (http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Soul-Islam-American-Patriots/dp/1451657943) ” and is president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (http://aifdemocracy.org/)  based in Phoenix. He is also a commissioner on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (http://www.uscirf.gov/)  (opinions posted here are his own).

Carney: Protests not directed at the United States

 Washington Free Beacon, September 14, 2012 11:59 am

‘This is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy, this is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims’

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday the violent protests throughout the Middle East are not directed at the United States or U.S. policy but are a response to a YouTube video:

CARNEY: We also need to understand that this is a fairly volatile situation and it is in response not to United States policy, and not to, obviously, the administration, or the American people, but it is in response to a video, a film that we have judged to be be reprehensible and disgusting. That in no way justifies any violent reaction to it, but this is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy, this is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims.

Again, this is not in any way justifying violence, and we have spoken very clearly out against that and condemned it. And the president is making sure in his conversations with leaders around the region that they are committed as hosts to diplomatic facilities to protect both personnel and buildings and other facilities that are part of the U.S. representation in those countries.

The protests which began earlier this week have expanded rapidly across the Middle East on Friday.

Protesters attacked the U.S. Embassies in Tunis and Sudan; Tunisian protesters smashed windows and lit fires inside the embassy compound, while gunfire could be heard. Images of a dark column of smoke over the Tunisian site have circulated on the Internet Friday.

According to a page on the State Department’s website describing what an embassy is, an attack on an embassy is considered an attack on that country.

“Because an embassy represents a sovereign state, any attack on an embassy is considered an attack on the country it represents,” the page reads.

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