08/06/2015 Debate Report Card for the First Republican Primary Debate

We at AIFD view our mission as non-partisan. Islamism, or radical Islam, runs counter to the universal human rights all American political parties claim to espouse. Islamism is opposed to truly free market principles, to women’s rights, to racial equality, and to individual liberty.
This year, Dr. Jasser has decided to watch the primary dates with an eye toward grading the candidates on their positions, clarity and vision with regard to militant Islamism, counterterrorism and foreign policy strategy.
AIFD endorses no candidate or party. These are Dr. Jasser’s personal observations of the Republican primary with an eye only towards our non-partisan issues. He will also grade the Democratic candidates on these most important issues after their debate.
“I have given each candidate a letter grade based on their responses to questions and discussion related to the issue of Islamism, and related foreign policy. This ‘report card’ has not considered their other statements or history on issues related to Islamism, Islam, or Muslims. I am well aware of problematic statements and positions by some on these issues. Here, my feedback and grade is based solely on this debate on Thursday, August 6, 2015.  Fair or unfair, candidates who made no comment on the threat or the issue are given an F even if they were not asked a direct question on this issue since it is the most important issue in our foreign policy if not in this entire election and it makes quite a statement if they never found an opportunity to weigh in at all. These are in alphabetical order. The second tier debate is not covered save a couple included worth mentioning.”– M. Zuhdi Jasser
  1. Bush: C
Domestic: Bush was silent on the issue domestically.
Foreign policy: Bush’s comments were unclear as to what is at stake both in Iraq and in the entire region, particularly in the wake of the “Arab Awakening.”
  1. Carson: F
Domestic: Carson was silent on the issue.
Foreign policy: When Carson was asked about Syria and chemical weapons, he dodged the question and didn’t take the opportunity to address the real threat.
  1. Christie: B
Domestic: Christie was clear on the need for robust monitoring of potential threats, but he was not able to clearly define the threat or engage in a discussion of it.
Foreign policy: He identified the need for a strong military, but gave no policy vision or plan.
  1. Cruz: A-/B+
Domestic: While Cruz was not as specific as he should have been about what the threat is (he said “radical Islamic,” but did not provide more detail).
Foreign policy: He was somewhat clear on identifying the enemy.ruz’s endorsement of Egyptian dictator Al-Sisi is problematic. While some people understandably  find al-Sisi’s rhetoric about Islamism (ala Muslim Brotherhood) appealing, Cruz should revert to his previous, more measured position on Al-Sisi.
  1. Fiorina: A-/B+.
Domestic: Did not use the word Islamism, but she gave a far clearer vision for the region and security than most.
Foreign Policy: Fiorina identified the enemy, was clear on Iran and how to do strong diplomacy. Though this is not a complete review of the early second tier debate, she stood out on these issues.
  1. Huckabee: B
Domestic: Silent
Foreign policy: very strong on Iran. Needs more vision for the region.
  1. Jindal: B+
Jindal did mention the need to ally with anti-extremist Muslims. He was light on specifics and vision.
  1. Kasich: F.
Silent on the issues.
  1.  Paul: F. 
His rambling  conversation on the 4th Amendment, the NSA, and overly myopic comments on “giving arms to ISIS” demonstrated no ability to identify actual solutions or viable policies for the protections of our liberty domestically; nor any vision for advancing liberty globally in a messy world dominated by Islamist movements and dictators.
  1. Rubio: A-/B+
Rubio began to provide some vision for the role America plays in the world, but he could have been clearer on Islamism and the ideology of our enemies.
  1. Trump: D-
Other than a vague promise to be ‘tough’ on Iran and his criticism of the #IranDeal – only to be followed by an odd (perhaps a joke?) request that Americans should buy stock in Iran – Trump provided no details about what he would or would not do when it came to Iran. He also had no plan for addressing militant Islamism worldwide. He never mentioned Islamism or the ideological threat, even when pressed.
  1. Walker: B+
Walker was one of the only candidates to link the Iran deal to our failed strategy against ISIS, demonstrating a better understanding of the region and of Iran’s importance in the battle against against radical Islam. He was was strong on Iran, but otherwise rather silent to vague on policy specifics.

Another radicalized youth, another “shocked” community: the case of Starkville

We at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy have for years been at the forefront of warning both our own Muslim community and the broader American community about the threat of domestic radicalization. We are joined by morally courageous individuals like Abdirizak Bihi, a Somali leader in Minneapolis who has dedicated his life to fighting radicalization within his own community; and individuals and groups from across Muslim-majority societies and the diaspora who are engaged in the vital, dangerous, and daily labor of combating extremist elements who prey on our own.

For our efforts, anti-radical Muslims are branded as “Uncle Toms,” demonized, excluded from community functions and gatherings – and at the very worst, executed or tortured for dissenting with the radicals.

In the United States, we are in a uniquely privileged position to speak out – and we must, as our community is in no way immune to the threat of radicalization. This has, unfortunately, proven itself to be true over and over again.

Indeed, we have seen numerous attempts by groups like ISIS to steal away our nation’s youth for their cosmic war and perverse agendas.

Most recently, it’s another “small town”, another pair of “easy going” and “good kids” who “baffled” their community by becoming radicalized. The New York Times declared the case to be “perplexing,” and declared that friends and strangers “could not imagine two less likely candidates for the growing roster of young, aspiring American jihadists.”

Now, we do not believe that every Muslim youth is susceptible to the likes of ISIS – indeed not. We instead encourage both other Muslims and the broader American community to be attune to concerning signs, like a rapid change in a youth’s commitment to religion (more than a passion for faith, they become fixated on rigidity, extreme religious dogma, etc), an obsession with the narrative of America as anti-Muslim; rhetoric from the pulpit and on mosque websites that stems from Islamist sources, extremely patriarchal and controlling dynamics in the family, and so on.

In the case of Jaelyn Young (19) and Muhammad Dakhlalla (22) of Starkville, Mississippi, some alarming signs do fit, eliminating again the excuse for the community to act surprised.

Jaelyn fits the profile of a young woman who fell in love with and may committed her life to someone (Dakhlalla) whose particular interpretation of Islam may not have been as pluralistic as his well-meaning peers seem to have thought it was.

Dakhlalla’s father, Oda Dakhlalla, has been known to offer sermons at the Islamic Center of Mississippi (ICM). One quick glance at the mosque’s homepage reveals troubling endorsements of pieces like this: an article from the website “IslamiCity” which condemns freedom of speech but not those who carry out attacks like that against Charlie Hebdo. It reads, in part:

But for the Muslims, the issue should be quite clear: Islam does not allow the adoption and propagation of ‘Freedom of Speech’ as propagated by the west since this would include the promotion of such ideas that clearly contradict Islam, such as usury, obscenity under the guise of entertainment and separation of Islam from life’s affairs……The question that needs to be asked is, ‘What was it in the Muslim world that had fostered such tolerance, authenticity, creativity, and human flourishing?’ It certainly was not the current notion of freedom that is prevailing in today’s world but rather it was the result of the implementation of Islam on society.”

This excerpt clearly calls for the implementation of a certain type of Islamic jurisprudence over a society, barring freedom of speech and entangling religious law with every aspect of life.

Let us not forget the words of Muhammad Yousef Abdulazeez on own blog, days before his terror spree in Chattanooga on July 16: We ask Allah to make us follow their path. To give us a complete understanding of the message of Islam, and the strength the live by this knowledge, and to know what role we need to play to establish Islam in the world.” Abdulazeez killed four marines in his effort to establish his brand of Islam on society – and people are surprised that the product of a mosque harboring the exact same goals was radicalized?

Any Muslim tuned into the problems plaguing our community today, and who would be honest about how radical ideas take root, would be alarmed not just at this article, but that it would be promoted by an American mosque. (It is also important to note that the mosque’s website links to HUDA TV, an Islamist satellite broadcasting service known for its Wahhabist bent.)

Is this the Islam of Oda Dakhlalla, preached in the Islamic center of Mississippi and passed down to his son Muhammad? If so, there really lies no question as to how this young man could have come to see America as his adversary, and ISIS as his natural allies. It has also been reported that Muhammad still lived at home and was supported by his parents. We hope that there will be a thorough investigation into the ideology Muhammad was exposed to.

The fact that a son of an imam is once again at the center of such a story, and that a young woman was lured into his trap – should cause Americans (Muslim and non-Muslim alike) to once and for all gather the resolve that radicalization is a problem within the “House of Islam,” rather than some obscure problem of “violent extremism.” Islamism as embraced by Muhammad Dakhlalla is a theopolitical ideology bolstered from pulpits and around dinner tables. This problem takes root well before an individual signs up to join a group like ISIS: seeds are planted earlier, as Western values and universal human rights are treated as a threat by those propagating a supremacist version of Islam. Once an individual has been influenced in this way, a final slide toward violent extremism can happen over the course of just weeks or months – and tragically, they often take along more naïve parties like Ms. Young.

Dr. Jasser spoke to Judge Jeanine Pirro about this case on Saturday, August 15. Please click here to see the video.

Anti-SemitiSm: iSlAmiSm’S indelible mArker

Source: The Journal of Innernational Security Affairs
Today, the United States and its allies are focused on the concept of “countering vio- lent extremism” as a means of combat ting the scourge of radical Islam. Yet violent extremism is but one manifestation of the Islamist ideology that threatens Western democracies and citizenry under its sway. Anti-Semitism is also a defining symptom of Islamism—and arguably a much more important one. For one can espouse radical Islamism and its totalitarian, supremacist goals of world domination with out choosing violent means to do so. But it is far harder to endorse Islamist ideology without supporting anti-Semitism.

Thus, anti-Semitism is not just another “radical” symptom. In fact, if we can develop the understanding and national conviction to confront the anti-Semitism of global Islamist movements directly, we will hold the key to unraveling the very fabric and platform through which Islamist leaders spread their ideas.The linkage is simple. Supremacists from within a particular faith community will create and exploit hatred toward another in order to rally their own followers against a common foe. Islamists utilize anti-Semitic imagery, profiling and demoniza- tion of Jews as a tool for their own ascension to power in Muslim majority communi- ties and nations (or in Arabic, the ummah). Islamists often exploit both the Muslim ummah and the Jewish minority in order to create groupthink against the “other.” The Islamist demonization of Jews is a key feature of their worldview, because underneath that hatred lies a more global supremacism that threatens all minorities, both within and outside the faith.

Today, Europe and the West are being directly impacted by the events that have transpired over the last half- decade of the Arab Awakening. With the tumult in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria, the ascent of Islamist movements has for the most part not brought a real spring but rather the empowerment of new auto- crats who wield Islamist thought as a supremacist weapon.

The challenge before the world could not be clearer. The vacuum left by the region’s long-serving dictators is a widening front in the battle for the soul of Islam: Will Muslim majority societies and Muslim leaders around the world heed the call for the rights of the individual? Will they defend the rights of the minority over the col- lective, the tribe, and the clerical oli- garchs? Or will they ultimately just trade one autocracy for another? Here, the importance of the role played by anti-Semitism cannot be overstated.


Follow the numbers

According to Pew research surveys, “anti-Jewish sentiment” is endemic in the Muslim world. “In Lebanon, for example, all Muslims and 99 percent of Christians say they have a very unfavorable view of Jews. Similarly, 99 percent of Jordanians have a very unfavorable view of Jews. Large majorities of Moroccans, Indone- sians, Pakistanis and six in ten Turks also view Jews unfavorably,” a 2005 poll by the research center noted.1

That outcome is hardly surpris- ing. For generations, Arab dictators like Hosni Mubarak, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad or King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, have har- nessed and incubated anti-Semitism as a political tool, using their vast media machines to expand the reach and reso- nance of this corrosive idea. Thus, Egypt under Mubarak lionized the virulently anti-Semitic and czarist Russian forgery,

Protocols of the Elders of Zion, even as state media regularly denied the Holo- caust while at the same time irrationally labeling Zionism as a “new Nazism.” Saudi Arabian government media and academia are also rife with anti-Semitic imagery and the demonization of Jews, while the country’s public schools teach that Jews “obey the devil” and are those whom “God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied.”2 The list goes on.

The hate thereby created fueled a mass exodus of Jews. Since 1948, at Israel’s founding, there have been over 1 million Jews expelled from Arab lands with only a few remaining.3 That exodus has carried over to the Christian commu- nity, where it is believed over two million Christians have fled the Middle Eastern Arab community in the last 20 years.4

Yet anti-Semitism is hardly the pur- view of secular tyrants alone. Rather, it serves as a primary nexus between pan- Arabism and pan-Islamism.


Hating Jews… and Israel

The intellectual origins and under- pinnings of Islamist anti-Semitism are diverse. But while our Islamic tradi- tion certainly possesses, as the scholar Martin Kramer has described, “some sources on which Islamic anti-Semitism now feeds,” it is not the only reason for it.5 In fact, if Islamist anti-Semitism is wholly confronted by modern Muslim reformers, there is hope that it can be marginalized and ultimately defeated, ending a force which can ultimately hold sway over a quarter of the world’s popu- lation.6 The current reality, however, is that the imams (clerics), ulema (scholars), or activists with the courage to publicly take on the anti-Semitism of Islamist leaders are sadly few in number. And when they arise, they have neither the platforms, attention, nor the backing that Islamist-linked movements enjoy around the world. Integral, and related, is the exploi- tation of Israel. As the scholar Martin Kramer has noted,Islamists see Israel as a symptom of a larger conspiracy against them, either western or Jewish or a sinis- ter combination of the two. Many Islamists today do not look at Israel or its policies as their irritant. They look beyond, either to America, symbol today of the power of the West or to the Jews, dispersed throughout the West where they exercise a malig- nant influence. These are deemed to be the real forces driving history.7

Kramer highlights in 1994 that Rashid al-Ghannushi, who now happens to be the leader of Tunisia’s ruling Islamist Al-Nahda party, alleged “a Jewish-Ameri- can plan encompassing the entire region, which would cleanse it of all resistance and open it to Jewish hegemony from Marrakesh to Kazakhstan.”8 Likewise, when the Organization for Islamic Coop- eration (previously the Organization of the Islamic Conference) met in Malaysia a dozen years ago. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told the crowd, “The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.”9 Both statements met not with widespread condemnation, but broad acceptance. Kramer thus concludes,If these themes seem distress- ingly familiar it is quite likely because they are borrowings from the canon of Western religious and racial anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism we see today in the Islamic world owes a crucial debt to the anti-Semitism of the West.10


The power of the pulpit

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is argu- ably the most influential Sunni cleric in the world. He escaped from Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt to Qatar in 1961,where he has since authored more than 120 books, influenced a number of highly trafficked Islamist websites, and most notably hosts a weekly program on Al-Jazeera Arabic titled “Shariah and Life” that is viewed by an estimated 60 million people glob- ally. Yet his sermons and public state- ments are a treasure trove of conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic diatribes.

Qaradawi’s significance to Islamist anti-Semitism cannot be overstated. Despite being prohibited from travel to France, the United Kingdom and the United States, Qaradawi, who lives in Qatar, has long been President of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR). ECFR is notoriously known for being a Muslim Brotherhood legal arm in the West, giving hundreds of anti-Western separatist fatwas (legal opinions) targeted at western Muslims, and weaving conspiracy theories of Jewish global domination.11 In 2011, Qaradawi returned to Egypt after more than a 30-year absence to lead a crowd of more than 200,000, leading scholars like Barry Rubin to remark that Egypt has gotten “its Khomeini.”12 Yet, surprisingly, the case against Qaradawi’s hate-filled anti-Semitic speech is not so clear for many. Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution, who attended Qaradawi’s return to Tahrir Square, stated at the time that Qaradawi is very much in the main- stream of Egyptian  society,  he’s in the religious mainstream, he’s not offering something that’s par- ticularly distinctive or radical in the context of Egypt… He’s an Islamist and he’s part of the Brotherhood school of thought, but his appeal goes beyond the Islamist spectrum, and in that sense he’s not just an Islamist figure, he’s an Egyptian figure  with  a  national  profile.13The threat that Qaradawi and his Islamist sympathizers pose is manifold.

While the arguments against his politi- cal Islamist ideas may be nuanced, to ignore his anti-Semitism (as so many around the world do) is to imperil world Jewry and the security of all minorities and our liberal democracies. One of the most revealing tests is to note the silence of many western Muslim leaders con- fronted with the anti-Semitism of the likes of Qaradawi or Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir.


Understanding the linkage

One cannot help but connect thedots from Qaradawi’s anti-Semitism to an inevitable neo-theocratic fascism that is now ascending in the Middle East under the rise of Islamism. Even- tually, the world will have to come to terms with how clerics with toxic posi- tions on Jews and Americans swim in the same pool with those who have simi- larly hateful positions against the Shi’a community (described as deviants), the Ahmadiyya (described as apostates), or the Baha’i (described as infidels) and so many other vulnerable religious minori- ties who will undoubtedly suffer, and are suffering, at the hands of Islamists when they are in power.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center recently listed the Muslim Brother- hood and the Iranian regime as the worst offenders of anti-Semitic rheto- ric across the planet.14 We ignore the telltale signs of hate against Jews and what that portends for other minorities at the peril of all genuine democracies. One need look no further than Iran to see that an Islamist revolution, while using the democratic engine of elec- toral politics, will never herald real democracy until minorities have equal rights and anti-Semitism is defeated within the Islamic consciousness.

Here, what the Muslim world says—and  learns—matters  a  greatdeal. According to former CIA direc- tor R. James Woolsey, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has spent nearly $90 billion spreading its ideology around the globe since the 1970s. He describes the Saudi sponsoring of the dissemination of the extremist Wahhabi strain of Islam as “the soil in which Al-Qaeda and its sister terror organizations are flourishing.”15 According to scholars such as Gilles Kepel, Wahhabism gained considerable influence in the Islamic world following a tripling in the price of oil in the mid- 1970s. The Saudi government thereafter began to spend tens of billions of dollars throughout the Islamic world to promote Wahhabism, a particularly virulent and militant version of supremacist Islamism.

All too often, this hate-filled ide- ology has led to violence and terror. For example, the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks in India, which killed 164 and wounded  308  over  the  Thanksgiv- ing weekend, including the Nariman Jewish Community Center known as the Mumbai Chabad House, were found to have been launched by members of Lashkar e-Taiba, a group that adheres to Saudi Arabia’s austere Wahhabi creed.16 Other examples of Islamist-inspired anti-Semitism leading to terror against Jews are, sadly, too numerous to list here.

The U.S. Commission on Interna- tional Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has long been at the forefront of monitoring the hatred disseminated in educational textbooks that originate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. What it has found is horrifying. For example, a ninth grade textbook published by the Saudi Min- istry of Education states that “the Jews and Christians are enemies of the believ- ers and they cannot approve of Muslims.” An eighth-grade text similarly states, “The apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the swine are infidels of the communion of Jesus and Christians.”17 As former USCIRF commissioner Nina Shea notes,

The kingdom is not just any country with problematic textbooks. As the controlling authority of the two holi- est shrines of Islam, Saudi Arabia is able to disseminate its religious materials among the millions making the hajj to Mecca each year. Such teachings can, in this context, make a great impression. In addition, Saudi textbooks are also posted on the Saudi Education Ministry’s website and are shipped and distributed by a vast Sunni infrastructure established with Saudi oil wealth to Muslim com- munities throughout the world. In his book, The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright asserts that while Saudis con- stitute only 1 percent of the world’s Muslims, they pay “90 percent of the expenses of the entire faith, over- riding other traditions of Islam.”18

Shea adds that despite four years of pressure from the U.S., and despite pledges from Riyadh that it had cleaned up its textbooks, the reality is that they have not. To their credit, American pub- lishing leaders have recently banded together to shed light on this important issue, stating that “hate speech is the pre- cursor to genocide, first you get to hate, and then you kill.”19


Canary in the coal mine

A better understanding of the link between anti-Semitism and Islamist movements and its supporters is just a first step. The next is to implement long- lasting solutions. These solutions will not only provide Europe and the West with a bulwark against the infiltration of anti-Semitic ideas from Islamist move- ments in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia, but will also serve to better secure us against the threat of mil- itant Islamism. For where anti-Semitism thrives, so too does the eventual threat against other faith minorities and the very foundations of democracy.

  1. “Support for Terror Wanes Among Muslim Pub- lics,” Pew Global Attitudes Project, July 14, 2005, http://www.pewgorg/files/pdf/248.pdf.
  2. Nina Shea and Jeanne Hoffman, “Teach Your Children Well: Classic Anti-Semitic Literature in Arab Schools,” Weekly Standard, August 14, 2006, http://www.hudsoorg/research/4569- teach-your-children-well-classic-anti-semitic-lit- erature-in-arab-schools-.
  3. Ya’akov Meron, “Why Jews Fled the Arab Coun- tries,” Middle East Quarterly 2, no. 3, September 1995, http://www.mefoorg/263/why-jews- fled-the-arab-countries.
  4. Martin Kramer, “The Salience of Islamic Anti- Semitism,“ Institute of Jewish Affairs Report 2, October 1995, http://www.martinkramer.org/ sandbox/reader/archives/the-salience-of-islamic- antisemitism/.
  5. lbid
  6. Ibidem
  7. Martin Kramer, “The Jihad Against the Jews,” Commentary, October 1994, 38-42, http://www. org/sandbox/reader/archives/the- jihad-against-the-jews/.
  8. Carl Schrag, “Malaysia’s Casual Anti-Semitism,” com, October 20, 2003, http://www.slate. com/articles/news_and_politics/international_ papers/2003/10/malaysias_casual_antisemi- tism.html.
  9. Kramer, “The Salience of Islamic Anti-Semitis”
  10. Ian Johnson, “Islamic Justice Finds a Foot- hold in Heart of Europe,” Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2005, http://www.wcom/articles/ SB112311814949504607.
  11. Barry Rubin, “Egypt Gets Its Khomeini,” Jerusa lem Post, February 20, 2011, http://rubinreports. blogspocom/2011/02/egypt-gets-its-khomeini- qaradawi.html.
  12. Sarah Lynch, “Egypt Revolution Unfinished, Qaradawi Tells Tahrir Masses,” Christian Sci- ence Monitor, February 18, 2011, http:// csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0218/ Egypt-revolution-unfinished-Qaradawi-tells- Tahrir-masses.
  13. “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Tops Anti-Semitic Rhetoric List,” JTA, December 28, 2012, http:// www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world- news/egypt-s-muslim-brotherhood-tops-anti- semitic-rhetoric-list-1.490639.
  14. “Fueling Terror,” Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, d., http://www.iags.org/fuel- ingterror.html.
  15. Mark Mazzetti and Salman Masood, “Pakistani Role is Suspected in Revealing S. Spy’s Name,” New York Times, December 17, 2010, http://www. nytimes.com/2010/12/18/world/asia/18pstan. html?_r=0.
  16. Robert Bernstein and Harold Evans, “Saudi Textbooks Incite Hate, Say Leaders of Ameri- can Publishing,”  The  Daily  Beast,  October 17, 2012, http://www.thedailybeast.com/arti- cles/2012/10/17/saudi-textbooks-incite-hate-say- leaders-in-american-publishing.html.
  1. Nina Shea and Bonnie Alldredge, “Saudi Text- books: Still Teaching Hatred,” National Review Online, June 29, 2010, http://hudson.org/ research/7125-saudi-textbooks-still-teaching- hatred.
  2. Robert Bernstein et al., “Saudi Textbooks Incite Hate, Say Leaders in American Publish- ing,” The Daily Beast, October 17, 2012, http:// www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/17/ saudi-textbooks-incite-hate-say-leaders-in-amer- ican-publishing.html.