Introduction: Thank you Chairman Perry and members of the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency for holding this very important hearing on “Identifying the Enemy: Radical Islamist Terror.” I am Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, President and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) based in Phoenix, Arizona. I am here today, because I could not feel more strongly that our current national and agency direction in combating Islamist inspired terrorism is deeply flawed and profoundly dangerous. As a devout Muslim who loves my faith, and loves my nation, the de-emphasis of “radical Islam” and the “Islamist” root cause of global Islamist terrorism is the greatest obstacle to both national harmony and national security. Wholesale denial of the truth by many in our government and political establishment has actually emboldened extremists on both sides of this debate: both radical Islamists and anti-Muslim fascists.
Neither Islam nor Muslims are monolithic and should not be treated as such by anyone – much less our government and media. Please understand it is as equally foolhardy in counter-terrorism and counter-radicalization work to refuse to acknowledge the role of political Islam in the threat as it is to villainize the whole of Islam and all Muslims. The majority of Americans are smart enough to understand that to say the House of “Islam has no problems” is just as problematic as declaring that “Islam, and all Muslims, are the problem”. I am here to tell you that our national security policy of refusing to say that “Islam currently has a problem” is dangerous. This surrender, which began just after 9-11, has chartered a course towards failure. It has hamstrung our homeland security heroes from addressing any of the most central Islamist precursors of militant Islamists. If the agency actually emphasized the central role of radical Islamism and its attendant theopolitical ideologies, it would shift the entire axis of our agency apparatus toward once and for all beginning to actually address, expose, and engage the root cause of the theocratic strains of Islam (or Islamism) which would begin to make us safer. So-called Violent Extremism (VE) is simply an endpoint of a common supremacist ideology that at its root is theo-political and is a radicalization process that occurs over months to years and is far easier to publicly monitor than waiting for guess work on “Violent Extremism”.
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) wishes our fellow Muslims around the world a blessed and fulfilling Ramadan. For those who are fasting, may your fasts be easy.
The fast of Ramadan is intended to remind us of those who are less fortunate, and to bring us closer to God in thankfulness and compassion. Ramadan is about more than just abstaining from food during daylight hours, however. It is also a month of reflection and revelation, during which Muslims contemplate scripture, share their blessings with those in need, and come together in fellowship and family.
This Ramadan, we at AIFD extend our most heartfelt and fervent wishes for a blessed month to all Muslims – including those who cannot fast. In addition, we hold in our thoughts and prayers all of those who are hungry not out of religious observance, but because they do not have enough to eat; those who are marginalized and forgotten; those who do not have family with which to break their fasts and celebrate the blessings of Ramadan; those who are serving our country domestically and abroad; those who are struggling with their faith; those who are under siege by dictators and theocrats; and, of course, all of those still suffering in Syria, which remains under the boot of the genocidal monster, Bashar al-Assad.
Wherever you are in your faith journey, we invite you to join us in a commitment to continue challenging the systems of oppression which subjugate both Muslims and non-Muslims, and to fast from any complacency or fear you may experience in your commitment to resist Islamism and its ills.
As we break our fasts tonight, the first night of Ramadan, we will thank and ask God for protection for both Muslims and non-Muslims around the world who hunger for mercy, for compassion and for justice. May our Ramadan increase our faith, our mindfulness, and our sense of community.
We at AIFD are heartbroken to learn of the attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Reports indicate that Omar Saddiqui Mateen, a U.S. citizen, carried out an attack on Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In what is being called the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, at least fifty people are dead. Many other are still in the hospital, some in surgery as medical professionals are attempting to save their lives.
Earliest reports are naming Omar Saddique Mateen, a U.S. born Afghan-American, as the shooter who targeted the club last night.
As the investigation continues, we send our love and prayers to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims, and to the LGBTQ community. Every human being deserves to live safely, as they are, and without fear for their safety. The LGBTQ community has always been at the forefront of so many fights for human rights – including the fight against anti-Muslim bigotry. Tragically, the LGBTQ community has also long been a primary target of radical Islamist networks and governments across the planet.
We at AIFD stand unequivocally on the side of individual freedom and for the protection of LGBTQ people of all faiths and none. Make no mistake. We are again horrifically reminded that our nation and the free world are in a long war that has been declared upon us by global militant Islamists and their Salafi-Jihadi ideology. Understanding this ideology demands that we finally move beyond the false ‘lone wolf’ and ‘violent extremism’ narrative and counter the enemy’s ideology of Islamism and its jihadism.
It is said that in the month of Ramadan, the “devil is in chains,” as the Muslim community focuses on bettering itself. However, it is clear that evil was behind Mateen’s attack last night. We Muslims must triple down on acknowledging the deep reforms necessary and the responsibility of every Muslim in countering the ideologies that inspire these Islamist savages.
We will keep the Orlando community and all affected in our hearts and prayers as this investigation unfolds.
To achieve our mission we need your help, together we can lead the conversation and movement
We need your financial support to continue confronting the ideologies of political Islam
© Copyright 2016 American Islamic Forum for Democracy