To all of our Muslim friends, members, and supporters,
Those of us at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy wish you a most Blessed Eid al-Adha (Holiday of the Sacrifice) on this 10th day of Zul-Hijjah, Sunday, August 11th, 2019.
May this holiday inspire each of us to increase our awareness of and gratitude for the many blessings we have been given as well as the enormous responsibility we have to serve and aid others. We are so proud of our many accomplishments and programs that our community at AIFD and the Muslim Reform Movement continue to do every day.
We will continue to keep you up to date on our latest as it happens here! We are so blessed to have all of your support and community.
Once again our nation finds itself horrified by the continued and increasing mass shootings here in the United States with over 21 to date. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and families of all those involved who, like us, are filled with questions that will never be answered.
May we, as brothers and sisters in humanity, use this Eid al-Adha to grow closer to each other and to our Creator, and seize this opportunity to recommit ourselves to the universal values of human rights, individual liberty, and love for all mankind.
At the core of being American is religious liberty to celebrate our most spiritually fulfilling of days. And we hope to continue to live up to our responsibilities to keep our nation free and open to unrestricted worship.
Enjoy your families, communities, and nation on this day and may all of your prayers and supplications be accepted. May the Hajj (pilgrimage) of all those who performed it this year also be accepted.
Yours forever in liberty,
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Muslim Reformers Warn of Islamists’ Political Designs
by Benjamin Baird
July 25, 2019
The Middle East Forum has launched its Islamism in Politics (IIP) project to monitor and challenge Islamist political activity, and to promote moderate Muslim interests in its stead. The significance of that mandate was made clear this week, when Muslim politicians, activists, Imams, and scholars gathered in Washington D.C. to convene the inaugural “Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy,” hosted by the 501(c)3 nonprofit Muslim Caucus Educational Collective.
Held on July 23-24, 2019, the conference made headlines after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) denounced Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) President Ani Zonneveld for asking a question about efforts to combat the illegal practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Omar called the question “appalling” and said she was “disgusted” that she should have to repeatedly condemn the procedure, which reportedly affects 99 percent of Somali women at trauma centers in the congresswoman’s own district.
“Even though Muslims are questioned constantly about things by non-Muslims with ill-Intent, the same should not be assumed for Muslims who are genuinely trying to advocate for issues of deep concern to our community,” Zonneveld later wrote in a public statement. “We are not the enemy.”
Nevertheless, the Muslim Collective was promoted in the press as a unifying event that would bring together a broad spectrum of political and religious views. Event organizers promised “to bring to light the many political and ideological differences between various American Muslim constituencies.”
However, critics contend that the conference was merely a platform for existing Islamist groups to organize with a new generation of Muslim politicians and activists. Reformist Muslims complain that they have been politically excluded in favor of a hardline Islamist minority which falsely claims to represent all Muslims.
These moderates and reformers, who reject Islamism and hold diverse political opinions, have been politically marginalized by Islamist-controlled Muslim institutions. Following the conference, several of these Muslim reformers have issued public statements warning of the unrepresentative nature of the Muslim Collective and the underlying Islamist agenda it served to advance:
Rabia Kazan, President, Middle Eastern Women’s Coalition, award-winning women’s rights activist, and author of The Angels of Tehran
The first annual “Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy” conference promised to “highlight the broad spectrum of our community and the issues that impact us on a daily basis.” In reality, this event was designed to legitimize and empower a very specific political and religious worldview that is at odds with many Muslim Americans and Middle Eastern immigrants. These are the same Islamist actors and organizations that consistently claim to speak for Muslim and Middle Eastern communities in America, but in fact represent an extremist minority.
The issues that are central to the Middle Eastern Women’s Coalition — Sharia Law, child marriages, Christian persecution, genital mutilations, anti-Semitism, and honor killings — were intentionally disregarded by the conference participants. When asked to comment on just one of these issues, Rep. Ilhan Omar responded by calling the question “appalling” and scolded the attendee who dared to pose it.
A Muslim Caucus that fails to address some of the most salient needs of Muslim women cannot claim to be a “collective.” The Middle Eastern Women’s Coalition condemns this conference and its extremist participants.
M. Zuhdi Jasser, President, American Islamic Forum for Democracy and co-Founder of the Muslim Reform Movement and author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam”
I see political activism in Washington and on my local level here through the lens of my American identity, infused by my personal morals, ethics, and values. Certainly, faith plays a role in that but never as a “collective” identity. That faith-based collectivization of any lobbying effort only serves to fuel Islamist movements which I see as our primary cancer in radicalizing our co-religionists.
Now, when the our government, media, or other faith communities, for example, seek input from American Muslim activists, that should be ideologically diverse across the spectrum of American Muslim ideological diversity. Thus, that should include Islamist and non-Islamist activists with equal seats at the table. This collective conference seems to be led predominantly — if not exclusively — by Islamists.
I reject the Islamist collectivist lobbying premise whether it is on the Right or the Left. When I lobby my representatives, my faith identity is of no consequence. And when I go to pray at the mosque, the political identity of those with whom I pray side-by-side should also be of no consequence.
In essence, I reject the entire premise of this Collective conference, and I find their effort to proclaim “Muslim power” to be offensive and antithetical to both my faith values and my Americanism.
This conference and its verbiage could have been lifted from the founding documents of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, and the Khomeinists of Iran.
Shireen Qudosi, National Correspondent, Clarion Project, Muslim Reformer
It’s alarming to see organized American Islamists continue to push into political engagement through the filter of religious identity. We are Americans first and foremost, and faith should always remain a private matter. This holds especially true for Congressional leaders like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who as elected leaders have a duty to represent their districts. Neither they, nor the individuals or organizations participating in the theatre that is the Muslim Caucus, are an honest representation of American Muslim voices.
In fact, these speakers and the Islamist-supremacist interests they represent go out of their way to crush minority and dissenting voices within the American Muslim community. This is a known fact in our communities. Events like Muslim Caucus Day offer a two-pronged strategy for Islamists. First, it presses into the public mind the monolithic view — the Islamist propaganda — of what it means to be Muslim. Second, the politicization of our faith churns future protest opportunities for Islamists when policies inevitably address Islam and Muslims.
Islamism is a parasite that needs Western democracy as its host. In America, they’ve found a willing host that through its own desperate need to be tolerant and inclusive, is willing to be depleted by entertaining crafted, well camouflaged extremists.
Soraya M. Deen, Founder of The Muslim Women Speakers, international activist, community organizer, and interfaith advocate
It is sad to see that we are dividing and building walls around us. We must be an American National Caucus. Any party based on religion, ethnicity and identity spells gloom and doom. A peek into history will reveal that such dangerous trends emboldens Islamists.
What’s next — American Islamic Caucus? The founders of this organization must focus on reform in the Muslim world. That might ensure democracy and an end to violent extremism that is rocking our world.
Benjamin Baird is the Islamism in Politics project coordinator at the The Middle Forum.
AZ Mirror defames Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
By Mike Kassab
As a member of the Board of Directors for the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and an American Muslim activist of Syrian origin, after reading the July 23, 2019 defamatory editorial posted at AZ Mirror, I felt compelled to pen a defense of our Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. Contrary to the false insinuations of the post, Mr. Montgomery is quite respected and has meant a great deal to many Muslims like myself living in Arizona.
In that editorial, AZ Mirror states, “Montgomery has fostered anti-Muslim bias and shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court,”. The writer attempts to falsely and maliciously depict Mr. Montgomery as an anti-Muslim bigot. The website couldn’t even get the biography of the author, Tabark Abdelhabib, truthfully. She represents herself simply as a student at Arizona State University but neglects to disclose her position as an intern for the Islamist organization and Muslim Brotherhood legacy group- Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)- an organization with very questionable history, foreign ties, and Hamas sympathies.
Over the past several years, AIFD’s president, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser and our leadership have had the honor of working with Mr. Montgomery on issues related to interfaith relations, counter-radicalization, counter-terrorism, national security, and a host of other issues in Arizona and nationally. As Muslims dedicated to a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting radicalization within the Islamic community, we have come to personally know Mr. Montgomery as a meticulously honest, humble man of integrity.
As reformist Muslims who stand on the frontlines in the battle against Islamism, we honor Mr. Montgomery’s recognition of the need to provide training to prosecutors and local law enforcement on radical Islamist terror and its ideology. The implication that Mr. Montgomery has fostered bigotry against Muslims in advocating for training that would enable law enforcement to identify the existential threats our community faces is as absurd as it is dishonest.
The author also indicates she addressed the Judicial Selection Commission on behalf of the Muslim community where she allegedly stated, “instead of shielding us from hate, Bill Montgomery in 2014 brought the hate to our homes.” As a Muslim led organization, Dr. Jasser and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy reject the author’s claim that she represents the Muslim community, and we thank Mr. Montgomery for his diligence in understanding the complex nature of the threat we face.
CAIR’s and by extension, the author’s baseless attacks on Mr. Montgomery’s character are founded in nothing more than their fear of being exposed as the Islamist insurgents they are, and Dr. Jasser vehemently opposes their ongoing, deceptive efforts to libel Mr. Montgomery and prohibit him from being recognized by his peers with positions of leadership in our community.
We at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy commend Mr. Montgomery for his impressive record of honorable service to the United States and the people of Arizona, and we can think of no one who more embodies the trust and confidence Arizonans need to have in our highest court than Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
Mike Kassab is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. He is a business leader and entrepreneur in Tempe, Arizona and has lived in Maricopa County for over 20 years.
AMERICAN ISLAMIC FORUM FOR DEMOCRACY
July 25, 2019
2:30 PM ET
If Islamism (political Islam) was a sport, the convening members of the Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy Conference in Washington, D.C. this week would be in the American Islamist Olympics finals, the dream teams of Islamist all-stars from a host of American Islamist lobbying groups.
Gone are the days of hidden dissimulation, or “taqqiya,” operating under elusive conference titles like “reviving the Islamic spirit” or “social justice,” or “fighting Islamophobia.” Now this new “Muslim Caucus” openly seeks Muslim power and all of whatever that means to them.
How fitting that the “Muslim Caucus Education Collective’s” slogan reads “Muslim Americans Organizing to Win?” Their homepage description in fact states:
“This is our moment to come together and organize as one constituency, bridge traditional advocacy, and policy organizations and grassroots groups to work together in building Muslim American Electoral Power at the local, state, and national level to build our power beyond 2020.”
That verbiage is the “sine qua non” of political Islam and its attendant Islamist movements. Hassan al-Banna (Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood founder), Mawlana Maududi (Pakistani founder of Jamaat e-Islami), Recep Erdogan (Head of Turkey’s AKP) or Ayatollah Khomeinei (Head of Iran’s Islamic Supreme Council) would all be so proud.
These Americans may try to claim stark divisions with Islamism’s founding fathers, but essentially, their attempt to collectivize and empower Muslims as one political and national identity sprouts directly from the seeds of 20th century political Islam and is undergirded by most Islamic teachings and interpretations of sharia that are theocratic or Islamist. The classically liberal anti-Islamist reformists are a minority among Muslim leaders but we exist and are the only means to defeat Islamist movements.
Attendees at this conference came in buoyed by a sycophantic Leftist media anesthetized by identity politics, and also buoyed by the unrepentant unchecked Islamist radicalism of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib. Component organizations of their “collective” like the notorious Hamas sympathizing, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) are now marketing their fundraisers as rooted in building “Muslim power.”
This theocratic tyranny is only viable as an Orwellian collective when it brainwashes Muslims to believe that the Islamic faith is a single political, legal, cultural, and governmental ideology, state, and global caliphate — in other words — full throated Islamism. The indoctrination begins as a political collective.
For anyone just now paying attention to this “Muslim Collective,” we Arab or Muslim Americans have seen this show before. It is no exaggeration to say that this conference was essentially the founding of a new American political party. In Egypt, it is the Muslim Brotherhood. In Iran, it’s the Khomeinists, In Pakistan, it’s the Jamaat e-Islamiya. In the United States, it’s the Muslim Caucus Education Collective.
We at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) have been laser focused since 2003 on our mission to “protect the U.S. Constitution, freedom, and liberty through the separation of mosque and state.” To that end we convened in 2015 a coalition of anti-Islamist reformers we all dubbed, the Muslim Reform Movement. Most of us would have nothing to do with anything called a “Muslim collective.”
While catering to their favorite collectivist identity group bloc, 2020 Democratic Party hopefuls are tripping over themselves to attend this “Islamist Constitutional Convention.” What a great place for the Democratic Party to float lies about America while they further radicalize Muslims with contrived “Muslim bans” and “deportation of citizens.”
The “Red-Green Axis,” from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Omar in the U.S. to Nicolas Maduro and Erdogan abroad, contrives “Islamophobia” as bigotry with generations of cooperation at the United Nations. American Islamists are now in high gear to kindle that in the Halls of Congress and with presidential hopefuls.
Some naysayers may say that any “faith group” is by definition a “collective.” There are some legitimate functions of a faith collective that survive modernity and liberalism. After we Muslims abandon Islamism with deep reforms, I see that collective circumscribed to recognition of the authenticity of the Arabic script of the Quran (with vast division on interpretation), to our faith calendar and holidays, and to performance of the Hajj (pilgrimage) to name a few.
But even in our worship services, mosques are better served with more division, not less. Real diversity is not ethnic nor racial. It will be seen in new diverse schools of thought rooted in modernity rather than the few dominant ones now rooted in the 12th century.
We tell our Muslim youth in our Muslim Liberty Project at AIFD to see their political activism whether locally or nationally primarily through the lens of their American identity which is infused by their personal morals, ethics, and values. Certainly, faith plays a role in that, but never as a political “collective” identity. Islam is in a very different time in our faith’s historical arc at this time than that of other religions in the west. We still have not defeated the theocrats that dominate our faith leadership across the planet.
It is important to note that when our government, media, and interfaith communities do seek input from American Muslim activists and thought leaders, it should first and foremost be ideologically diverse and inclusive across the spectrum of American Muslim ideologies both Islamist and anti-Islamist.
This collective conference or Muslim Caucus this week seems to be led predominantly by Islamists with rare exception who matter little in a conference whose very existence defines Islamism. This is not just because they are all of the Left. Muslim Republican collectivism would also make no sense unless your mission is to empower Islamists. Islamist groups like the “Republic Muslim Coalition” are just as dangerous and separatist on the right as these are on the left. Infusing Islamist proclivities into politics whether right or left is disastrous for freedom and liberty regardless of what side of the aisle.
When we lobby our representatives, our specific faith identity or strain is of no consequence. Similarly, when we go to pray at the mosque, the political identity of those with whom we pray, side by side, should also be of no consequence.
In essence, I and many reformed, westernized, patriotic American Muslims reject the entire premise of this Muslim collective conference. This “collective’s” effort to proclaim and invoke “Muslim power” is offensive and antithetical to both our faith values and our Americanism.
This domestic and global battle within the House of Islam is not just about the political activism of a few million Muslims in America. The success or failure of American Islamists will impact the confidence of Islamist movements across the planet whether political or militant. Omar is already becoming an Islamist icon on Qatar’s al Jazeera and Iran’s PressTV.
This is all especially poignant given the context of where Islam and Muslims are in their legal, social, political, and cultural history at 1,440 years old. The radical, bigoted ideas of members of Congress like Omar and Tlaib are not created in a vacuum. They are byproducts of an Islamist farm team in America spanning the spectrum from non-violent to violent. Their “Muslim collective” is their defining flag. It is their party.
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