Cultural Conversations – Summing Up: The Message, The Meetings & The Media
It seems appropriate to sum up our incredible 10 days with Muslim Reformist Dr Zuhdi Jasser and his wife Gada. As tour organisers and fellow road crew, Hilary and I recognise that none of the opportunities presented to us would have been possible without the sacrificial support of individual donors and of course Michael making sure we physically got from A-B in a very busy schedule. Thank you so much. And thanks to Zuhdi and Gada for making that big leap Downunder and becoming our real (rather than virtual) friends in freedom.
This update offers a snapshot of The Message, The Meetings and The Media and my latest blog Straddling the Right-Left Divide provides some personal reflections drawn from Zuhdi’s message on rekindling a passion for liberty and nation state as a remedy to that widening divide.
The Islam + Islamism Tour was advertised as Dr Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim Reformer, engaging with Australians in those ‘hard to have conversations.’ The message he brought to Australia was always going to be somewhat counter-culture and the timing of his visit, coinciding with the horror of the mosque attacks in New Zealand, would seem to make that conversation all the more ‘hard to have.’ Yet despite this, these important public conversations were had. In his own words:
“The best way to erode bigotry against Muslims is for our own communities to openly lead the defence of our respective homelands against Islamist ideological and security threats. Not only will Australia and our nations benefit and repair in the process, but Muslims who create reformist platforms could help push almost a quarter of the world’s population towards liberty…there is little difference between white supremacists fearful of ‘foreign invaders’ and militant Islamists who want to create a global caliphate and consider non-Muslim lands the ‘Land of War’ to be conquered.”
Jasser spoke of ‘tough love’ to address this and said Australia should not engage in the bigotry of low expectations toward its Muslim citizens. His was a message of liberty, love for your nation, and legacy. Clearly this was not just a message for Muslim communities. When it comes to terrorism, Jasser maintains Western nations are only on the defensive. They don’t have an offensive. It was evident he was much more passionate than the average Australian about offensively promoting liberty and the fruits of it; secular liberal democracy and universal human rights as part of a national identity future generations can be part of.
The Muslim Reform Movement unapologetically seek to foster a culture of liberty within the Islamic consciousness; an offensive against Islamist ideology (political Islam) and by extension, the terror it may produce. This requires dismantling the ideology of a supremacist Islamic state with its sharia laws which view blasphemy and apostasy as seditious and treasonous, and thereby punishable by ‘the state.’ Supremacism, whether it’s Islamist or white supremacism, is anti-liberty. This is why Reformists can call for a ‘jihad against jihad’ relegating the state concept to history and promoting a shared ‘Australianism’ or ‘Americanism:’ the rationale being if there’s no Islamic state theology there’s no theology of a military jihad.
After appearing on The Bolt Report 11 March 2019 highlighting Reformists ‘jihad against jihad’ Jasser faced somewhat of his own at the first public event in Melbourne the following evening. What was intended to be a civil public conversation between Jasser and Dr Yassir Morsi, La Trobe University about the ‘Merits of the Muslim Reform Movement deteriorated rapidly. Clearly unimpressed by the notion of a Muslim Reformation, Morsi said the conversation about separation of mosque and state as a remedy to radicalization was ‘reductionist and binary.’
Morsi appeared to argue that the roots of radicalisation were not embedded within an Islamist theocratic framework but stemmed from a multitude of external influencing factors, including external political and socio-economic factors. Jasser acknowledged the role of some external factors as ‘accelerants’ to radicalisation but identified the root cause as a separatist Islamist ideology resident within the House of Islam. Within or without – that was the question. Morsi tabled white privilege, racism,
Islamophobia and many other factors as cultural reasons some Muslims had adopted separatist responses toward living in the West. The conversation itself demonstrated the internal struggle within Islam Jasser was flagging. I certainly didn’t feel any white privilege when Morsi rejected the opportunity to even shake my hand on arrival. I discovered later this was not due to any religious reasons but because, as he wrote, I was ‘a bigot.’
The conversation about the merits of the Muslim Reform Movement continued the next evening with Dr Bernie Power joining Jasser to address all those very curly questions which often go unanswered. Power is well versed in the Muslim faith tradition, history and the Arabic language and knew just where to go. With all his passion and geopolitical bandwidth, it was the sheer honesty of Jasser in addressing the issues tabled that impacted attendees and offered some hope for the Muslim Reformation he was promoting.
Private meetings in Melbourne included a meeting with Labor’s Frank McGuire MP, the Member for Broadmeadows, his electorate identifying as 30% Muslim.
He also addressed private community group meetings and a luncheon with Liberal Friends of Israel before heading to Sydney. He was well received by all.
The Christchurch mosque attacks impacted the Sydney public event and some who were booked to come cancelled, while others never heard about the meeting due to media interviews being pulled out of a genuine sensitivity to the atrocity. However, Prof Mehmet Ozalp, who was also willing to engage with Jasser publicly, was very welcoming and hospitable and organised a shared meal in a delightful local restaurant before the evening commenced. It was a small and participatory audience and while there may have been a divergence in opinion on ways to address Islamism from these two men, they shared the use of the same term, Islamism, and concern about addressing it.
There were more well attended private meetings hosted by community groups in Sydney and a productive meeting with Sen Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.
Media appearances included interviews on The Bolt Report, 2 GB Radio with Alan Jones and Sky News Outsiders programme. Feature articles by Dr. Jasser also appeared in the Daily Telegraph 21 March and in the current edition of The Spectator Australia Magazine 23 March 2019 (republished on my website for easy access).
A radio interview with James Carleton on ABC ‘God Forbid’ was postponed due to sensitivity toward the NZ mosque attacks, as was an interview with Miranda Devine, and an interview with Richard Shumack, The Centre for Public Christianity Life and Faith podcast is still yet to air. An article was also published in the Australian Jewish News.
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My visit to Australia from the US was planned over a year ago for this week. In the immediate wake of the horrific, unspeakable act of terror at two mosques in Christchurch, I must first say to my Muslim brothers and sisters that I stand with you in the unqualified defence of religious freedom for every citizen in our nations. An attack on one faith is an attack on all. Terrorists target the vulnerable free amongst us because our liberty and its cohesive strength is the greatest obstacle to their supremacism and bigotry. We can never let their barbarism drive us apart.
Yes, I fear the rise of anti-Muslim bigotry. That sentiment is rising from many accelerants, not least of which is the West’s inability to resolve the growing conflict between the underpinnings of our liberal democracies and the theocracy of global Islamist movements. The best way to erode bigotry against Muslims is for our own communities to openly lead the defence of our respective homelands against Islamist ideological and security threats. Not only will Australia and our nations benefit and repair in the process, but Muslims who create reformist platforms could help push almost a quarter of the world’s population towards liberty.
Then, as our fellow citizens and social media platform contacts begin to see us as indispensable leaders for freedom, for our Constitution, and for our nation state identity, anti-Muslim bigotry will melt away. However, if we are contrarily seen as bystanders, perennial victims, in a domestic and global fight against theocrats within our faith and against the West, I fear the divide amongst us and within our nations will continue to widen.
Respect for any immigrant communities will not come by demand or by identity virtue-signaling. We as Muslims are a diverse community with many ideologies and theological interpretations, and yet, we are still looked upon as a monolith either all good or all bad. Both generalisations are false with an inherent bigotry of low expectations. The denial of this ideological diversity on various platforms only fuels bigotry from every direction. There is little difference between white supremacists fearful of ‘foreign invaders’ and militant Islamists who want to create a global caliphate and consider non-Muslim lands the ‘Land of War’ to be conquered.
Living in the lap of freedom, enjoying liberties our families in places like Syria can only dream of, I believe we have a unique opportunity and responsibility here in the West to take advantage of these liberties we are blessed with. For hundreds of years, inside the proverbial ‘House of Islam’ reformists have had little voice against the theological interpretations which inspire Islamist theocrats. For too long, the bandwidth of Muslim thought has been obstructed by Islamists who de-platform our speech through tyranny in Muslim majority nations and through identity politics in the West. It is time for liberal modern Muslims to advocate for secular democracies and universal human rights with the same vigour that Islamists advocate for a caliphate.
It was because my parents loved their faith that in 1966 they escaped the oppressive Ba’athist regime that turned Syria into an open-air prison in 1963. They immediately embraced Americanism and its attendant freedoms. In the small midwestern town I was raised, I never had a conflict between my faith and what it meant to be an American. My family has helped start, build and grow more than four mosques in the US. I served eleven years in the US Navy.
After 9/11 we formed the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and co-founded the Muslim Reform Movement in the West in order to confront the root cause of Islamist terror—political Islam. We see liberty and freedom and universal human rights of every individual equally under God and protected by our nation’s Constitution as central to our personal and national identity. We see its advocacy domestically sprouting roots globally as the solution to the oppressive tyrannies of most Muslim majority nations.
We seek to defend this identity of liberty through the Jeffersonian separation of mosque and state. It is time for our own faith community to live by the verse in the Qur’an in which God says to us, ‘Believers! Conduct yourselves with justice and bear true witness before God; even if it be against yourselves, your parents, or your kin’. (Qur’an 4:135).
For too long, our nations and we Muslims who live in the West have been diverted from working on actual legacy solutions to Islamist radicalism and instead retreated to balkanised, hyper-partisan corners. Radical Islamism is a Muslim problem that needs a Muslim solution. Militarily, we can only defer its byproducts, but not defeat it.
Make no mistake: many reform-minded Australian Muslims are left out of the conversation which is hogged instead by Islamist apologists and identity politicians. Both extremes, left and right, of identity politics are ripping our nations apart and the best way to begin to bring us back to our united roots is for patriotic Muslims to reclaim our love for our homeland by leading centuries-overdue reform against jihadists, misogynists, bigots and other tyrannical Islamist theocrats.
We must publicly engage and empower counter-Islamist pro-freedom leaders and movements within and outside the House of Islam. Islamist jihadism inspires not only rogue terror organisations, but it also inspires many established Muslim majority governments and their political movements. Today’s neo-caliphate is the OIC from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Qatar all the way to Turkey. These regimes directly inspire Islamist terrorism in order to intimidate the West into passivity and isolationism while legitimising their dictatorships. This week, Turkey’s President Erdogan horrifically used clips of the Christchurch terror to whip up his campaign rallies into a fervour against the West. Islamists will exploit any terror whenever they can.
We must break this cycle. Find our Muslim Reform Movement Declaration online and discuss its precepts with Muslims, or their leaders, about why they would or would not sign on to its principles. We believe it to be a firewall that clearly delineates the difference in values between those who are Islamist identity apologists and those who are patriotic Australians who just happen to be Muslim. It is about time that we all have this essential national conversation. If we cannot have it in the West, then where?
As the month of fasting, reflection and atonement of Ramadan ends tonight at sundown, we at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy would like to wish Muslims around the world “Eid Mubarak”(a blessed holiday) as tonight and tomorrow, we celebrate Eid al-Fitr, (the holiday of the feast) the celebration marking the close of Ramadan.
We hope that this month has allowed each of us to discover a renewed sense of spiritual solace. A time where we rededicated our ourselves to our families, our purpose, our humanity, our faith in our country, our duty to protect our nation, and our duty to protect our world from the radical savagery of militant Islamism.
AIFD has had many opportunities to share our mission during this time of sacrifice, reflection and spiritual growth and we thank those of you have offered your blessings and wishes for continued success and to those who continue to support our efforts through donations, with whom without, we could not exist.
Yours forever in liberty,
All of us at the,
American Islamic Forum for Democracy
“Omar is a byproduct of the Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups that coddled and developed her when she first came as a refugee from Somalia to live in Minnesota“.
CP CURRENT PAGE:VOICES
Saturday, May 18, 2019
Muslim Reform Movement founder opposes Omar, CAIR and Islamism abroad
By Steven Postal, Voices Contributor
I interviewed Dr. M Zuhdi Jasser in January 2017, July 2017, and September 2018 on a range of topics including Islamism and what he believes is its antidote, the Muslim Reform Movement. This is a follow-up interview.
Jasser is president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement (MRM), and author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith.” He is a practicing Muslim.
He is also an active physician and former U.S. Navy officer whose parents fled Syria in the 1960s, and host of the Blaze Radio Podcast “Reform This!” and founder of TakeBackIslam.com. Jasser and I discussed Islamism in the context of Reps. Omar and Tlaib, the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Brotherhood and developments in Sri Lanka.
Postal: You recently called Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar “Islamists.” Can you elaborate on why you think that is the case?
Jasser: Islamism is a political movement based on a common platform of ideas and worldview. Islamists are those who view domestic and foreign policy through the lens and world view of theocratic (Islamist) precepts. Reps. Tlaib’s and Omar’s positions on a host of issues are textbook Islamist. They are ideologues who see the world’s problems as caused by the West rather than by the tyrannies of Muslim countries and the theologies of the strains of Islam deeply needing reform and modernization.
Omar and Tlaib simply do not see Western interests as a force for good in the world. To that point, Omar and Tlaib have predictably defended Maduro’s Venezuela, Erdogan’s Turkey, and Qatar while reflexively demonizing Israel and the American military.
Postal: Rep. Ilhan Omar has recently been in the news for mocking how people refer to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah in a menacing tone, seemingly equating them with the U.S. military. She also callously referring to the perpetrators of 9-11 as “some people did something” at a speech to the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) where she erroneously stated that CAIR was founded “after 9-11” when in fact it was founded in 1994. Additionally, she has produced many anti-Semitic comments and has called Jewish White House Advisor Stephen Miller a “white nationalist.” An old tweet of hers recently resurfaced where she exaggerates the number of Somalis killed in a 1993 U.S. military operation, adding the hashtag “NotTodaySatan”. How should the public interpret her statements?
Jasser: These statements, in addition to Omar’s statements of trying to decrease the sentence of an Islamic State operative, rejecting the value of the U.S. government’s counter-terrorism programs, denying the significance of radicalization of Somali refugees from her own district, and fundraising for leading Islamist organizations like CAIR should leave no doubt that she is in fact an Islamist. Omar is a byproduct of the Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups that coddled and developed her when she first came as a refugee from Somalia to live in Minnesota.
She, like all Islamists believes the propaganda of our enemies. In fact, she leads with it. The hashtag referring to America as Satan says it all. Having joined the USS El Paso (LKA-117) as a general medical officer during its return from Operation Restore Hope in Somalia I was particularly offended by her tweets from 2017 that grossly exaggerated the numbers of and directly blamed Americans for the deaths of innocents, referring to us Americans as Satan. I highly doubt that she has any clue about what really happened to our serviceman that simply tried to bring food to help prevent massive famine in the year after she left Somalia and became a refugee. It is just unfathomable in its hypocrisy-the level of disdain she has for the country that she supposedly loves and gives her such opportunity.
Omar’ comments on Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and 9/11 minimize if not wholesale deny the global Islamist terror threat. Omar’s anti-Semitic canards, including her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which calls for the destruction of Israel, and her conspiracy theories about Jewish control and monies are classic Islamist supremacism.
Postal: Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes recently met with the American Muslims for Palestine, which an Illinois lawsuit alleges is a front for Hamas. Any thoughts on this?
Jasser: The Investigative Project on Terrorism and the Daily Caller have detailed the sordid connections seen with Rep. Tlaib and American Muslims for Palestine, a Hamas front group whose leaders met at her office on April 8, 2019. Joe Catron a longtime anti-Semite and extreme anti-Israel activist has openly supported terror organizations. Tlaib proudly photographed herself with Catron who has voiced love for Hezbollah on February 8, 2019 and who urged the terrorist group to launch rockets at Israel.
Tlaib gives voice to an Islamist supremacist movement that is a synergy between the Arab-Palestinian identity movement and the Hamas Islamist identity movement, both of which seek the destruction of Israel. So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that she proudly put out a social media photo of a sticky note pasted over Israel with the word “Palestine” written over it, and that she is a vocal supporter of the BDS movement. She also has accused Jews of having dual allegiance to Israel while stating that she considers herself “more Palestinian in the halls of Congress than [she is] anywhere in the country, in the world.”
Postal: CAIR was recently in the news for the recently uncovered anti-Semitic statements of its leaders including National Executive Director Nihad Awad, CAIR Minnesota’s Government Affairs Coordinator Abubakar Osman, and CAIR Minnesota Board member Abdul Basit. Meanwhile, CAIR openly opposes the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (S. 852) currently in the Senate. What are your thoughts on these developments?
Jasser: Not only is CAIR a byproduct of Hamas activists in the US from the 1990s, but it is also one of the most prominent Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups in the United States. Inherent in the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as its Palestinian branch, Hamas is a deep-seeded, toxic mixture of Jew hatred from Salafi-jihadi interpretations of scripture. Examples include the Hamas Charter that calls for Muslims to fight Jews to the death to bring about the Day of Judgement, and that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.” Arab racial fascism dehumanizes all non-Arabs, especially Jews. Those at the AIFD and the MRM seek to provide a Western, modern reform-minded alternative to this hatred.
Postal: CAIR also refers to an “Islamophobia Network” on its website that includes individuals and organizations. Included on the list is you, a practicing Muslim, and your organization AIFD, as well as ex-Muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Nonie Darwish. This list seems like Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC’s) 2016 publication A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists, which included Majid Nawaz, a practicing Muslim, and his reform-minded organization the Quilliam Foundation. The The Atlantic stated that the inclusion of Nawaz and Quilliam resembled “more like an attempt to police the discourse on Islam than a true inventory of anti-Muslim extremists.” Majid Nawaz sued SPLC, and won a multi-million dollar settlement. Do you see any similarities here?
Jasser: Very much so. John Rossomando with the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) connected the dots. IPT notes that the SPLC report was compiled with input from ReThink Media, the Center for New Community and MediaMatters. ReThink Media employed Corey Saylor, CAIR’s former national legislative affairs director and Director of their Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia. Saylor has literally spearheaded attempts to have me removed from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a federal commission. His Islamophobia Network could easily be considered by more radical, militant Islamists around the world to be a “hit list” of anti-Islam activists. Its grotesque libelous presentation is cut from the very same mold as the one his associates at ReThink Media would make for SPLC. Another common writer between SPLC and CAIR is Zainab Chaudary, a former civil rights coordinator for CAIR’s New Jersey chapter who was also part of ReThink Media’s Security and Rights Collaborative in 2016 when Nawaz was added to the SPLC’s list according to IPT. She openly acknowledges her work with SPLC.
It is very important here to note that this past few weeks, American Islamists like CAIR along with some in the American Left have been trying to suppress free speech criticism of Omar’s radical Islamist positions by claiming, hysterically, that such legitimate criticism is de facto incitement. Yet, they have through both SPLC and CAIR been leading purveyors of what militants often interpret as “hit” lists of individuals and groups they smear with the label “hate groups” and “bigots.” A few years after CAIR listed me as one of the American “Islamophobes,” the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) informed me that my name was listed in a detailed posting on an Syrian Arabic Jihadi Forum for Al Qaeda militants which was rife with material distributed by CAIR online. If a Muslim is found to have committed “Islamophobia,” this person is a “munafiq” (hypocrite) or “murtad” (apostate) committing the crime of “riddah” (apostasy, treason), which carries the death penalty under Sharia law as interpreted in Saudi Arabia and most Muslim majority countries.
There is no doubt the Atlantic was correct that this list by the SPLC or CAIR was an attempt to stifle criticism of Islam and control the discourse. There’s nothing more revealing than their inclusion of devout Muslims in this list. The world’s worst theocracies and Arab dictatorships will often imprison torture and kill citizens in the name of blasphemy and apostasy laws.
The SPLC deserved the settlement they had to provide Nawaz. It should be noted that their sister group in Britain, the so-called “Hope not Hate” had me and other Muslims also labeled in a list of “anti-Muslim extremists.” That list was also removed after rational activists began demanding answers.
Postal: How is the Muslim Reform Movement and its allies combatting Omar, Tlaib and CAIR on issues of anti-Semitism and Islamism more broadly?
Jasser: We at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and our greater coalition the Muslim Reform Movement consistently educate Americans about the threat of Islamism and the anti-Semitism of Islamists. We seek to confront the Islamist establishment on every issue and every battlefront possible. The rest of America cannot effectively confront the demagogic identity politics of these Islamists without us. We love our faith and what our chosen country America stands for at home and abroad. We also believe in the legitimacy and protection of the sovereignty of the democracy that is Israel and reject anti-Semitic canards and conspiracy theories. Opposing the Islamist establishment, we are a counter movement that is pro-American, pro-liberty, pro-freedom, pro-Israel and pro-Western.
We educate Americans through media, government testimony, university engagements, social media and publications that there is real ideological diversity thriving among American Muslims. Our leaders include Asra Nomani, Raheel Raza, Soraya Deen, Courtney Lonergan, and Shireen Qudosi among many others.
We also refuse to use the term “Islamophobia” because it is a term created to impose an anti-blasphemy consciousness in the West. Bigotry against Muslims that exists is not Islamophobia but anti-Muslim bigotry. Islam is an idea and it has no rights. Only human beings do. The word Islamophobia is a mechanism for suppressing criticisms of Islamists and their theocracy. We ask all politicians left and right to hold Muslims accountable to the same principles that they do all citizens regarding hate speech such as anti-Semitism, rather to the lesser standard of bigotry of low expectations.
Postal: President Trump is mulling declaring the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization. What are your thoughts on this?
Jasser: We at AIFD support the designation of the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). This is a group that has been responsible for the targeting of Christians, Jews, and dissidents, the persecution of minority Muslims, and the abuse, torture, and murder of women, gay people, and other marginalized groups. It has also made significant efforts to export its radical Islamist and Sharia supremacist ideology internationally. Its logo contains swords and the motto “Be ready…The Prophet is our leader, Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of God is our highest hope.” Those that believe that the Muslim Brotherhood is a non-violent and moderate organization are delusional.
With the recent calls by the Trump administration for making the MB an FTO, our AIFD renewed our call to make the Egyptian MB an FTO, as well as the MB in other nations such as Syria, Yemen, and Kuwait.
However, we need to be strategic with regards to the global “Ikhawni” or Brotherhood movement. I would compare it in the Cold War to fighting the militant version of communism as embodied in the Soviet threat, versus other versions of communism. Odds were that there were deep links between communist parties and global Soviet sympathies. But outlawing “communist parties” would have made counter-ideology and monitoring far more difficult and would have raised serious concerns regarding free speech protections of our Constitution. Turkey’s AKP, Tunisia’s Ennahda, and many other Islamist parties are part of the “Ikhwani” movement but are not as designatable as the branches in Egypt, Syria, Kuwait or Yemen. We will never defeat Islamism by declaring all these groups FTOs. Authoritarian regimes in the Middle East have proven that such designations often serve as arson to the Islamist fire.
People who equate my position with anti-Muslim bigotry are being dishonest. There is nothing more pro-Muslim than to begin making radical Islamist groups radioactive for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The Global Fight Against Islamism
Postal: What lessons, if any, can Americans, Muslim Reformers and their allies learn from the attacks in Sri Lanka?
Jasser: The lessons are sadly many of the same ones AIFD has preached since our formation in 2003. All we have ever had since 9-11 is at best a robust defense against whatever radical jihadist cell, group, movement or state arises to threaten us and our allies. We need an offense addressing what AIFD calls the “3 i’s” of Identity, Ijtihad, andInspiration. Until we figure out a comprehensive approach against both violent and non-violent Islamism, we are doomed to defeat.
First, we need to begin fighting against the Islamist “Identity” and for each nation’s secular national identity. Jihadists get young Muslims to identify with armed jihad and theocracy early. We need to counter that with a muscular liberalism of secular nation states. Second, we need to begin empowering Muslims who are fighting againstbackward interpretations of Islam and for modern reform-minded “ijtihad” (modern critical interpretation of Islamic scripture). And last, we need to begin “inspiring” Muslims to be fearless dissidents for freedom, liberty, democracy and universal human rights. It is no accident that Al Qaeda has called its magazines and sermons often by the name “Inspire.”
The small Sri Lankan cell not only engaged the Islamic State, but got training from them. They also apparently had contact with leading clerics across the Middle East like Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi in Qatar. This should remind everyone of the direct connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islamist groups.
The Islamic State has shifted focus to outside the Levant to Saudi Arabia (recent terror attempts), Afghanistan (recent Kabul terror attack), Congo, and now Sri Lanka. The fact that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released a video after five years of silence is another sign that he is trying to reestablish his presence, dominance, and his brand globally. The Islamic State may have been removed from Iraq and Syria, but it is still ideologically, financially, and operationally stronger than ever.
The author would like to thank Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser for participating in this interview.
To all our Muslim friends and supporters:
Tomorrow, Muslims around the world will begin our observance of the holy month of Ramadan. During this month, the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, all who are physically and mentally able to do so will abstain from all of both food and drink from dawn until sunset.
This fast is not one of sorrow, but of thankfulness: the month of Ramadan reminds us to give thanks for our blessings, while keeping the suffering in our prayers and doing what we can to help them.
Each Ramadan, we at AIFD are keenly aware of the sanctity and safety of this great nation which we call home, and which gives us the comfort and freedom to sincerely engage in the humble spiritual renewal that is Ramadan.
This Ramadan, just as we do every year, we also will reaffirm our commitment to advocate for all those persecuted on the basis of their faith or their choice to reject religion; those suffering from gender and honor-based violence; and to take firm action to end these injustices. We remain eternally committed to ending the suffering of those who remain suffering in Syria, and in other places where the diseases of fascism or of theocracy keep innocents oppressed. We are especially keenly aware this year of our continued and sadly ever increasing demand to confront the root causes of radical Islamism and its jihad. We will continue to pray this month to strengthen our resolve and empower our advocacy for freedom within all our communities.
We honor and hold sacred the fact that Ramadan symbolizes equality among Muslims and among all human beings.
For all those who fast out of free will and with sincere intention, we find common goodness and reward in it, and for all those who choose any way to commemorate this spiritual holy month of Ramadan we share with you in this communality.
May all your prayers and wishes for atonement that you seek form God through your fast and worship be heard and fulfilled.
May we pray to end forever the attacks against people of faith at home and across the planet. May our prayers and fasting build a wall of protection around all sentient human beings across the planet.
We are blessed to take this opportunity to wish Muslims worldwide a blessed and safe Ramadan, and a spiritually fulfilling fast.
From your team at the …
American Islamic Forum for Democracy
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After meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi earlier this month, President Trump has begun taking steps towards officially designating the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a foreign terrorist organization.
As a Muslim led organization that remains devoted to the preservation of the United States Constitution, Dr. M Zuhdi Jasser and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy stand in full support of this designation, one that would finally allow our nation to begin to address the root cause of the theocratic strain of Islam (or Islamism) and ultimately make us safer as a nation.
On July 11, 2018, Dr. Jasser testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security where he discussed the global threat of the Muslim Brotherhood and advocated in favor of the MB being designated a terrorist organization.
“No group embodies the threat of radical Islamism more than the Muslim Brotherhood, and no group runs deeper into the consciousness of global Islamism, especially in our Arab Sunni communities than the Muslim Brotherhood and its global network of affiliates and progeny across the world,” stated Jasser.
Dr. Jasser goes on to assert “there is nothing more pro-Muslim than designating them a terror group.” While we call for their “mothership” in Egypt and offshoots in Yemen, Syria, Kuwait and a few other places to be designated, our testimony takes a very nuanced approach in the West where their legacy groups operate under different byproduct names.
We reaffirm our position on the MB and fully support these measures that will prevent groups like the MB from continuing to take advantage of our unprecedented freedoms and excessively thrive in a manner that is often not possible anywhere else in the world.
Please take a moment to view Dr. Jasser’s full testimony where he discusses the Brotherhood’s origins, history, networks, ideologies, and direct connections to terrorism.
Another act of radical Islamist jihadist terror-worst since 9/11-has struck against religious freedom, diversity, and harmony. We grieve for all who suffer and give our prayers and resolve again to defeat all Islamists and their global jihad.
As we wait to get details of who all (beyond the Islamist homicide bombers) is behind these horrific acts, it bears noting that typically Islamist terror starts first with willing militant jihadists gathering in a cell and then they narrow in on vulnerable and symbolic targets.
Many will wring their hands trying to peg relevance to local politics or history in #SriLanka. However the global #jihad cares little about that, but that a coalesced jihadist cell wanted to wreak havoc on religious liberty and diversity somewhere in the planet.
The #GlobalJihad can only be defeated globally not locally! And can only be defeated with honest reforms AGAINST #Islamism #PoliticalIslam and FOR religious freedom and liberty and free speech!
Yours in liberty,
M Zuhdi Jasser
Muslim Reform Movement
American Islamic Forum for Democracy
by John Rossomando
April 22, 2019
The United States Army was the villain in the “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., wrote in a 2017 Twitter post.
Omar, a Somali native elected to Congress last fall, was responding to a tweet that falsely described the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu as the worst terrorist attack in Somali history. The original tweet noted that 19 American soldiers were killed and 73 American soldiers were wounded.
“In his selective memory, [the writer] forgets to also mention the thousands of Somalis killed by the American forces that day! #NotTodaySatan,” Omar wrote while still a Minnesota state legislator.
Omar has repeatedly generated controversy, largely for anti-Semitic statements about Israel which employed old canards about Jewish power and money. House leaders forced her to apologize in February after she tweeted “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” referring to American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) alleged spending and its purported influence on American policy.
A few fringe characters have reacted to the Omar controversies by making threats against the congresswoman. Omar is an elected official, however, and her viewpoints remain a fair point for debate despite those hateful acts.
A few fellow Democrats have also noted her anti-Semitism. Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath and Dan McCready, a candidate for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, have turned down contributions from Omar, The Daily Caller reported last Wednesday.
She also is building a record of inaccurate statements. Most recently, she incorrectly said that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was founded after 9/11, when “some people did something” and Muslim Americans faced new civil rights threats. Many critics saw the “some people did something” line as minimizing the magnitude of the al-Qaida attack on America. But as a basic fact, CAIR – her host that night – was formed in 1994 as an outgrowth of a Muslim Brotherhood-created Hamas support network in America.
Omar’s attack on U.S. soldiers involved in the “Black Hawk Down” incident appears to have gone unnoticed until now.
Her tweet saying that “thousands of Somalis [were] killed by the American forces” exaggerated the Somali death toll and omitted important context.
It completely missed the point of the U.S. involvement in Somalia, retired Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant, who was shot down in Mogadishu on Oct. 3, 1993 and held captive by the militia loyal to Somali warlord Gen. Mohammed Farah Aidid, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). The U.S. military was in Somalia as part of a humanitarian mission to save starving Somalis and protect food and aid from being stolen by warring factions.
Somali casualty counts vary dramatically, in part due to the nature of the battle. But few credible estimates place the figure anywhere near the “thousands” Omar claimed were killed.
Only 133 Somali militiamen died in the fighting with U.S. Rangers and Delta Force soldiers, Capt. Haad, a representative of the Somali National Alliance (SNA) said in a 2001 interview with Author Mark Bowden. He estimated 500 Somali deaths in his book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, considered the definitive account of the Battle of Mogadishu. Others put the Somali death toll closer to 1,000. A 2000 Rand Corporation report estimated 300 noncombatants were killed.
Higher estimates may be related to the swarm-like tactics used by thousands of Aidid’s clan members to overwhelm American forces. Women and children also attacked the U.S. troops, carrying everything from machine guns to knives and machetes.
“Losses taken on the Somali side came as a result of their attempts to ambush our ground convoy and flight of aircraft. Our forces, being vastly outnumbered, fought to save their own lives. All the Somali militia had to do was walk away, but they persisted,” Durant said.
Durant’s Black Hawk helicopter, code named “Super 6-4,” was shot down after a rocket-propelled grenade hit its tail rotor. Durant was injured and ran out of ammunition fighting back as a human wave of militia approached. Delta Force snipers Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon were killed when they joined him trying to keep the Somali militia at bay. Each was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Somali mob dragged their bodies through the streets of Mogadishu. Durant ultimately was captured and held by Aidid’s militia for 11 days before being released in a prisoner exchange.
Aidid, the mission’s target, was considered a prime culprit in worsening the suffering among Somalia’s people, Durant said. When the country’s government collapsed into anarchy in 1991, more than 300,000 Somalis fell victim to the subsequent famine.
“Relief organizations from the U.S. and our international partners went to Somalia to try to end the widespread suffering and death from starvation of hundreds of thousands of Somali people,” Durant said. “The mission was an overwhelming success. Without harming a single Somali or destroying any property the military force was able to provide security, open the supply lines and get food, medicine and assistance to the Somali people, effectively ending their suffering. Had the story ended there, Somalia could have gone down as one of the most successful peacekeeping efforts in our military’s history.”
President George H.W. Bush began “Operation Restore Hope” in December 1992, saying that he hoped to ease suffering and save lives. At least a quarter of a million people had died at that point due to famine, he said, and five times that number were in danger of dying without immediate action.
Aid workers faced assault, armed gangs hijacked food convoys and stole food after it was delivered, he said. Ships carrying aid were shelled.
“Only the United States has the global reach to place a large security force on the ground in such a distant place, quickly and efficiently, and save thousands of innocents from death,” Bush said.
“As a nation, we and our political leadership should be proud of what we did there,” Durant said. “We put our most precious resource on the line to help starving people. In return, my friends’ remains and those of my comrades were dragged through the streets. I do not hold all Somalis accountable for the actions of a few, but I certainly take issue with the remarks of Congresswoman Omar.”
Omar’s family fled the Somali civil war, initially taking refuge in Kenya before making it to the United States in 1995.
Durant isn’t the only veteran connected with the mission in Somalia to take offense with Omar’s tweet.
Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, was a Navy physician on the U.S.S. El Paso, which served in Operation Restore Hope in late July 1993, almost two months before the Battle of Mogadishu. He says he can’t watch the Black Hawk Down movie because he knew many people who served in the Somalia operation.
Omar’s 2017 comment “clarifies the narrative with which she speaks about America,” Jasser said. “Her reflexive response was that America killed thousands. I’m especially sensitive about this because I’m a member of the VFW because of my service.
“My ship deployed to Mogadishu, and we were there to help after a famine.”
Omar’s comment promotes the Islamist narrative that the American military is evil, and that, at best, the U.S. only looks out for itself instead of humanitarian interests, Jasser said.
“If anyone ended up killing people it was the response of Aidid’s guys that ended up doing that,” Jasser said. Omar’s criticism of U.S. soldiers is symptomatic of what he sees as her anti-Americanism.
“I’m particularly offended as an American and as a Muslim that nobody is holding her accountable for these radical views that really view our soldiers as the problem rather than the solution,” Jasser said. “She doesn’t see terror groups as an issue. She’s asked for lighter sentencing for ISIS war criminals. She ignores Al-Shabaab recruitment from her district – the highest in the U.S. – and fought our CVE programs there with CAIR.”
This worldview is even more concerning since Omar has been assigned to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which is tasked with legislation and oversight on international relations, including “war powers, treaties, executive agreements, and the deployment and use of United States Armed Forces; peacekeeping, peace enforcement, and enforcement of United Nations or other international sanctions; arms control and disarmament issues.”
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