July 25, 2019: Muslim Reformers Warn of Islamists’ Political Designs

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.

July 26, 2019: AZ Mirror defames Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery

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.

July 25, 2019: Daily Caller – JASSER: American Islamists Come Out To ‘Party’

ZUHDI JASSER
AMERICAN ISLAMIC FORUM FOR DEMOCRACY
July 25, 2019
2:30 PM ET

JASSER: American Islamists Come Out To ‘Party’

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.

May 18, 2019: “Muslim Reform Movement founder opposes Omar, CAIR and Islamism abroad.” interview by Steve Postal, Christian Post

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 2017July 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.

Domestic Developments

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.

9/13/2018: The Federalist: “Reformer: New Mexico terrorist camp puts American Muslim in defining moment”

[AIFD Editorial]

By 
 13, 2018

Reformer: New Mexico Terrorist Camp Puts American Muslims In A ‘Defining Moment’

‘How American Muslims learn and respond to the slippery slope of non-violent Islamism and its inherent separatism … is critical.’

I interviewed Dr. M Zuhdi Jasser in January and July of 2017 on 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 recent events in New Mexico, and developments in Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

Islamism in New Mexico
Recently, five defendants in a New Mexico case, where authorities found 11 starving children and weapons in a remote compound, have appeared before a federal judge. Local authorities had raided the compound on August 3, and local prosecutors alleged that the accused, now facing federal charges, were training the 11 children to commit school shootings.

Postal: Should the public view the New Mexico compound incident as a case of Islamism, in addition to a child abuse (or neglect), or a gun violence case?

Jasser: Yes. Court records identified that children were being starved and trained in jihad to imminently shoot up a school and a hospital. After the state of New Mexico incredulously dropped the ball and charges were dismissed as time ran out on them, the FBI and DOJ have since moved in with their own charges against the cell leaders. Thankfully, the federal government now controls the fate of the cell.

Following the initial raid, authorities confirmed that the body of the three-year-old found in the compound was that of Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj. Abdul-Hani Wahhaj is the grandson of radical Islamist preacher Siraj Ibn Wahhaj Sr. Out of the five suspects arrested in this case, one is Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s son, and another two are his daughters.

Postal: But to date, it doesn’t appear that Wahhaj Sr. was involved with the compound. So why is the connection to Wahhaj Sr. important?

Jasser: This case and what happened with the younger generation of the Wahhaj family will likely demonstrate the pathways of how American Muslims are often radicalized.

Granted, there is no evidence that the senior Siraj Wahhaj had anything to do with the New Mexico compound and his children’s jihadi terror training camp. In a Facebook video the day after the story broke, he stated that he “want[ed] to find out what happened, what made [his] children act in such a dramatic way.” I believe that his non-violent Islamist preaching spawned the separatist, violent Islamism that we saw in the New Mexico compound.

Siraj Wahhaj Sr.’s sordid history of association with radical Islamism is well known. I have been calling for the ostracization of Siraj Wahhaj Sr. since I personally publicly called him out in the one and only meeting of the Islamic Society of North America I had the misfortune of attending in 1995. At that meeting, I stood up and protested after he seditiously called for Muslims to actively seek the replacement of the “godless” man-made Constitution with the Qur’an. I described this in depth in my 2012 book, “A Battle for the Soul of Islam.”

He is a leading fundraiser and preacher for major American Islamist organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Muslim American Society, and the Islamic Society of North America. The head of the American Muslim Council, the organization that invited him to give the first Muslim invocation to the U.S. Congress in 1991, is still serving time for trafficking over $300,000 cash from Libyan dictator Gaddafi in a plot to assassinate then Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in addition to other terror finance charges.

Since the New Mexico jihadi compound story broke, the mainstream media has gone to great lengths to avoid any in-depth coverage of this story. I believe the mainstream media is protecting the senior Wahhaj’s reputation as well as that of the major network of organizations to which he is tied. Had Siraj Wahhaj Sr. not been related to this story, the coverage would have been very different.

Postal: What should Americans learn from the New Mexico case?

Jasser: I believe the American Muslim community is at a defining moment. How American Muslims learn and respond to the slippery slope of non-violent Islamism and its inherent separatism, as evidenced in the Wahhaj family, is critical. Will we remain in hopeless denial of the evils of Islamism? Will we as a diverse ideological community continue to allow the Islamist “establishment” to dominate and oppress our communities? Or will we finally garner the strength to stand up to Islamism and its separatism?

The Wahhaj family patriarch planted the seeds of Islamist separatism for decades. His hateful rhetoric spreads both within his family and in leadership positions throughout our communities. We can stay silent and enable this radicalization process, or we can fight with every fiber of our being against Islamist brainwashing.

The Global Fight Against Islamism: Syria
Postal: In the midst of what many are predicting to be an imminent massacre against the last major rebel stronghold in Idlib, many believe that President Bashar al Assad has emerged victorious in Syria. He has consolidated his power on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, following the end of the Southern Syrian Offensive on July 31 and the re-capture of Daara and Quneitra Provinces. Possibly in recognition of a return to the status quo, Israel has frozen its multi-year, multi-million-dollar aid program to Syrian citizens, dubbed “Operation Good Neighbor,” and has begun to dismantle its field clinic used to treat those wounded in the Syrian conflict.

In one view, Assad’s victory is a victory against Islamism, as Assad’s gains come at the expense of Islamist groups like the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front. However, Assad has committed mass atrocities against his own people. How should those in the West make sense of everything?

Jasser: There is no victory for anyone in Syria. ISIS may be nearly decimated, but the root causes that created ISIS are larger than ever inside and outside Syria. Syria has been a police state since 1963 and basically an open-air prison for anyone daring to be human.

I have previously laid out how the Syrian regime’s over 50-year Ba’athist and Assadist cauldron of evil played a primary role in the radicalization of large swaths of their population. As I stated in 2016, if Assad’s killing machines were serious about destroying ISIS and radical Islamists alone, these groups would never have grown from nothing in 2013 and Assad, Russia and Iran would have dispensed with them far more quickly. Instead, per the Arab tyrant playbook, the Islamist groups remained a foil that Assad slowly walled off as he exterminated over 600,000 Sunnis and displaced over 10 million, one half of the Syrian population.

Sadly, Islamism and its byproducts from the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to the Jubhat al-Nusra and over 200 other radical Islamist offshoots are stronger than ever in the hearts and minds of many Syrians. This is because the Syrian police state, its tyranny, and the means by which Assad and his Iranian radical Islamist (Khomeinist) allies effectively imperialized Syria.

Assad’s secularism is a veneer, as his masters are the Shi’a militant Islamists out of Tehran and their Hezbollah allies. The West’s whack-a-mole process against jihadist groups in Syria, Iraq, and beyond will be unsuccessful long-term as long as the inspiration of non-violent and violent Islamism continues.

Postal: Where did the Syrian Revolution go wrong?

Jasser: After seven years of revolution, Syria has gone from seeing its diverse peaceful revolution with secular democratic yearnings deteriorate into one that is embracing the role of a radical Iranian satellite. Many opportunities were missed in Syria, one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse nations in the Middle East. Diversity could have been Syria’s democratic strength.

Instead, Assad weaponized its diversity to become his and Iran’s greatest asset. Syria has now become an even greater Khomeinist state fulfilling the Shi’a crescent dreams of Ayatollah Khamenei against the Sunnis and the West. Lost in the seven years were many opportunities for a more hopeful attempt at democracy in lieu of twin evils of Shi’a and Sunni extremism.

Postal: What do you think the future holds for Syria?

Jasser: First, in observing the carnage in Syria, many have missed the silver lining that is Tunisia, as essentially a democratic party dealt the Islamists a peaceful loss at the ballot box. In Tunisia, the strongman walked away from that society in 2011 without decimating the majority of the population like Assad has. The Syrian revolution and government tore apart its society, whereas this was not the case in Tunisia.

Despite all that I mentioned I still believe Syrians want to be free. I believe that the humanity of the motherland from which my parents escaped in 1966 will find a way to defeat both its Islamist and Assadist oppressors. In the end, freedom and liberty will win out.

Hopefully, this generation will not be lost. As another massacre now looms in Idlib, there is very little positive outlook for the Syrian people in the short term. In the long term, after the Iranian revolution topples the Khomeinists, Assad’s regime will be next. I pray that our families and friends stay safe and weather the storms to one day be free.

The Global Fight Against Islamism: Turkey and Iran
Postal: What ramifications, if any, do recent U.S. sanctions have for the liberal citizens and Islamist regimes in Turkey and Iran?

Jasser: The far left dogma that sanctions against these countries supposedly harm the people is beyond ignorant. Such rationale ignores the realities of the socialist economies of these Islamist tyrannies. The sanctions relief of President Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal was a lifeline for the ruling tyrants alone. The Iranian people were motivated to revolt en masse across the country beginning in December 2017 because they saw that their government was taking hundreds of billions of dollars from the West to spread terror in Syria, Yemen and across the region while doing nothing for the people.

They went to the streets and chanted for the government to stop sending their money abroad and to give them the freedom to work and be paid. The renewed U.S. sanctions stopped the lifeblood of the Khomeinist regime and in fact gave the people newfound respect and support from the West instead of coddling their oppressors.

Sanctions are the best way to put pressure on the Islamist regime, in addition to containing its hegemony in the region. The Iranian riyal has plummeted upwards of 60 percent in the past few months. The combination of a growing revolution, sanctions, and withdrawal of Western corporations from Iran has sent their currency into a death spiral. The clerics are of course blaming the West. But this brewing revolution is one calling for religious freedom against the Islamist religious establishment, rather than just for economic reforms. I think for this reason, the revolution we now see in Iran has staying power and the regime’s days are numbered.

As for Turkey, similarly, [President] Erdogan is tyrannically doing everything he can to consolidate power against the secular Turkish establishment in the government, military, academia, and media. The sanctions against him and his regime have been long overdue and are a perfect message to send to the people of Turkey that we are on their side and will no longer treat their increasingly oppressive government as an ally. In fact, we should begin the process of suspending them from NATO as they fall far from American interests and values at almost every level.

The Global Fight Against Islamism: Saudi Arabia
Postal: Since becoming the crown prince a year ago, Mohammed bin Salman has enacted many reforms in Saudi Arabia, including domestic reforms such as allowing women to drive cars and re-opening its first movie theater in over 30 years, and foreign policy reforms such as its breaking of ties with Islamist Qatar and its détente with Israel. Do you see these reforms as genuine steps in moving Saudi Arabia away from Islamist Wahhabism, or more of an insincere charm offensive?

Jasser: You cannot change a zebra’s stripes. The royal family’s approach to its people remains tyrannical and devoid of human rights. As I noted previously, their so-called reforms are not about genuine religious and political reforms but rather about modernization of the tribal state and diversification of their economy motivated only by survival of the ruling class.

The Royal Rumble in Riyadh was a great WWE metaphor of their reforms — bring in liberalized entertainment, which is actually fake wrestling — to give the people something new but fake. Yes, allowing women to drive was a concrete move. But, as expected, this has been followed by draconian limitations on the associated human needs for expression that come with that driving.

The House of Saud has been lying about reforms ever since they endeared themselves to the West in the early 20th century. If the reforms were real, bin Salman’s proclamations would have been followed with legitimate religious edicts declaring modern interpretations allowing liberalization and the empowerment of Saudi jurists to begin to develop a new 21st-century school of thought rather than their draconian 7th-century one to which they are putting on a few modern faces.

Saudi Arabia’s recent efforts against the Muslim Brotherhood and its funding is a real and welcomed shift, and long overdue. But Saudi Arabia’s continued cooperation with many global Islamist Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups is concerning. So it seems to me that Saudi efforts against the Muslim Brotherhood are based more on pragmatism than on ideology.

Publicly cutting off funding to all western Muslim Brotherhood legacy group entities would show a more sincere departure from Islamism, and would also benefit American interests. I see, however, no sign of any ideological epiphanies against the Islamism of the Brotherhood coming out of any genuine Saudi jurists. Without such legal “fatwas” and reformist explanations underpinning such shifts, Saudi efforts to date against the Muslim Brotherhood remain power plays rather than real long-lasting reforms.

Postal: In our first interview, we discussed how Saudi Arabia In the last 30 years has spent more than an estimated $100 billion to fund the spread of Wahhabism worldwide (in contrast to the $7 billion the USSR spent spreading communism from 1921 through 1991). What would it take to move Saudi Arabia away from Islamist Wahhabism? Do you think this is possible, or are the Kingdom and Wahhabism inextricably linked?

Jasser: Saudi Arabia might slowly move away from Wahhabism towards a more Arabist monarchical state fueled more by Saudi nationalism than Wahhabism. But the Wahhabis have immense power in Saudi Arabia, and have successfully indoctrinated the younger generations for decades.

For example, some reports indicate that 80-90 percent of Twitter activity in Saudi Arabia is from radical Wahhabi youth. There is no sign that the House of Saud is turning towards genuine secularism or liberty. Rather, the royal family is simply convincing the Wahhabis to liberalize a bit.

Again, without the underpinnings of reform-minded clerics making a new school of legal thought in Islam compatible with modernity, all these changes are just power shifts, and a fossilized interpretation of Islam will continue to dominate Saudi educational and judicial thought. Additionally, the royal family had really never shown any evidence that it is not a true believer of Wahhabi Islam. Sadly anything short of a revolution will do little to give hope to the Saudi people, who are over 90 percent employed by the regime.

Postal: What is your opinion of Saudi Arabia’s trade sanctions against Canada, following Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs protesting the arrest of human rights activist Samar Badawi, sister of imprisoned human rights activist Raif Badawi?

Jasser: The Saudis are now trying to make an example of a nation with a weak leader in Justin Trudeau. I sat with various members of the Saudi leadership multiple times when I was on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from 2012 to 2016. Whenever we brought up the need to release Badawi and his attorney imprisoned falsely for thought crimes against the regime, the Saudi royals saw Badawi as a primary example of a much deeper human rights movement and threat within Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi government seemed unprepared to deal with this movement either humanely or transparently.

Trudeau, long an appeaser of Muslim tyrannies, got backed into speaking out for the Badawis as his foreign minister made a statement in support of Raif’s and Samar’s release. USCIRF has called annually for Country of Particular Concern status for Saudi Arabia, which would have imposed mandatory sanctions on the country until it changed its course on religious freedom, when I was on the commission and for every year since 2002. Yet the White House would perennially provide a national security waiver from the sanctions for the petro-Islamist tyranny.

Perhaps now, Saudi belligerence toward the Canadians and their simple defense of Saudi dissidents imprisoned for years will finally begin a cascade of events that will spur others in the West to finally treat Saudi Arabia as the two-bit tyranny it is. Sadly, and more likely, Canada and the West will continue to bow to the Saudis as we continue to turn away from our own Western values in our treatment of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Only time will tell.