9/27/20 – AIFD Wishes the Jewish Community “L’Shana Tova!” and a Blessed Yom Kippur

From all of us at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy,

L’Shana Tova to all of our Jewish friends and supporters – Happy New Year and a blessed Yom Kippur! We wish you “Good Yontif”.

We know that in this time of reflection and atonement for the Jewish community tomorrow we are all thankful for the strength of faith which unites us in our diversity and also for this great nation which provides us religious liberty.

Please know that all of us at AIFD will remain diligent at working for a more peaceful, just and humane world. In these times more than ever, we are reminded of the strength of prayer and unity under a spirit of national cohesion that gives us all strength as a nation and as individuals.

May your New Year and Yom Kippur be fulfilling, and may it bring in joy and hope.

 

Yours forever in liberty,

 

Team AIFD

August 25, 2020: Newsweek – The DNC’s Deepening Embrace of Radical Islamists

The DNC’s Deepening Embrace of Radical Islamists

 

With the real diversity that exists among American Muslims, there is surely no shortage of peaceful and freedom-loving American Muslims who are eligible to represent our community at national political events like the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Yet the DNC, time and again, has preferred to perennially prop up radical voices from the Islamist establishment and give them a platform to spread their theocratic, anti-Western, anti-Semitic rhetoric. This year’s convention proved to be no different. One must believe that most card-carrying members of the Democratic Party would be horrified to know about the actual values endorsed by the Islamic clerics who are platformed by their party leaders.

This year, New York City-based Imam Talib El-Hajj Abdur Rashid was selected by the convention’s organizers to deliver the final benediction last Thursday. One of eight chaplains belonging to different faiths who was selected to take part, Imam Talib has notoriously come to the defense of multiple convicted terrorists and criminals. These include the high-profile case of Sami Al-Arian, convicted of providing material support for the designated terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and later deported for refusing to testify against Hamas cells in the U.S., Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly H. Rap Brown, who was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of a policeman, and Dr. Rafiq Sabir, who pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and agreed to serve as the group’s medic abroad. Talib has also smeared American Muslims, like myself, who have openly supported law enforcement and encouraged our communities to work with the NYPD. He has dubbed us Muslims “collaborators” and has denounced America for being “a land ruled by non-Muslims, according to public laws based on other than the Sharia.”

The DNC this year also hosted Wisconsin Imam Noman Hussain, who took part in the convention’s interfaith prayers on Sunday. Hussain is closely affiliated with the Qalam Institute, a Texas-based Salafist seminary whose officials advocate using women as sex slaves and supports a punishment of death for adulterers. One of its training manuals has a section on “cleanliness and presentation” that commands Muslims to be pure and hospitable so that they “do not resemble the Jews.”

This is not the first time fanatical imams have made an appearance at the DNC. In 2012, organizers of the convention brought notorious Islamist Siraj Wahhaj to speak. Wahhaj has ties to terrorist networks, a criminal past and a history of violent, misogynistic and homophobic rhetoric. Most recently, in a case of the apple not falling far from the proverbial ideological tree, three of Wahhaj’s offspring were arrested for operating a radical jihadist militant training compound for children off the grid in New Mexico that left a three-year-old dead. In fact, as I stated in September 2018, their arrest was a “defining moment” for the American Islamist establishment and our American Muslim communities.

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Joe Biden accepts nomination at 2020 DNC
Joe Biden accepts nomination at 2020 DNC Win McNamee/Getty Images

With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) recently donating $14,000 to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) re-election campaign, the red-green alliance between the far Left and the Islamists has never been stronger than it is now. That Democrats have once again invited Islamist religious dogmatism onto their political stage reveals that when it gets down to brass tacks, they just do not have a care in the world about the actual diversity of the American Muslim community. If they cared, they would recognize that Muslims such as myself are deserving of the same freedoms and protections from our extremist leaders as they claim to want from their fundamentalist Christian preachers. They would recognize that the Muslim community is diverse, and that those who scream the loudest about victimization and identity politics are not necessarily representative of the majority. Would that they hold us to higher standards—indeed, the standards they would expect from any leaders of faith communities—such as respect for the U.S. Constitution, the separation of church and state, and equal justice under the law?

Catering to such extremist radicalizing figures as Wahhaj, Hussain and Talib, to name a few, also reveals the Democratic Party’s abject hypocrisy, as they rally on the one hand against a right-wing bigot invited to speak at a church, or feverishly denounce a white supremacist who surreptitiously gains GOP representation. But when it comes to sharia supremacists, Democrats have become blind and spineless, beholden to identity politics and political correctness, allowing themselves to be exploited by those who embrace the same zealous bigotry they claim to abhor. Islam is the second largest, and the world’s fastest-growing, religion. If the Democratic Party truly believes these Muslims are the best choice to represent us in their party, Muslims who do share the purported values of the Democratic Party platform may prefer to seek like-minded alliances somewhere else—perhaps where the promises of America that brought my parents and millions of other immigrants here can be fulfilled.

August 24, 2020: AIFD joins the American Mideast Coalition for Democracy in Praising Trump Administration’s Historic Peace Deal between Israel and the UAE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2020

Media Contact:
Mischel Yosick
American Islamic Forum for Democracy
480 225 7473
mischel@zliberty.com

“This deal is historic on many levels”.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, President, AIFD

Phoenix, AZ: Today M. Zuhdi Jasser and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy joins the American Mideast Coalition for Democracy in Praising Trump Administration’s Historic Peace Deal between Israel and the UAE.

Read the full story here.

The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy unequivocally supports President Trump’s bold and historic peace initiative to normalize relations between our two allies in the Middle East, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Though our advisor, Dr. Walid Phares, was not standing behind the President when the deal was announced, he played a critical role in the development of its concept with the major actors going back to December 2015, when he and then-candidate Trump discussed the possibility of creating an Arab coalition to counter Iran along with Israel. In September, 2016, Dr. Phares then met with UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and then in November of that year, he met with the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Later, he met with American Jewish leaders and Israeli scholars, as well as advisors to the Palestinian Authority visiting Washington. Always, Dr. Phares endeavored to advance the vision that he and President Trump developed back in 2015.

“This agreement is destined to change the history of the Middle East,” said AMCD co-chair Tom Harb. “After Obama signed that disastrous Iran deal, which betrayed all of our long-time allies in the region, it took some time to re-build the trust and confidence of the moderate Sunni states.”

“Now that the UAE has come to the table, others will follow,” continued AMCD co-chair John Hajjar. “A new strategic set of alliances in the Middle East will create the necessary peace and stability so that the people of the Middle East can begin to thrive and prosper. They have had enough of the death and destruction that radicalism brings. Young people are looking for a new direction. The people of the region are way ahead of their regimes and are ready for peace with Israel and a rejection of sectarianism. The UAE-Israel pact, although extremely important and historic, merely reflects this reality. Our communities will reflect this fact when we show our support at the signing ceremony in DC.”

“This deal is historic on many levels,” declared Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, President and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. “You know it’s real when the imams inside the UAE are now giving sermons about the need for Arab and Muslim friendship with the Jewish community and with the state of Israel. Without that deep ideological shift and reform, similar deals would be meaningless. Mark today in history as a time when a tectonic shift happened in Arab-Israeli relations. Many with political agendas will try to minimize the relationship, yet other Arab states including Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, and even Saudi Arabia may be next. Naysayers need to be asked one question: If this is not a big deal, why has it not happened in the past? The fact that the Arab world’s greatest radicalizing influence on Muslims, the Islamist political movements from the Muslim Brotherhood, to Erdogan’s AKP to the Jama’at in Pakistan are upset speaks volumes to the long lasting impact of this deal.”

“The death-dealing Iranian regime has been trying to export the revolution all over the Middle East by supporting radical Islamists of all stripes,” added AMCD vice-chair Hossein Khorram. “They want to dominate the Middle East and to do that, they sew chaos and destruction at every opportunity. A stable coalition of moderate Arab states will eventually force them to become another nation among nations.”

“The people of Iran are seeking peace and prosperity,” said Sheikh Mohammad Al Hajj Hassan, who leads the Free Shia Movement and is chairman of the American Muslim Coalition. “They are furious that the Mullahs support terrorism to the tune of some $16 billion a year. This is money taken directly from the people of Iran where it is needed most. The people don’t want their money going to Hezbollah and Hamas, especially when the country is hurting so much economically.”

“The deal with the UAE is a step in a broader process of Arab political recognition of Israel’s strategic, technological, and economic importance in the Persian Gulf zone, and across the Middle East,” added Dr. Mordechai Nisan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Israel is rising to new heights in the historic saga of the re-constituted Jewish state.”

AMCD is planning to hold a demonstration to support peace in the Middle East in Washington DC when the UAE’s Crown Prince comes to the White House to sign this historic agreement sometime in September.

WASHINGTON, DC, USA
August 24, 2020
EINPresswire.com
Rebecca Bynum
The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy
+1 615-775-6801

February 18, 2020: The Iranian protests and American Islamism: A Muslim reformer weighs in

Dear AIFD Supporters,

Below is another great interview by Steve Postal with AIFD president & founder, M. Zuhdi Jasser.

The Christian Post
By: Steve Postal
Date: February 18, 2020

The Iranian protests and American Islamism: A Muslim reformer weighs in

I interviewed Dr. M Zuhdi Jasser in January 2017, July 2017, September 2018, and May 2019 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 the developments in Iran and Iranian links to American Islamism.

Postal: Was the US right to assassinate General Qasem Soleimani?

Jasser: This was not an assassination, but a targeted killing of the leader of the world’s most dangerous terror network. The killing of Soleimani was at least as justified as the targeted killings of terrorists Osama Bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki. Soleimani had been responsible for over 600 dead American soldiers, and countless other attacks on U.S. citizens. Soleimani’s terrorism was more significant than others, as he was able to freely use Iran’s treasury, intelligence, and the military network of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah.

Soleimani’s IRGC had been officially designated a Foreign Terror Organization (FTO) in 2019 by the U.S. government. With that designation, the United States did not need an authorization of Congress to kill him. The IRGC is a major instigator of the ongoing massacres in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. It aided Bashar Assad in killing over 600,000 Syrians and displacing over 10 million Syrians. Killing Soleimani deters Iran from projecting its power and terrorism abroad.

Postal: Recent reports show thousands of protesters in Tehran calling on Ayatollah Khamenei to resign. Former Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi stated that the world is now seeing “the beginning of the end” of the Islamist regime in Iran. But he called the regime a “sinking Titanic” back in 2009. Why should the U.S. view the current protests in Iran as anything more than the failed protests in the late 1990s and 2009 in Iran?

Jasser: The recent protests are very different than anything before. First, as the post 2011 revolutions in the Middle East have shown, regimes ultimately cannot contain social media and its viral movements once they get to a critical mass. The Iranian regime is very scared of these trends, and in fear has shut down the internet for an extended period of time. Most importantly, this revolution is far more than simply against the government in Tehran. It has encompassed many major cities, including the academic centers of Islamist theocratic control like Qom. The demonstrators have protested increased fuel prices, Iran’s funding of genocide in Syria and Yemen, theocracy, and oppression. The protesters have also supported economic, justice, and feminist reforms.

Postal: News reports highlight instances of civil disobedience in Iran, with people openly protesting the regime, student protests, women refusing to wear headscarves, a taekwondo champion defecting in protest, and people refusing to walk on American and Israeli flags. How should the U.S. interpret and respond to these developments?

Jasser: The sheer diversity of the various groups rising up in civil disobedience against the regime is breathtaking. Frequent and open public displays of affection for America and Israel reveal deep and broad-based dissatisfaction with the theocrats. For a long time, the silent majority of Iranians have ignored and dismissed the demonization of America and Israel pushed upon them by state media and their rent-a-mobs. Now, the protesters are telling their oppressors that they love and emulate the West. When you have women in burqas on state media telling their people “if you do not enjoy the rule of Islam in society then you should collect your belongings and leave,” there is no better sign that the regime is on headed towards collapse. It could take months or years, but collapse is the trajectory. And global isolation and sanctions augment the will of the people.

Postal: Several members of Congress have called on the Trump Administration to investigate the National American Iranian Council (NAIC) for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Among other things, the complaint condemns “NAIC’s relationship with the Iranian regime and its role amplifying regime propaganda.” Additionally, M. Hanif Jazayeri, news editor at Free Iran, alleges that a legislative assistant to Barbara Lee is NAIC’s “mole” in Congress, and that Ilhan Omar’s senior legislative assistant, one of Rashida Tlaibs staffers, and a member of the Democratic National Committee have NAIC connections. What are your thoughts on these developments? What is the connection between the Iranian regime and the Islamist movement in the U.S.?

Jasser: I have said for a long time that Islamist organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) frequently take the side of foreign Islamist regimes over our own government. Now with Iran in the spotlight, folks are finally paying closer attention to NAIC. NAIC’s protégés, like CAIR’s protégés, graduate into pro-Islamist information operatives for congressional offices. As PJ Media reported, yes, NAIC protégés now include Mahya Sorour in Omar’s office and Samira Damavandi in Lee’s office.

NAIC’s talking points frequently mirror the position of the Iranian mullocracy, be it their positions on the nuclear deal to the recent protests. NAIC has fought consistently against sanctions on the regime, and has never confronted the anti-American, anti-Semitic ideology of the Khomeinists. NAIC’s positions have always been on the wrong side of history, morality and humanity. In fact, when NAIC tried to intimidate its Iranian-American critics through lawfare in 2008, the court ultimately dismissed the case in 2012 and repudiated the tactics of NAIC and its President, Trita Parsi. Parsi has now re-located to the Quincy Institute, whose staff has been accused with multiple instances of anti-Semitism.

I can tell you as a Syrian-American, Syrian-Americans for decades have seen a similar network of Syrian government sympathizers shape pro-Assad positions through its foreign agents, useful idiots, and propagandists inside the United States. Prior to the Syrian revolution, it was conventional wisdom among Syrian-American expatriates that somewhere around one in ten Syrians in America provided information to the Syrian government on the activities of Syrian-American families. After the revolution began in 2011, some of that network became stronger and more entrenched. However, most of the network has since fallen apart and the United States was able to convict Mohamad Soueid of Leesburg, Virginia and others. Similar networks existed during Saddam’s Iraq, and a similar network exists for the current Iranian regime.

It is long overdue for us to investigate the tentacles of foreign Islamist regimes and movements in our government. The Islamist influence from many regimes of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation dwarfs any domestic intelligence threat we experienced during the Cold War.

Postal: Recent reports discuss that Iran has sleeper cells of terrorists in the United States as well as Central and South America. How should the U.S. respond to this reality? Should the U.S. fear reprisal attacks on its soil?

Jasser: The threat from Hezbollah has always been significant in the U.S. The only thing that has prevented Hezbollah attacks similar to what Sunni jihadists have done in 9-11, Fort Hood and San Bernardino has been the presence of sanctions against their benefactor, Iran. We should continue these sanctions, and continue to apply the rule of law against those that seek to harm us.

We won a major victory recently when the United States convicted Ali Khourani for 40 years for being “recruited, trained and deployed by Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad Organization to plan and execute acts of terrorism around New York City.” An operative for Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad, he was nabbed “[a]fter spending years conducting surveillance on the City’s critical infrastructure, federal buildings, international airports, and even daycare centers.” Politico also reported on Hezbollah’s major cocaine funneling operation in the U.S. that also included Central and South America, Africa and Europe. Their impressive investigation revealed how the Obama administration ditched over a decade of heroic agency work dubbed Project Cassandra exposing Hezbollah’s cocaine operation in the United States – as collateral damage of the nuclear deal. These Hezbollah drug runners are likely just the tip of the iceberg of Hezbollah operations in this hemisphere. The director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Nicholas Rasmussen, believes that “Hezbollah is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook.”

Postal: The Muslim Reform Movement (MRM), which you co-founded, just celebrated its fourth anniversary last December. Do you see any possibility of the MRM arising in Iran?

Jasser: Our dream is for the MRM to gain traction in countries where people truly understand the threat of Islamist theocracy. One such country is Iran. There are currently thousands of courageous dissident leaders in Iran promoting many ideas central to the MRM. Their messages on social media sound like ours, and vice versa. But other Muslims in Iran that would be sympathetic to the MRM are trying to stay alive because their leaders are torturing, murdering, or disappearing those that openly express those ideals. As Iranian journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad said, “we are not fighting for a piece of cloth, we are fighting for our lives.” She also asserts that the legacy media is lying to Americans about the revolution now in Iran. “Don’t fall for Iranian regime propaganda,” she exclaimed on Fox News and in the Washington Post. I don’t understand how our “liberal” media, presumably champions of feminism, gay rights and free speech, marginalize the activists who share those values and the values of our MRM here in the U.S.

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). Does Iran have similar global ambitions for its own Islamism? What, if anything, should the U.S. do to counter this?

Jasser: There can be little doubt as to what the regime’s goals are. Through their words, ideologies, crimes against humanity, and their domestic, regional and global spread of terror, Iran’s regime is in no way content with only domestic oppression. They see themselves ushering in the 12th Imam and with him the End of Times. Their government, military, and economic is geared towards proselytizing an anti-freedom and anti-American mission. While Shia and Sunni Islamists may differ on many things, their raison d’etre is the same: establishing Islamic states across the world that would unite into a Caliphate to which the whole world will submit.

The only thing preventing Iran from building a similar global network as Saudi Arabia has been the vast resources the West has expended on effective sanctions and unraveling Iran’s global networks of terror, ideology, and drugs. In contrast, the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal, removal of sanctions and economic normalization for Boeing and others only served to enable the global spread of Iran’s Islamism and war machine. You can see Iran’s hateful propaganda they are spreading globally on PressTV or Hezbollah’s AlManar TV. To counter this, we need continue “maximum pressure” against Iran’s regime and also proactively engage in an information war against the theocrats and their Islamism. We need to support reform-minded Iranians, Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, and Lebanese.

Your reference back to Saudi Arabia is timely. As Iran’s clerics try to prevent a growing revolution, Saudi Arabia recently announced that they would stop funding mosques beyond its borders. This is surrender, coming from the Wahhabis who believe in a mandate of global da’wa (proselytization) and offense. But perhaps even more importantly, this surrender presents an opening for ideological antagonists: Muslims who oppose the idea of any Islamic sharia state and promote liberty and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Perhaps changes like this will give the West momentum to support allies of liberty – Muslims who support freedom and the defeat of the theocrats – like our Muslim Reform Movement and its Declaration.

 

Steve Postal has been previously published in The Federalist, American Thinker, The Washington Post, The Times of Israel, and The Christian Post.

February 4, 2020: United Islamists of America

February 4, 2020

United Islamists of America
by: David Swindle

One of most prominent Muslims in America today is the cleric Omar Suleiman, founder and leader of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. This Salafi theologian and improbable progressive activist is one of many radical preachers who have exploited the rise of identity politics in America to move beyond their roles as minor religious voices and to appoint themselves instead as a representative voices of all Muslims. Suleiman’s incongruous ability to combine his hardline theology with progressive activism has gotten him far. In 2019, he was given the opportunity to deliver the invocation for the opening of Congress, invited by Nancy Pelosi in spite of his well-documented extremist positions.

But Suleiman’s odd brand of “theo-progressivism” can only get him so far. Now, he is (successfully) seeking the support of other clerics and community leaders from rival Islamic sects. This new-found unity among Islamic communities stands in stark contrast to the internal politics of Islam and Islamism in the past, in which religious disagreements have long divided potential partners.

Clerics of two theocratic movements in particular – Arabia’s Salafis and South Asia’s Deobandis – have spent over a century denouncing each other’s theologies, only pausing, occasionally, for tactical alliances. Over the past few years, however, ecumenical attitudes have begun to change among Western Islamist clerics. As an increasing number of modernist preachers from both movements have stepped forward to establish new forward-facing organizations, cautious longer-term partnerships between the clerical components of the two movements have begun to emerge – providing us with a glimpse of American Islamism in the years to come.

This new-found inclusiveness was recently evident in September 2019, when a Deobandi Islamist seminary, the Institute of Knowledge (IOK) hosted its “Ilmspiration” Conference in Anaheim, California. The purpose of the day-long event was to bring together 14 Islamist scholars and imams from the IOK and two other like-minded, leading institutions: the Qalam Institute, a wildly popular Deobandi religious training organization led by Abdul Nasir Jangda; and the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, a project of Omar Suleiman.

What makes these schools and their leaders so dangerous? Whether Deobandi or Salafi, both movements are adherents to the broader political idea of Islamism, which seeks to impose an Islamic state run under Islamic law. These clerics provide much of the arguments, propaganda, and most importantly, the theology, to persuade Muslims into believing in the supremacy of a medieval religious legal system. This ideology sows the seeds of terrorism both at home and abroad.

In their methods, the new social media-savvy generation of Deobandi and Salafi clerics in the West are very different from the insular, ascetic preachers of the previous generation, but not in their core beliefs. Qalam’s Deobandi leader Abdul Nasir Jangda, who commands a social media following of hundreds of thousands, defends female sex slavery and advocates the death penalty for apostasy. Meanwhile, Yaqeen’s Suleiman, a media darling for his involvement in progressives’ protests against Trump administration policies, warns young women they may be killed by a “jealous dad” if they commit adultery.

So what influence will these organizations exert on American Islam over the next few years? And how will these once hostile sects work together?

In a packed, segregated ballroom, filled with hijab-clad women on the left, men on the right, and families in the middle, the founders of IOK, Qalam, and Yaqeen described their institutions’ goals and methods.

Suleiman went first introducing Yaqeen as a voice of “authentic” American Islam and claiming that his organization’s goal is “to be a think tank with a megaphone.” This “megaphone,” Suleiman explained, was working to change Google search results using search engine optimization (SEO) tricks to direct readers to Yaqeen’s research, videos, and info-graphics. On such search inquiries as “Islam and Apostasy,” “Was Islam spread by the sword?” and “honor killings in Islam,” Suleiman bragged that Yaqeen is now the top result after Wikipedia. He also noted Yaqeen’s ability to influence mainstream media, from the Dallas Morning News to CNN.

In other words, Yaqeen is not just about influencing the public’s perception of Islam; but is also an attempt to impose Yaqeen’s very particular strain of Islam on both the American public and American Muslims.

In fact, Suleiman promised “that all of the organizations in the Muslim community” can use his material for free – from children in weekend schools and teens in private Islamic schools, to adults watching on YouTube and entire congregations making use of his “masjid [mosque] resource kits so the whole masjid can be empowered.” Yaqeen is working to ensure the next generation of American Muslims adheres to a united Islamist creed, “We’re also piloting Islamic school curriculum at 20 different schools right now and it’s going to be free, inshallah, for all Islamic schools to use, Sunday schools or otherwise.”

Jangda went next, explaining that Qalam’s goal is to educate the Muslim ummah. “Every single person should have access to the education and the understanding of Islam,” he said before laying out the broad range of training courses Qalam offered including a seminary for full-time students, “intensives” that last a few weeks, online classes for part-time students, and, for those on-the-go, podcasts – to which 8 million have already listened.

In a pledge familiar to a Salafi audience, the Deobandi cleric spoke of teaching the form of Islam first heard by audiences of Islam’s early leaders, and expressed his hope that Qalam’s “authentic” Islam will consequently be passed on “from generation to generation.”

None addressed the rather important fact that Suleiman’s “authentic” Islam differs on questions of jurisprudence to Jangda’s “authentic” Islam. More important for both, it appeared, is the concept of a united Muslim ummah [global community] – a vital condition of Islamism. In fact, one of the few precursors to the new-found Salafi-Deobandi partnerships in the U.S. can be found in Haitham Al-Haddad, a British cleric who – despite the theological disparities – claims to representant both Salafi and Deobandi ideologies, for the sake of a “united ummah.”

Nomaan Baig, the IOK’s founder and director, went next, thanking his “brothers” Jangda and Suleiman and praising their institutions. Current IOK programs include a K-10 school, pilgrimage services, a Saturday school and after-school programs, and a successful series of podcasts. Echoing the others’ belief in the supremacy of the ummah, he declared that his own efforts at the IOK are “only doable and possible because of our collaboration.” In other words: only by putting theological differences aside can Islamism succeed.

And so with this understanding of the three groups’ differing areas of emphasis and target audiences, the utility of their collaboration becomes clear. As a united Islamist front, the three organizations create a chain of custody: Yaqeen creates the materials for schools and mosques; the IOK then teaches this material at schools and graduate programs, while Qalam works with young adults and future clerics.

The collaboration and its future prospects went so well that near the end of the day, Baig said: “So imam Omar suggested, and Shayk Abdul Nasir and I conferred that inshallah, we’re going to try and make this an annual thing here in Southern California.” Baig described the groups’ strategy as “‘complementation.’ We complement one another… because our propagation is that knowledge.”

Such ‘complementation’ would have been extremely unusual just a few decades ago. Deobandis and Salafis follow different madhahib [schools of jurisprudence]. The founding Deobandi seminary in India urges its students to read books of “deviant” Salafis in order to refute them. In the United States, websites sympathetic to Deobandis are devoted to challenging and denouncing the Al Maghrib Institute, a Salafi religious training organization with which Suleiman has long been involved. Salafi clerics and preachers, meanwhile, denounce Deobandis as “deviants.” Suleiman’s own teacher, the Salafi cleric Salah As-Sawy, criticizes Sufism (in which the Deobandi school is technically rooted), while Salafi activists have established dozens of social media pages and websites to “speak against this SUFI demonic cult who misguide innocent muslimeen.”

It is also important to note that these Deobandi institutions are relatively new – Qalam and the IOK did not exist some years ago, because Deobandi institutions were almost only found in American mosques and madaris [traditional seminaries]. Qalam and IOK are the result of a wave of new modernist Deobandis, likely taking their cue from the modernist Salafis who have rejected the political and theological isolation of the past, instead embracing social media, pan-Islamist activism and even some social justice rhetoric. Omar Suleiman (with his 318,000 Twitter followers) is perhaps the most notable example.

Suleiman does not just ignore the theological divisions of the past; he deliberately obscures his own affiliations, once writing, “Don’t let people box you into a group because they’re too narrow minded to think outside of their own cultish mind barriers.”

“When you talk to [sic] much about politics and social justice, you’ll be deemed ‘Ikhwani.’ [Muslim Brotherhood] When you stress the importance of the Sunnah too much and show aversion to innovation, you’ll be deemed ‘Salafi’ or ‘Wahhabi.’ And when you speak too much about spirituality and how the Ummah is in need of the hearts being rectified as much as it’s [sic] outwardly affairs, you’re a ‘Sufi.’”

Suleiman encourages this new generation of Muslims to “[S]leep peacefully while others waste their days and nights trying to ‘figure you out.’” At the IOK conference, what was once merely talk of a united ummah is no longer speculation, but a working model. Islamic division is being forgotten for the sake of Islamist unity.

And the impact of this alliance? As the last session of the conference began after the three leaders introduced their organizations, the moderator noted: “Inshallah, before we begin I just wanted to make one quick announcement, alhamdullilah, our registration numbers indicate one thing here today: that there are more students here than adults.”

David M. Swindle is a fellow for Islamist Watch and the Southern California associate of the Counter-Islamist Grid. He also works as the Director of Research for The Israel Group. Follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle

January 3, 2020: AIFD applauds the U.S. operation to terminate General Qasim Soleimani

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 3, 2020

Media Contact: Mischel Yosick American Islamic Forum for Democracy 480 225 7473 mischel@zliberty.com

January 3, 2020: AIFD applauds the U.S. operation to terminate General Qasim Soleimani

“The death of Qasim Soleimani and possibly also his lead militia generals is a victory for freedom and the future of the people of Iraq, Iran and Syria”.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, President, AIFD

Phoenix, AZ: Today M. Zuhdi Jasser and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy hailed the death of Qasim Soleimani, and possibly also his lead militia generals, as a victory for freedom. Especially for the people of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and for all people of conscience on the planet who have sought safety from his reign of terror over the last many decades. The Trump administration should be lauded for its clarity and courage to respond to the belligerence of the radical Islamists of Iran who have sought to not only oppress the people of Iran but destroy the democracy of Iraq and continue Assad’s genocide in Syria. Today, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, AIFD President, stated,

“Even more so than AlBaghdadi of ISIS, Soleimani represented a state sponsored, heavily funded and protected network of terror in the region led by his Qods forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and beyond, with a treasury from Iran that dwarfed the threat of ISIS or even Osama bin Laden.

Make no mistake about it. Even beyond the threat to our soldiers, General Soleimani and his henchmen have been the death knell for nascent democracies in Iraq, Syria, Iran, and across the Middle East. With the endless blood on his hands he crushed the hopes of freedom for the Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Lebanese people. His broader impact against all Muslims and non-Muslims in the region who wanted to be free cannot be overstated. His persona as a threat to those who pushed back against Iran’s theocrats should never be underestimated. It is a profound blessing that he is gone. AIFD supported the designation of the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in 2019 by the Trump administration. Dr. Jasser further added,

“All the partisan hackery today about an Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF) is nonsense and puts Americans at risk. No AUMF was necessary for Osama bin Laden, Awlaki, or AlBaghdadi. Our commander-in-chief must protect our homeland from heads of designated terror organizations. Today thanks to the strength of our operations against General Soleimani and his generals, America and the world is safer and Iran will think twice before exploiting the previous administration’s blind eye to their terror”.

###

November 21, 2019: Press Release – Arizona Muslim Alliance brings to the Valley radical Islamist Imam Siraj Wahhaj

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 21, 2019

 

Media Contact:
Mischel Yosick
American Islamic Forum for Democracy
480 225 7473
mischel@zliberty.com

 

AIFD calls on Arizonans and especially our Muslim communities to speak out against Siraj Wahhaj, a well-known notorious radical Islamist anti-American cleric whose dossier of Islamist and separatist ideologies is legendary in the United States. 

 

Phoenix, AZ: This weekend the upstart new coalition of selected mosque leadership in Maricopa county who basically represent the Islamist “establishment” in town, calling themselves the Arizona Muslim Alliance (AMA), are having their first annual “Celebrate Unity Leadership Summit” to be held at the Islamic Center of the Northeast Valley in Scottsdale, Az., on Saturday, November 23, 2019. Our American Islamic Forum For Democracy, based here in Phoenix, Az. for over 15 years, was horrified to learn this week that the prominent speaker this leadership coalition had selected to teach our communities is the notoriously radical Siraj Wahhaj, who is the Imam of the Al-Taqwa Mosque in Brooklyn, New York.

 

AIFD calls on Arizonans and especially our Muslim communities to speak out against Siraj Wahhaj, a well-known notorious radical Islamist anti-American cleric whose dossier of Islamist and separatist ideologies is legendary in the United States.

 

The fact that this local upstart “coalition” of mosques, the Arizona Muslim Alliance, is sponsoring Wahhaj and using his problematic background and Islamist lens as their first impression to their followers at their mosques and Islamic institutions in the Valley is very revealing, consequential and should be concerning as to the ideological underpinnings of various mosque leaderships involved in this so called “unity organization” of many of the mosques in the valley.

 

AIFD has compiled a report detailing the radical commentary, speeches and associations which Imam Wahhaj has with a number of individuals convicted of terrorism. Some of Wahhaj’s known associates include Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman responsible for the 1993 WTC bombing, Abdulrahman Alamoudi, with the defunct American Muslim Council, now serving 25 years in prison for terror financing and working with Al-Qaida and the Libyan government to assassinate the King of Saudi Arabia, as well as his son, Siraj Wahhaj Jr., recently arrested in 2018 for leading a radical Islamist terror cell in New Mexico which was planning to attack a school and a hospital using small children.

 

AIFD has been exposing Wahhaj’s comments since our founder and president, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser was first confronted with Wahhaj’s separatism at the Islamic Society of North America in his keynote speech in 1995 as detailed in Dr. Jasser’s book , “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save his Faith” (see excerpts here). Dr. Jasser had the following to say about Wahhaj’s visit to the Valley:

 

Wahhaj is an Islamist imam with an extensive history of separatism and anti-American, anti-Semitic vitriol. This imam has a long track record of vilifying America, it’s society its citizens and culture. Our report includes a smattering of many of the radical comments he’s made and while the Arizona Muslim Alliance claims to be a “diverse organization” they all seem to be monolithically Islamist having agreed to bring one of the most notoriously radical imams in the United States to their first event. When all is said and done, the AMA leadership selected this leader to represent them and to teach their population here locally while they claim to be a diverse organization. The reasons should be now obvious to all reasonable Americans why truly moderate, pro-American, reformist Muslim organizations like the American Islamic Forum For Democracy and other leaders locally, are not part of this Arizona Muslim Alliance and will likely not only never be a member but will continue to confront and openly expose their Islamic separatism which they pedal under the rubric of pan-Islamic unity.

 

 This Arizona Muslim Alliance is already proving themselves to be just another Muslim Brotherhood legacy establishment group with a penchant to amplify the voices of anti-American separatism and radicalism of leading Islamist icons like Siraj Wahhaj.

 

We call on local leaders to review our report on our website, here, and publicly express concern that many of the leaders and organizations used for interfaith activities for our local Muslim activities associate with and allow their followers to be radicalized by individuals like Imam Siraj Wahhaj.

###

 

Why we need the Muslim Reform Movement – March 2019

 

 

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?

Eid Mubarak! — AIFD wishes all of our friends a Blessed Holiday of the Feast ( Eid Mubarak) on Eid Al-Fitr, June 4, 2019


To our Muslim friends and supporters:

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
aifdemocracy.org

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.