March 16, 2021: Europe’s Experience on Islamism Is a Cautionary Tale for the United States

Newsweek
March 16, 2021
by: M. Zuhdi Jasser, President & Founder, AIFD

 

Is anyone paying attention to what’s happening in Europe? If you care about freedom in the West, take a look now. Fault lines between Islamists and the secular West, etched over generations and deepened and fortified by failed post-9/11 policies, have tectonically shifted. Nearly written off by some, European nations are suddenly taking serious and significant action to push back in earnest against encroaching Islamist separatism and radicalization. And the United States, as an observer, stands to learn a lot.

In 2020, as the world remained deeply embroiled in the pandemic, France, Austria, and much of the rest of the European Union (EU) began to confront the Islamist ideological monster within their borders. Led by French President Emmanuel Macron and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, European leaders seem to have woken up from their slumber and realized it wasn’t just the militant Islamist acts of terrorism that they needed to defeat—rather, it was the ideas that incubated them, political Islam or Islamism.

The importance of this moment in history and the accuracy of Macron’s diagnoses of Islamism within his country’s borders is highlighted by the fact that some of the world’s leading Islamist demagogues, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called for the boycott of French products in late October. Macron swiftly and defiantly responded, “We will not give in, ever.”

France’s 2020 front in the cultural war against Islamism was sparked by the October 16 beheading of Samuel Paty, a middle school teacher who had the courage to simply discuss what happened in the massacre of the Charlie Hebdo staff in 2015, when the magazine staffers showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

After Paty’s murder, Macron responded swiftly by defending free speech and defending France’s character and values. He sped up his plans for a coordinated, all-of-government approach against “Islamist separatism.” Macron has thus begun to lead his country in a long-overdue conversation that targets the root cause of the Islamist threat to France—”Islamist separatism.” Many of us dedicated to Muslim reform against Islamism have been actually calling for such an open conversation for a long time.

In a series of speeches since Paty’s murder, Macron has laid bare why Islamism is inherently separatist and “rejects freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and the right to blaspheme.” He correctly laid the diagnosis and blame at the feet of leaders across the globe who are in “crisis” and fomenting “jihad.” He has called for the de-“ghettoization” of Muslim communities. Macron introduced legislation reawakening France’s “republican principles” and directly confronting Islamism’s incompatibilities. He lifted up “laicite”—France’s dominant constitutional principle and consciousness of secularism—as the nation’s “cement.” Macron essentially declared war on foreign influence in Muslim institutions, blocking funding while surveilling mosques and imams as well as other professions.

To be clear, Islamism is the religio-political-cultural belief system that the state should have an Islamic identity and be guided only by shariah law (Islamic jurisprudence). Islamists are part of a global political movement that ultimately seeks power and international hegemony. Like all totalitarian systems, Islamism is not compatible with Western secular democratic ideals. Not all Muslims are Islamists, but all Islamists are Muslims. And while Muslim migrants in Europe are not a monolithic bloc, among them are innumerable Islamists and Islamist-sympathizers.

Macron rightly stated that the “republican reawakening” could help nourish a form of Islam compatible with Enlightenment values. It is this kind of tough love that is essential to embracing Muslim immigrants with dignity, as adults—rather than with a bigotry of low expectations that leaves them vulnerable to radicalization.

In parallel, Austria’s 2020 front in its cultural war against Islamists was sparked by a terror attack conducted by an Austrian ISIS supporter in Vienna on November 2, 2020, which left four dead and 23 injured. The attack spurred Austria into action, as Chancellor Kurz almost immediately announced a new policy:

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“In the fight against political Islam, we will create a criminal offense called ‘political Islam’ in order to be able to take action against those who are not terrorists themselves, but who create the breeding ground for such. There will be further possibilities for the closure of places of worship, the introduction of an imams register…and measures will be taken to drain financial flows for terrorist financing.”

This is a culmination of programs that began when Kurz took office. Austria had already implemented a hijab ban in primary schools, as well as a face veil ban. Austrian law enforcement raided the offices of 60 Hamas- and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations last November, following the Vienna attack, and shut down some mosques connected to the terrorist ideology. On December 9, President Macron and Chancellor Kurz met with fellow EU leader German Chancellor Angela Merkel in order to develop a pan-European strategy of decreasing the infiltration of radical Islamist ideology into their nations.

Hany Ghoraba wrote for IPT News that these leaders looked to apply “swift removal of terrorist content online and establish one common instrument for all member states to this effect. …This would give the European Parliament authority in EU member states to order service providers to remove terrorist content or disable access to it.”

But Europe—and Austria, in particular—should take note here. “Bad ideas”—like political Islam—will only be defeated by “better ideas.” The U.S. legal system has long upheld a very narrow definition of incitement of violence (Brandenburg v. Ohio), lest the government head down the slippery slope of censorship that violates our unalienable right to freedom of expression

The outlawing of “hate speech” historically never works well. Time and again, the suppression of Islamist movements has only empowered them as they flourished underground and were shielded from the antiseptic effect of public exposure and competition from more appealing movements.

Will this cultural war declared by Macron and Kurz work? In the end, there is no other option. The sooner they confront political Islam, the better. Continuing the prior policy of appeasement will only invite continued attacks on our secular and liberal way of life.

Europe is a cautionary tale for the United States. We must not continue the course that France and Austria are now only attempting to alter at great cost. We must also recognize that Americanism is uniquely situated to be the West’s “last best hope” against Islamism.

We must stand together against foreign ideas that are incompatible with our social and constitutional compact. Mobilize our greatest weapons against separatism and theocracy—Americanism on every plane and every front we can. Lead with an offense of reform-minded Muslims who would die for our secular republics and reject the supremacist appeal of the jihad. The sooner we stand up for our shared American values, the better off we will all be.

March 6, 2021: “Hero of the Month: M. Zuhdi Jasser an in-depth interview with M. Zuhdi Jasser

Gatestone Institute International Policy
by Grégoire Canlorbe

  • The Obama Administration handed hundreds of billions of dollars to the theocrats as well as an insurance of security, as well as a future with a nuclear bomb. These, along with thousands of troops and the empowerment of the terror group Hizballah, gave Iran’s leaders a green light to spread terror into Syria.
  • Some may appropriately say that no real democracies evolved quickly [in the “Arab Spring”] after centuries of tyranny. In fact, there may be a need for multiple revolutions before democracy can take hold. Perhaps, though, there can be a more methodical transition towards modernity with steady benchmarks of reform and liberalization, as we have seen done so successfully with the 2020 Middle East agreements.
  • The challenge, as always, will be in keeping it from being too slow to the point of fiction—which has been “Plan A” for the tyrants across the Middle East since World War II. They lie to the West about reforms in order to placate each new administration with a five- or ten-year plan while transitions in power in the West along with our short-term, societal “attention deficit disorder” give them a pass.
  • Regardless of whether a state’s approach is top-down or bottom-up, if its raison d’être is based in Islam and the primacy of Islamic law rather than on individual rights and the protection of minorities, as in secular liberal democracies, it will always be anti-freedom and illiberal.
  • We will have to watch very closely if there will be new interpretations from the pulpits of the grand mosque in Mecca, or mosques in Medina and across the country. The fact that we heard this coming from the pulpits in the Emirates and Bahrain is what made the Abraham Accords a reality to believe rather than doubt.
  • As for Biden’s foreign policy, he is already signaling that the Pentagon will focus on diplomacy first and the military second. So, the Pentagon is a branch of the State Department? If that is not “leading from behind 3.0”, I don’t know what is. Sources say he wants to “de-emphasize the military” and lift up diplomacy. If that vision is by openly weakening our defense programming, that will signal a green light actually to usher in more war, not less. Peace through weakness doesn’t work against thugs like Khamenei and Assad across the planet. We are thus likely to see a re-emergence of Islamist belligerence and a testing of the waters as they try to make gains against Biden’s apparent appeasement strategy.
  • It is my hope and prayer that our work will contribute not to what the Islamists want—a revivalism of the old—but rather a genuine reform towards a Western model of Islam based in infinite diversity of thought and protection of individual inquiry and their universal human rights, rather than the oppressive collective and the proverbial Islamic state.

Canlorbe: Dear Dr. Jasser, thank you for joining me. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the first two Muslim women to serve in American Congress. Do you think they representative of the mentality of the majority of Muslims in America?

Jasser: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) are simply byproducts of the Islamist teams that recruited them and trained them in the art of ideology and dissimulation. Those teams include the alphabet soup of Islamist organizations—”Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups”—that exist in the United States. These include, for instance, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Future politicians, media pundits, or the many demagogic imams, they all rise up from within the Islamist populist movement in the West by telling insular Islamist communities what they want to hear while claiming to speak for all Muslims.

Omar and Tlaib rose up in Democratic politics because they represent decades of cooperation between the Islamist movements here in the West, and the far left’s progressivism. Since 2011, other Muslim reform leaders and I were asked by Congress to testify many times on the Hill on the compromising influence of Islamist organizations and ideologies, both global and domestic, to our national security.

The American Islamist groups worked in a coordinated fashion to attack me, the organization I represent, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) and the other Muslims in our Muslim Reform Movement. Each time we testified to Congress, their attempts at takfirism (declaring us not to be “real” Muslims) were often less than subtle and typically defamatory. They repeatedly attempted to smear us on social media and never addressed the issues or ideas that we represented in our testimony. It is always revealing how fearful Islamists are of actually addressing the connection between their non-violent ‘political Islam’ (Islamism) and violent political Islam.

This is the classic method of many Islamists: they tag onto “identity movements” and transform the belief in the ideology of a faith, Islam, into an identity racial group—which it is not. This distortion stifles any real diversity of ideas and promotes a culture where the community is perceived to be a racial monolith. Thus, anyone who speaks out becomes an “Uncle Tom” and supposedly against the whole tribe.

In 2020, we saw Islamist identity politics fit right into the Black Lives Matter Movement and its racialization of every issue. It is quite a cooperation to behold, even though ultimately the Islamists actually agree with very little of the ideas of the far left—for example when it comes to implementing extremist Muslims’ draconian interpretations of ‘shariah law,’ such as child marriage, slavery, unequal legal rights for men and women, death for homosexuals, female genital mutilation, or beating women, to name a few.

The bottom line is that there is one alliance, progressive, that exists between AOC and her progressive extremists, and another different, alliance, Islamic fundamentalist, that exists between, say, AOC and her following and the Islamist members of Congress and their following.

Those two members of Congress represent the current leading edge, in identity politics, of political Islam in the West and its emphasis on group rights rather than individual rights. Both women, however, represent the trend to stifle dissent and dissidents. They also both represent the effort to empower domestic and global Islamist supremacists and their Islamic nation-state ideologies over the exceptionalism of secular liberal American democracy. They would most likely deny this, and certainly there are some clear differences between Omar and Tlaib. For example, Omar’s foreign policy has clearly proven that she formulates her positions by looking first for the interests of the global political Islamist populist movement, and then all else follows. She spins it to her benefit in a deceptively American context, yet you can see—in her unwavering support of Turkey’s Erdogan, Qatar, various permutations of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and even Iran—that her affinity for Islamists is paramount. As a naval officer, there is nothing I found more offensive than her fabricated statements, right before she was elected, that somehow Americans killed thousands in Somalia, more than the terrorists we were fighting, and implying that those of us who served in “Operation Restore Hope” were terrorists.

Canlorbe: You make no mystery of your Syrian origins. How do you assess Bashar al-Assad’s policy? Do you believe that former President Donald J. Trump had the right attitude towards Bashar when, in April 2017, he decided on a missile strike in response to the use of chemical attack?

Jasser: Bashar Assad’s policies are in line with the Syrian Ba’ath party fascism of more than 50 years. The Syrian revolution, which began in 2011, needs to be understood in the context of the methods with which the ruling party wields its power. The Syrian Ba’ath Party is an Arab nationalist socialist party (akin to an Arab Nazism), which seized power by military coup in 1963. The Alawite—a Shi’ite offshoot—faction of Ba’ath Party loyalists then took power in another bloody coup in February 1966. After that Alawite coup, the fascist Ba’ath transformed its predominantly supremacist political platform to incorporate a preference for the Alawite Shi’ite sect. Members of Sunni Muslim leadership were purged from the military. The entire leadership became comprised of Alawite Ba’athist faithful. The influence of Sunnis, Christians, Druze and Ismailis was all but eliminated. Non-Alawite officers who were ousted reported that in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Syria was on the verge of a civil war among all their sects. This condition was often difficult to ascertain for blind analysts since, like many Arab tyrants, Hafez Assad ruled in a predominantly secular fashion rather than theocratic. Now this began to shift as his son, Bashar, moved Syria into the orbit of Iran and essentially became a client-state of Iran as well as Russia.

In 1970, however, Hafez al-Assad took the reins from his fellow Alawites in still another coup. In line with the totalitarian doctrine of the Ba’athist Party, Assad, ruled Syria with an iron fist for 30 years. He ended the Ba’ath-Alawite in-fighting and his regime cleansed any non-Alawites in its midst, and obliterated any Sunni protestations. To quell the religious unrest of other sects, Assad placed a few party loyalists who were Sunni, Christian, and Druze in mid-level, and a few higher levels, of political leadership—but not military. Most people knew they were window dressing and sympathizers. The Syria of Hafez Assad was much like the Iraq of Ba’athist Saddam Hussein, described by one expatriate, who used a pseudonym, as “A Republic of Fear“: “a regime of totalitarian rule, institutionalized violence, universal fear, and unchecked personal dictatorship.” Many of our Syrian families, after suffering for years in and out of prison, and muzzled in every form of expression, left for American freedom after realizing that a revolution to topple one of the world’s most ruthless military tyrannies would likely never materialize in their lifetimes.

The Assad regime, using incalculably cruel methods, paralyzed the humanity of 22 million Syrians for two generations. Brothers, sisters, families reported on one another to Syrian intelligence (Mukhabarat). Many vanished, never to be seen again, and anyone who dared to dissent from the ruling party was systematically tortured and made an example of by frequent collective punishment. By the twenty-first century, there were more Syrians living outside Syria than inside, and some analyses claim that one in nine expatriates living abroad provided steady information to the Assad regime on expatriate Syrian activities in order to spare the family. The Syrian Human Rights Committee has chronicled many of the atrocities committed in the past 45 years by the Assad regime: the Hama massacres of 1963, 1982, and again in 2011, Tadmur, and the countless prisoners of conscience were systematically snuffed out by the regime.

It is upon this background that the Syrian revolution commenced in March 2011 as part of the greater regional Arab awakening. The Assad regime calculated that it would be able to slow-walk a genocidal cleansing operation against the Syrian people who were part of the revolution. While the first year of the revolution showed significant diversity—with Sunnis, Alawites, Druze, Christians and others marching in the streets—Assad did as his party always did. He drove internal divisions among the sects to rip his country apart, while leaving his regime alone. He was sustained with heavy foreign help, from Russia and Iran, in military, financial, and human assets. The Sunni population was eventually radicalized, with ISIS arising in 2013 in Syria and Iraq. It was due to a perfect storm of Assad’s radicalizing Sunnis—combined with their ideological influence from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey—at the same time as Iraq’s descent into anarchy. The growth of ISIS provided the Assad regime a convenient cover for continued military genocidal operations and the use of chemical weapons against the majority of the population who were unarmed and who had naively thought that if the world saw it on YouTube, the public would put enough pressure on Assad to bring it to an end. Sadly, Russia and Iran were likely the primary reason Assad survived and the civil war did not evolve organically. Russia and Iran consolidated Assad’s grip on Syria’s humanity and systematically exterminated more than 600,000 people and displaced 10,000,000 people out of Syria’s 22,000,000. The UN remained feckless.

This is not to say that the West or anyone should have intervened in any way close to what happened in Iraq. What use is the UN, however, if ruthless tyrants can use chemical weapons and eradicate swaths of their own population with no repercussions? A Bosnian type of response, akin to President William Jefferson Clinton’s and the UN’s response to Serbia’s crimes in 1995 might have helped. President Barack Obama, however, did not just avoid military intervention; his administration actively supported the Assad regime at the altar of their “nuclear deal” with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the empowerment of The Iranian Republican Guard Corps and its Masters in Tehran. The Obama Administration handed hundreds of billions of dollars to the theocrats as well as an insurance of security, as well as a future with a nuclear bomb. These, along with thousands of troops and the empowerment of the terror group Hizballah, gave Iran’s leaders a green light to spread terror into Syria.

President Donald Trump’s Administration’s response to the Assad’s repeated use of chemical weapons in April 2018, while minimal in the scheme of what had happened in Syria to that point, did send a message that reverberated within the Assad regime, not to mention Russia and Iran, that red lines do mean something for that administration. It did have some deterrent effect, as limited as it was.

Canlorbe: At Trump’s request, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Sudan and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords, promising to make peace with Israel. They also promised to stop financing and hosting terrorist organizations. Do you believe those regimes can be trusted? How will they behave under a Biden presidency?

Jasser: In President Ronald Reagan’s words, “trust but verify”. But first, it is important to reflect on the failed “Arab Awakening”. While it was not a Spring—except for Tunisia where a culture of democracy and some liberalism is actually beginning to take hold—a complete reset in the Arab world against tyranny was certainly very appealing to those of us from families that have been fighting against these dictators, autocratic monarchs, and otherwise Islamist theocrats for more than two generations. After a decade of failed revolutions—between the 20th century’s tyrannies and the chaos after 2011—was there a better path forward?

Some may appropriately say that no real democracies evolved quickly in the “Arab Awakening,” after centuries of tyranny. In fact, there may be a need for multiple revolutions before democracy can take hold. Perhaps, though, there can be a more methodical transition towards modernity with steady benchmarks of reform and liberalization, as we have seen done so successfully with the 2020 Middle East agreements?

The challenge, as always, will be in keeping it from being too slow to the point of fiction—which has been “Plan A” for the tyrants across the Middle East since World War II. They lie to the West about reforms in order to placate each new administration with a five- or ten-year plan while transitions in power in the West along with our short-term, societal “attention deficit disorder” give them a pass. Remember, the changes in 2011 created vacuums facilitating the re-emergence of tyranny and radical Islamists, but sometimes, like treating cancer, the patient has first to get more ill before returning to health.

Essentially, a model of reform that I see possible—perhaps remotely, but possible—for liberalism and freedom, may be an evolution towards constitutional monarchies (much as I disagree with “genetic supremacism”). Some of them have been building civil society institutions that begin to modernize Islamic thought, end the concept of an Islamic state and its jihad, and instead are looking at their state and citizens through the prism of universal human rights. What we have been seeing in the UAE gives hope, as do Bahrain, Sudan, with, one hopes, more to come. So far, I have less optimism for Saudi Arabia relinquishing the dominance of the ideas of salafi-jihadism and its draconian interpretation of Islam even as the Saudis openly condemn and declare war on ‘political Islam’. Their track record is just so abysmal. But as we see them outlaw child marriage and make other changes, the principle of “trust but verify” may be appropriate to push them forward?

This is likely confusing to many non-Muslims, if we try to say, that the Saudis are now anti-Islamist despite decades of supporting Muslim Brotherhood groups across the planet? Please understand, though, that the concept of an Islamic Republic, with an Islamic flag and an Islamic jurisprudence (sharia) in which the Qur’an is the source, not just a source of law, is in fact certainly still a form of political Islam, just more of a top-down, corporate, theocracy no matter which way you cut it. However, even the Islamist populist movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, are not much better. They are simply bottom-up, grass roots theocracies founded in sharia ideologies. Regardless of whether a state’s approach is top-down or bottom-up one, if its raison d’être is based in Islam and the primacy of Islamic law rather than on individual rights and the protection of minorities, as in secular liberal democracies, it will always be anti-freedom and illiberal.

We will have to watch very closely if there will be new interpretations from the pulpits of the grand mosque in Mecca, or mosques in Medina and across the country. The fact that we heard this coming from the pulpits in the Emirates and Bahrain is what made the Abraham Accords a reality to believe rather than doubt.

For the first time I do also see peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia as not only a short-term possibility but even a long-term one. The combination of the populist Islamist movement threat to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its radical offshoots of ISIS and al Qaeda combined with the threat of Shia Islamism of Khomeinism has shaken the foundations of the Saudi state establishment and forced them to reckon with monsters they helped create—such as the Muslim Brotherhood and their mosques—while also pushing them to forge more meaningful acknowledgement of the state of Israel and the West. Let us not also underestimate the role of the Trump administration and the Pompeo State Department in making this happen. This early reform however will only be real when it is met with a genuine reinterpretation of the antisemitic translations and interpretations of the Qur’an and Hadith (the Prophet’s deeds and sayings) that the government of Saudi Arabia pushes. Not until their imams begin to marginalize the anti-Semitic bigotry of so many of those interpretations and begin to present new interpretations will that change be in fact durable.

As for Qatar, we should begin closing our base there and finding other options for our regional security. Their state propaganda arm of Al Jazeera—in addition to their relationship with Iran, Turkey and global Islamist movements of the Muslim Brotherhood—has rendered them no longer an ally, let alone even a “frenemy”. This should not surprise anyone. The Al-Thani family went all in the Muslim Brotherhood since 1961 when they gave safe haven to the spiritual guide of the Ikhwani movement—Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi. He has since been a close partner of the royal family aligned ideologically and strategically with a global reach of at least tens of millions of Islamists. We have long followed and dissected Qaradawi’s English and Arabic work and there is little doubt that he and his followers are the central cancer of the Sunni Islamist global movement against the west and our way of life. The Qatari government’s fealty for Islamists has brought them economically and ideologically closer to Iran’s Khomeinists in addition to the Taliban. My position has always been that Qatar sees itself as the global center for Islamists, meaning “The Caliphate”. Their extreme wealth makes for a toxic global brew for most of our Islamist enemies.

I see no inkling of reform or change on the programming of Al Jazeera or any of their imams or clerics. In fact, only months ago we saw systematic Holocaust denial on the programming of Al Jazeera as they attempted quickly to erase history of that. They are too deeply embedded at heart and economically with Iran, Turkey and other Islamist supremacists across the planet to have any hope at reform unless their regime falls. We can only pray.

There is little doubt that the Biden administration will simply be Obama 3.0. It may even be worse than the Obama administration because it is going to trip over itself in such an exaggerated fashion trying to undo the progress against the Islamists—domestically and abroad—that we have made since 2016, that the pendulum will swing back further than even the Obama administration in defense of Islamists.

We are already seeing this in the Islamist that was selected to be a senior White House staffer for legislative affairs—Reema Dodin. She is notably not only historically an operative with Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups such as CAIR in DC but she also stated as a student at UC-Berkley, “Palestinian suicide bombings are the last resort of a desperate people”. With her likes running interference with the Hill for the White House, we may see an even more radicalized policy in favor of not only Iranian appeasement but overt support of Islamist interests domestically and abroad. What is certain—based on how Dodin while at Senator Durbin’s office with her allies at Muslim Advocates beat the drum of Muslim American victimization against our testimony on the Hill—it will only get worse.

As for Biden’s foreign policy, he is already signaling that the Pentagon will focus on diplomacy first and the military second. So, the Pentagon is a branch of the State Department? If that is not “leading from behind 3.0”, I don’t know what is. Sources say he wants to “de-emphasize the military” and lift up diplomacy. If that vision is by openly weakening our defense programming, that will signal a green light actually to usher in more war, not less. Peace through weakness doesn’t work against thugs like Khamenei and Assad across the planet. We are thus likely to see a re-emergence of Islamist belligerence and a testing of the waters as they try to make gains against Biden’s apparent appeasement strategy. Now more than ever, our private work needs to push for anti-Islamist reformers against the likely ascendant Islamist threats.

Canlorbe: Putin is an ally of the mullahs and sits at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. In Russia, Muslims represent 10% of the total population, and Islam is the second most widely professed religion. Is the Russian regime a trustworthy ally in promoting enlightened Islam and fighting against terrorist, political Islam?

Jasser: Domestically, as Michael Weiss pointed out in 2017, the Russians have long played a double game with radical Islamist terror, in fact helping fuel ISIS with recruits from Chechnya to give Assad cover and allow Russia to ship out the jihadists it creates. Regionally, Putin’s regime has empowered our greatest enemies—Iran’s terror regime from its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) to Hizballah, and Assad. Its state propaganda—RT is finally listed under FARA and is an unwavering part of the Assad/Khameinist media arm state-sponsored media. They have worked with our nominal ally, Turkey (selling them missiles) and giving them the green light against our Kurdish allies in Syria. Part of their longtime interest in Syria is their only Mediterranean port and base at Tartus. Chechnya’s tyrant, Ramzan Kadyrov, portrays himself as a devout Muslim but he is a two-bit radical tyrant and Putin tool who has systematically radicalized his population while violating the human rights of every minority group from the gay community to dissidents.

In my book, A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Patriots’ fight to Save his Faith, I recount how my father told me that our family’s deep seeded anti-communism and anti-Islamism is what drove them to become enamored of West and learn about the exceptionalism of secular democracy and especially about Americanism. Russia’s Putin and its kleptocrats would never promote an enlightened anything, let alone defeat a theocracy. They still have a state-sponsored church; the other faiths, whether within Christianity or outside, have lesser to no rights. There is a reason their entire economy is oil, and produce no products of any kind competing in the free markets. The Putin regime is against individual creativity and battles of ideology. In order for reformists to emerge, we need a public platform of critical thinking and modern civil institutions that protect universal human rights.

Canlorbe: Both Maimonides and Averroes endeavored to conciliate religion and philosophy. How do you assess the legacy of Averroes in Islam and that of Maimonides in Judaism?

Jasser: As a physician dedicated to treating the ill, your question resonates with me more than you would ever know. My chosen profession is as a doctor and it was the inspiration of clear broad-minded thinkers and doctors like Maimonides and Averroes who influenced so much of my idealism about medicine and medical ethics. Their confidence in weighing in on philosophy, theology, legalisms, and politics are an example of what I have always aspired to be and do in my own life even if their ideas are from almost 1000 years ago. It was not necessarily the specifics of their ideas, but the courage of their inquiry. Scholars have often pointed out the strong resemblance between Maimonides’ “understanding of God’s manifestness in the order of nature” and Averroes’ “conception of God and providence which focuses heavily on God’s essential preservation of all species, and his role as the cause of being and unity in all hylomorphic substances.” Averroes, for example, saw God in every element of nature’s diversity.

Averroes’s gift or legacy to Islamic thought was much like that of Maimonides; he took human feelings and sensations, like ‘heat’, ‘intellect’, ‘mind’, ‘wisdom’, and ‘creativity’ and used them to broaden our human understanding of God. To most Salafists, even the suggestion of imparting human-like attributes to God is blasphemy whether or not it is intended just to understand and relate better to our understanding of God. Giving philosophical descriptions of God using human metaphors and nature provided Averroes, like Maimonides, a flexibility of thought about God which in the right era of boundless human creativity and inquiry can become the foundation of real enlightenment and liberalism.

Similar to Maimonides, Averroes sought to bring to Islamic thought a “blending of God as pure unity and God as intellect” a very Hellenic thought process seen throughout Arabic discourse, as seen in, for example, the Theology of Aristotle.

Contrary to essentially every extremist or literalist movement in Islam today, Averroes’ legacy was about taking God’s unity (tawhid) and giving Muslims a way of looking at that unity, consistency, and omnipresence in a way that does not conflict and actually explains the infinite diversity of the human condition, our nature, and our laws. This is actually also the essence of our Muslim Reform Movement—an attempt to bring back such a deep understanding of diversity of thought and interpretations of Islamic law (shariah) in a way that allows us to live in harmony with modernity and secular liberal democracy through a separation of “history and religion”—or more allegory and less literalism. Averroes may not have explicitly gone so far as real liberalism. But then again there were no liberal democracies upon which to reflect for these thinkers at the time. But the foundations of his thought, similar to what Maimonides was to Judaism, gave metaphysical nuggets of what God is and what God is not, along with the infinite possibilities for human nature brought about by God. Averroes, like Maimonides, looked at scripture, the Qur’an for Averroes, as allegory. This courage to go beyond literalism is part of his legacy and similarities to Maimonides.

Sadly, while both Maimonides and Averroes did their amazingly open-minded and deep work during the 12th century, both in Muslim majority nation states, Averroes’ legacy has so far been very difficult to find in the “Islamic world” if not lost to hundreds and hundreds of years of intellectual and philosophical stagnation and reactionary movements that ultimately dominated and decimated most free Islamic academic and civil institutions since his life.

It is my hope and prayer that our work will contribute not to what the Islamists want—a revivalism of the old—but rather a genuine reform towards a Western model of Islam based in infinite diversity of thought and protection of individual inquiry and their universal human rights, rather than the oppressive collective and the proverbial Islamic state.

December 7, 2020: Muslim Reformer Discusses Middle East Peace, Islamist Terror in Europe

December 7, 2020
The American Spectator
by: Steve Postal

Muslim Reformer Discusses Middle East Peace, Islamist Terror in Europe

I interviewed Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser in January 2017, July 2017, September 2018, May 2019, and February 2020 on a range of topics including Islamism and what he believes is its antidote, the Muslim Reform Movement. This is a follow-up interview, in which Jasser and I discuss Middle East peace and Islamist terrorism in Europe, among other things.

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, the host of the Blaze Radio Podcast “Reform This!,” and founder of TakeBackIslam.com.

Domestic Developments

Postal: Georgetown’s Bridge Initiative, the Center for American Progress’ Fear, Inc., and the Council on American-Islamic Relations associate with you with “Islamophobia.” How do you respond to such accusations? 

Jasser: We at the AIFD and the MRM have been dedicated to long-overdue reforms against Islamism (political Islam) and its propagandists. I have spoken at length about the differences between Muslim reformers and Muslim Islamists in our first interview. I reject the term “Islamophobia.” It is a mechanism used by Islamist movements and regimes to prevent criticism of Islamism. Islam has yet to go through an enlightenment and reform against theocracy and for individual liberty and universal human rights. The dominant “establishment” of the Muslim community in the West and abroad supports Islamism and its believers, the Islamists. The Muslim reformers, on the other hand, believe that freedom and universal human rights should ultimately prevail.

Those at the Bridge Initiative, “Fear, Inc.,” and Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups like Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Students Association (MSA), and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) do not accept that devout Muslims exist who reject their ideas. Instead, such groups attack us as anti-Islam and blasphemers. Like theocrats, Islamists and their sympathizers see faith as monolithic and do not tolerate diversity of interpretation.

Postal: According to NPR, 35 percent of Muslims voted for President Trump in November. And according to NBC shortly before the election, 78 percent of eligible Muslim voters were registered to vote, up from 60 percent in 2016. To what do you attribute these statistics?

Jasser: The NPR statistic is very revealing on a number of levels. I covered this in depth in my weekly podcast of “Reform This!” that week. Essentially, American Muslims reject the Obama–Biden policies that fueled Iran’s proxy wars across the Middle East and deepened sectarian conflicts between Sunni and Shia radicals. Many American Muslims see that Islamism has destroyed the Middle East and were tired of the Obama–Biden administration’s appeasement of Islamists.

Postal: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) just reintroduced a bill that would recognize the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. Saudi Arabia recently reaffirmed its designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, joining Muslim-majority nations like the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan and the Libyan House of Representatives in declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization or otherwise banning it. Should the U.S. follow in their footsteps?

Jasser: There is little doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood global organization has given birth to Sunni Islamism and groups like al Qaeda and ISIS. As I stated in my testimony, “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Global Threat,” to then-Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) in July 2018, designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terror organization should be taken on a country-by-country basis, with branches in Libya, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq, and Yemen being the most obvious candidates.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood in the West is more of an amorphous, underground idea with front groups and ideologically sympathetic travelers. Shutting down legacy Brotherhood groups in the West is a slippery slope that harms free speech. Instead, we need to defeat the Brotherhood’s bad ideas with better ideas. Closing Brotherhood affiliates by force will only empower Islamists.

Islamism in Europe

Postal: In 2020 alone, there were at least five Islamist terrorist attacks in Europe: three in France (stabbing in Paris, leaving two wounded; teacher beheading in a suburb of Paris; and stabbing in Nice, killing three), one in Germany (stabbing in Dresden, killing one and wounding another), and one in Austria (four dead, 22 injured in Vienna shooting). Why is Europe in the situation it is now?

Jasser: Europe has always had bad Muslim immigration policy, and this worsened after the mass immigration from Syria since 2011. The cultural, social, political, and religious shock to Europe is massive. Even if we conservatively estimate that 10 to 20 percent of these immigrants sympathize with ISIS while 30 to 40 percent are sympathetic to nonviolent Islamism and reject the social contract of Western secular liberal democracies, this combined population of militant and non-militant Islamists are insurgents. Security agencies have claimed that there are too many flagged individuals to follow. It is hard for me to understand why this hasn’t led to European countries reevaluating their immigration policies to better screen for Islamists.

But the best weapon against Islamists is non-Islamist Muslims. European governments must create partnerships with Muslim communities to marginalize Islamists. The European governments must work with non-Islamist Muslims to equip them with four things: patriotism to the nation state, a liberal education, critical thinking against tribalism, and faith and morality not in conflict with the above. The goal is to create Muslims that would want to serve and die for their nations, not jihad. If young French, German, Swedish, or Austrian Muslims are not positively engaged, the Islamists will fill that void.

Postal: French President Emmanuel Macron has waged war on “Islamist separatism” while supporting citizens’ right to draw cartoons of Mohammed under freedom of speech. What are your thoughts on Macron’s approach?

Macron has been great at diagnosing but horrible at treating the disease of Islamism. Macron must enfranchise reform-minded Muslims and resist implementing illiberal draconian measures. The nations of Europe must protect themselves from Islamist insurgents and their violence, but not at the expense of Europe’s core values and social contracts.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Austria also diagnosed the problem correctly as “political Islam,” but seeks to criminalize thought by criminalizing Islamism itself. This approach is not only illiberal and counterproductive but demonstrates to Islamists that the West is authoritarian.

The best way to counter nonviolent Islamism is with good ideas. Pushing Islamism underground empowers its supporters, as Egypt, Iran, Russia, and Syria have learned. The American approach, which allows hate speech as long as it does not promote imminent acts of violence (as per Brandenburg v. Ohio) is the most rational and effective approach. But those who advocate for terrorist acts should be arrested.

Middle East Peace

Postal: Your organization, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, released a statement praising the Israel–UAE peace deal. What are your thoughts on the Abraham Accords?

Jasser: The Abraham Accords are the first genuine reforms within the Muslim world against Islamist anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, with the UAE and Bahrain paving the way. Across the UAE and Bahrain, imams acknowledged the need to recognize the state of Israel and reject anti-Zionism, and respect Jews and Judaism. We saw Arab leaders and journalists go from being blind supporters of the Palestinian cause to criticizing the Palestinian leadership for its failures and radicalization of its people.

Postal: Rumors abound that Saudi Arabia and even Qatar could be next in making peace with Israel. Is durable peace possible between Israel and Saudi Arabia and Qatar, or are there irreconcilable differences?

Jasser: I see durable peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia possible. The Islamist threats to Saudi Arabia including populist Sunni Islamism, ISIS, al Qaeda, and Shia Islamism have shaken the foundations of the Saudi state and forced it to reckon with the Islamist monster that it created. This pivot has also pushed the Saudi state closer to Israel. While the Trump administration was critical to this, true, durable peace will occur only when the Saudi establishment genuinely reinterprets the anti-Semitic interpretations of the Qur’an and Hadith that it has propagated for years.

As for Qatar, we should close our base there and find other options for our regional security. Its ownership of Al Jazeera, which has peddled Holocaust denial, and its relationships with Iran and Turkey render it incapable of being an ally of the United States. The Al-Thani royal family also supports the Muslim Brotherhood and its spiritual guide, Yusuf Qaradawi. In a sermon on Qatar TV back in 2013, on the topic of interfaith debate, Qaradawi said, “If you invite the Jews, I will not participate. I will participate in a Muslim–Christian meeting, but with the Jews there should be no debate.” I see no prospect of reform from Al Jazeera or Qatar’s leaders and imams.

Postal: How do you think a Biden–Harris administration would impact prospects for Middle East peace, and Muslim reform both at home and abroad?

Jasser: The Biden–Harris administration will reverse the progress the Trump administration made against Islamists domestically and abroad. I believe that Reema Dodin, selected to be a senior White House staffer for legislative affairs in a new Biden–Harris administration, is sympathetic to an Islamist worldview. She joined Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups CAIR and the Muslim Student Association as a college student at UC-Berkeley. She also stated, while at Berkeley, that Palestinian suicide bombers are “the last resort of a desperate people.” Given the above, at the White House, Dodin will likely contribute to policy in favor of appeasing Iran and other Islamist interests domestically and abroad.

Indications that the Biden–Harris administration will “de-emphasize” the Pentagon and the military at the expense of greater diplomacy is troubling. Weakening our military would invite more, not less, war in the Middle East.

Postal: How can the Muslim Reform Movement gain traction in the Middle East?

Jasser: A possible path for Muslim Reform in the Middle East is for countries in the Middle East to evolve from absolute to constitutional leadership that allows for civil society institutions to modernize Islamic thought, defeat Islamism, and promote universal human rights. The UAE and Bahrain provide hope for this model. I am less optimistic about Saudi Arabia relinquishing its interpretation of Islam even as the Saudis openly condemn and declare war on “political Islam.”

Postal: Recently, there were two terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia: a stabbing outside of the French consulate and an Islamic State attack directed at French nationals wounding three in an Armistice Day ceremony at a cemetery. The Islamic State had previously threatened Saudi Arabia following its tacit support for the UAE and Bahrain normalization deals with Israel. What are your thoughts on these developments?

Jasser: Acts of terror and threats against Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain are the beginnings of a much longer war. Normalization between Israel and some Arab states has weakened the Islamist platform considerably. For too long, governments of Muslim-majority countries have been radicalizing Muslims towards Islamism and its anti-Semitism. For example, Islamist and anti-Semitic Qatar and Turkey supports Islamist and anti-Semitic Hamas, which is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Many of the Gulf states are pulling away from the Palestinian national movement, and with it distancing themselves from the Islamism and anti-Semitism of both Hamas and Fatah/the Palestinian Authority. We hope that the UAE and Bahrain will serve as the catalyst for other Muslims who love their faith to ultimately defeat the ideology of Islamism.

The author would like to thank Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser for participating in this interview.

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”.

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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.

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