Comments on the Death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

We at AIFD will shed no tears for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who passed away yesterday, January 22nd.

As the head of a tyrranical, murderous and notoriously repressive government, King Abdullah is responsible for the execution of dissidents, the torture of minorities, and the exportation of the most malignant strain of politicized, radicalized Islam the world has known.

We do not share in the saccharine and morally bankrupt assessment of many in the media. King Abdullah was no “reformer,” and we grant him no credit for “nudging” the Kingdom forward. Under King Abdullah’s reign, Saudi Arabia remained the country where bloggers are sentenced to potentially fatal lashings, where writers are jailed for tweets , dissidents and “witches” are beheaded, and where the monarchy itself participates in child marriage and the religious establishment calls Jews “apes and pigs.” We have to question the integrity of those in the media and ruling classes who are now eulogizing King Abdullah as though he were worthy of admiration. Even Queen Elizabeth has ordered Britain’s flags to fly at half-mast today. While we do not revel in death, we also will not celebrate or participate in the fictional retelling of King Abdullah’s legacy.

The House of Saud, with the king at the helm, likes to refer to itself as the “Custodian of the two Holy Mosques” – that is, the owners and overseers of the holiest sites in Islam. We at AIFD reject not only this structure, but also the Saudi regime’s stranglehold on contemporary Islam. From the megalomania of the House of Saud to the cancer of Wahhabism, we at AIFD recognize that the real reformers of Saudi Arabia are languishing in its jails, dying by its sword, and living suffocated behind its walls; while those in power fuel the radicalization that brought us 9/11, the attack at Fort Hood, and even ISIS. The real human tragedy and loss is that today, the world sends condolences for King Abdullah while heroes like Raif Badawi remain in prison, the marks of severe lashes yet unhealed.

While we will not cry for King Abdullah, we are also not optimistic about his successor, King Salman – said to be even more repressive and problematic than King Abdullah, particularly with regard to women’s and minority rights.

In the wake of King Abdullah’s passing, we will not just pray for, but also continue to work tirelessly for the day when we Muslims and the world rid ourselves of the evils of theocracy and dictatorship. At a time when the movement to advance individual liberty and autonomy within the “house of Islam” is already challenging, we who stand for freedom and universal human rights must be more diligent than ever. Our hill just became steeper.

 

Syria loads chemical weapons into bombs; military awaits Assad’s order

Pentagon sources tell NBC News that the Syrian military is awaiting final orders to launch chemical weapons against its own people after precursor chemicals for deadly sarin gas were loaded into aerial bombs. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

World News, 12/05/12

By Jim Miklaszewski and M. Alex Johnson, NBC News

Updated at 8:20 a.m. ET: The Syrian military is prepared to use chemical weapons against its own people and is awaiting final orders from President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday.

The military has loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped onto the Syrian people from dozens of fighter-bombers, the officials said.

As recently as Tuesday, officials had said there was as yet no evidence that the process of mixing the “precursor” chemicals had begun. But Wednesday, they said their worst fears had been confirmed: The nerve agents were locked and loaded inside the bombs.

Sarin is an extraordinarily lethal agent. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces killed 5,000 Kurds with a single sarin attack on Halabja in 1988.

U.S. officials stressed that as of now, the sarin bombs hadn’t been loaded onto planes and that Assad hadn’t issued a final order to use them. But if he does, one of the officials said, “there’s little the outside world can do to stop it.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reiterated U.S. warnings to Assad not to use chemical weapons, saying he would be crossing “a red line” if he did so.

So far, intelligence sources say, bombs loaded with the components of sarin haven’t yet been loaded onto planes. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

Speaking Wednesday at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Clinton said the Syrian government was on the brink of collapse, raising the prospect that “an increasingly desperate Assad regime” might turn to chemical weapons or that the banned weapons could fall into other hands.

“Ultimately, what we should be thinking about is a political transition in Syria and one that should start as soon as possible,” Clinton said. “We believe their fall is inevitable. It is just a question of how many people have to die before that occurs.”

Aides told NBC News that Clinton was expected next week to officially recognize the main opposition movement, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, with which she is scheduled to meet in Morocco. Britain, France, Turkey and some key Arab leaders have already recognized the opposition.

Fighting intensified Wednesday in the 21-month civil war, which has left 40,000 people dead. The U.N. withdrew its personnel from Damascus, saying conditions were too dangerous.

Kevin Lamarque / AFP – Getty Images

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking Wednesday at NATO headquarters in Brussels, said the fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government was “inevitable.”

The government said this week that it wouldn’t use chemical weapons on its own people after President Barack Obama warned that doing so would be “totally unacceptable.”

But U.S. officials said this week that the government had ordered its Chemical Weapons Corps to “be prepared,” which Washington interpreted as a directive to begin bringing together the components needed to weaponize Syria’s chemical stockpiles.

Watch World News videos on NBCNews.com

U.S. officials had long believed that the Syrian government was stockpiling the banned chemical weapons before it acknowledged possessing them this summer.

NBC News reported in July that U.S. intelligence agencies believed that in addition to sarin, Syria had access to tabun, a chemical nerve agent, as well as traditional chemical weapons like mustard gas and hydrogen cyanide.

Officials told NBC News at the time that the Syrian government was moving the outlawed weapons around the country, leaving foreign intelligence agencies unsure where they might end up.

Syria is one of only seven nations that hasn’t ratified the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention, the arms control agreement that outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of such weapons.

Bombshells filled with chemicals can be carried by Syrian Air Force fighter-bombers, in particular Sukhoi-22/20, MiG-23 and Sukhoi-24 aircraft. In addition, some reports indicate that unguided short-range Frog-7 artillery rockets may be capable of carrying chemical payloads.

In terms of longer-range delivery systems, Syria has a few dozen SS-21 ballistic missiles with a maximum range of 72 miles; 200 Scud-Bs, with a maximum range of 180 miles; and 60 to 120 Scud-Cs, with a maximum range of 300 miles, all of which are mobile and are capable of carrying chemical weapons, according U.S. intelligence officials.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed President Obama’s recent vow to take action if Syrian President Bashar Assad uses chemical weapons during the ongoing clashes within his country. U.S. officials are also concerned about the rising influence of extremist groups within Syria. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

02/10/2015 AIFD STATEMENT ON DEATH OF KAYLA MUELLER

My heart goes out to the family of American ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller, whose death was confirmed this morning. This young woman dedicated her life to helping those who needed it most, and the world has lost a bright light now that she is gone. This tragic news only furthers our resolve to speak out and shake the hold of political Islam, the ideology that fuels the radical Islamists who continue to commit these barbaric acts. As an Arizonan and a Syrian-American, I, along with my family, will be eternally indebted to Kayla for the ultimate sacrifice she made in trying to aid our beleaguered extended families suffering in Syria. She and her family will forever be in our prayers.”

-Dr. Zuhdi Jasser

Memorial Day 2015

We at AIFD would like to take a moment to wish our fellow Americans a blessed Memorial Day. We pause to remember, with tremendous gratitude, the sacrifices of the men and women we have lost as they’ve served in our Armed Forces. They, and their families, have made the ultimate sacrifice.

At AIFD, one of our foundational values is the support of America’s Armed Forces. As liberty-minded Muslims, we hold the memory of those who died to preserve our American freedoms especially close. May our work honor them, and honor this great nation. As enemies of freedom continue their march, so must we continue, ever steadfast, in our dedication to liberty.

AIFD Summer Newsletter: a Dispatch from Voices for Reform | June 20,2014

Dear Friends,

First, we want to let you know that we have been following the situation in Iraq very closely. Our written analysis will follow, but you may be interested in my recent media appearances on the topic, which are available on our YouTube channel. Click here for my recent appearance on Fox Business, discussing the troubling rise of ISIS.

We at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy are excited to share updates with you from the start of our tenth year engaging directly in the battle of ideas against Islamism.

As we reflected on the past ten years, with its many successes and challenges, we recognized that it is time to re-visit the values that drive our work. While we remain committed to our foundational values and core principles, we recognize the need to set forth a set of universal values to expand the reach of our work. The following guiding principles will be the focus of all of our public outreach and community engagement as we move forward:

1. AIFD seeks to build a national consensus on political Islam. Our goal will be to “Unite the American Spirit” around the concepts upon which this nation was founded: individual liberty, freedom of conscience, and the promise that each individual has a chance at reaching his or her fullest potential. Political Islam, or Islamism, is the antithesis of American values. Recognizing this is not a partisan act, it is an American act. When all Americans – Muslim and non-Muslim – unite to recognize and combat the threat of political Islam, we are recognizing and respecting every individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

2. AIFD will advance reform from within the house of Islam. For too long, Islamists have intimidated Muslims out of voicing the need for reform within our faith. By painting “reform” as anti-Islam and anti-Muslim, they have worked hard to guarantee that one interpretation of Islam – their interpretation – gets the most airtime. As Muslims who recognize the need for reform within our faith, we refuse to be bullied by Islamist interpretations of Islam. As liberty-minded Muslims, we embrace a pluralistic interpretation of Islam that works in synergy with, not in opposition to, universal human rights and individual freedom.

 3. AIFD is committed to ending gender-based violence. To Islamists, women are public enemy number one. While gender-based violence is a global problem, we Muslims must address issues far too common within our community: honor-based violence, domestic violence, forced and child marriage, marital rape, female genital mutilation and more. To Islamists, the responsibility of representing piety and respectability falls predominantly on women’s bodies, and controlling them is considered a divine mandate. At AIFD, we believe that women are entitled to bodily integrity, personal autonomy, and freedom from all forms of psychological, emotional, physical and sexual abuse and control.

4.  Freedom of religion is the first right in the U.S. Constitution because without it no other right can stand.  AIFD stands firm in our commitment to advance that right and the right for all to have freedom of conscience, which must also include freedom of expression and the freedom to leave one religion for another or to choose not to embrace any faith at all. We reject the practice of “takfir,” or the declaration of a person as non-Muslim as practiced by Islamists. This practice has been used by Islamists both to chill speech about political Islam and to signal to vigilantes that those targeted are worthy of death. We accept as Muslim any person who identifies him or herself as Muslim, and believe the veracity of an individual’s faith is a matter between the individual and God. 

5.  We seek to empower non-Muslim allies in working to eradicate radical Islam. We recognize that the threat of political Islam affects all of us – not just Muslims. All too often, non-Muslims are made to feel that they are not welcome to ask critical questions, express concerns, or speak frankly about these issues. We are committed to creating not just safe spaces for liberty-minded Muslims, but also for non-Muslims interested our mission.  We also recognize that without non-Muslim allies, our movement cannot succeed. The support and input of our non-Muslim allies is essential to our success and to meaningful change.

6.  We will continue to identify, engage, support and empower other Muslims and Muslim organizations who share the above five goals.

Our team continues to be at the forefront of championing these principles and challenging those forces within our community who stand against them. A few highlights:

Some of the attendees at our 2014 retreat

We recently held our fourth annual retreat for liberty-minded Muslim youth. This retreat brought both youth and adult leaders together to strategize on how to strengthen our core community. To see pictures from our retreat, click here.

Dr. Jasser continues to be a leading voice on Islamic reform, national security, and the battle against political Islam (for footage and audio of interviews, please click here). He recently traveled to the UK, where he participated in the prestigious Oxford Union’s “Thursday Debate.” These formal debates have been taking place since 1823 and were founded on “an ideal of the freedom of speech.” Dr. Jasser was asked to debate whether or not the religion of Islam is compatible with gender equality. He argued that Islam as a personal faith can indeed be compatible with gender equality, if Muslim take the necessary steps to engage in reform and combat misogyny within our communities. His side won the debate by a landslide. Please see here for pictures of Dr. Jasser at the event, and stay tuned – we will send audio of the event if we are able to. (Videotaping was not permitted.) While in the UK, Dr. Jasser was also honored to speak at the Henry Jackson Society, where he gave a talk entitled “Whose Islam? Which Islam? Reformists vs. Revivalists, or why the West Must Take Sides within the House of Islam.”

Raquel Evita Saraswati appeared in the widely acclaimed documentary Honor Diaries, which features women’s rights advocates working to end gender-based violence in Muslim communities. The film has brought urgently needed attention to the issue of women’s rights in Muslim majority societies and communities. She also appeared on Fox News’  The Huckabee Show to discuss the kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Islamist group Boko Haram. To watch, click here. To follow Raquel on Twitter, click here.

AIFD Fellow Ahmed Vanya authored a ground breaking article on Traditional Islam and the Challenge of Modernity. The article looks at the compatibility of Islam with modernity. To learn more about Ahmed and our fellows program, click here.

Victory in the Battle for the Soul of Islam will come when Muslims and Non-Muslims alike engage the fallacies of the Islamist ideology and embrace for all people the principles that define America – the sanctity of individual human rights and inalienable rights to liberty.

We would appreciate your engagement and support our shared mission to safeguard individual liberty and freedom. To follow us on Twitter, please click here; and to like us on Facebook, please click here. To make a tax-deductible contribution, please visit this link.

 

Yours in liberty,

 

 

 

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser

Wishing you a Happy Passover and Easter

We at AIFD would like to wish our Jewish friends chag Pesach sameach (happy Passover holiday) and our Christian friends a happy Easter.

May we remain committed and undeterred in our mission to advance freedom for all persecuted people, and to stand with all those facing oppression everywhere. Indeed, this is the core of AIFD’s work –  to challenge theocracy and fascism as they threaten our most precious G-d given blessings: freedom of conscience, the choice to have a relationship with the Divine that is based on sincere conviction, and the right to connect with others around our most sacred values.

May your holidays be blessed and your prayers answered.