Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar’s “Combating International Islamophobia Act,” a first of its kind, recently passed the House of Representatives (219-212) in a strict party-line vote.
Established as a hysterical response to Republican Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert’s no doubt rude and ill-advised “Jihad squad” remark, the bill dangerously calls for the establishment of, wait for it, an “Office to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia” in the Department of State. Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has now introduced the companion bill in the Senate.
While some critics believe this legislation is pure theatrics and won’t even be brought up for a vote, others surmise that senators will make changes before sending it back to the House, making it very possible that anti-blasphemy will now be codified into American law. This is not hyperbole.
The freest nation on earth is now unbelievably on the verge of creating a position in our State Department charged not with protecting inalienable human rights, but with protecting a faith ideology. This will be celebrated by our theocratic Islamist enemies across the world. The U.S. government will have a sanctioned “American Grand Mufti” who will determine what is, and what is not, Islam. Every American Muslim, especially anti-Islamist (anti-theocratic) Muslims, will be marginalized by the new US government arbiter on Islam.
To grasp how dangerous this bill is, it’s important to understand the origins and history of the term “Islamophobia.” It was operationalized by Islamist movements in the West, like the Muslim Brotherhood, in the late 20th century in order to silence western debate where Muslims are a minority, and prevent ideological diversity within emerging institutions of Islam. It was popularized by the ruthless theocrat Ayatollah Khomeini and his movement in 1989, when he issued a fatwa that imposed the death penalty on British author Salman Rushdie for his famous dissident novel “The Satanic Verses.” The term was then also repurposed internally within most Muslim majority countries under the “neo-caliphate” umbrella of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) where autocratic regimes would extinguish domestic dissent through torture, imprisonment, or death, under the guise of protecting God and His faith of Islam. In other words, it is a term that is used to jail critics of shariah tyranny and call them blasphemers.
Back here in the west, the charge of “Islamophobia” is wielded against anyone who criticizes the religion or its Islamists and Jihadists counterparts. As a result, the crimes of Islamist terrorists and their sponsors are whitewashed and obfuscated around the world in favor of political correctness. Pause. Reflect on what such an outpost in our Department of State will be serving?
Do not forget that the radicalized American Left is now pushing this theocratization of American Muslim identity. The Democratic Party just spent the last few years ripping America apart via the racialization of our nation and the foundations of our American principles. With this new Act, they are taking the weaponization of the label of “bigot” globally and handing it to Islamists to use with the full blessing of the American imprimatur. This is exactly what the global Red-green (Progressivist-Islamist) Axis does and has been doing at the United Nations for 80 years.
Never mind that Muslims like myself, who stand up against Islamist religious extremism, and who criticize imposition of shariah law and the abysmal treatment of women, gays and minorities in Islamist countries, are consistently and bizarrely also branded “Islamophobes” for doing so. On the contrary, we are the greatest defenders of genuine Muslim and non-Muslim rights. We at the pro-liberty, anti-Islamist Muslim Reform Movement are doing the actual work fighting anti-Muslim bigotry. This Orwellian office at the StateDepartment would only empower a look at the world through the binary Islamist lens of “Muslim and non-Muslim.”
We reformers constantly speak out against the atrocities committed throughout the world by Muslims against Muslims. So what will Congress do now, having passed this bill, when it confronts the uncomfortable fact that the vast majority of global attacks on Muslims are clearly committed by other Muslims?
The space that Omar’s bill creates for the suppression of countervailing ideas of liberalism is striking upon reading it. Its language reads like an OIC state manual, and even the statistics that are used to cite anti-Muslim bigotry in the bill’s press release are highly misleading, including referencing websites that have been thoroughly debunked as containing fraudulent data.
Not only did those who wrote it fail to consult with the State Department, but they do not even define what would apparently constitute “Islamophobia,” leaving open the possibility of reproval for anyone who says something negatively associated with Islam. Of even more concern is the repeated dangerous references to “incitement” language, which is code for an Orwellian control of free speech and protection of any “ideas” within “Islam” no matter how theocratic or repulsive they may be. Americans have already seen how this weapon is deployed by the “Establishment” against conservative thought. Now it is being weaponized globally on behalf of the “Islamist Establishment.”
This “anti-Islamophobia” position in the State Department will become a massive liability for our foreign policy. It will fulfill no other purpose than attacking western democratic nations (and of course Israel), while leaving millions of Muslims in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others to continue suffering at the hands of their tyrannical regimes. In other words, the supreme danger of this legislation is that it will give Islamists and Jihadists a free pass to commit genocide and ethnic cleansing against their fellow Muslims because it doesn’t fall under the purview of the Office of the American “Grand Mufti” of Islamophobia.
And given the foreign policy views of those who support this legislation, it will surely put the U.S. government in a position to withdraw protections granted by the First Amendment, as it will be increasingly difficult to draw attention to real human rights abuses by jihadists or Islamists without fear.
It is unthinkable that congress has come to this. Real anti-Muslim bigotry exists. But “Islamophobia” is a manufactured virtue signal that allows one to appear on the right side of social justice. This new and un-American position at State is named and founded on the racialization of an ideology, a faith — Islam. A party, the Democratic Party, that has repeatedly exaggerated the label of “bigotry” in order to suppress critical thinking now has the temerity to create a perch within our foreign policy apparatus that will weaponize the same Orwellian racialization of the faith of Islam that Islamist tyrannies do across the planet.
History will show that the Democratic Party of the 21st century has become the platform of Islamists, for Islamists.
Zuhdi Jasser is the founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, based in Phoenix, Arizona, and the co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement. He is also a senior fellow for the Center for Security Policy and a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander. He is a former Vice-Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and author of the book, A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith. He is also a physician in private practice. Find him on Twitter: @DrZuhdiJasser.