January 11, 2017
The Honorable Chuck Grassley
United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
152 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Members of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Dear Chairman Grassley, Senator Feinstein, and Members of the Committee:
I am writing to you today to ask that you enthusiastically confirm Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States. I am an American Muslim, former U.S. Naval officer and the son of Syrian political refugees who escaped to the United States in 1966 and instilled in me a love and devotion for the U.S. Constitution, our Bill of Rights and this great nation of ours.
In addition to serving my nation in uniform for 11 years, I have also dedicated my life to countering what many of us Muslims believe to be the root cause of Islamist terror—political Islam or the global identity movements of Islamism. The mission of our American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix, Arizona is to protect the U.S. Constitution, freedom and liberty thought the separation of mosque and state. This has led us to what we believe to the solution to the threat of global Islamism—our diverse, bipartisan led Muslim Reform Movement with Muslim leaders in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
As an American patriot who loves this nation, it saddens me to no end to see American Islamist sympathizers like Mr. Khizr Khan and his bevy of enabling Islamist and partisan organizations falsely malign an honorable appointee for Attorney General not only on behalf of the far left’s political machinery but in the name of American Muslims and the free practice of the faith of Islam that I love. They have no shame in exploiting the appointment of a conservative, extraordinarily well-qualified Senator in order to speak on behalf of Islamists. They are intentionally spreading false fears of the impending victimization of American Muslims in order to derail Sen. Sessions’ appointment. There is no opportunity that Islamists will not exploit or fabricate in order to victimize, segregate, and collectivize Muslims into a single group. Make no mistake. Muslims are an ideologically, diverse community and Mr. Khizr Khan, CAIR and other Islamist grievance groups do not speak for all of us.
In fact I call upon you to look at the very records of this Judiciary committee to witness, in case you missed it, the long overdue “tough love” for Muslim communities that Sen. Sessions articulately defended when I testified in June 2016 to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts on “Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts To Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism” chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). He said,
“Dr. Jasser, I remember during the Civil Rights days, national TV networks, maybe they were atheist, maybe they were Jewish or whatever, going into churches in the south, sticking a camera in the face of a (white) preacher and asking them, can an African-American, can a black person worship in your church, yes or no? This was a difficult question and it was very tough. But I thought and in retrospect that kind of challenge caused people to realize the position was untenable and could not be defended in public debate. ” (1:53:41-1:57:21 CSPAN Video)
I then responded to him that it is in fact this kind of tough love that refuses to treat Muslim communities and their leaders with a bigotry of low expectations but rather with the respect of genuine equality. Senator Sessions agreed that we Muslim reformers should be given the space to call out the homophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-freedom beliefs of Islamist leaders at mosques and any Islamic institutions.
Sen. Sessions further concluded that,
“the Islamic world and the Muslim religion is a great religion. Millions of people follow its doctrines and don’t believe in these things.” (1:53:41-1:57:21 CSPAN Video)
This is the unvarnished non-partisan truth regarding my last very public interaction with Sen. Sessions on Muslims, Islam, Islamism, national security and religious freedom. I have testified repeatedly to Congress on no less than four occasions in the past five years of the need to shift the U.S. government away from the feckless mission to simply “Counter Violent Extremism (CVE)” to the more accurate mission of “Countering Violent Islamism (CVI)”. Such a move would not mean that we Muslims would ever agree to giving up one iota of our constitutionally protected civil rights. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Public monitoring of non-violent Islamist precursors of violent Islamist terrorists is perfectly appropriate and should be part of the public-private partnerships in honest counter-radicalization programs. It is incumbent upon us in the Muslim communities to reform against the theocratic ideas which radicalize our youth. Sen. Sessions has shown a profound understanding of that need and the fact that the government should not and cannot do that. Again, this is not to suggest any illegal intrusions upon privacy, religious freedom, or the intimidation or shuttering of any mosques that are not advocating imminent acts of violence in violation of the Supreme Court decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio.
I defy anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, protesting the appointment of Sen. Sessions to find one iota of evidence that his policies and enforcement of the U.S. Constitution and our laws will violate the religious freedoms of Muslims or put us at risk. As I said to Sen. Sessions in the June 2016 hearing, there is no better way for Muslims to melt away any bigotry that may exist than for Americans to see us lead the battle of ideas against the theocratic ideas that radicalize our youth. In fact, I believe Sen. Sessions would be a long overdue refreshingly honest partner with American Muslim communities with regards to the hard work we have yet to do against the radicalizing conveyor belt of political Islam (Islamism). That, in and of itself, uniquely qualifies him for the position.
Indeed the job of Attorney General includes a large portfolio with obviously many other interest groups and communities affected beyond the Muslim communities. I will let others speak to that. But I felt it very important that your committee understand that there are patriotic American Muslims who love our country and our faith and believe that Sen. Sessions will be unwaveringly loyal and true to lady justice. As Byron York recently reminded us, in Sen. Sessions own words when he grilled Attorneys General Reno or Gonzales, he asked them if they will have “the backbone to walk into the Oval Office, pound your fist on the desk and say, ‘Mr. President, you can’t do that.’
The Islamists groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (a group formally considered persona-non-grata by the FBI due to their position on HAMAS) protesting his appointment are proof positive that his appointment is the right one for national security and our rule of law in the next administration.
Zuhdi Jasser, MD
Phoenix, ArizonaPresident, American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Co-Founder, Muslim Reform Movement