The president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) has some harsh words for opponents of his appointment to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
“You could actually use the list of people protesting us, it’s a pretty good list of some of the leaders of the Islamist movement in America,” Zuhdi Jasser, who has been a vocal opponent of political Islam, told The Daily Caller.
Last week 64 Muslim organizations – including Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) – expressed “deep concern” with Jasser’s appointment in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye and Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin.
“It is imperative that Congress rescind the appointment of Dr. Jasser to serve as a Commissioner. We believe this appointment will undermine the Commission’s credibility and international respect,” they wrote.
According to his opponents, Jasser – a practicing Muslim who professes to “love [his] faith” – is intolerant of Islam and is a supporter of anti-Islam movements. Opponents cite his opposition to the “Ground Zero mosque,” his support for a 2010 Oklahoma ballot initiative barring courts from using Sharia law, his support for law enforcement surveillance of Muslims and his affiliation with groups opponents deem anti-Muslim.
Jasser contends, however, that the real enemy of religious freedom is the coalition of groups opposing him.
“This is a classic way of Islamists of not dealing with the issue and I think it demonstrates that,” Jasser said of the campaign against him.
Despite the complaints, Jasser remains on the commission, spending time this week in Washington, D.C., to fulfill some of the accompanying responsibilities – including meeting with a delegation from Canada about religious freedom.
His first meeting with the commission was last week.
“[My message] is that religious freedom is the canary in the coal mine as far as human rights and the ability of countries to demonstrate whether they truly have democracies and recognize the inalienable rights of their citizens or whether they don’t,” he told The Daily Caller.
“The ability of people to have that religious freedom and express it, is the first freedom that has been known,” he added. “Our work, in pushing back specifically against Islamism, as initially domestically it came as our sense – when we formed AIFD in 2003 – was that terrorism is simply a symptom of an underlying ideology.”
McConnell appointed Jasser to the commission in late March. His office did not respond to request for comment.