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Press Release: Sentencing is a stark reminder of the global Islamist threat.

PRESS RELEASE
American Islamic Forum for Democracy

Contact: Mischel Yosick
480 225 7473 mischel@zliberty.com

May 10, 2017

Sentencing of Indonesian Christian Governor of Jakarta on blasphemy charge is a reminder of the rising global Islamist threat.

The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) condemned the sentencing of an Indonesian Christian politician, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, for “blasphemy.” The sentencing of Mr. Basuki, the Jakarta governor, also known as “Ahok” was heavier than what prosecutors asked for – rather than the two years probation they requested, he was sentenced to two years in prison.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., founder and president of AIFD, released the following statement:

“The fact that Mr. Basuki was even brought up on charges of ‘blasphemy’ – a truly invented ‘crime’ – is horrifying. The reality of his sentencing should alarm all people, not just Christians, and not just Indonesians.

Indonesia has long enjoyed the reputation of being a model of Muslim moderation and pluralism, yet its problem of Islamism is real: from soaring rates of female genital mutilation (FGM) to violent protests against authors and artists for ‘blasphemy,’ the country is undergoing an ugly and dangerous radicalization that will hurt, kill, and traumatize its citizens and leak across its borders, threatening global security. Mr. Basuki was a governor whose election had only improved Indonesia’s global reputation. His sentencing proves that those who are loyal to Islamist forces no longer care about upholding this image for Indonesia, instead they seek a more sinister role in the world.

Ahok’s case again proves that the nation is on the front lines of this global existential battle against Islamism.

We urge Indonesian citizens to challenge their religious establishments – particularly the Nahdlatul Ulama – to take swift and bold action to condemn and dis-empower those who support and promote punishments for blasphemy, and to demand that their government do the same. I visited Indonesia during my time on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, and know that this evil does not represent them. Their government must do better to protect and represent the will of its people.”

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M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. is a guest on Arizona Originals with Jason Issak

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser – American Islamic Forum for Democracy and Physician

Today’s guest, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, has served as a US Navy physician, was hand selected to serve for two years as one of three attending physicians for the US Congress (including the US Supreme Court Justices), and has practiced medicine in Arizona.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

 

 

 

5/5/2017 : M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. joins Fox Business’ Making Money discussing refugees and how the influx into the U.S. has decreased under President Trump and the importance of ideological vetting.

5/4/2017: M Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. joins i24 News’ discussing the recent meeting of President Trump and Mahmoud Abbas and the anti-Semitic programs on Palestinian TV and other outlets.

5/4/2017 – M. Zuhdi Jasser sounds off on the female genital mutilation case.

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser on FBI Director James Comey addressing the arrest of two doctors accused of female genital mutilation

 

4/7/2017: AIFD President’s, M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. Statement on US Airstrikes in Syria

Syrian-American Reformer Commends Syria Strikes, Urges Vigilance

The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) welcomes the news of targeted strikes in Syria, meant to send a message to Bashar al-Assad and his allies that the use of chemical weapons will not stand. Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, the son of Syrians who fled the regime of Bashar al-Assad’s father, today said:

“When news broke that the United States had begun a narrow campaign of targeted strikes against regime targets in Syria, I felt immediate gratitude – on behalf of my family members there, and for our country, which has watched in horror for six long years as the Assad regime has carried out mass torture and murder of its civilians. While I am hopeful that these strikes are indicative of a bolder, firm Syria strategy – I am under no illusion that they will end Assad’s murderous rule, or that any transition in Syria will happen swiftly or easily. In many ways, we who have loved ones in Syria, and we who care about the human condition – are taking what we can get here – with hope that there will be more, even bolder action in Syria. What this action by President Trump does indicate is that the needle of American policy in Syria is moving closer to being on the right side of history. To secure our place there, however, we must remain vigilant, remembering that a conflict with Assad is necessarily a conflict with Russia, with Iran, and with Hizbollah. These limited, targeted strikes should continue, focused on reducing Assad’s access to resources, especially weapons. Every reduction in his assets is a a reduction in his capacity to murder and maim civilians. By reducing a dictator’s capacity to kill, we have a chance of re-establishing America’s position in the world as a moral authority, and we can begin again to re-commit ourselves to the sacred commitment of ‘never again,’ something Barack Obama failed to do.”

AIFD and other Muslims Against Islamism in the New York Times: See the ad, Join the Movement

We at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy are always seeking new ways to expand our reach and impact. We were honored to be approached by the Gatestone Institute to place a full-page ad in the New York Times featuring text inspired by the writing of one of our fellows, Ahmed Vanya. Ahmed’s piece, “Beautifying Islam,” served as the basis for the ad.

The ad was finalized before the horrific attacks in Paris, but was published today, January 11, 2015. It is exactly the right moment for the ad’s renewed call to action. Please see the ad here, and read the full text below. Please also stay tuned to learn where we will take this movement from here, and for an opportunity to sign onto this document.

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What can Muslims do to reclaim their ‘Beautiful Religion’?

As people observe beheadings and savagery by ISIS, female genital mutilation and honor killings, the abduction of girls by Boko Haram, the execution of innocents in Iran, the slaughtering and enslaving of Christians in Egypt and Africa and Yazidis in Iraq, rampant anti-Semitism and other crimes against humanity committed by those who claim to represent Islam, many people are understandably asking:

  • What is the true nature of Islam?
  • Is it that although there are many peaceful Muslims, Islam itself is not peaceful?

If Islam is a religion that stands for justice and peaceful coexistence, then the quest for an Islamic state cannot be justified as sanctioned by a just and merciful Creator.

Neither jihadism nor Islamism permit the equality of all humans irrespective of their race or religion and should therefore be rejected. Our denial and our relative silence must stop!

It is the duty of us Muslims to actively and vigorously affirm and promote universal human rights, including gender equality and freedom of conscience.

As our Holy Qu’ran states (4:135):

“Believers! Conduct yourselves with justice, bearing true witness before God, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, or your kin.”

We must engage in and promote reforms where necessary, including an honest and critical reinterpretation of scripture and shariah law used by Islamists to justify violence and oppression.

We must also recognize and loudly proclaim that the quest for any and all “Islamic State(s)” has no place in modern times. Theocracy, particularly, Islamism, is a proven failure. The path to justice and reform is through liberty.

It is also our responsibility to reclaim the faith we love from these monsters, forcefully rejecting and combating all components of their ideology.

If we Muslims believe that “true” Islam, genuinely aligned with the will of the Creator, is fundamentally peaceful, comprehensively merciful and objectively just, then it is our duty to do what is necessary to live and promote an Islam that is based in liberty and worthy of being called a beautiful religion.

We must seek out necessary support from non-Muslim allies in order to be successful in our work.

We the undersigned are Muslims who embrace a pluralistic interpretation of Islam, rejecting all forms of oppression and abuses committed in the name of religion or culture and particularly Islamism.

We are joined by non-Muslim allies who sign here to affirm their commitment as Americans to support those Muslims and all people of conscience who courageously speak out against these abuses and who advance reforms within our community.

  • Sherkoh Abbas, Chair Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, Washington, D.C.
  • Tarek Fatah, Founder, Muslim Canadian Congress, Toronto, Canada
  • Farid Ghadry, Reform Party of Syria, Washington, D.C.
  • Iftikhar A. Hai, President, United Muslims of America, San Francisco, CA
  • Dr. Tawfik Hamid, International Center for Countering Radicalism, Oakton, CA
  • Husain Haqqani, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to U.S., Washington, D.C.
  • Jamal Hassan, Council for Democracy and Tolerance, Baltimore, MD
  • Sheikh (Dr.) Usama Hassan, Quilliam Foundation, London, UK
  • Farzana Hassan, Director, Muslim Canadian Congress, Toronto, Canada
  • Arif Humayun, President, Circle of Peace, Portland, OR
  • Farahnaz Ispahani, Director, Americans for Pakistan, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, AZ
  • Naser Khader, Former Member of Danish Parliament, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Zainab Zain Khan, United Nations Association, Chicago, IL
  • Courtney Lonergan, Arizona Interfaith Movement, Phoenix, AZ
  • Hasan Mahmud, General Secretary, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Toronto, Canada
  • Salim Mansur, PhD., Professor, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
  • Maajid Nawaz, Co-Founder and Chairman, Quilliam Foundation, London, UK
  • Raheel Raza, President, Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Toronto, Canada
  • Munir Pervaiz, President, Muslim Canadian Congress, Mississauga, Canada
  • Oubai Shahbandar, Principle, Dragoman Partners, Washington, D.C.
  • Jalal Zuberi, MD, Associate Professor, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA
  • Ahmad Vanya, Fellow, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, San Jose, CA

 

List of “Most Influential Muslims” Illustrates the Problem – and Presents Opportunities

The 2012 edition of the “500 Most Influential Muslims,” as determined by Jordan’s “Royal  Islamic Strategic Studies Centre” is especially interesting this year: it is dominated by Americans.

Instinctively, one might think that Muslims promoting the ideals of individual liberty, freedom of conscience, and universal human rights might therefore dominate the list. Indeed, having such a significant amount of our own citizens on such a list would be a tremendous opportunity to showcase how the United States allows Muslims to lead in every arena, while embracing a pluralistic interpretation of our faith.

Sadly, it seems that this opportunity has been missed. The United States is represented instead by individuals like Nihad Awad of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR);  Imam Siraj Wahhaj (vice-president of the Islamic Society of North America [ISNA], former national board member of CAIR, defender of The “Blind Sheikh”, etc); Imam Mohamed Magid (current president of ISNA);  Sheikh Hamza Yusuf (founder of Zaytuna College), etc. These are, to say the least, not the best representatives of Islam in America.

On a broader scale, the picture of those considered the “most influential” Muslims is even more grim. Holding the top spot of most influential Muslim in the world is King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who, while certainly not admired by the majority of Muslims we know, absolutely heads the global Islamist enterprise with his kingdom’s petro dollars. Others in leading positions on the list include Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of increasingly Islamist Turkey; Dr. Mohammed Badie, the “supreme guide” of the Muslim Brotherhood; Ayatollah Khameini, Yusuf Qaradawi, and Muhammad Morsi (the new president of Egypt).

The creators of the list disclose at the start that these are not necessarily individuals they endorse – but that they are individuals they’ve determined to hold the greatest influence worldwide. While we wonder about the likelihood of some people having influence over those not on the list (for example, another American – Sheila Musaji  – makes the cut, but not Fatima Mernissi, legendary and widely loved Moroccan feminist? Further, we know from the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center’s polling that American Muslims simply don’t feel represented by groups like CAIR and ISNA);  we know that regrettably, those Muslims who have the most political and financial influence worldwide are Islamists.  We also must note that the list itself was the brainchild of Prince Gazi bin Muhammad of Jordan; it is produced by a Jordanian think-tank bearing the name “Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre”; and Harvard’s John Esposito has served as a chief editor of the publication in the past – and so while its creators claim to be presenting only the objectively influential voices from within the Muslim community, such a claim is dubious at best. In fact, we find it both puzzling and troubling that Omar Sacirbey, whose write-up on the publication appeared in the Washington Post, called this a “respected think-tank.”

Even if the list itself were listing individuals based on reasonable and objective measures of influence, the devil is, as they say, in the details. The only individual listed as influential in Syrian politics is Bashar al-Assad, the mass murderer responsible for the slaughter of roughly 40,000 Syrians, and the torture, mutilation, rape of countless others. The paragraph about Assad is eerily neutral:

“Al-Assad is an Alawite Shi’a and president of the Syrian Arab Republic. Because of its strategic position in the Middle East, Syria is regarded as a major player in any peace agreement in the Middle East. The violent crackdowns on protests in 2011 have lead to what is now a civil war. Claims of atrocities and misinformation abound on both sides.”

Describing “claims of atrocities” in a way that suggests that there is any comparison in scale or scope of violence between the murderous and bloodthirsty regime of “Bashar the Butcher” and the many Syrians who seek to oust him is despicable – and reflects the overall quality and tenor of this report on “Muslim influence.”

We do recognize that the list isn’t entirely problematic. Listed also are individuals like Waris Dirie, a Somali model, author, actress, filmmaker and courageous fighter against female genital mutilation. A survivor of both FGM and forced marriage, Ms Dirie went on to found the Desert Flower Foundation, which works to end FGM with no exceptions for culture or religion. Naser Khader, former member of the Danish parliament, critic of Islamism and defender of free speech also made the list. So did Dr. Hawa Abdi, Somalia’s first female gynecologist and founder of the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, whose work means over 90,000 Somali refugees have a place to live. Her foundation also works on education, agriculture and healthcare issues.

Whether the list is biased toward Islamists or not, it reveals what we at AIFD already know: liberty-minded Muslims have a long road ahead of us if we wish to overtake Islamists when it comes to having more influence than they do in the public sphere. While many of us are well respected in our personal and professional circles, and often have many Muslim friends and colleagues who think the way we do and support us in our work, the fact is that most majority-Muslim organizations (and countries!) are run by theocrats who see pluralism, liberty, and freedom of conscience as threats to be defeated rather than as the life forces of any healthy society.

Again, America’s Values Betrayed in Mideast Policy

Banner in Cairo, Egypt June 2013

“Above all, America must remain a beacon to all who seek freedom during this period of historic change…

In defense of freedom, we will remain the anchor of strong alliances from the Americas to Africa; from Europe to Asia.  In the Middle East, we will stand with citizens as they demand their universal rights, and support stable transitions to democracy.  The process will be messy, and we cannot presume to dictate the course of change in countries like Egypt; but we can – and will – insist on respect for the fundamental rights of all people.”

–          President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, February 12, 2013

President Obama’s many statements about the need to protect and preserve freedom, universal human rights, and individual liberty would be welcome expressions of American values – if they bore any weight.

This month, the Obama administration continued its legacy of bolstering those diametrically opposed to individual liberty and human rights by inviting Saudi Arabia’s Abdallah bin Bayyah to the White House.

To those unaware of his insidious views, Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah may appear “moderate.” He has signed onto the famed Amman Message, which claims to promote a moderate interpretation of Islam, focused on the promotion of interfaith dialogue and human rights. He is a mentor to several high-profile figures, including Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, who is known internationally as a soft-spoken, “modern” guide for young Muslims. (Hamza Yusuf calls Abdallah bin Bayyah his “teacher in Saudi Arabia.”) One can also find him heavily quoted and cited at the website of Imam Suhaib Webb of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, which has also published this essay by Abdallah bin Bayyah in praise of Yusuf Qaradawi, as well as this essay in defense of Qaradawi, bin Bayyah’s close associate.

A hallmark of modern Islamism is the employment of doublespeak – the Amman Message, for example – speaks highly of interfaith efforts and global harmony – but several of its signatories, including bin Bayyah himself, call for criminalization of statements considered offensive to Islam and Muslims:

We ask everyone to ponder the ramifications of provoking the feelings of over one billion people by a small party of people who desires not to seek peace nor fraternity between members of humanity.  This poses a threat to world peace with no tangible benefit realized.  Is it not necessary in today’s world for the United Nations to issue a resolution criminalizing the impingement of religious symbols?  We request all religious and political authorities, as well as people of reason to join us in putting a stop to this futility that benefits no one….

To the world’s Muslims: Expressing outrage in the face of the maligning of God or the Prophet Muhammad is a moral right, as faith cannot be devoid of feelings and immunity from provocation…”

(Abdallah bin Bayyah, “Declaration Regarding the Offensive Video to Muslims”)

Bin Bayyah’s cohorts are similarly well-versed in doublespeak. Hamza Yusuf’s message, for example, may initially sound moderate – he advises men to have mercy on women, to defend and protect them – but one must listen more closely. In his lectures, he says that Muslims are in a state of ma’siyah, or “disobedience of Allah” (sin). He describes the following as signs that Muslims are in a state of sin: they have “left jihad,” and Muslim women “dishonor themselves” by taking off the hijab. He also says that non-Muslim society is a “sick” “society of wolves” and that Muslim women “have a lot more innocence than their [non-Muslim] women,”  even if they do not wear the hijab. So, while he may rightfully object to men’s fixation on women’s dress, he does so whilst inciting disrespect of women considered to be outside of Islam.

Abdallah bin Bayyah’s resume contains many troubling highlights. A native of Mauritania, bin Bayyah served as the head of Sharia Affairs as well as Judge at the High Court of the Islamic republic, which has yet to fully abolish slavery. The Mauritanian government, of which bin Bayyah was a part, continues to deny the existence of slavery in the country. While Muslim anti-slavery activists like Nasser Weddady have sought asylum in the United States only to be maligned by the Islamist establishment in the United States, Abdallah bin Bayyah has been championed by groups like the Islamic Society of North America, who sent its president, Mohamed Magid, to meet with bin Bayyah in Mauritina under the guise of promoting minority rights in the Muslim world.

In further unsettling news, a 2004 fatwa (religious edict) released by the International Union for Muslim Scholars (where bin Bayyah serves as vice president of the board), called on all “able-bodied Muslims” to fight U.S. and allied forces in Iraq; stating that to “aid the occupier is impermissible.” This fatwa encouraged Muslims both in and outside of Iraq to fight U.S. efforts to combat insurgents in the region.

As Muslim-majority societies begin to rise against political Islam (as can be seen in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and most recently in Egypt, which experienced the largest protests in world history as its population surged against the Muslim Brotherhood on June 30), President Obama’s inability – or is it disinterest? – in standing with “citizens who demand their universal rights” – becomes all the more apparent.

Abdallah bin Bayyah was purportedly invited to the White House “to discuss poverty, global health efforts and Bin Bayyah’s own efforts to speak out against Al Qaeda.” Surely there are individuals concerned with poverty, global health and counter-extremism efforts the Obama administration could consult with who aren’t rabid Islamists? As Dr. Jasser explained on Fox and Friends this Sunday, June 30, Abdallah bin Bayyah may publicly speak against Al-Qaeda, but he is not against the promotion of the Islamic state, of blasphemy laws, gender apartheid, or even Hamas.

If the Obama administration were truly interested in advancing what President Obama refers to as the universal values of freedom, self-determination and individual opportunity, he and his administration would eagerly seek out voices of reform and modernity within the Muslim community, not the voices of those who are actively promoting the global Islamist agenda. We call on President Obama to recognize that his administration’s credibility isn’t the only thing on the line – indeed, should our government continue in its failure to stand with anti-Islamist Muslims and our allies, the horrors of Boston and Benghazi are but a mere preview of what the Islamists have in store for all of us who refuse to bend to their will.