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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.

NYTad1-large

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

 

A blessed Eid al-Adha and a Reminder of the Importance of Service

Eid al-Adha, or “the festival of the sacrifice,” is an Islamic holiday which commemorates the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael as a sign of his devotion to God. It also marks the conclusion of the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca.

Each Eid al-Adha, Muslims make a special effort to provide relief to those in need. In many parts of the world, this has included the distribution of meat (from a sacrificed animal, like a lamb) to the hungry.

We at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy want to take this opportunity to wish our Muslim members and supporters a blessed Eid al-Adha, and to reaffirm our commitment to serve our country and our fellow Americans in every aspect of our work.

Muslim Liberty Project youth

Our Muslim Liberty Project works with youth ages 15-30 to develop the next generation of leaders focused on advocating individual liberty through the development of a healthy American Muslim identity. Having recognized that with freedom comes the responsibility to serve others, our youth have committed themselves specifically to community service and interfaith efforts. Recently, Arizona-area members of our Muslim Liberty Project joined a group of Christians to serve 200 healthy meals to those in need. Following their day of service, volunteers engaged in meaningful conversation about scripture, prayer and fellowship across faith traditions. To see photos of this event, please click here.

AIFD joins Christians in serving meals to those in need

This Eid al-Adha weekend, our Muslim Liberty Project youth have decided to participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, aiming to raise awareness about breast cancer and engage both Muslims and non-Muslims about the importance of women’s health and safety. MLP’s last planning meeting brought in fifteen new Muslim members excited about joining the cause!

We hope to share photos of this weekend’s events with you as soon as we have them. To see more of our Muslim Liberty Project’s activities, see these albums:

Muslim Liberty Project retreat, 2011

Muslim Liberty Project retreat, 2012.

Thank you for your support and we look forward to sharing more of our youth’s accomplishments soon!

We need a “Zero Tolerance” Policy on Honor Violence

Abid Hussain is a 56 year old cleric who runs a mosque in Manchester, UK. When his sixteen-year old daughter, Rabiyah, refused to marry the boy he chose for her- a cousin living in Pakistan – he beat and attempted to strangle her in the family home just above the mosque. Hussain made it clear that should Rabiyah refuse the marriage, he would kill her. Rabiyah’s brothers, Nawab and Bahaud, assisted their father in brutalizing Rabiyah.

There is no question that Abid Hussain committed unthinkable brutality against his daughter, and there is no doubt that his actions were criminal. What we also know, however, is that what happened to Rabiyah is a clear case of honor-based violence. Honor-based violence punishes a member of the family, usually a female, for actions perceived to bring “shame” or “dishonor” to the family. These “offenses” can include wearing short sleeves,  talking to a member of the opposite sex, refusing an arranged marriage, becoming pregnant outside of marriage, or even being raped. While honor-based violence is not condoned by Islam, it is unfortunately prevalent in many Muslim communities.

Over 5,000 girls and women lose their lives in honor killings every year. Honor killings are the final step in a pattern of abuse that begins with threats and often beatings like the one Rabiyah experienced.

Despite the clear danger Rabiyah Hussain’s father still poses to her safety, Judge Michael Leeming spared him an immediate and serious jail sentence. In a ruling that troubles us deeply, Judge Leeming postponed sentences for Rabiyah’s father and two brothers, referring to her father as a man of “obvious standing,” (as a cleric in the local community), and referring to the brutalization of Rabiyah as an attempt to “coerce” her in to the father’s beliefs.

In taking such a lighthanded approach, Judge Leeming effectively let an attempted murderer, Abid Hussain, and his two accomplices (Rabiyah’s brothers Nawab and Bahaud) off with a warning, on what seem like cultural grounds. What will happen to Rabiyah in the coming days, weeks, and months? Would the judge have treated a case involving non-Muslims differently – and, if so, do the lives of Muslim women and girls matter less in the eyes of this British judge?

Honor-based violence is a problem we in the United States still have yet to address effectively. Earlier this year, the honor beating and near murder of Aiya Al-Tamimi did receive modest media coverage. However, Aiya’s mother, who tied Aiya down, beat her and cut her throat – was also spared a jail sentence. We wrote about Aiya’s case here, and the threat moral relativism poses to the lives of Muslim girls and women. (See television commentary by Dr. Jasser on Aiya’s case here, here, here and here.)

 

Noor Al-Maleki, murdered by her father in 2009 (Arizona, USA)

Noor Al-Maleki was murdered by her father in Phoenix, Arizona in 2009. Noor’s father, Faleh Al-Maleki, subjected his daughter to long-term torment, ultimately running her over with his Jeep Cherokee for her “western” behavior. Noor had lived in fear of her father for years, even running away from home. Her father, however, was charged with second degree murder rather than first degree (premeditated) murder. At the sentencing, judge Roland Steinle took the opportunity to claim, at great length, that Noor was not murdered for honor – despite Faleh Al-Maleki’s repeated admission that “honor” was absolutely his motivation. (See Dr. Jasser’s comments on this case here.)

The murder of Muslim girls and women is no more understandable or acceptable because of any tribal code of “honor.” Warnings, pleas to assimilate, and passive hope that at some point, Muslim girls and women will be freed from the misogyny of “honor” are not enough. We must work to effectively identify signs of honor-based violence and prevent their brutal and horrifying outcomes.

Resources:

International Honour Based Violence Resource Centre & Honour-Based Violence Awareness Network 

MEMINI: a memorial site to remember the victims of honor-based violence.

The International Campaign Against Honor Killings

Sochi’s Spotlight

The Olympic Games have never been just about the Games. The Olympic Games have also been a venue where political and ideological dramas take the stage. From Jesse Owens’s dismantling of Hitler’s Aryan supremacy in Berlin in 1936 to 1980’s Miracle On Ice at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY and President Carter’s boycott of the Moscow Olympics in protest of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan, current affairs have always been the invisible sixth ring of the Olympics. South Africa was even excluded from the Games for its apartheid policies.

 

As cameras are turned on Sochi, just outside the village lies a convergence of many issues driving domestic and international conflict.  In recent weeks much attention has been focused on the militant Islamist threat. While it may seem strange to mix sport with Islamist extremism, we must remember that it was the Summer Games in Munich in 1972 that woke many to the reality of terrorism.

 

Initial reports focused on the threat from the so called “Black Widows”- widows of militant Islamists who, radicalized themselves, pledge to wage suicide attacks. But the threat is far wider. While the media may see the “Black Widows” as fascinating TV, there has been far less attention paid to a man known as Russia’s very own Osama bin Laden, Doku Umarov.

 

Last year, Umarov released a video explicitly calling for jihadi attacks against the Olympic Games, calling them “satanic dances upon the bones of our ancestors”. Just last month, a separatist Islamist group executed suicide attacks on Volgograd’s transit system, killing 34 just 400 miles from the Olympic Village. These cases are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Russia’s Islamist problem. The Caucuses region and specifically Chechnya is teeming with radical Islamists, their numbers are growing exponentially thanks to gulf petrodollars and the fascist, repressive approach of Russia’s security forces, which have only served to alienate much of their Muslim populations.

 

As usual, little attention has been paid to root causes of these threats. This refusal to engage the root causes of terrorism is our greatest downfall.  It is high time we addressed the fact that our indifference combined with Russian tyranny and regional ambition has created a perfect storm for jihadist recruitment from the caucuses to Syria and Iran and the gulf. With America and Europe essentially withdrawn from any forward advocacy of liberty in any Muslim majority states and populations, this has created a vacuum.  For decades, we have relied on Arab dictators and Russian nationalists to crush militants, turning a blind eye to the undeniable fact that this actually helps to fuel Islamist ideology.

 

The Obama administration has sadly squandered opportunity after opportunity to advocate for genuine liberals in the wake of the Arab Awakening in the Middle East.  The millions in the Arab world who rose against their dictators have been left to fend for themselves while the free world takes a pass. Liberals seeking real reform are not blind to the fact that tyrants like Assad are still around because they are propped up by their fellow autocrats in Russia, Iran, or China. In response, our commander-in-chief has led the free world through repeated exercises in hand wringing that has left our best allies for dead.

 

In Cold War 2.0, we have seen the bizarre re-ascension of Russian influence in the region. A country beleaguered by its post-Soviet failings has capitalized on American passivity to resurrect its own regional aspirations economically and politically with complete disregard for human rights and liberty. Vladamir Putin has openly supported the genocidal Baathist Syrian regime of Bashar Assad maintaining their naval base in Tartus and continuing the almost two generation symbiotic friendship with Syria’s ruling fascist military party. Similarly Putin has also tightened economic and political ties in support of Iran’s regional ambitions and nuclear advancement.

 

Domestically, Russia has long been a leading violator of international standards of religious freedom repressing most faith traditions except the one denomination of Christianity which works closely with the Kremlin- the Russian Orthodox Church. In countering Islamist radicalism their repressive policies make no distinction between violent and non-violent ideologies. As a result separatist groups have flourished in the underground of Russia’s Muslim communities.

 

Syria is another example of how radical Islam’s greatest friend is sweeping repression. In the name of “counterterrorism”, Assad’s brutal policies, carpet bombing of opposition towns, and genocide campaign has only turned the Syria of today into the world’s largest breeding ground of Islamist jihadists. Assad and his father before him, both Alawite, considered to be a offshoot of Shia Islam, have brutally repressed opposition in the Sunni majority nation. This has turned what started off as a broad based Syrian Revolution against Ba’athism into now a deeply sectarian battle.

 

Many in the West have been content to just stay out of the fray in Syria and allow Shia extremists (specifically Hezbollah, backed by Iran) and Sunni extremists (Al Qaeda backed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar) battle it out and destroy each other. This negligence is not a solution and in fact rather creates hardened, battle tested militant Islamists on both sides who have no love for either Russia or the West. Our absence of leadership with the grass roots freedom movements in Syria has allowed Assad to openly decimate the majority in Syria who asked for nothing more than freedom and now find themselves caught in the crossfire between radical jihadists and secular fascists. When Assad’s military is finally defeated, it may be impossible for America to regain any credibility as arbiters for liberty on the ground.

 

America holds the key to whether the Arab Awakening transforms into an Islamist winter or spring of liberty. It doesn’t have to cost one soldier’s life or anywhere near the billions of dollars spent in Afghanistan and Iraq. It requires that we first understand the sides at odds in the battle that is raging within the House of Islam.

 

Contrary to the media narrative and the conventional wisdom of the Beltway, there are more than two fronts. We must take the side of those that embrace the same ideological concepts that led to an American reformation – liberty, freedom and secular government.  The majority of Muslims and certainly the majority of Syrians do not embrace the dead end of an Islamic state. They have been saddled with the binary choice of either secular dictators who hold their populace under their boots or theocratic extremists who do the same only in the name of God and Islam.

 

The spotlight on the security situation in and around Sochi gives us an opportunity to examine the threat and explore the pathways forward that may stem the tide of growth of Islamist extremism and build real opportunities for freedom for the peoples of the Middle East.  Military options have been tried for over six decades and failed. We won’t win the greater battle for liberty until we engage on the ideological front and embrace the principles that we proclaim are meant for all humanity.