Appearing on Fox News recently, the spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Ibrahim Hooper, said that in 20 years worth of trips to mosques, “I’ve never heard violence preached; I’ve never heard anti-Semitism or anti-Americanism preached.”
When asked in a subsequent phone interview with this columnist if his statement also holds true for any Muslim events, conferences and rallies he has attended, Mr. Hooper said it did and added, “In fact, if I had heard that I would have called them on the carpet and asked them why they’re saying such hate-filled, divisive things.” (In a follow-up conversation, Mr. Hooper said he did “not include rallies.”)
Mr. Hooper’s claims, however, are somewhere between disingenuous and just plain dishonest.
At a now-infamous Washington rally on Oct. 28, 2000, then-president of the American Muslim Federation Abdurahman Alamoudi shouted to a cheering crowd, “We are all supporters of Hamas.” In the second phone interview, Mr. Hooper acknowledged being there but claims he did not hear Mr. Alamoudi.
In the media frenzy that followed, though, neither CAIR nor Mr. Hooper publicly criticized Mr. Alamoudi’s avowed support of the terrorist organization.
Less than a year later, Mr. Hooper joined roughly a dozen leaders of various Muslim groups in staging a “sit in” in front of the State Department in June 2001. During the event, American Muslim Council Director Ali Ramadan Abu Zakouk “preached violence” by labeling the mass murder of innocent civilians in suicide bombing attacks as a “God-given right.”
“The question of resistance to occupation is a God-given right. And the occupied people can use any means possible for them. They have no limitation,” Mr. Zakouk explained. Mr. Hooper was listed as the contact person for the press release sent out in advance of the “sit in,” though he first claimed he “did not remember” and later that he “did not hear” Mr. Zakouk’s defense of suicide bombings.
Videotape footage of the event (provided by the Investigative Project), however, clearly shows Mr. Hooper standing barely a few feet behind Mr. Zakouk as the comments were made.
Without video or a published record noting his participation, it is impossible to know what other pro-violence, anti-American or anti-Semitic propaganda Mr. Hooper has personally witnessed. But there are plenty of examples of reprehensible rhetoric spouted either by CAIR officials or at CAIR co-sponsored events — any of which Mr. Hooper, as longtime CAIR spokesman, would almost surely be aware of.
At the Islamic Association of Palestine’s third annual convention in Chicago in November 1999, CAIR President Omar Ahmad gave a speech at a youth session praising suicide bombers who “kill themselves for Islam.” “Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam — that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam, ” he said.
The executive director of CAIR’s New York chapter has made similar comments that would likewise fall under the heading of “violence preached.” At an interfaith event shortly after September 11, CAIR-NY’s Ghazi Khankan started with the obligatory disclaimer that “those who attack civilians are wrong,” but then he explained that any Israeli adult was a “soldier” and thus not a civilian.
Mr. Khankan rationalized as follows: “Anyone over 18 is automatically inducted into the service and they are all reserves. Therefore, Hamas, in my opinion, looks at them as part of the military.” Driving home the point that it’s OK to blow up any Israeli adult, Mr. Khankan added, “Those who are below 18 should not be attacked.” (When asked about this speech — but not being told who gave it — Mr. Hooper said, “I condemn it.”)
CAIR co-sponsored a May 1998 New York conference titled, “Palestine: 50 Years of Occupation,” where one of the guest speakers taught participants a song that included lyrics: “No to the Jews, descendants of the apes.”
Mr. Hooper insists that CAIR was not a co-sponsor of the event and added, “I don’t even know if that happened.” But an e-mail sent out to a Muslim e-mail list the day before the event clearly identifies CAIR as one of the 11 co-sponsors — and audiotape of the conference (provided by the Investigative Project) recorded the anti-Semitic song.
Even when given the opportunity by journalists to “call on the carpet” designated terrorist organizations, Mr. Hooper demurs.
When asked by The Washington Post in November 2001 if he would condemn Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Mr. Hooper responded, “It’s not our job to go around denouncing.” Asked by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in February 2002 to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah, Mr. Hooper called such questions a “game” and explained, “We’re not in the business of condemning.”
Asked in an America-Online-sponsored chat in August 1998 who was responsible — the terrorists or America — for the East Africa embassy bombings, Mr. Hooper wrote that, although he condemned the bombings, “a great deal of what happened is responsible due to misunderstandings on both sides.”
When it comes to “misunderstandings,” though, Mr. Hooper’s record leaves none as to whether or not he has heard or directly knows of plenty of violence and anti-Semitism preached by Muslim leaders.
Joel Mowbray occasionally writes for The Washington Times.