A vast “Islamophobia network” is busy marginalizing Muslim Americans. At least that’s what the Council on American Islamic Relations wants you to believe.
In reality, without reference to the Muslim American community in general:
• Last year the FBI pursued more than 900 active cases, some in each of the 50 states, into suspected Islamic State sympathizers or other potential terrorists.
• Also in 2015, 56 individuals across America were arrested on suspicion of plotting on behalf of or otherwise supporting the Islamic State, as noted by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism.
• The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which chronically decries “Islamophobia,” is less a civil rights group than unindicted co-conspirator in the country’s largest terrorism funding trial to date. CAIR was so listed in the 2009 Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development retrial.
Nevertheless, or maybe just so, the council has issued a “report” charging the organization I work for as well as others with being part of an imaginary cabal spreading “Islamophobia.”
Is there such a bigoted “web?” Or is there a Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas-related group — CAIR — incessantly attempting to suppress discussion of Islamic extremism?
In the days after Omar Mateen, who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State, murdered 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Washington Post reporters repeatedly cited CAIR to support allegations of a growing wave of anti-Muslim hostility. What they did not tell readers is that, among other things:
• An out-of-court settlement of a libel suit brought by CAIR against a critical website let stand charges that the group was founded by Hamas members, founded by Islamic terrorists and funded by Hamas. Hamas (the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement) is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.
• One of the five men sentenced to prison in the Holy Land Foundation case for raising more than $12 million for Hamas was Ghassan Elashi, co-founder of CAIR’s Texas chapter.
• In addition to Elashi, over the years four other council lay leaders or staffers have been arrested, convicted and/or deported on weapons or terrorism charges.
Another salient fact virtually all news outlets have avoided when presenting CAIR as credible on “Islamophobia” after Orlando is a U.S. Appeals Court decision in the District of Columbia that the council should be tried for fraud. The case involves hundreds of Muslims who had relied on CAIR for legal aid.
KPFA-FM in Berkeley, Calif., recently asked our response to CAIR’s inclusion of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) on its blacklist of America’s “Islamophobia network.”
According to CAIR, “CAMERA is pervasively inaccurate and disguises its anti-Muslim agenda by omitting important information.” In psychology, attributing your own negative characteristics to others is called projection. In propaganda, it’s throwing mud and hoping some sticks. No specific example of our “pervasive inaccuracy” was cited.
As to our “disguised anti-Muslim agenda,” CAIR tried a smokescreen. It said, “unlike other Islamophobic organizations, CAMERA does not communicate obvious bigotry in their literature.” No bigotry at all, obvious or covert. Unlike CAIR, we deal in facts.
As the Clarion Project, another organization the council blacklisted, put it, “CAIR wages an unrelenting campaign to discredit its critics as anti-Muslim bigots and moderate Muslims as puppets of an ‘Islamophobic network.’ “
Why does it do that? Maybe because CAIR is not the American Muslim version of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) or the ADL (Anti-Defamation League).
Well-meaning individuals may be active in CAIR at local or state levels, but the group’s co-founders had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, has been the mothership of many Sunni Muslim terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East and beyond, including Hamas. The Brotherhood’s credo remains “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
CAIR co-founder Omar Ahmad once declared that the Koran, Islam’s scripture, “should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” Council spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, still a press favorite, once said he “wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.”
CAMERA doesn’t call for a news blackout of CAIR. To the contrary, we suggest a spotlight, helping distinguish between unwarranted anti-Muslim prejudice and CAIR’s attempted censorship of free speech — and journalistic scrutiny — by cries of “Islamophobia.”
• Eric Rozenman is Washington director of the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Any opinions expressed above are solely his own.