The Washington Times printed a report by Audrey Hudson this week, “CAIR Membership falls 90% since 9/11”, discussing CAIR’s (Council on American Islamic Relations) membership numbers as disclosed on CAIR’s own 990Tax returns. Within hours, CAIR described the report as a ‘hit-piece’ in a hate-filled rant of a press release and action alert. A review of the Times piece reveals simple reporting of data from CAIR tax forms on their dwindling membership numbers, donor numbers, and yet increasing funds.
The piece quotes Parvez Ahmed, CAIR Chairman, on the countervailing increase in the number of CAIR chapters around the country during the same period post 9/11. It also cites the recent Department of Justice (DOJ) listing of CAIR as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) HAMAS fundraising case. The DOJ refers therein to CAIR’s leadership and origins as, “members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and/or its organization.” For all CAIR’s objections, there was no refutation of any of this.
With the elaboration of these facts and more, CAIR still ran wild describing the Times reporter as “having a vendetta against our organization and the American Muslim community since she was barred from a recent CAIR news conference because of her sloppy and agenda-driven reporting.” With a report revealing that its national membership figures reported to the IRS are less than 1700 members in 2006, they still have the audacity to say that criticism of CAIR is equivalent to criticism of over 3 million Muslims in the “American Muslim community”.
This is, clear and simple, the modus operands of “political Islam” and its Islamist operatives. This is also more than likely one of the reasons for their dwindling membership numbers. While they may occasionally be doing good work for the civil rights of certain Muslims in America on selected cases, their Islamist political agenda and their persistence in the claim that criticism of CAIR is akin to criticism of all American Muslims is dishonest, deceptive, and a hijacking of our faith community.
Rather than respond with a semblance of a valid intellectual discourse or refutation of the ideas and facts contained in the June 12 report, CAIR preferred to respond with further empty screeds of hyperbole, victimization, and false claims of religious intolerance and hate-mongering. They claim to be working toward eliminating hate. Yet, they have a wild imagination of hate and rush to claim victimization as they deflect any substantive debate. This actually makes a compelling case for the fact that their attention to perceived incidents of intolerance for Islam and Muslims is a means to an ends of the empowerment of political Islam. In fact Nihad Awad told a gathering of Muslims just that in April in a discussion on their ‘flying imam’ lawsuit in Virginia at ADAMS (All Dulles Area Muslim Society),
Reporting to an organization like CAIR is important, because it is empowering. It is empowering to the Muslims themselves who report, it is empowering to the organization, and it is important to the status of Muslims within the United States. Also it is a powerful tool and message to the government and the legislators, to those who make the laws in the country, to know that this phenomenon has to be dealt with, it has to be dealt with effectively, and results have to be seen….
CAIR scavenges for claims of civil rights abuses not necessarily just to try and humbly build bridges to the greater American community. Is their agenda, in fact, more about empowering Islamists and intimidating non-Islamists?
The rule of law and the protections of our Constitution are certainly the cornerstone of the protection of our rights of religious freedom in America. But there is a fine line between the legitimate representation of individual Muslims whose rights of religious freedom have been infringed and the blatant manipulation of a system for the advancement of a variant political ideology at the expense of some victims.
True to form in the usual Islamist fallback to public criticism, CAIR claimed that the Washington Times was ‘anti-Muslim’ and ‘anti-Islam’. They use the protection of religion when the facts are not on their side. They use the discourse of politics when they want to push forth their Islamist agenda with the presumption of speaking for all Muslims. They will delve into the political only on their own terms in both foreign and domestic policy but when they are on the receiving end of political criticism they run for cover under the guise of victimization.
Why all of the venom directed at the Washington Times or at their reporter, Audrey Hudson-- one of the few national reporters willing to peel the Islamist onion and look deeper into Islamist organizations like CAIR and their ideologies? There is absolutely nothing in the Times report anti-Islamic or anti-Muslim. It is simply critical of CAIR. To say that CAIR is synonymous with Islam or Muslims is Islamism and gives all Muslim non-members of CAIR (the vast majority of American Muslims) short shrift.
It is long overdue for America and especially for Muslims to discuss why such political discourse and reporting could ever be described by an organization like CAIR as being anti-Muslim or anti-Islamic. In fact, a more cogent argument could be made that such reports are pro-Muslim and pro-Islam since they ultimately rescue most Muslims from the grip of Islamists and Wahhabists. Such discussion of realities and ideologies will go a long way toward preserving a positive image of Islam and the inclusiveness of all Muslims under a purely spiritual Islam devoid of a political agenda.
Nothing is more clarifying than, CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper’s own quotation in their Action Alert,
“It is CAIR’s principled and effective defense of the American Muslim community and our criticism of failed foreign and domestic policies that have made us the target of these scurrilous attacks. We will not be intimidated or silenced by hate-mongers.”
Herein, CAIR claims to be defenders of the entire Muslim community. Where did I sign up for that? Herein, CAIR admits to its primary active critique of American domestic and foreign policy on behalf of the entire American Muslim community. Thus, CAIR and so many of the other American Islamist organizations are about much more than simply “defending the civil rights of Muslims”. If only they stuck to civil rights, less Muslims would have problems with them. They are about the penetration of political Islam into our foreign and domestic policy under the guise of civil rights. In fact, their constant refrain about intimidation and hate-mongering is in fact a cultivation of their own industry. The lawsuit they are sponsoring on behalf of the ‘flying imams’ in Shqeirat v. U.S. Airways, et al, is much more about intimidation than about bridge-building or religious freedom as AIFD has noted.
The next step in this assessment of constituency is to understand their ideology. So much of the substantive criticism of CAIR arises from their unwillingness to be specific in condemnations of radical Muslims, radical organizations, and despotic regimes. Perhaps their dwindling numbers are in fact an ideological problem which does not speak to the majority of American Muslims. Honest debate will have to include a discussion of CAIR’s and other American Islamist organization responses to the following questions which I have been querying for a long time.
1) Will CAIR work to dismantle and lead an organized effort against terrorist organizations and individuals by name beginning with Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Jamaat al-Islamiya, and HAMAS to name just a few of the radical Islamist enemies of America? Will they name and ideologically engage the extremism of the Wahhabists of Saudi Arabia, the theocrats of Iran or the despots of Syria, Egypt or Sudan, and the litany of other dictatorships in the Muslim world? Empty generic condemnations of terrorism are of no impact.
2) Will CAIR acknowledge that political Islam (Islamism) whether militant or not, is the toxin which feeds the terrorism committed by radicalized Muslims?
3) Will CAIR acknowledge the need out of honesty for a faith-based civil rights organization to equally focus upon the civil rights abuses of Muslims by other Muslims as well as by non-Muslims whether it occurs in mosques, Muslim organizations, or so-called Muslim nations? A dismissal of Muslim abuses is hypocrisy.
4) Will CAIR acknowledge that counter-terrorism is a greater public responsibility to the organized American Muslim community than the obsession with the protection of our civil rights? Is it not the primary role of Muslim American organizations to lead the ideological war against radical Islamists? Isn’t this the number one issue on the mind of most Americans in 2007? Non-Muslims can do nothing to deconstruct this poisonous ideology. Our fellow Americans living in fear for their security are looking for us to lead this fight. The credibility of Muslims is suffering deeply as a result of the complete denial of this responsibility by groups like CAIR. In fact, there may be no better way to preserve our rights than by leading an ideological movement against political Islam and militant Islamism.
5) Will CAIR join anti-Islamist Muslims in declaring that the “Islamic state” regardless of its democratic processes is in principle significantly inferior to a “pluralistic Constitutional democracy under God” like the United States? Will CAIR declare the concept of a global Caliphate as archaic and no longer relevant to Muslims in the 21st century? Is the concept of the Muslim “ummah” or “nation” archaic?
6) Will CAIR join what was described in the Pew poll as the 49% of Muslims who felt that the mosque was not the place for the discussion of politics? Will they then help AIFD expose political sermons and their agenda around the United States? Will they moreover call upon our fellow co-religionists to fully and unequivocally separate the spiritual from the political? If they will not, will they recognize that they only represent Islamists and those who believe in political Islam—the remaining 51% according to Pew?
7) How can they honestly claim to speak for anyone beyond their membership and donors?
The Washington Times piece about CAIR was not a hit-piece nor was it anti-Muslim or anti-Islamic. It begins the long overdue debate about the agenda of organizations like CAIR and where they stand with regard to political Islam and these questions. Soon, mainstream media and government leaders are going to need finally to begin to ignore the intimidation tactics of organizations like CAIR and to engage political Islam on the questions above.
They need to do so without fear of violating political correctness or offending pious Muslims. Spiritual Islam and non-Islamist Muslims in fact still are often at the mercy of Islamists, not just in America but across the globe. This is often not only due to the passivity of the majority of non-activist Muslims but to the propping up by government and the MSM of Islamists. We saw this in the recent refusal of PBS to air ABG Films, Inc. documentary, Islam v Islamists. Many anti-Islamist Muslims yearn for the day when the personal domain of the faith of Islam is not poisoned by any national domestic and foreign policy agendas of Islamist organizations like CAIR. American political discourse by activist Muslims should be all about our common national interests and universal humanitarian principles and not about being Muslim, Islamic, or being victims. The Muslims who cannot make this distinction may as well form overt Islamic political parties and make it more obvious as to their intentions and platforms when it comes to American domestic and foreign policy.