by Daniel Pipes
The Council on American-Islamic Relations usually gets a free pass as a "civil rights group," no questions asked, but once in a while someone is awake at the switch and protests its activities, influence, and acceptance. Here, in reverse chronological order, are some noteworthy examples:
Indian Americans for Freedom issued a press release celebrating the first Indian-American super PAC and described one of its television ads:
(November 1, 2012)
Raneen Albaghdady, 32, of Dearborn Heights, appeared in a hijab before Judge Bill Callahan of Wayne County Circuit Court in Michigan in June. Telling her "No hats allowed in the courtroom," she replied, according to the court transcript, "OK, it doesn't matter" and took off her hijab. Later, she had second thoughts and, with CAIR as her co-plaintiff, filed a lawsuit on Aug. 26, claiming that Callahan wrongly forced her to remove the hijab. To which Majed Moughni, a Muslim attorney from Dearborn, argues the woman was not wearing a hijab at all but a fashionable garment; and the fact that she removed it shows she wasn't serious about wearing it. In flyers distributed this week, Moughni defended Callahan and criticized the CAIR, a co-plaintiff in the case, saying the lawsuit is "a disservice to all Muslims." To which, Dawud Walid of the CAIR Michigan office, said of Moughni: "He's not the hijab police." (Sep. 5, 2009)
In an unprecedented action, Minneapolis Somalis took to the streets to demonstrate against CAIR's meddling in its affairs, holding the Islamist group responsible for blocking an FBI inquiry into the disappearance of Burhan Hassan, a young man of Somali origins. The Minneapolis Star Tribune report by Allie Shah and James Walsh, is worth quoting at length:
(June 12, 2009) Aug. 6, 2010 update: The Investigative Project on Terrorism updates the Somali criticism of CAIR at "Minneapolis Somalis Played Key Role in al-Shabaab Investigation."
The Department of Justice has been turning down student applicants with a CAIR background, an internal report, An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring in the Department of Justice Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program, found: "[Counsel to the Associate Attorney General.Esther] McDonald's written notations indicated that she had concerns about the candidate because he was a member of the Council on American Islamic Relations and that she had placed the application in the questionable pile." (June 24, 2008)
Congressman Bill Shuster (Republican, Pennsylvania) issued a press release in which he expressed "extreme disappointment with House Democratic Leadership due to their decision to reserve a room in the US Capitol building for a meeting with CAIR … to discuss US foreign policy in the Middle East." Shuster flayed the Democrat House leadership for "walking a very fine line between a political stunt designed to undermine the President and our military and abetting the enemy." Shuster even referred to CAIR as "a front group for terrorists." (March 12, 2007)
Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat of California) honored a California-based representative of CAIR, then rescinded the certificate and publicly stated that "We made a bad mistake not researching the organization. My organization created this problem. I caused people grief, and I feel terrible. Yet I need to set the record straight, and I'm setting the record straight." (Jan. 4, 2007)
Comment: (1) Brown-Waite has done what many of her colleagues should do. (2) The last sentence implies that CAIR is better than Bedier, but the two deserve each other. (Nov. 9, 2006) Nov. 10, 2006 update: Bedier responded to Brown-Waite. As quoted today in the St. Petersburg Times, he denies ambushed her in 2004: "It's unethical and shameful for a congresswoman to resort to lies and fabrication in order to defend anti-Muslim bigotry." As for Brown-Waite's recollection that Bedier said "Catholic priests pose more of a terrorism threat by having sex with young altar boys than those who flew planes into the World Trade Center," he says, "That's a lie. She's twisting it. I said we cannot stereotype and blame Islam for the actions of a few individual criminals, just like you cannot blame Catholicism for the actions of a few criminal priests."
"Omran Salman v. CAIR and MPAC" is the title of my weblog entry on another Muslim critique of CAIR. (Aug 31, 2006)
M. Zuhdi Jasser, head of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, writes one of the most impassioned criticisms of CAIR I have read to date.
(Mar. 30, 2006) Apr. 2, 2006 update: After Ibrahim Hooper wrote a letter to the editor defending CAIR's virtue by listing the ways in which it supposedly condemned terrorism and hate, Jasser has replied with a second round, "They just don't get it." Jasser notes that Hooper "seems to either conveniently or carelessly miss the entire point" of the original column. So, Jasser tries again, even more directly, demanding replies on four specific points:
Jasser then ends up on this stirring note:
Lodi Muslims to picket CAIR's Sacramento office? In the wake of the arrests in Lodi, California, divisions in the town's Muslim community have come to the surface, report Neil Gonzales and Howard Lachtman in the Stockton Record. The issues appear to be two-fold, over building the Farooqia Islamic Center and more broadly, whether the community should be led by those who grew up in Lodi or by newcomers from Pakistan. In both questions, the conflict appears to be between Muslims of a more traditional bent and the Islamists. CAIR has butted into the controversy, naturally (see the June 9, 2005 entry, below) on the side of the Islamists.
The response has been sharp. Naheem "Nick" Qayyum, a board member of the Lodi Muslim Mosque, says he and many others plan to protest at CAIR's Sacramento office for taking the side of the two imams arrested on immigration violations—Mohammad Adil Khan and Shabbir Ahmed.
CAIR's executive director in Sacramento, Basim Elkarra, declined to comment. But the Lodi mayor, John Beckman, recounted hearing Elkarra telling an FBI agent that opponents of building Farooqia were calling him to tell him to not fight efforts to deport Khan and Ahmed. (June 11, 2005) Aug. 13, 2005 update: More discontent with CAIR in Lodi: Qayyum said he and others had heard about condemnations of the United States and praise for the Taliban by Shabbir Ahmed, one of Lodi's two imams, much before the FBI's investigation went public with this information. I'll let Andrew Adams of the Lodi News-Sentinel pick it up from here:
Two Muslim groups have publicly repudiated CAIR – something, I admit, I have long awaited. Here is Kamal Nawash of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism, whom I have criticized in the past but who is doing good work now, as paraphrased by Jon Ward of the Washington Times. CAIR and similar groups "condemn terrorism on the surface while endorsing an ideology that helps foster extremism." That ideology's driving force is "the ideal of theocratic rule—the unification of church and state." Then the Times quotes Nawash on CAIR and its ilk:
Zainab Al-Suwaij of the American Islamic Congress makes the same point a bit differently. Ward paraphrases her saying that "The disagreement highlights the schism between Muslims who want to practice a more secular version of Islam that espouses a separation of church and state, and Muslims who interpret their religion more strictly." She then goes on to note that while groups in the first category, such as AIC, are proactive about terrorism, CAIR and others are more defensive. She continues about the secular Muslims:
The moderate groups (FMCAT, AIC, and others, including the American Islamic Forum for Democracy), are meeting this evening in Washington, D.C. and CAIR specifically was not invited. Ward writes that CAIR said its members "would have attended if invited, though they disagree with the hosting groups' point of view." More aggressively, CAIR's spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, asserted that the moderate groups do not represent mainstream American Islam. Speaking of CAIR, he said, "We have our views, and we believe our views reflect the mainstream of the American Islamic community." (Oct. 1, 2004)
"I don't need any lesson from CAIR." That's the response of Tom Lantos (Democrat of California) to CAIR's criticism of his legislation proposing the creation of an office in the State Department to "monitor and combat" anti-Semitism worldwide. Specifically, Helal Omeira, the group's San Francisco-area executive director said that "Really, hate crimes and hate incidents aren't mutually exclusive to one group of individuals." (Sept. 28, 2004)
When two country commissioners in Hernando County, Florida, attended a CAIR dinner and accepted awards from CAIR, they got an earful from some of their constituents at a commission hearing yesterday. The St. Petersburg Times gives a taste of the anger Nancy Robinson and Diane Rowden met with, mostly from the pastor and congregants of the Landmark Baptist Church in Brooksville. The Rev. Mike Frazier got things going by accusing them of embracing terrorism by going to the event and when the two started to respond, they were met with a chant of "terrorists, terrorists," until Robinson asked for quiet. Frazier went on to insist that the two government officials "return the awards and denounce terrorism." Rose Rocco asserted, "I've an issue with CAIR having a private party and inviting dignitaries; that should have been done in a public forum." Chip Gripton said that attending CAIR's event was tantamount to committing treason. "You supported and comforted an enemy of the United States." (Sept. 15, 2004) Oct. 29, 2004 update: in "Jihad at the St. Petersburg Times," Erick Stakelbeck details the campaign of intimidation directed against Mike Frazier for his speaking out against CAIR, with an emphasis on the ignoble role played by the St. Petersburg Times.
Mirabile dictu, a newspaper has finally noted CAIR's several links to terrorism. I have been pointing out this connection in conversation with journalists for a year now, sometimes providing them with the reference to the entry on this website with the specifics laid out. But I had no takers, at least not until today. Glenn Sheller, editorial page editor of the Columbus Dispatch published an article "Muslim group's conflict with discrimination is uphill fight" (which can be found on the Dispatch website if a paid subscriber; or available to all on google.com's cache), in which he states that "at least three people connected with CAIR nationally have been accused of terrorist ties," he lays out the specifics concerning Randall Todd Royer, Bassem Khafagi, and Ghassan Elashi. Now, will others follow his brave start? (Aug. 31, 2004)
Department of Justice spokesman Jorge Martinez dismissed CAIR's report, Guilt by Association, as "unfair criticism based on a lot of misinformation and propaganda," and in so doing he may have taken an unprecedented step: I know of no prior U.S. governmental criticism of CAIR. On prior occasions, no matter how tendentious and intemperate were CAIR's attacks on the federal government ("unjust" and "disturbing," for example, was how it responded to President Bush's closing down conduit for funding Hamas), the feds sat mutely by. Perhaps a new trend has begun. (July 16, 2003)
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