In an article provocatively titled "A Scholar Confronts ‘Ugly Face of America'," the Washington Post reports today on a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origins, Muzaffar Iqbal, who was taken aside in the Toronto airport in December 2002 and asked some questions by the U.S. immigration authorities, causing him to miss his plane. Then, confronted with the prospect of being fingerprinted, photographed, and having to report his moves within the United States, he decide to stay away from the country until those regulations change. The Post presents Iqbal as someone wronged by officious American bureaucrats ("Do you think I'm a security threat to your country?" "I'm just doing my job. If I don't do it, I will be fired").
About Iqbal himself, the Post article (written by DeNeen L. Brown) informs us only that he moved to Canada in 1979 and was entering the United States at the invitation of Georgetown University's Center for Christian-Muslim Understanding, nothing more. But a cursory internet search turns up much information on Iqbal, information the Post reporter chose not to make available but which helps understand both why he was under suspicion and why he responded so huffily. He:
- Appears to be a member of the Pakistan Islamist organization Jamaat-e-Islami, judging by the fact that he writes for its website and is identified as such. One authority calls the Jamaat-e-Islami a militaristic group that "envisions a state governed by Islamic law and opposes Westernization—including capitalism, socialism, and such practices as bank interest, birth control, and relaxed social mores." It is, in short, precisely the enemy in the war on terror whose members should not be permitted entry into the United States.
- Promotes Islamism various of ways, including the Center for Islam and Science, which he heads; the journal Islam & Science, which he edits; the listserv Kalam, which he also edits; a fortnightly column, "Quantum Note," which appears on every second Friday in Pakistan's largest English language newspaper, The News; many published works on Islam and Islamic intellectual tradition; and serving as a lecturer and fellow at the Center for South Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Expresses venomous hatred for the United States. The war to topple Saddam Hussein he portrays as part of a "process of building a new empire" and a "re-colonisation of the world by the United States of America [according to] a God-given mandate." He expects that if "emperor Bush" wins a second term, this will lead to "a grand resumption of world conquest." The United States, Great Britain, and Israel constitute the "new Great Axis of Evil". In a hostile "letter" to President Bush, he wrote: "Let me assure you, Mr. President, American peanut butter tastes so good that our Afghan children became so keen to pick up the food packages that they could not even distinguish between the food packages and thousands of canister bombs that your B-52 bombers left behind in their wasteland. But, of course, it was their bad luck; we will just add them to the list of collateral damage. That way, we will not have to go through the tedious ritual of calculating the number of dead."
- Espouses a shockingly explicit antisemitism. With reference to some Israelis who spray-painted anti-Islamic messages in a Muslim neighborhood, Iqbal wrote: "These Jews are absolutely devoid of any respect for the faith and religion of others. But it should not surprise anyone, since they learn such abusive and dirty tricks from their own SCRIPTURES, which are filled with shameless stories of incest and pornography (Gen. 19:30-38, Gen. 38, 2 Samuel 11 etc.), and these Jews seem to be immensely affected by these Divine stories." Bizarrely, he refers to the United States as "greater Israel".
- Denies the validity of any Islamic truth but that of the Islamists: "It is also to be noted that in clear contradistinction to the propagators of this new brand of moderate Islam, there is no category of moderate Muslims in the Qur'aan. The Qur'aan only mentions three categories of people: the believers, the unbelievers and the hypocrites."
Why did the Washington Post whitewash Iqbal by not informing readers of his easily available activities and views? (November 11, 2003)
Dec. 10, 2003 update: Muzaffar Iqbal has sent me the following rejoinder:
Re: Washington Post Article
Atten: Daniel Pipes
For the Record:
A few corrections in your comments (http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2003/11/the-washington-post-whitewashes-muzaffar.html) on a recent article in the Washington Post about me are in order:
1. I am not a member of Jamaat-e Islami; your "proof" for my membership actually comes from New York! and this source gives no "proof" for its claim.
2. I do not write for their website; the reference you gave specifically quotes that they have taken that article from The News, for which I write a bi-monthly column.
3. The article about Jews to which you refer, was not written by me; this Muzaffar Iqbal, is unknown to me... you need to trace him through the website from where you quote that article.