The Anti-Defamation League has announced that it will be part of an interfaith coalition to “assist Muslim communities confronting opposition.” According to the announcement:
New York, NY, September 7, 2010 … Concerned with a disturbing rise in discrimination against Muslims trying to legally build or expand their houses of worship — mosques– across the United States, interfaith and religious leaders have formed a coalition to assist those Muslim communities confronting opposition. The Interfaith Coalition on Mosques (ICOM), comprised of individuals and organizations from different faith traditions – Christian, Jewish and Muslim – will provide support and stand with Muslims when their rights are being violated. “We believe the best way to uphold America’s democratic values is to ensure that Muslims can exercise the same religious freedom enjoyed by everyone in America. They deserve nothing less than to have a place of worship like everyone else,” ICOM said in its Statement of Purpose. “While we are extremely concerned about discrimination against mosque building in America, we will also recognize that local governments have legitimate concerns regarding zoning planning issues within the framework of current federal, state and local laws.” From Florida to California, ugly rhetoric has replaced civil dialogue at local government planning meetings and community debates over proposals by Muslims citizens to exercise the rights guaranteed to everyone in America. “The level of hostility, fear mongering and hate speech is unacceptable and un-American,” the coalition stated. Working under the sponsorship of the Anti-Defamation League, which initiated the concept, ICOM will carefully monitor incidents of mosque discrimination around the country, gather facts and analyze the information, and speak out when appropriate to help Muslim communities who are encountering prejudice. “We will not take political sides. We will not make decisions based on ideology,” the coalition said in its statement.
One of the three Muslim charter members identified in the ADL announcement is Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies at American University whose online biography identifies as the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington DC. Dr. Ahmed is frequently described as one of the most prominent Islamic moderates who and has received numerous awards and accolades. However, inconsistent with this characterization, Dr. Ahmed also has a long association with the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) established in 1980 as an arm of the global Muslim Brotherhood by some of the most important figures in this network. Dr. Ahmed has also been a member of the advisory board of the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, the publication of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists which is headquartered at IIIT. The exact nature of Dr. Ahmed’s association with the Muslim Brotherhood network requires further analysis, but a brief review of his positions on suicide bombings indicate that he has staked out a position similar to that of Tariq Ramadan, an important leader in the Global Muslim Brotherhood. That is, while condemning such terrorism as “un-Islamic”, Dr. Ahmed attempts to contextualize the phenomenon, blaming it on social/political circumstances rather than religious incitement. Also, when presented with opportunities to condemn Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Youssef Qaradawi who provide theological justification for suicide attacks, Dr. Ahmed noticeably fails to denounce such individuals by name (see Note 1).
In a TV discussion about “media bias” toward Muslims, board members of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, engaged in a number of anti-Semitic themes. Early in the show (time 4:52), Dr. Akbar Ahmed posits yet another plot by “Zionists” to act against the interests of Muslims. The discussion had opened on so-called “honor killings” and the role of the media whom Aly Abuzaakuk, another CSID board member, thought was responsible for the idea that Islam rather than culture was responsible for such killings. Dr. Ahmed then said that journalist were only acting in a “context” that had been created for them by “policy-makers.” When asked who exactly was responsible for this context, Dr. Ahmed replied:
I am thinking of primarily of things like the neo-conservative movement; I am thinking of the Zionist movement, people who have certain policies they want to get in the United States especially but the Western world in general behind and in order to mobilize towards that they have a convenient tool in this stereotyping/ demonization of Muslims. For example, it is much easier for example to defend the war in Iraq if you take in assumption that all Muslims should be treated in a stereotypical movement.
Within the global Muslim Brotherhood, attributing such conspiracies to “neo-conservatives” and/or “Zionists is often used as a code for Jewish influence.
Towards the end of the show (time 29:37), Dr. Ahmed asserts that his “nuanced” view of issues such as the MIddle East crisis has resulted in not being invited back to TV show discussions. As an example of such a view, he states that he recognizes that Israelis have suffered from “violent acts by some Palestinians” and that their history makes them “sensitive to these kind of existential questions”.” He then added that “of course that doesn’t justify them perpetrating the same kind of violence on the Palestinians.” Comparing Israeli actions to Nazi crimes is another common tactic of the Muslim Brotherhood.
(Note 1 Project Ijtihad » Exclusive interview with Drs. Judea Pearl and Akbar Ahmed http://www.projectijtihad.com/blog/?p=104 Sun Aug 05 2007 no longer available)