Local media has reported that the President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) has made an appearance in support of the controversial proposed new mosque in Temecula California. According to the report:
“Religious intolerance is ugly, it is evil and it cannot happen in Temecula,” said the Rev. Dominic Rivkin of Trinity Lutheran Church. The gathering at the Temecula Community Recreation Center was hosted by the Interfaith Council of Murrieta and Temecula Valley. Called “Getting to Know the Muslims,” it drew more than 100 people to learn about Islam and the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley, which wants to build what would become a 25,000-square-foot mosque near Nicolas and Calle Medusa roads. The council is a coalition of houses of worship in Murrieta and Temecula dedicated to promoting religious harmony and understanding. The center, which has existed for 12 years and serves more than 100 families, is a member. The mosque is a flashpoint in the national debate over Islam in America. Opponents say the mosque, tentatively scheduled to go before the Temecula Planning Commission on Nov. 17, could be a haven for Islamic extremism. Others criticize the project on land-use grounds, saying it’s too big for the site and will lead to more traffic. Supporters say the Islamic Center’s members are law-abiding people who simply want more room to worship God as they see fit. Those who spoke in support of the mosque included the council’s chairman, Rev. Joe Zarro of United Church of the Valley in Murrieta; Gayle Byrne, a Jew who helped create the council; council member and Mormon Larry Slusser and a representative of the Catholic church. “I fail to see how denying this house of worship brings us any closer to God,” Zarro said. Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said he wanted to dispel stereotypes about Islam, including the notion that all Muslims are Arab; just 10 to 15 percent are, he said. “When I make a pledge to the flag of the United States of America … it as if we are making a pledge to God,” Al-Marayati said. “This is right out of the Koran.”Mahmoud Harmoush, the center’s imam, said he categorically rejects violence.
One of the churches opposing the mosque has cited both the size of the project, concerns about Islam itself, and anti-Israeli rallies. sponsored by the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley (ICTV) as reasons for its opposition to the project. In one of those rallies held in January 2009, the ICTV partnered with the Al-Awda – The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, an organization opposed to Israel’s right to exist and which supports resistance against Israel “by any means necessary.”
As has been the case with other mosques planned for rural communities, the mosque sponsor appears to have ties to the US and Global Muslim Brotherhood. A faculty bio describes ICTV imam Harmoush as follows:
Mahmoud Harmoush joined the World Languages and Literatures (WLL) Department in the Winter of 2007 to teach Arabic Language and Islamic Culture. He was born and raised in Syria and completed his college education in the USA. He earned a B.S. in Economics from the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona and a Master’s of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and Second Language Acquisition from Mountain State University in West Virginia. Mr. Harmoush holds many educational and leadership positions at several institutions in Southern California. He currently leads the community in Temecula / Murrieta where he also teaches Arabic Language and Islamic Studies and organizes community events. Mr. Harmoush has traveled and conducted business in several parts of the world. He is highly informed on the Middle East and the Global affairs.
A Gulf newspaper reports that Mr. Harmoush emigrated from Syria in the mid-1980s and according to their website, he is a member of the leadership council of the Syrian American Congress which is headed by Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) leader Louay Safi and also includes ISNA President Safa Zarzour. As documented by a Hudson Institute report, ISNA is an important part of the USMBOther possible ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood include:
- Mr. Harmoush may have also had a leadership role in important Islamic student organizations tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood. For example, a report on Muslims in the Caribbean identifies a Mahmoud Harmoush as the 1993 Caribbean representative for the International Federation of Islamic Student Organizations (IIFSO), an organization in which many leaders in the Global Muslim Brotherhood belong at one time including Ahmed Totonji of International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) who played a prominent role in the Carribbean branch of IIFSO at one time.
- A 2001 list of speakers (see note below) for the Muslim Student Association (MSA) identifies a Br. Mahmood Harmoush as a former MSA President. The Hudson report also identifies MSA as important part of the US Muslim Brotherhood.
- As late as June 2008, the website of the Muslim World League (MWL) Canada listed a Mahmoud Harmoush living in LA as one of its approved speakers. The MWL is a Saudi religious organization strongly tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood.
MPAC, headquartered in Southern California, was established initially in 1986 as the Political Action Committee of the Islamic Center of Southern California whose key leaders likely had their origins in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Since that time, MPAC has functioned as the political lobbying arm of the U.S. Brotherhood. MPAC has opposed virtually every count-terror initiative undertaken or proposed by the U.S. government. At times this opposition was said to be on civil-rights grounds but, just as often, MPAC claimed that U.S. counter-terror efforts were aimed at the U.S. Muslim community itself. MPAC has consistently supported and facilitated terrorism by supporting terrorist organizations and, more broadly, constructing an elaborate ideology defending the use of violence by Islamists and Islamist organizations. More than any other U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organization, MPAC has developed extensive relationships with the U.S. government which have included numerous meetings with the Department of Justice and the FBI. A previous post reported that MPAC recently participated in a White House meeting with President Obama and cabinet officials to announce the President’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
(Note: List of Names of Speakers on the MSA Speakers List http://www.msa-natl.org/resources/speakers.pdf Last Updated: Sat Sep 1 04:13:11 2001 (no longer available)