The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) has announced that over the Memorial Day weekend last month, MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati spoke at a US Shia Muslim gathering about the “‘Intra-faith Code of Honor.” According to the MPAC announcement, the initiative was a project of MPAC itself:
On Memorial Day weekend, MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati spoke at the Universal MuslimAmerican Association’s (UMAA) 11th annual convention ‘The Conference of Ali’ in Dearborn, MI, about MPAC’s ‘Intra-faith Code of Honor.’ In a ground-breaking show of unity with other Muslims, UMAA held a signing of the Code, wherein leaders of the Shia and Sunni communities pledged their devotion to preventing the rise of sectarianism in the American Muslim community.
Five years ago, MPAC first brought together American Muslim leaders to sign onto the ‘Intra-Faith Code of Honor’ to address the increasing sectarian violence abroad and, most importantly, ensure that American Muslim communities are not divided or infected by international events. To date, the Code has been adopted by more than 50 major American Muslim Sunni and Shia leaders including Dr. Maher Hathout, MPAC’s Senior Adviser; Tariq Ramadan of Oxford University; and Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America. It reads, in part:
‘As Muslim Americans who live and struggle together in harmony and cohesion, and who agree that the challenges of the future should supersede the problems of the past, we are eager to offer any help and join hands with all those who wish well for our Ummah (community) toward stopping this vicious cycle of violence in the Middle East, which is abhorrent to all Islamic values and principles.’
The UMAA Convention is one of the largest Shia Muslim gatherings in the U.S. with more than 3,000 people in attendance from all over the country. UMAA is a nonprofit organization created in 2003 with the purpose of advancing the social, economic and political affairs of the Muslim community in America, with a particular focus on the Shia Muslim community. Top experts in their fields spoke at the confernece including Juan Cole, historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia and a Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan; Dr. Hassan Abbas, Professor of International Security Affairs of the National Defense Institute; Judge David Turfe, the Chief Judge for the 20th District Court in Michigan and Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly.
Contrary to MPAC’s assertion that the Intra-Faith Code of Honor was an MPAC initiative, a document downloaded from the initiative’s archived website shows it was originally a project of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Interestingly the document identifies one of the goals of the initiative as the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq to be replaced by troops of “Muslim-Majority” countries, presumably Sunni. An announcement from 2007(see Note below) reported on a June meeting at CAIR’s Washington office that was attended by representatives of all major parts of the US Muslim Brotherhood including the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Keith Ellison, the first US Muslim Congressman, also attended. A second meeting in July was identified that included the above coalition as well as other organizations tied to the US Muslim Brotherhood including the American Muslims for Constructive Engagement the American Muslim Alliance, and the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID). At that time, the initiative was probably an attempt to deal with rising tensions between the Sunni and Shiite communities in the United States signs of which included vandalism of Shiite mosques in the Detroit area, accusations of being rebuffed in each other’s mosques, and factional disputes on college campuses. As far as can be determined, the 2007 signers of the document included only two known Shiite Muslims- S. M. AI-Qazwini and Abulfazl Nahidian while the remainder were individuals strongly associated with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
Coming to the fore again in the wake of increasing Sunni-Shia tensions over Syria, the Intra-Faith Code of Honor would appear to be at odds with Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi’s increasing anti-Iranian statements although none of the US Muslim Brotherhood organizations have criticized Qaradawi in this regard just as they have failed to ever criticize him over any of his other extremist statements. It is interesting to note that the second signatory to the document is Tariq Ramadan who has sufficient stature as the son of Said Ramadan and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood to challenge positions taken by important Brotherhood leaders.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) was established originally in 1986 as the Political Action Committee of the Islamic Center of Southern California whose leaders had backgrounds suggesting they were associated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. A 1989 US Muslim Brotherhood document introduced as evidence in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial refers to the last name of one of the MPAC leaders, Mather Hathout, in a list of “Islamic Centers and Groups in the field.”
MPAC has since developed into the political lobby arm of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and has opposed almost every counterterrorism action proposed or carried out by the U.S. government, often suggesting that the efforts were aimed at the U.S. Muslim community. MPAC has also acted to support a variety of Palestinian terrorist organizations as well as facilitating a wider range of terrorism by defending or justifying violence carried out by Islamic groups. Nevertheless, MPAC has developed particularly extensive relationships with agencies of the U.S. government including meetings with the Department of Justice and the FBI.
MPAC and its leaders have made anti-Semitic statements that assert or imply an organized Jewish effort to defame and exclude U.S. Muslims from U.S. political life and has engaged in frequent and virulent demonization of Israel including describing Israeli actions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a “rape of the soul of the Islamic people”, asserting that the objective of Israeli actions in Gaza was “gross killings of Palestinian civilians, including women and children”, and accusing supporters of Israel of using tactics similar to Hitler’s. In December 2009, MPAC reported that “Israeli doctors had extracted human organs from dead Palestinians during the 1988 intifada and into the 1990s.” MPAC leader Salamn Al-Marayati suggested on a talk radio show on September 11, 2001 that Israel might have been behind the 911attacks. stating:
If we’re going to look at suspects, we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what’s happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies.
(Note: Ethnic NewsWatch Islamic Society of North America Islamic Horizons September 2007)