Onward Muslim Community Organizers

Dec 4th, 2015 | By | Category: Weekly Washington Updates

The American Left declares “mercy” is central to Islam

By Andrew Harrod, PhD:

Islamic_Protest_in_Hyde_Park,_Sydney_01Muslims “are not the problem they are the solution,” leftist writer Eli Clifton simplistically states in American Muslims:  Facts vs. Fiction, a short video that premiered November 19 at Georgetown University.  While presenting Muslims as charitable good neighbors, the film and subsequent panel discussion before an auditorium audience of about 200 obscured various troubling facts about this faith community.

The film narration cites statistics to argue that “American Muslims are an integral part of our society” and parallel wider trends concerning matters such as religious observance and recycling.  Tarek El-Messidi, the founder of the Muslim apologetics organization Celebrate Mercy, states that mercy “is really the cornerstone of what Islam teaches.”  Yet the film’s profiled Muslim leaders, such as Congressman Keith Ellison and law professor Azizah al-Hibri (whose acolyte Qasim Rashid has bizarre ideas on free speech), are not necessarily all-American.  A document that Mohamad Magid, president of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), discusses as a counter to Islamic State (IS) doctrinal credentials is also rather disingenuous.

The film argues that American Muslims and Islamic doctrine oppose the killing of civilians in armed conflict, as expressed in a 2011 Gallup poll.  Coexist Foundation CEO Tarek Elghwary also asserts that the Quran condemns terroristic killing of civilians as “irjaf,” something other Islamic scholars have distinguished from legitimate warfare in jihad.  Yet as noted critic of Islam Robert Spencer has analyzed, “it is common in Islamic theology to condemn all non-Muslims as guilty for their rejection of the Koran and Muhammad,” a denial of the protective status “innocent civilians.”

To show Islam as a bona fide religion of peace, the film egregiously lies with statistics.  Analyst Erin Miller states that “terrorism in America is almost a melting pot” while a graph of FBI data on “Domestic Terrorism Attacks Overall” from1980-2005 shows that only six percent is “Islamist related.”  Yet the film references the State Department to claim that America has seven million Muslims, the high end of several demographic estimates mentioned by the State Department that run as low as two million.  Amidst currently 321 million Americans, this growing community is still less than 2.2 percent of the American population, grossly disproportionate to the Islamic terrorism incidence stated in the film.

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Beyond the FBI’s definition of domestic terrorism, the FBI’s foreign and domestic “most wanted terrorists” and the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations lists are overwhelmingly Muslim in content.  A 2011 National Counterterrorism Center report concluded that “Sunni extremists accounted for the greatest number of terrorist attacks and fatalities for the third consecutive year” and 70 percent of all 2011 global terrorism fatalities.  Yet only the report’s finding that 82-97 percent of these attack casualties are Muslim appears in the film, where the narration states that “Muslims worldwide are the main targets of extremist violence.”

“We don’t face so much a clash of civilizations,” film producer Alex Kronemer stated accordingly during the post-screening panel, but rather “we don’t take enough time to understand one another.”  He has produced several films involving Islam at Unity Productions Foundation, co-founded by him and Michael Wolfe, an American convert to Islam from a Jewish-Christian background.  Writing once about his conversion, he quoted Malcom X’s assessment that Islam “is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem,” global racism data notwithstanding.

The director of Georgetown’s Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU), noted Islam apologist John Esposito, similarly presented Islam as unfairly maligned.  “If you take things said about Islam and Muslims in our media and substitute the word ‘Christian’ or ‘Jew,’” this even host said, “much of that discourse would not be on TV and would not be in print media.”

Like the film, the panelists advocated Muslim civic engagement for giving broader American society positive interactions with Islam.  African-American imam Saafir Rabb stated that people in his community often thought “if you really want your son not to go back in prison, get him with the Muslims.”  For radical Muslim activist Linda Sarsour and Dahlia Mogahed, a pollster and Esposito protégé who appeared in the film, opposition to “Islamophobia” complemented leftist politics like opposing voter identification laws.

Indirectly indicating that Islam is not always so merciful, Messidi on the panel saw Muslim social engagement as a change of direction from the “over-politicized nature of our sermons and of our mosques.”   Here “young people are constantly hearing about this genocide happening, this bombing happening, these drone attacks” and “how unfairly treated our Muslim world is.”  If “all they hear from our leadership is condemnation but no real action beyond that, then they are going to snap,” he stated.

Sarsour qualified that “radicalization and extremism in American Muslim communities is not an epidemic.”  “I am all about Palestine, free Palestine,” stated the Palestinian-American Sarsour who once tweeted that “nothing is creepier than Zionism.”  Yet she rejected the thought that if Muslims “sit in a mosque and someone is telling us about Palestinian children being massacred that we are all getting out, we are ready to go do stuff.”

Analysis of the panel and film belies the views of individuals like Clifton that Islam merely inspires Good Samaritans to corporal works of mercy.  Messidi’s own Islam apologetics videos from Celebrate Mercy feature the not-so-moderate former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa.  Another video presents the previously radical American Muslim convert Hamza Yusuf as well as Yusuf Islam, the singer who long left the “Peace Train” since converting to Islam.

Messidi himself seemed strangely unaware of Islamic dhimmi persecution of non-Muslims in a past radio appearance.  He misquoted Quran 5:82, a verse prominent in Islamic antisemitism, and fabricated therefrom the ecumenism that the “people who are closest to you [Muslims] in the love of God are Christians and Jews.”  In contrast to his ignorance, whether feigned or real, knowledge is power, and forewarned is forearmed, maxims that lose none of their validity in informed interactions with Muslims next door.

About Andrew Harrod
Andrew E. Harrod is a researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project, an organization combating the misuse of human rights law against Western societies. He can be followed on twitter at @AEHarrod.

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