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No to Bombing Syria

The Obama Administration rightly stayed out of Syria through six painful, grisly years of civil war there.

Yes, the fighting has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions. Yes, the uncontrolled migration of Syrians to Europe caused deep problems there. Yes, the Kurds are sympathetic. Yes, Barack Obama made a fool of himself when he declared the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons a "red line" and proceeded not to enforce it.

Despite all this, it was right not to intervene because Iranian- and Russian-backed Shi'ite pro-government jihadis are best kept busy fighting Saudi-, Qatar-, and Turkish-backed anti-government Sunni jihadis; because Kurds, however appealing, are not contenders for control of the whole of Syria; and because Americans have no stomach for another Middle Eastern war.

Direct American involvement implies favoring one side against the other, when both are hideously repugnant.

The direct American involvement that a few hours ago with nearly 60 cruise missiles in an hour attacking Shayrat Air Base implies siding with one side against the other, even though both of them are hideously repugnant. (While the regime has done the great preponderance of the killing, estimated at 94 percent, that's due only to its greater destructive power, not the humanitarianism of ISIS and its other enemies.)

I see this military action as an error. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution requires that American forces fight in every war around the world; this one should be sat out, letting enemies of the United States fight each other to exhaustion.

The immense resources of the United States should be dedicated, rather, to two goals: reduce human suffering with blankets and soup and prevent the stronger side (now the regime) from winning through the provision of intelligence and arms to the weaker side (the Sunni rebels).

Trump should immediately cease all direct attacks on the Syrian regime and instead help its enemies to fight it more effectively.

Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.

By Daniel Pipes  |  April 7, 2017  |  Permalink

Historians Run Amok

Niall Ferguson delivering ACTA's Merrill Award at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Oct. 28, 2016.

The eminent historian Niall Ferguson has devastatingly skewered his (and my) field of study in a talk for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, subsequently published as "The Decline and Fall of History."

He starts with the empirical fact that undergraduates are running away from studying history: compared with 1971 (coincidentally, the year I got my A.B. degree), "the share of history and social sciences degrees has halved, from 18% in 1971 to 9%. And the decline seems likely to continue."

Why so? Data from the American Historical Association finds that the past 40 years have seen

a very big increase in the number of historians who specialize in women and gender, which has risen from 1% of the total to almost 10%. As a result, gender is now the single most important subfield in the academy. Cultural history (from under 4% to nearly 8%) is next. The history of race and ethnicity has also gone up by a factor of more than three. Environmental history is another big winner.

The losers in this structural shift are diplomatic and international history (which also has the oldest professors), legal and constitutional history, and intellectual history. Social and economic history have also declined. [Almost] all of these have fallen to less than half of their 1970 shares of the profession.

This means that the most significant events are ignored. Limiting oneself to modern Western history, courses barely cover such topics as the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Instead, one encounters a course such as Harvard's History 1954: "Emotions in History" whose course description reads:

What is the place of emotion in history? The question itself holds multiple meanings, and in this course we consider two in particular: how to write the history of emotion(s), and how the historian's emotions affect the writing of history. Do historians benefit more from proximity to, or distance from, their historical subjects? Should historians of emotion suppress, or cultivate, their feelings of empathy? Does emotive writing inevitably fail the test of scholarly rigour and balance? We will explore some possible analytic frames for the history of emotion and debates over the subjectivity of history, and consider their application to case studies drawn from Australian history.

Ferguson reports the "not wholly surprising" fact that "Emotions in History" boasts a total enrollment of one student. Yale competes with its own offerings such as "Witchcraft and Society in Colonial America" and "History of the Supernatural."

Ferguson delicately asserts that he does "not wish to dismiss any of these subjects as being of no interest or value. They just seem to address less important questions than how the United States became an independent republic with a constitution based on the idea of limited government."

Not only does this new type of history take on minor concerns but it deals with them in miniature ways that amount to what a student dubs "heirloom antiquarianism" and Ferguson calls Microcosmographia Academica – focusing on topics like "the habits of New York restaurant-goers in the 1870s or the makeup of various Caribbean ethnic groups in areas of Brooklyn that made up the West Indian Day Parade in the 1960s" (real examples).

Finally, there's the politicizing, moralizing, and anachronistic insistence on judging "the past by the moral standards of the present—and indeed to efface its traces, in a kind of modern-day iconoclasm, when these are deemed offensive."

In all, as historians "neglect the defining events of modern world history in favor of topics that are either arcane or agitprop, sometimes both," students flee and the "United States of Amnesia" looms.

Bravo to Niall Ferguson for pointing out the hollowing out of a once-great field of study.

Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.

By Daniel Pipes  |  April 4, 2017  |  Permalink

Turk Tank Prototype Passes Tests, Moves to Serial Production

ANKARA—The prototype of the Altay, an indigenous Turkish new-generation tank in the making, has successfully passed all acceptance tests, said its builder, Otokar.

"Altay ... has now completed the tough qualification testing stage, including mobility and endurance testing on rough terrain and climatic conditions, firing tests with various scenarios and survivability testing," the company said.

Serdar Gorguc, Otokar's general manager, said: "The acceptance tests ... for [the] Altay are finalized. After ... meeting the ultimate requirements under extreme conditions successfully, we are confident that [the] Altay will be one of the best modern main battle tanks on the field very soon."

Gorguc also hinted at export potential for the Altay: "In addition to producing 250 units of [the] Altay, Otokar made an annual capacity plan taking into consideration the export potential, mine clearance, and various complementary vehicle requirements such as rescue and fortification tank. In this way, it aims to have a flexible production program that can meet all demands of [Turkey] or other friendly allied countries."

The government's procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), will now decide whether it will award the serial production contract, worth billions of dollars, to Otokar or launch a competition.

Procurement officials say all options are open. "Competition is not an unlikely option," said one senior official familiar with the Altay program. "We might also consider bringing together more than one player and go for a consortium-like solution."

Armored-vehicles specialist Otokar, Turkey's biggest privately-owned defense company, signed in 2008 a $500 million contract with SSM for the development and production of four prototypes of the Altay.

Under the various clauses of the development contract, Otokar, without competition, was to make an offer for the serial production contract. If Otokar's offer was to be found satisfactory there would be no competition. If, however, the procurement bureaucracy was not content with the offer, then it had all the legal rights to launch competition for serial production of the Altay.

In January 2016, Otokar officially submitted its bid for serial production of a first batch of 250 Altay tanks and integrated logistical support for the program. And in August 2016 it revised its bid and submitted its best and final offer (BAFO) to SSM. Sources said at the time Otokar's original bid was "surprisingly high."

SSM's looming decision on whether to go with Otokar or open competition will shape the Altay and its future sales, both to the Turkish army and potentially to foreign "friendly and allied" armies.

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based political analyst and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

By Burak Bekdil  |  March 29, 2017  |  Permalink

Reformist Muslim Organizations in North America

Please click here to sign a Change.org petition calling on the nation's largest community foundation to end its financial support for Islamist hate groups.

Muslim residents of Dearborn, Michigan, spontaneously celebrate news of Osama bin Laden's death in 2011.

Following the launch of the Middle East Forum's campaign to end Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) funding for two Islamic extremist organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief, we have received numerous inquiries about which moderate Muslim-American organizations are deserving of funding by SVCF and other foundations.

The following list is a good place to start.

Whereas CAIR and Islamic relief preach intolerance, social insularity, and distrust of law enforcement to American Muslims, these organizations advocate universal human rights and work to bring about greater inclusion and integration of Muslims into American society.

The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD)

AIFD was founded in March 2003 by Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, an Arizona-based physician, former naval officer, and author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot's Fight to Save His Faith (2012). The organization defines its mission as "actively confronting the ideology of political Islam" and "stand[ing] firmly for universal human rights – including gender equality, freedom of conscience, and freedom of speech and expression."

The Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP)

CIP was founded in 2004 by Sufi Muslim Stephan Suleyman Schwartz, and seven other reform-minded Muslims, including Dr. Jasser and Professor Salim Mansur, director of its Canadian branch. Schwartz serves as the executive director and emphasizes the importance of understanding and defeating Wahhabism, the ultra-conservative religious creed that helped give rise to Al-Qaeda.

Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Describing its mission as "to reclaim Islam for, as the word itself means, securing Peace for all people, and to oppose extremism, fanaticism and violence in the name of religion," Muslims Facing Tomorrow is a Canadian organization led by its president Raheel Raza and Vice President Salim Mansur.

MuslimReformers.com

Shireen Qudosi is a Muslim Reformer, political activist, and publisher of The Qudosi Chronicles, a publication declaring itself, "The Voice of Muslim Reformers." On September 22, 2016 Qudosi testified in favor of Muslim reform before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency of the House Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. Congress

The Muslim Reform Movement

Launched in December 2015, the Muslim Reform Movement brought together reformers from multiple organizations in support of a declaration of principles advocating peace, human rights, women's rights, minority rights, and secular governance. Its most visible leader is former Georgetown professor Asra Nomani.

The International Quranic Center (IQC)

IQC was founded by Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour to advocate Quranism, a moderate interpretation of Islam that rejects hadiths – reported words and sayings of Muhammad – as a doctrinal guide, accepting only the Quran as "comprehensive, completely sufficient in itself." Islamists, whose beliefs rely heavily on hadiths, vigorously oppose Quranism. Mansour was granted political asylum in the United States in 2002 after suffering years of persecution in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups.

The American Islamic Congress (AIC)

The AIC was co-founded in 2001 after 9/11 by Zeinab Al-Suwaij, its executive director. Its principles include championing religious pluralism, condemning intolerance, and protecting the rights of minorities in the Muslim world. Programs of the AIC include promoting interfaith councils, advocating for legislation favoring religious freedom and civil rights abroad, and hosting Muslim film festivals.

The World Organization for Resource Development and Education (WORDE)

The WORDE was founded with a mission "to enhance communication and understanding between communities to mitigate social and political conflict." Led by Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi, founder and president and co-author of The Other Muslims: Moderate and Secular, WORDE engages in government outreach, community engagement, and publications to promote its message. WORDE also sponsors a Club House, "an innovation space, where Muslim scholars explore, test and refine alternative messaging to violent extremist organizations like ISIS."

David M. Swindle is the Coordinator of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveSwindle and Islamist Watch at @Islamist_Watch

By David M. Swindle  |  March 27, 2017  |  Permalink

Silicon Valley-Subsidized Hate Speakers: Hussain Kamani

Please click here to sign a petition calling for an end to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation's support for radical Islamists.

On March 1, the Middle East Forum revealed that the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) has provided at least $330,524 to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief, two extremist organizations that routinely give platforms to Islamist speakers who incite hatred against women, Jews, Christians, and the LGBTQ community. MEF's Islamist Watch project has compiled profiles and recordings of the worst of the worst SVCF-subsidized speakers. Previous installments: Siraj Wahhaj.


Hussain Kamani offers the Quran as guidance on how often to beat one's wife.

Hussain Kamani

Affiliation to SVCF

Kamani has spoken at numerous Islamic Relief events (e.g. a Ramadan fundraiser in 2015).

Background

Hussain Kamani is the co-founder of the Qalam Institute, a seminary and training organization in Texas. Kamani acquired his religious training in the United Kingdom. He studied at Darul Uloom Bury, one of the most prominent seminaries within the Deobandi movement – a hardline South Asian Sunni sect that gave birth to the Taliban. In 2016, The Times reported that this U.K. seminary "preaches contempt for non-Muslims and warns of the 'repulsive qualities' of Christian and Jewish women."[1]

Similar rhetoric can be found in Kamani's sermons today. One of the Qalam Institute's most popular courses – titled "The Prophetic Code" and taught by Kamani – warns Muslims to seek "cleanliness" and "purity," so as to "not resemble the Jews." Kamani also cites Quranic commentary to advise parents: "Order your children to pray at the age of seven. And beat them (lightly) if they do not do so by the age of ten." For more extremist quotes, see below.


Recordings

Click the play button at left to instantly hear Hussain Kamani say the offending quote displayed at right in his own voice.

Slavery

"And then Allah...said if a person wishes to fulfil his desires, his common desires, there are only two ways he can fulfill these desires where he will not be held responsible for it. ... How? What are the two things? ... The first thing is that he fulfills his desires with a spouse. The second thing is that he fulfills his desires with a female slave that belongs to him."

Adultery

"When a person that is married, or a lady that is married, if they commit adultery, their sin is to be stoned to death. Their sin is to be stoned to death."

Domestic Abuse

"You know, we are all quick to quote the verse in the Quran where Allah... says that, advise them, then separate with them in bed, and then strike them. We are very quick to quote this ayah. But don't we all know that the Prophet ... was a clear commentary on the Quran and that the Prophet kept that as a last measure."


David M. Swindle is the Coordinator of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveSwindle and Islamist Watch at @Islamist_Watch


[1] The British journalist Andrew Norfolk further explains: "Integration with British society is denounced. To befriend a non-Muslim risks pollution by the corrupting ways of the kuffar [non-Muslim]. Any man who considers marrying a Christian or Jewish woman is warned of the danger that 'their repulsive qualities will filter into Muslim homes'. A woman's place is in the home. Ideally, that is where she 'should remain'."

By David M. Swindle  |  March 27, 2017  |  Permalink

I Attended a Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra Concert

The Mar. 9, 2017 program of the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra.

I had the opportunity yesterday evening of attending a concert by the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra (ROSO) playing in its home city of Muscat.

Founded in 1985 and offering its first public concert two years later, ROSO is very much a personal project of the long-ruling Sultan Qaboos bin Said (b. 1940, r. 1970-).

As a flattering newspaper profile explains, "ROSO emerged as a novel and a poetic idea; an idea born in the heart and soul of a benevolent leader. The idea was nourished by passion, love, and understanding of culture as a tool towards cultural diplomacy, understanding, diplomacy."

Nor was the sultan's contribution limited to flowery words. He took a direct interest in the Western music project, giving it a military validation and bringing it into his palace:

Under the direct supervision of His Majesty, young talented musicians from both sexes were selected in 1985 based on basic musical skills of melody, tempo, and rhythm. Under the umbrella of the Royal Guard, they were subjected to intensive studies in music both in Oman and abroad. As anticipation grew, the arrival of instruments was a cause for celebration. ... At [a] young age, Omani musicians were subjected to intensive training within the boundaries of the palace. It was not unlikely for the young musicians to attend rehearsals only to see His Majesty himself waiting outside the classrooms, anxious to hear and encourage the first note.

Qaboos insisted that the musicians all be Omani nationals, restricting foreigners to teaching, soloist, and conducting roles. Sometimes he took up the baton and himself conducted the orchestra.

The concert I attended was titled "Viennese Classics" and featured two parts of Mozart's Idomeneo, Beethoven's violin romance #2, and Haydn symphony #101, conducted by Justin Bischoff. I recorded the Beethoven segment.

The concert took place in a European-style classical music concert hall, the Oman Auditorium. The audience filled about half the auditorium and was about 90 percent Western, with the rest Omani with a sprinkling of South Asians.

Tickets nominally cost US$25 but many were given away.

In the orchestra pit, the men wore elegant white-tie tuxedoes; the women wore red hijabs over green dresses, except for the female violin soloist, who wore white on white.

Comments:

(1) ROSO is part of a larger Western classical music project in Oman sponsored by the sultan; of particular note is the 1,100-seat Italianate Royal Opera House Muscat, a purpose-built structure that opened in 2011.

(2) In keeping with my thesis that "you need Beethoven to modernize," I understand the sultan's eagerness to bring Western classical music to Oman as a sign that he understands a profound truth: modernization requires Westernization.

(3) This understanding was more common in the heyday of Western confidence. The Khedive Ismail of Egypt built an opera house and commissioned Verdi to write Aïda on the occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. A leading pasha built the Süreyya Operası in Istanbul in 1927 (although it only staged its first opera in 2007).

The interior of the Royal Opera House Muscat.

(4) That said, Western classical music, and opera especially, still enjoys surprising prestige. The shah opened an opera house in Tehran in 1967. The Mubarak regime encouraged a gala production of Aïda in Luxor in 1987 and a replacement for the khedive's burnt-down opera house opened in Cairo a year later. The Dar al-Assad for Culture and Arts serves as the opera house in Damascus since 2004. Turkey's President Erdoğan plans to tear down an ugly 1960s opera house and replace it with the largest opera house in Europe. These instances suggest that some rulers, even Islamist ones, understand the connection of Westernization to modernization.

(5) Let us hope the trend continues, with symphony orchestras and opera houses appearing in such cities as Benghazi, Sanaa, and Kabul.

(6) The Japanese and Chinese have mastered both Western music and modernity. The Omanis have just started on this path – the country was medieval as recently as 1970 – and I hope they will also become proficient with both.

Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.

By Daniel Pipes  |  March 10, 2017  |  Permalink

Egypt's Leading Imam: Christianity and Judaism Create Terrorism No Less than Islam

Originally published under the title "Christianity and Judaism Create Terrorism No Less than Islam, Says Egypt's leading Muslim Cleric; Bemoans World's 'Double Standards' and and 'Islamophobia'."

Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar

Egypt's leading Muslim cleric and head of Al Azhar, Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb, recently spoke before the religious representatives of some 50 nations during a Cairo-based conference. Instead of honestly admitting that there is a special problem between Islam and violence—the way [President Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi did a couple of years ago when he flatly declared before Egypt's Muslim clergy, with Tayeb sitting in the front row, that Islamic teachings are "antagonizing the whole world"—Tayeb spent his time denouncing "Islamophobia" and bemoaning how "painful" it is to see so many people around the world associate Islam with violence and terrorism.

He even boasted that, from its very beginnings, Islam has always treated non-Muslims—usually labeled as "infidels," the Arabic kuffar, that is, the most despised forms of humanity whose blood can be shed with impunity in most cases —as equals.

But the farcical claims do not end there. The Al Azhar sheikh insisted that, when it comes to its capacity to "radicalize" its followers, Islam is no different than Christianity or Judaism. Rather, only Jewish and Christian "double standards" make Islam appear more violent and intolerant. In his own words:

There is an obvious double standard in the world's judgment of Islam on the one hand, and with Christianity and Judaism on the other—despite the fact that all are guilty of one and the same thing, that is, religious violence and terrorism. Christian and Jewish violence is a cool and casual matter for the West, which never besmirches the image of these two religions. Only their third brother [Islam] stands trial alone on the dock, where his image continues to be ruined.

This assertion flies in the face of reality. For it seems not a single day passes by without some Muslim(s) attacking some non-Muslim(s) somewhere around the world—and almost always in the name of Islam and/or jihad.

Moreover, in his speech Tayeb spoke of "Christian" and "Jewish" "terrorism and violence"—as opposed to merely "Christian terrorists" or "Jewish terrorists"—thereby portraying Christianity and Judaism, the religions themselves, as equally liable to prompt their followers to terrorize, subjugate, behead, crucify, mutilate, enslave, and—why not?—extract jizya from non-Christian and non-Jewish "infidels."

At one point, perhaps to give his otherwise abstract claims of equivalency some substance, Tayeb named as "Christian terrorists" Michael Bray (arrested in 1985 and imprisoned for four years in relation to abortion clinic bombings); Timothy McVeigh (1995 bombing of Oklahoma City federal building); and David Koresh (cult leader, killed during shootout in Waco, Texas, 1993).

Just how analogous these three men are to the question of Islamic terrorism is debatable. For starters, none of the American men he mentioned cited authentic Christian teachings—or quoted Jesus—to justify their violence, the way Muslims regularly cite mainstream Islamic teachings and quote Muhammad verbatim; McVeigh referred to himself as an agnostic and Koresh was a cult leader denounced by practically every American Christian aside from his immediate devotees.

That Tayeb, who seems to have combed through every possible terrorist-style incident that can possibly be associated with Christianity could only come up with three—in 1985, 1993, and 1995—further begs the question: how are these three examples, which span the course of more than 30 years (from 1985 to the present), supposed to be equivalent to the thousands (if not tens of thousands) of incidents of violence and terrorism committed by highly pious and observant Muslims over the same time frame?

Indeed, since July 2011 alone, I have been compiling monthly reports of Muslim persecution of Christians, for a total of 65 reports. Each of these contains dozens of anecdotes of Muslims around the world—Egypt, Tayeb's homeland never misses a month—persecuting, raping, enslaving, and slaughtering Christians, and attacking their churches, on the basis that they are undesirable "infidels." While the majority of anecdotes in these reports are deemed "un-newsworthy" by Western mainstream media, if the persecutor was a Christian and the victim a Muslim, they would likely receive 24/7 blanket coverage.

That's the real "double standard" we should all be decrying—not Tayeb's imaginary "Islamophobia."

Raymond Ibrahim is a Judith Friedman Rosen Fellow at the Middle East Forum

By Raymond Ibrahim  |  March 10, 2017  |  Permalink

Silicon Valley-Subsidized Hate Speakers: Siraj Wahhaj

Please click here to sign a petition calling for an end to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation's support for radical Islamists.

On March 1, the Middle East Forum revealed that the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) has provided at least $330,524 to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief, two extremist organizations that routinely give platforms to Islamist speakers who incite hatred against women, Jews, Christians, and the LGBTQ community. MEF's Islamist Watch project has compiled profiles and recordings of the worst of the worst SVCF-subsidized speakers.


Siraj Wahhaj addresses the Philadelphia chapter of CAIR in 2012.

Siraj Wahhaj

Affiliation to SVCF

Siraj Wahhaj is a frequent headliner at CAIR fundraising banquets (e.g. Los Angeles in 2011, Philadelphia in 2012, San Francisco in 2014) and a former member of its advisory board.

Wahhaj is also heavily involved with Islamic Relief–Canada.

Background

Born Jeffrey Kearse in Brooklyn in 1950 and raised a Baptist, Siraj Wahhaj became involved in the the black separatist movement in the late 1960s and converted to Islam under the guidance of Nation of Islam (NOI) Louis Farrakhan in 1969.

After receiving clerical training in Saudi Arabia, Wahhaj founded Al-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn in 1981.

Siraj Wahhaj has led the congregation at Al-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, NY, since its establishment in 1981.

Though Wahhaj enjoyed a reputation as moderate over the next decade (in 1991 becoming the first Muslim to deliver a prayer before the House of Representatives), his views sharply radicalized in the wake of the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis, with his sermons expressing extraordinary intolerance toward non-Muslims, women, homosexuals, and others. He is infamous for his 1992 threat to burn down a GLBTQ-friendly mosque in Toronto.

In the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, authorities discovered that Wahhaj and his mosque were closely linked to the attack's mastermind, the recently-deceased Omar Abdel Rahman, and others arrested for terror plots in the New York area.

U.S. attorney Mary Jo White named Wahhaj a possible unindicted co-conspirator in the bombing plot. Wahhaj served as a character witness for Abdel Rahman at trial, extolling him as a "respected scholar."

Like many other Muslim extremists affiliated with CAIR, Wahhaj has toned down the rhetoric in his public speeches in recent years, but has not disavowed any of his previously-expressed positions.


Recordings

Click the play button at left to instantly hear Siraj Wahhaj say the offending quote displayed at right in his own voice.

Homosexuality

"The prophet cursed, la'ana, cursed the feminine man and the masculine woman. Cursed... I don't believe any of you are homosexual. This is a disease of this society."
"And you know, brothers and sisters, you know what the punishment is, if a man is found with another man? The Prophet Mohammad said the one who does it and the one to whom it is done to, kill them both."


Women

"[W]e want our women back to their natural place. What's their natural place? Feminine. Allah made them feminine."

The Great Satan

"Do you understand what these devils who control the media are doing? ... they're being controlled by Shaytan [Satan]. This society, America, wallahi azeem. America is controlled by Shaytan. American government is controlled by Shaytan. American way of life is controlled by Shaytan. It is. Oh yes, it is. Definitely. No doubt about it."

Shariah

"If you commit zina [adultery] and you're married, the punishment is death by stoning—capital punishment. What you read in Qu'ran is the punishment for fornication, but the punishment for married and committing zina is death by stoning."
"The thief, the one who steals, man or woman, male or female, chop off their hands. If they steal, chop off their hands. This is a commandment of Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala."

Jihad

"We want some guns in Bosnia so the Muslims can defend themselves. ... I'm asking for us to greet the duty for jihad here in America. How? By helping our Muslim brothers and sisters by sending money over there and bringing weapons to Bosnia to the Muslims by any means necessary."[1]
"Let us march to Palestine and liberate our brothers and sisters there. But don't stop there. Let's go to Algeria, and liberate the Muslims there. Don't stop there. Go all over the world."

Non-Muslims

"Woe to the Muslims who pick kafirs [non-Muslims] for friends. Woe, woe, woe to the Muslims who take kafirs as friends. Kafir will take you away from the remembrance of Allah."

Race

"Take not into your intimacy those outside of your race. They will not fail to corrupt you."

David M. Swindle is the Coordinator of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveSwindle and Islamist Watch at @Islamist_Watch


[1] Wahhaj played major role raising money for the Benevolence International Foundation, which the Treasury Department designated as a "financier of terrorism" in 2002, ostensibly to aid Muslims in Bosnia.

By David M. Swindle  |  March 9, 2017  |  Permalink

Turkey's Purge Reaches Its Largest Defense Corporation

Originally published under the title "Scores of Aselsan Staff Indicted for Terror Links."

Turkey's purge of alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen has now hit the country's largest defense corporation.

ANKARA — Turkish prosecutors have launched a probe into scores of personnel at the military electronics specialist Aselsan, Turkey's biggest defense company.

An Ankara prosecutor's office said it had launched legal proceedings against 84 Aselsan employees on charges of being members of leaders of the FETO/PDY terrorist organization.

Police forces said on March 9 they detained a total of 46 Aselsan employees. Of those, the police said, 30 are active duty officials, including "several engineers and specialists."

Nearly 50 other Aselsan officials probed by the prosecutors had earlier been either suspended from work or dismissed from the company.

Police officials say there are arrest warrants for some company officials who are wanted by the police.

FETO/PDY is allegedly a clandestine network of Islamists who aimed to filter into, among others, the top ranks of Turkey's judiciary, security, military, academia and business circles.

FETO/PDY's alleged leader is Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic preacher who has been living in self-exile in Pennsylvania, United States, since 1999. Turkish officials claim Gulen was the mastermind of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, in which nearly 300 people, including civilians, were killed.

The Turkish government has since asked for Gulen's extradition from the U.S., but Washington has not yet replied positively or negatively saying independent U.S. courts should decide on the matter.

The government also has purged more than 100,000 government officials and detained tens of thousands of others on charges of alleged links with the Gulen network.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Turkish police officer said that the main evidence against Aselsan officials was their use of "ByLock," an encrypted communications application Turkish prosecutors claim was the primary means of communications among FETO/PDY members.

A spokesman for Aselsan did not comment on detentions of personnel. But an official from the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation, majority shareholder of Aselsan, said that the operation would not affect Aselsan's business in any significant way. "Ongoing programs are progressing as planned," the official said. "We are not affected in any way by this unpleasant situation."

Aselsan employs more than 5,000 personnel, more than half of which are engineers.

Aselsan reported recently that its 2016 profits jumped by 272 percent to $220 million.

The company is the prime local contractor for several large-scale Turkish indigenous weapons programs.

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based political analyst and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

By Burak Bekdil  |  March 9, 2017  |  Permalink

Silicon Valley Subsidizes Hate

Please click here to sign a Change.org petition calling on the nation's largest community foundation to end its financial support for Islamist hate groups.

SVCF's board of directors is turning a blind eye to religious extremists.

In many lines of work, a new job means a slow first day. My first day as the director of the Middle East Forum's Islamist Watch project, however, featured a clash with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), the nation's largest community foundation, which holds over $8 billion in assets.

I previously ran Stand for Peace, a British counter-extremism organization. I know that we face the enormous challenge of media, government and civil society that refuse to acknowledge the extent of Islamist influence over the American Muslim community, and the threat that it poses to our security. My first day was never going to be an easy one.

For several months before my arrival at Islamist Watch, the Forum had attempted to contact SVCF's staff and trustees, urging them to stop funding extremist groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief USA, a branch of the largest Muslim Brotherhood charity in the world. Since 2008, SVCF has given $330,524 to these two Islamist organizations.

The Forum's attempt to explain the extremist links of CAIR and Islamic Relief were rebuffed by SVCF, which refused to address MEF's concerns that they were not funding ordinary American Muslims, but international Islamism, an extreme form of the religion.

SVCF funding of extremists betrays moderate Muslims working to free their faith from the grip of Islamism.

SVCF's unwillingness to stop funding extremists betrays moderate Muslims working to free their faith from the grip of Islamism. So on March 1, the Middle East Forum published a petition that explained the anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic rhetoric that SVCF money is subsidizing.

Regular speakers at CAIR and Islamic Relief events include Hussein Kamani, who advocates sex slavery and calls for adulterers to be "stoned to death"; Jamal Badawi, who tells husbands they have a right to beat their wives; and Siraj Wahhaj, who cites the death penalty for the "disease" of homosexuality. Hardly the proudest product of Silicon Valley ingenuity and liberalism.

You can read our press release and sign our petition here.

Just a few hours after publishing our petition, SVCF responded. You can read their reaction here.

We had urged SVCF to work instead with moderate Muslim groups. Rather than examine the facts, SVCF chose to label our evidence "Islamophobic." The Forum, our Muslim staff and our Muslim allies disagree.

The Forum is not the only organization concerned about CAIR and Islamic Relief. Both CAIR and Islamic Relief are designated as terrorist groups in the United Arab Emirates. CAIR was named by American federal prosecutors as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial. The FBI has banned outreach with CAIR since 2008, and the Anti-Defamation League accuses CAIR of promoting anti-Jewish sentiment.

In a recent article published at National Review, we revealed that Islamic Relief USA is funding a Hamas-linked charity in the Gaza Strip, whose officials have called for Jerusalem to be "free... from the filth of the most dirty Jews." Senior Islamic Relief USA staff have included Omar Shahin, who once preached: "oh (servant) slaves of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him."

I have a lot of experience with Islamist groups like CAIR and Islamic Relief. Coming from the United Kingdom, I know exactly how dangerous it is when a society fails to challenge the forces of radicalization and extremism that run the charities, schools, community centers and mosques all across the country. It took Britain over a decade after 9/11 to realize that we had been giving power and money to the wrong people within British Islam, at the cost of thousands of recruits to foreign terror groups, increasing numbers of homegrown terrorists and whole Muslim communities that have segregated themselves from British society and teach their children to hate Jews, Christians, the West and all its values.

It's time to fix our mistakes and properly challenge Islamist forces at home and abroad.

Over the last few years, the British government finally started to realize the terrible mistakes they have made. They cut funding to Islamist groups and refused to meet with them. For many, it feels this insight was too late. In America, the extremism problem is less developed – we have time to fix our mistakes and properly challenge Islamist forces at home and abroad. But we have to start now.

If groups such as SVCF continue to fund the flagship institutions of Islamist extremism, they will further disempower moderate Muslim organizations, contribute towards the growing problem of radicalization, and aid Islamist incitement against Jews, women, homosexuals and Muslim minorities.

Help us show SVCF that by funding Islamist groups, they are not fighting prejudice; they are promoting it. Sign our petition, share it and tell SVCF that they're making a terrible mistake.

Sam Westrop is the director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

By Sam Westrop  |  March 6, 2017  |  Permalink

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