PHILADELPHIA – August 31, 2023 – Quick action by the Middle East Forum (MEF) prevented California politicians from heaping praise on three radical Islamist organizations.
After MEF Action – MEF's activism project – launched an aggressive public pressure campaign, the California Assembly deleted several blocks of text praising the three radical groups from a resolution recognizing August as American Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month.
The significant amendments to House Resolution 52 (HR 52) are a substantial achievement in a state where elected officials consistently defend Islamists in the name of cultural diversity.
California legislators sought MEF's approval before proceeding with a Rules Committee vote earlier today and sending a revised version of HR 52 to the Assembly floor. MEF agreed to formally withdraw its opposition to the resolution after submitting a position letter to the bill's permanent record that criticized the inclusion of the Sunni Islamist groups.
"Collectively, these groups possess appalling track records of bigotry and anti-Semitism, ties to foreign governments and political movements, and even involvement in terrorism-related prosecutions," MEF Action's August 17 letter warned.
Additionally, MEF Action organized an online campaign that put California constituents in touch with their elected officials, facilitating the exchange of hundreds of emails and targeted social media posts expressing opposition to HR 52. Concerned citizens promised to "stand against any legislation that encourages extremism and undermines moderate and minority faith communities."
Next, MEF Action rallied partner organizations to push for an amendment. The CLARITy Coalition, a pro-democracy group led by prominent Muslim reformers and counter-extremists, released a public statement denouncing the draft resolution for failing to acknowledge "minority Islamic sects and reform movements" that "challenge the political dominance of American Islamist institutions."
Ultimately, the amended version of HR 52 removed entire paragraphs praising the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and the Institute of Knowledge – California-based organizations representing three ideologically distinct strains of radical Islam.
In 2014, the United Arab Emirates designated MAS as a terrorist organization, citing its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, a violent Sunni Islamist network with outposts around the world. MAS has established hundreds of radical mosques, charities, and schools throughout America.
An ideological cousin to the Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-e-Islami is a revolutionary Islamist movement founded in British India to promote Islamic governance. ICNA, which state legislators initially praised in HR 52 for "providing compassionate service to victims of adversities," is widely regarded as the U.S. branch of Jamaat-e-Islami, despite the movement's documented participation in war crimes during Bangladesh's 1971 war for independence.
The State Assembly originally praised IOK for "empowering Muslim students and supporting them in promoting academic success," despite the Islamic seminary's role in spreading Deobandism, the Sunni revivalist movement espoused by Taliban militants. Californians concerned with IOK's inclusion in HR 52 pointed to the group's dean of academics, who has justified slavery under Islamic law.
"Thanks to the support of MEF advocates in California, as well as public statements and behind-the-scenes activism from our partner organizations, the California Assembly was forced to make sweeping amendments to a bill that threatened to mainstream radical Islamist groups," said Benjamin Baird, director of MEF Action. "We are encouraged by the state legislature's response and plan to duplicate this campaign in other states."
"Far too often, Islamist special interests are propped up by politicians too uninformed or indifferent to understand the damage caused by legitimizing extremism," said Gregg Roman, director of MEF. "MEF will continue to expose these partnerships and hold lawmakers accountable for pandering to radical Islamist groups."
State lawmakers were ultimately reluctant to remove references to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a terror-linked Muslim "civil rights" group with chapters in California. Although MEF will not support a resolution that praises CAIR, it formally withdrew opposition to the bill after legislators agreed to issue amendments.
The Middle East Forum, a non-profit organization, promotes American interests in the Middle East and protects Western civilization from Islamism. It does so through a combination of original ideas, focused activism, and funding allies. For more information, visit www.meforum.org.
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