Hey, thanks for joining us, weekdays from noon to two. I'm pleased to welcome on the Newsmaker Line Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum. Topic today is Islamism and civil rights don't mix and there are several hypocrisies we're going to talk about today. Gregg Roman, welcome.
Thanks for having me.
Hey, let's talk a little bit about this organization called CAIR. It's a very soft sounding name, but what are they all about?
So the Council on American Islamic Relations, for the past 25 years, has been claiming to be the foremost American-Muslim advocacy group, first of all representing the largest audience of American Muslims that they're claiming to advocate for, and beyond that, getting involved in a lot of the sticky issues of the day, really since 9/11. At the beginning of the 2000's, they were invited to the White House in so-called solidarity with the American Muslim community when George Bush was president. Only a few years later, they found themselves as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holyland Foundation terrorism financing trials. We've seen this organization really be a wolf in sheep's clothing, and, to this day, they still claim to represent all American Muslims, but in actuality, they're representing mainstream American Islamist activity, which can be seen, both above and below the surface, in their activities and in their chapters all across this nation.
Let's talk about some of the union hypocrisy regarding SEIU and autoworkers that you bring out in your very interesting piece, Gregg.
Sure, so a few weeks ago, there was a hearing with the regional National Labor Relations Board, where the DC office of CAIR, the Council of American Islamic Relations, tried to organize, as part of SEIU, a local chapter there from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
MEF director Gregg Roman
Only a few weeks before then, and we'll get to the kicker in a second, CAIR was standing side by side with autoworkers in a Nissan plant in Marietta, Georgia, saying that they stood for labor rights.
This is where the hypocrisy came out. In the NLRB hearing ... CEO of CAIR Nihad Awad [said] that they didn't recognize the right to organize in their DC office because they claim to be a religious organization. So on one hand, when it was convenient, they said they were pro-labor. When it actually came to their own offices, they said, "We want to have nothing to do with unions."
I couldn't imagine something more disgusting or nefarious from an organization claiming to represent American civil rights.
There's something else going on, and this has to do with the nightclub massacre down in Florida and some hypocrisy here, because CAIR and many of the affiliated groups in the Islamic centers across America, are portraying themselves in public statements as LGBTQ friendly or sympathetic. Let's talk about the hypocrisy there.
Sure. So, we've seen guest speakers at CAIR events for the better part of a decade, condemning the LGBT community, whether it was on the issue of same-sex unions, of marriage, of rights for the LGBT members and community to be able to have equal protection.
CAIR-Florida leader Hassan Shibly.
And then, the day after the [June 2016] Orlando massacre, you see the director of the Orlando chapter of the CAIR organization come out and say that he is standing with the LGBT community, claiming that he's dedicating his "overwhelming love, and support, and unity." But only a few years before that, he [said] that homosexuality was evil and a quick way to earn God's wrath in an essay that he wrote on Facebook in 2009.
So while they have an Islamist commit a terror attacks, killing dozens of Americans, the day after they have to go into emergency mode, saying that they're in alliance with this community. For years before that, they were openly condemning them on both digital and other channels, saying that homosexuality is something pervasive to Islam and those who they were trying to represent.
What do we see regarding the homosexual behavior and the treatment by Islamists and Islamic government overseas? I mean, I think that would probably tell us what Islam believes if the government is Islamic.
Right, so I don't think it's necessarily what Islam believes, but certain individuals that have a derivative of the Islam itself. I know members of the LGBT community who are practicing Muslims, so we can't say that we have this broad brush, but when we do look at countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, you have everything from concentration camps in Chechnya for individuals who are gay, to those getting the death penalty in Iran, even being stoned and hanged to death in the town square. So the level of hypocrisy overseas is also met here with officials from CAIR. They say look to our brothers in Saudi Arabia and Iran and that's how we should be treating American homosexuals, and that's which is something that is very disgusting, especially after they then do an about-face and say that they're standing with members of this community.
So let's talk about the response of the members of this community. Are there people who are outspoken in recognizing this hypocrisy and are not accepting of the sympathy? I mean, is there any discussion of this at all, Gregg?
There is! There is a great activist that I encourage your listeners to look up. Her name is Raquel Saraswati. She is a hijab-wearing, practicing American Muslim in Boston and I also know she's in New York sometimes and she engages in frequent online battles with members of this organization. CAIR's response is to call her an Uncle Tom. I think that it couldn't get more disgusting than that. An organization claiming to represent the rights of American Muslims, then going out after one of their own, because she comes out and represents a mainstream American opinion that even our president agrees with.
There's other organizations like the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, led by Zuhdi Jasser, the Muslim Reform Movement, and even in West Virginia, your neighbor, a woman named Asra Nomani, a prominent Trump supporter and also an observant American Muslim that can be looked at to sort of act as a counterweight, but they're few and far between. When you have this foreign money backing an organization as large as CAIR, it's very hard to have those.... let's not call them liberal, but reform-minded Muslims, who actually represent something like 88% of America's Islamic population.
Gregg, what about the women's rights? Because we hear, again, a lot of' hypocrisy going on here. What are the different sides of this issue?
So the misogynistic terms that are coming out of, not just the leaders of organizations like CAIR, but also your general run-of-the-mill imams in American mosques, is that men and women have to be treated differently. Women should be forced to wear a head covering. They must be allowed to enter the mosque through a separate entrance.
Now, I'm not going to criticize the way anyone prays in their own private space, but [it's different] when they try to have these, what they call, fundamentalist Muslim protections extended to public society, and they urge that there be some sort of solidarity with women who are forced to wear these head coverings, to be subservient to men, in Islamist-oriented areas of operation, whether they be in organizations like CAIR, or American mosques, or even the supermarket.
I just pointed to a story that came out of Minnesota recently, where there was an organization of 19 individuals patrolling a Somali neighborhood, saying that they were there to enforce Sharia law. I mean this goes from everything from the case of female genital mutilation, which was covered up by members of a community there in Minnesota and Wisconsin, to the issue of having women not even have the right to speak when it comes to trials. Women in the American Muslim community should have the same amount of equal rights as those of men and organizations like CAIR try to prevent that.
So, what do we do about this from a governmental policy perspective? Is this something that the United States government should be doing, regarding CAIR?
There is, and [regarding] American Islamist organizations in general – the Islamic Circle of North America, the Islamic Society of North America, Islamic Relief. The Middle East Forum, the organization which I run in concert with Daniel Pipes, our president and founder, has put out a paper called "The White House Commission on Radical Islam: A Recommendation." It follows up on a policy idea that President Trump put forward in an August 15 address last year, and we encourage lawmakers, policymakers, and the White House to start looking at ways in which American Muslims can be liberated from the thumb of American Islamist organizations that claim to represent them, whether that be through legislation, community activism, or just giving them a broader stage to be able to represent the mainstream opinion of American Muslims in our society.