Misogyny and Islamism
An interview with Abha Shankar
Abha Shankar is a Senior Intelligence Analyst at the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). Before this, Shankar worked as the Development and Publications Coordinator at Women in International Security. Shankar holds a master's degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in International Relations from India's Jawaharlal Nehru University.
IPT, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 by Executive Director Steven Emerson, is the world's most comprehensive data center on radical Islamist terrorism. IPT's investigations into the funding activities of Islamist terrorists and their front groups worldwide provides analysis and expertise to Congress, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement. Moreover, IPT disseminates information to the public to heighten awareness about radical Islam's threat to national security, human rights, and liberal democracies.
After the 9-11 attacks made Shankar aware of these threats, she joined IPT to fight radical Islam and its doctrine of jihad. Emerson's groundbreaking documentary, Jihad in America, shed light on the leadership of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, two radical Islamist organizations operating freely in the U.S. Today, many of those leaders have been jailed or deported, in no small part thanks to IPT's research and reporting.
Radical Islamist organizations in the US with roots in the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestine Committee (Hamas's U.S. support network) have morphed into a more insidious form of stealth jihad. Operating under the false guise of civil rights, the most visible example of a stealth jihad group in the U.S. is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). By repeating the organization's rhetoric that "the war on Islam is the war on terror," CAIR's U.S. chapters fail to clarify that the U.S. is at war with Islamism, not Islam. When CAIR's anti-American and anti-Israeli statements are exposed, along with its advocacy on behalf of radical Islamists, CAIR deflects responsibility for its actions with accusations of "Islamophobia," a term used as a cudgel to silence critics. With its deceptive rhetoric of Muslim victimhood, CAIR contributes to radicalizing American Muslim communities and increases the threat to U.S. security.
CAIR is just one of many Islamist organizations that give cover to stealth jihad in the U.S. The IPT has been instrumental in exposing two international women's rights issues that have spread to Muslim communities in the U.S. – honor violence and female genital mutilation (FGM). Honor violence is institutionalized violence against women and young girls in the name of protecting family honor. It has resulted in death threats and physical abuse against young women engaging in behavior deemed unacceptable by their Muslim families.
Dating outside the community, wearing Western dress, listening to Western music, or resisting a forced marriage, is sufficient grounds for triggering honor violence. A 15-year old Iraqi-American teen who refused to be sold into a forced marriage by her family was beaten unconscious but escaped. A 19-year old in Phoenix, AZ, however, beaten for merely talking to a boy, was chained to a bed and told she would be forced into an arranged marriage.
Islamists who refuse to recognize honor violence for what it is, provide tacit support for the scourge. In a speech at a recent convention of the Islamic Society for North America (ISNA) Dahlia Mogahed denied that honor violence even exists and took a page out of CAIR's playbook by claiming it is an issue "raised by Islamophobes" to malign Islam.
American Islamists also speak out in support of FGM, an issue that received little public notice when a fatwa supporting partial FGM was issued in 2017 by a prominent Muslim Brotherhood imam who heads a mosque in Virginia. Another Muslim Brotherhood group in the U.S. with ties to CAIR, the Assembly of Muslim Jurists, also issued a fatwa endorsing FGM. The public may take greater notice of FGM when a federal court hears a case in January, 2019, involving a medical doctor and her associates in Michigan who performed FGM on six young girls. The trial, regardless of its outcome, will be closely watched by anti-Islamist activists who will advocate for implementing legislation in states that do not currently ban FGM.
Muslim Activist Fights Islamism in Canada
An interview with Raheel Raza on the result of Canada's M-103 motion
Raheel Raza is a Pakistani-Canadian journalist, author, anti-racism activist, and interfaith discussion leader who opposes Islamic extremism. An outspoken advocate for gender equality and an activist for women's rights internationally, she has appeared many times in print, radio, and television media to debate Canadian issues related to media, diversity, gender, and immigrants. She is also the first Muslim woman in Canada to lead mixed gender prayers.
Raheel Raza's questioning of injustice in her native Pakistan found its full voice speaking out against Islamism following her immigration to Canada's liberal democracy. Dismayed by the impact of the Saudi petrodollar-driven Wahhabist-Salafist ideology on her practice of a tolerant form of Islam respectful of other faiths, Raza was moved to fight the Islamism infiltrating the West. As the Iran-and-Saudi-Arabia-funded corrosive ideology spread, their subversive agenda of gaining power and control by politicizing Islam gradually infected Western mosques and Islamic institutions.
Political Islam's impact on Canada can be seen in the 2017 passage of motion M-103 by Ottawa's House of Commons, which called on federal politicians to condemn Islamophobia. Opponents criticized the manufactured term coined after 9/11 to stifle free speech, debate, and legitimate criticism of Islamists, while supporters of M-103 cited the need to combat an "increasing public climate of hate and fear." The motion has indeed had a chilling effect on Canadians terrified of being labeled and attacked as "Islamophobes" if they oppose the jihadist ideology advanced by Islamists. Islamists also intimidate anti-Islamist Muslim activists who oppose them in Canada and the U.S. by initiating lawsuits from progressive organizations like America's Southern Poverty Law Center, or by issuing fatwas and death threats to silence them.
The relative silence at recent 9/11 commemorations reveals the true climate of hate and fear that has stifled critics of Islamism. Instead of holding vigorous debates and discussions in schools and government about the root causes of 9/11 and how to defend against any recurrence, the teachable moment was lost. Beyond the lost opportunity to further strengthen liberal democratic values by learning the painful lessons of 9/11, the Canadian government has accompanied the return of 60 ISIS foreign fighters with empty reassurances that they can be rehabilitated. Canadian activists who have read the Soufan Center's report on the threat posed by returning foreign fighters to the West risk being accused of Islamophobia for criticizing this policy.
Despite the pressure to be silenced, Raza, who is also president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, believes it is the responsibility of every community to exercise its free speech rights to criticize what is wrong within their own communities. Raza has not avoided criticizing the sinister laws against blasphemers and apostates that still plagues her native Pakistan. As a human rights activist, Raza speaks out against human rights violations wherever they occur, even though Islamists have made life difficult for families of Canadian Muslim activists like hers whom they have labeled anti-Muslim or anti-Islamic. Nonetheless, Raza's hard-won freedoms when she left Pakistan for the West are ones she is compelled to courageously defend.
Summary accounts by Marilyn Stern, Communications Coordinator for the Middle East Forum