This past Monday and Tuesday, West Chester University (WCU) in Pennsylvania presented a forum titled "Islam in America: Understanding Intercultural Differences." That benign-sounding title gives no indication of the bitterly anti-Israel, anti-American views espoused by the key individuals who spoke at the event. The fact that such views were represented becomes less surprising, however, when we consider that one co-sponsor of "Islam in America" was the Muslim Students Association (MSA). West Chester's campus MSA is a chapter of MSA National, which was originally founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that supports the worldwide imposition of Islamic Law and seeks to pursue "a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying … Western civilization from within."
The keynote speaker at "Islam in America" was one of the most influential Shi'a religious leaders in the United States, Imam Sayid Hassan Qazwini. Carefully presenting himself to the public as a voice of reason and moderation in the Muslim community, Qazwini heads the Dearborn, Michigan-based Islamic Center of America (ICOA), the largest mosque on the continent. He has been embraced by three credulous American presidents—Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—as a valued ally in the quest for mutual respect and tolerance among practitioners of different faiths. Moreover, Qazwini was given the honor of offering a prayer at the opening session of the 108th Congress in 2003.
But while Qazwini is careful to eschew the lexicon of Islamic jihad in public, he appears to be quite comfortable with it when he thinks no "infidels" are within earshot. Consider this: On November 15, 1998, Qazwini's ICOA sponsored an event—attended by more than 1,000 primarily Arab Muslim-Americans—where the featured speaker was the infamous racist and Jew-hater, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Qazwini and his fellow organizers introduced Farrakhan as "our dear brother," "a freedom fighter," and "a man of courage and sacrifice." One attendee reported that Farrakhan delivered a lengthy, hateful diatribe against Jews and Christians on the one hand, and in praise of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein on the other; that when Farrakhan referred to Jewish Americans as "forces of evil" with a "Satanic mentality," Qazwini and his congregants registered their approval with a standing ovation; and that Farrakhan used the occasion to issue an open call for "jihad."
According to others, Qazwini also: (a) maintains a close affiliation with the Iranian government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; (b) is friendly with Hezbollah spiritual leader Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, who issued the 1983 fatwa that resulted in the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 American servicemen; and (c) openly supports both Hamas and Hezbollah.
Apart from his duties with ICOA, Qazwini is also a board member of the American Muslim Council (AMC), whose founder and former chairman Abdurahman Alamoudi is now serving a 23-year prison sentence for a variety of terrorism-, tax-, and immigration-related charges. Its former executive director, Eric Vickers, publicly defended Sami Al-Arian after the latter's involvement with Palestinian Islamic Jihad had been uncovered; its advisory board member, Soliman Biheiri, once served as a Muslim Brotherhood operative in the United States; and its former executive board president, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, is a convicted cop-killer currently serving a life sentence in prison.
Not surprisingly, the promotional literature for "Islam in America" mentioned none of Qazwini's unsavory affiliations. Rather, it depicted him as a venerable scholar who, according to one U.S. congressman, has "spoken movingly of the need for reconciliation, for tolerance, and for the recognition of our humanity."
The second featured speaker at WCU's forum was Moustafa Bayoumi, an associate professor of English at Brooklyn College and co-editor of The Edward Said Reader. Bayoumi contends that in the aftermath of 9/11, armed INS officials, U.S. Marshals, and FBI agents routinely roused Muslims from their beds "in the middle of the night"—indiscriminately arresting, shackling, and investigating them for possible terrorist connections.
In September 2002, a year after 9/11, Bayoumi lamented that "an upswing in hate crimes [against American Muslims] has already begun." As proof, he cited statistics, which would be thoroughly discredited, put forth by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). He then pointed to CAIR's claim that "57 percent of American Muslims report that they have experienced bias or discrimination since Sept. 11," and that "48 percent of [Muslim] respondents believe their lives have changed for the worse since the attacks." "This is hardly surprising," Bayoumi reasoned. "For the past year, Muslims have endured a daily barrage of demagoguery, distortions and outright lies about their faith. Never well understood in this country, Islam is now routinely caricatured."
In March 2006, Bayoumi took up this theme again, asserting that "Muslim-bashing has become socially acceptable in the United States." In 2008 he wrote: "It's been seven years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and many young American Muslims are convinced that much of American society views them with growing hostility. They're right."
The theme of Muslim victimhood is by no means restricted solely to Bayoumi's view of the United States. Indeed, he depicts Palestinian suicide bombings as little more than desperate reactions to "a brutal [Israeli] military occupation that has been strangling the Palestinian people for decades."
The organizers of "Islam in America" may well have had the best of intentions when planning for this event. But by electing to turn their campus into a forum for miserable grievance-peddlers such as these, they showed the same type of poor judgment as Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama demonstrated when they naively embraced Imam Qazwini as a supposed ally in the war on terror.
John Perazzo is the Managing Editor of DiscoverTheNetworks and is the author of The Myths That Divide Us: How Lies Have Poisoned American Race Relations. For more information on his book, click here. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org