Ingrid Mattson, director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary and president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), has been all over the news lately.
Mattson was one of the speakers
at an interfaith gathering at the Democratic National Convention in August, and now word comes
that she's a member of the "leadership group
" for the U.S. Muslim Engagement Project
. The latter consists of a bipartisan coalition of American leaders from a variety of backgrounds, which, as described at its website
, seeks to form "a clear and strong consensus on a strategy to enhance U.S. and international security by working more intensively and directly on the underlying causes of tension with key Muslim countries and communities."
While this would appear to be a laudable goal, Mattson's background and viewpoints demonstrates that she is hardly a suitable candidate for involvement.
As ISNA president, Mattson presides over an organization with troubling ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the unindicted co-conspirators in last year's Hamas terrorism financing case, U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation. In the course of the trial, a Muslim Brotherhood document outlining a strategy for "destroying…Western civilization from within," making "Allah's religion…victorious over all other religions," and listing ISNA, among other allegedly mainstream Muslim-American organizations, as "friends" in this effort came to light.
Mattson has a long history of defending Wahhabism and Sharia law, expressing anti-American and anti-democratic viewpoints, downplaying concerns over Islamic terrorism in the U.S. and worldwide, claiming women's rights are protected in Islam, besmirching Israel and its "rightwing Christian" supporters, placing loyalty to Islam above loyalty to the U.S., and teaching jihadist literature in her courses.
Mattson's influence as a professor at Hartford Seminary is cause enough for concern. But her potential influence on public policy, and that of other problematic Middle East studies professors, is even more worrisome.
One thing's for sure: her involvement in the "U.S. Muslim Engagement Project" raises serious questions about its intent. So does the participation of Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and co-author with Georgetown professor John Esposito of the highly criticized, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think.
Engagement with the Muslim world is necessary, but doing so through the intermediaries of soft jihad defeat the purpose. Perhaps that's the point.