Last week the PBS series Religion and Ethics Newsweekly only lived up to half of its name when it presented a hagiographic depiction of Omar Suleiman, instructor at the Salafist Al Maghrib Institute and founder of the Yaqeen Institute, which is advised by prominent Muslim Brotherhood intellectual Tariq Ramadan. The program featured footage of Suleiman bringing American Muslim youth to visit Syrian refugees and extoling the work of the terrorism-linked charity Helping Hand for Relief and Development.
The show's producers chose to ignore Suleiman's associations with extreme Islamist movements and instead featured a smiling imam visiting Syria with American Muslim youth and donated necessities. Suleiman is friendly and likable, with a child on his shoulders, playing soccer, delivering blankets, handing out sneakers, and introducing refugees to two-room trailer homes courtesy of Helping Hand.
Suleiman delivers a monologue over the course of the video, which he concludes by solemnly declaring, "My job is to continue to connect people at a human level and to bring people together. And from a spiritual perspective I have an individual obligation to those people, and I have a collective—we have a collective obligation, to our society and to our country and to our world, to bring people together and to unite them at a human level."
But Suleiman's history of dividing people cannot be ignored. A collection of some of his most disturbing remarks collected by Islamist Watch can be read and heard here. Suleiman is not the grinning moderate PBS depicts but an apologist for honor killings, sex slavery, homophobia, and gender segregation.
The PBS segment amounts to as much of a PR coup for Helping Hand as it does for Suleiman. Casual viewers will have no idea that money donated to Helping Hand does not only go toward trailers and tennis shoes, but may also go to Hamas. Helping Hand also has a history of promoting events with extreme imams such as Hussain Kamani, who defends sex slavery, and advocates stoning adulterers and beating children who do not pray enough.
Evidence for the extremism of Suleiman and Helping Hands is only a Google search away. Are Religion and Ethics Newsweekly's producers ignorant or do they know and just not care?
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