New research by the Middle East Forum has uncovered evidence of extreme antisemitism among faculty members and guest speakers appointed by the Islamic Society of Boston to teach and promote its latest project: the Boston Islamic Seminary (BIS).
BIS was established in 2016 to "equip future religious leaders with the intellectual, spiritual and practical training to serve the American Muslim community." Currently, it offers "continuing education" classes, but it hopes to offer an accredited graduate degree program by 2019, which will "train chaplains, imams, and other leaders to serve in a variety of contexts."
And what exactly will this next generation of chaplains and imams learn at BIS?
Faculty listed on the BIS website include Yahia Abdul Rahman, who is described as an expert on "sharia-compliant" banking. On his social media accounts, Abdul Rahman has posted stories from "The Ugly Truth," a website that describes itself as "intelligent 'anti-Semitism' for thinking Gentiles." Elsewhere, Rahman has shared claims that any Muslim who fails to oppose Israel is no longer a Muslim, and is afflicted with a "Jewish heart." Other posts of his claim the Jews were complicit in the 2008 financial crisis.
Another BIS lecturer, Suheil Laher, previously served as head of the (now-defunct) Al Qaeda charity, CARE International. On his old website, Laher published calls to jihad and linked to an Al Qaeda fundraising website. On his current website, Laher refers to homosexuals as "depraved sinners."
Other current BIS faculty members include Amr El-Fass, who suggests that Jews are to blame for intra-Arab conflict; and Hisham Mahmoud, whom moderate Muslim groups denounced after he likened homosexuality to pedophilia, and advocated that homosexuals should be punished.
Guest speakers are BIS are just as extreme. In June 2016, BIS invited Abdelrahman Murphy to address a BIS audience. Murphy, who is a former employee of the Islamic Society of Boston, works for the Qalam Institute, which hosts a document on its website warning that Muslims who seek "cleanliness" and "purity" should "not resemble the Jews." Murphy has stated: "There is no such thing as an innocent Israeli."
Another speaker at the BIS event with Murphy was Yousef Abdallah, who serves as the "East Coast Operations Manager" for Islamic Relief, a prominent Islamist charity. Abdallah has posted jokes on social media about "stinking" Jews, has written that Chris Christie is "down on his knees before the jewish lords," and has shared a story praising "martyrs" who provide guns to "kill more than 20 jews" and "fire rockets at Tel Aviv."
The Middle East Forum has uncovered several other examples. We asked the Boston branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) -- which often talks about other examples of hate speech -- for comment, but it did not reply. Curiously, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston also failed to respond.
For many readers, this must all seem like a familiar story. BIS is a project of the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB), which, since its founding over 10 years ago, has displayed much evidence of extremism. Inaugural trustees of the ISB included Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was praised by Bin Laden,; and Abdulrahman Alamoudi, an Al Qaeda fundraiser who was jailed in 2004 for conspiring with the Libyan regime to assassinate a Saudi crown prince.
In 2004, Boston Jewish leaders condemned another mosque trustee named Walid Fitaihi, after he denounced Jews as the "murderers of prophets" and claimed that they "would be punished for their oppression, murder and rape of the worshippers of Allah." The very same Walid Fitaihi is now listed on the BIS website as a faculty member.
The Boston Islamic Seminary promises to educate the next generation of Muslims in Massachusetts. These chaplains, imams and community leaders will in turn educate Muslim communities all over America for many decades to come. Thus far, none of Boston's political or religious leaders has expressed alarm over the extremists behind Boston's newest Islamic institution. The question remains: exactly how much hatred for Jews and other minorities must be revealed before leaders will speak out?
Sam Westrop is the Director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum