Earlier this month, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a report claiming that "hate groups" have used American charities to propagate a message of anti-Muslim bigotry.
The report, titled: "Hijacked by Hate: American Philanthropy and the Islamophobia Network," highlights how more than 1,000 mainstream foundations donated almost $125 million to 39 so-called "anti-Muslim hate groups." Nihad Awad, founder and executive director of CAIR, has even gone as far to praise this document as "the most comprehensive report on the Islamophobia network ever produced."
In reality, CAIR's press conference and published report are jam-packed with inconsistencies and baseless claims.
Awad and CAIR blame President Trump for a rise of anti-Muslim hatred in the United States. But there is one big problem. This report, by its own admission, focuses on philanthropic funding donated during the last years of former President Obama's administration, from 2014-2016.
This is not to mention that, though bigots have undoubtedly perpetuated some horrific and awful crimes, the FBI actually reports that the percentage of religiously-motivated hate crimes that target Muslims has dropped 6% from 2016. Yet strangely enough, CAIR's report does not criticize the former American president by name.
While Nihad Awad was quick to condemn New Zealand's "white supremacist terrorism" in March, it seems not all violent hatreds are equal in his eyes. Awad has defended both Islamist terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, referring to them simply as "liberation movements." Similarly, Zainab Arain (research and advocacy manager at CAIR and co-author of the report) has a long history of praising Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood and promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, such as the modern variation of the long-debunked blood libel that claims Israel kills Palestinians to steal their organs.
In fact, Arain has even shared an article from the white nationalist website Information Clearing House, which alleges Israeli control over American leaders. In the spirit of decrying white nationalism, as the report purports to do, will Awad criticize Arain for her expressions of anti-Jewish bigotry? Will he renounce his own views?
The report's other co-author, Abbas Barzegar (research and advocacy director at CAIR), serves as a perfect complement to Arain's pro-Islamist sentiments, having favorably characterized Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election as a victory of Iran's "rural and working classes." At the same time, Barzegar has used his platform on HuffPost to spread the debunked anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that the Egyptian-born Coptic Christian creator of an anti-Islamic video was actually an Israeli citizen.
In that same article, Barzegar calls for curtailing freedom of speech to limit the "abuse" of sacred Islamic symbols. Yet he had previously criticized CNN for firing Octavia Nasr over her eulogizing of a senior cleric of the terror group Hezbollah, describing her as "another victim of America's thought police."
Under the guise of fighting anti-Muslim bigotry, CAIR seeks to advance a pro-Islamist agenda that is not representative of the broader American Muslim population.
The fact that this report is endorsed by author and academic Khaled Beydoun should worry anyone concerned by the propagation of fake news. After the horrific Christchurch mosque shootings, Beydoun allegedly plagiarized the work of New Zealand journalists and seemed to spread false information about the attack. Beydoun has also been roundly criticized by Muslims for growing his Instagram account off the shootings by organizing a promotional free trip to New Zealand.
Is it any wonder that the report itself prioritizes style over substance, with only about 10 full pages of text found in the entire 152-page document?
Why does CAIR consider legislation aimed at violent Islamist movements to be "Islamophobic?" Even the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates have designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. Are these prominent Islamic nations "Islamophobic," too?
With this report, CAIR seeks to bully critics of radical Islamism into submission by conflating anti-Muslim bigotry with any legitimate concerns about Islamist extremism — to the detriment of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.