This Saturday, March 11, the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will hold its annual banquet at the Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Pennsylvania. This banquet is a major fundraiser for the organization, and acts to provide a patina of respectability to obscure the hateful Islamist agenda that it pursues.
CAIR's Philadelphia office basks in a glow of prestige. Its Executive Director, the left-wing Jewish filmmaker Jacob Bender, became the first non-Muslim to head a CAIR chapter in 2013, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter honored him and CAIR-PA for their supposed civil rights activism the following year. But the real advocacy on the part of CAIR has nothing to do with defending civil rights and everything to do with maligning Christians, Jews, and the LGBT community in the name of a radical Islamist agenda.
Linda Sarsour, appearing at a MAS-ICNA convention, screengrab via YouTube and The Daily Caller.
One look at the keynote speaker for the March 11 event – Islamist activist Linda Sarsour – should tell any thinking person enough about CAIR to see through the organization's claim to be moderate. Though she has been around the block of radical Islam for years, Sarsour's star is rising on the political left, thanks to her involvement with Black Lives Matter
and the Bernie Sanders campaign.
Sarsour helped organize January's Women's March on Washington, a jarring choice given her praise of Saudi Arabia's ten-week paid maternity leave program as a positive sign for feminism. Never mind that Saudi women cannot swim, drive, interact with men outside their family, or show their faces in public – those realities are too inconvenient for Sarsour's Islamist narrative.
A few years ago, Sarsour urged violence against anti-Islamist activists Brigitte Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, tweeting: "Brigitte Gabriel = Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She's asking 4 an a$$ whippin'. I wish I could take their vaginas away – they don't deserve to be women." She has also advocated attacks on Israeli Defense Forces and claimed that the would-be "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was an agent of the CIA engaged in a "war against Islam."
But why stop with Sarsour? Other speakers at CAIR-PA events and frequent CAIR special guests hold up the same narrative of Islamic radicalism. Radical cleric Siraj Wahhaj spoke at CAIR-PA's 2013 banquet. Wahhaj, the imam of Masjid At-Taqwa, appeared on a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the trial of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. He is an outspoken proponent of Sharia law, including the cutting off of thieves' hands and the incitement of hatred against non-Muslims.
Wahhaj has advocated for armed jihad: "And so, brothers and sisters, we call for jihad to struggle in the way we can struggle." He called for American Muslims to violate the United Nations arms embargo to Muslims in Bosnia. The cleric advocates open hatred against gays and lesbians, calling curses down upon them and reminding his audiences that Islam calls for the death penalty for the "disease" of homosexuality.
And Wahhaj and Sarsour are just the tip of the iceberg. Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda is a frequent panelist at CAIR events who has gone on record justifying marital rape and the use of female sex slaves. Jangda has promoted the death penalty for adulterers and for those who leave Islam.
CAIR Florida Director Hassan Shibly has shared the stage with Sarsour and has expressed his hatred for the LGBT community. He has also compared Palestinians to survivors of the Holocaust. CAIR Canada board member and speaker Jamal Badawi has advocated for the right of men to beat their wives.
Frequent CAIR speaker Omar Suleiman has made known his support for honor killings for "promiscuous" young women. Muzammil Siddiqi, director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, who has served as a CAIR spokesman for press conferences – including one condemning the San Bernadino shooter – calls for the death penalty for homosexuality.
Only in the current political climate would an institution like CAIR – whose members and public speakers call for open hatred, advocate the execution of large swaths of society, justify domestic violence, and spread outright lies about the treatment of women in the Middle East – receive such effusive praise from certain politicians. Political leaders who hold up CAIR for their commitment to civil rights clearly live in denial about the true nature of the organization. It's time to call out CAIR for its hateful, illiberal, Islamist agenda, and to keep challenging radical Islam from every corner, until CAIR and its ilk are no more. Please contact Metro Philly Management, the company which manages the Springfield Country Club, and urge them to cancel this and all future Islamist-hosted events.
Chris Queen is a writer for Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum