Muslim Public Affairs Council Debates RadicalIslam.org

MPAC's President Salam Al-Marayati (l) and RadicalIslam.org's Natioanl Security Analyst Rayn Mauro

MPAC’s President Salam Al-Marayati (l) and RadicalIslam.org’s Natioanl Security Analyst Rayn Mauro

by: Ryan Mauro

Yesterday, RadicalIslam.org National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro debated the President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Salam Al-Marayati on Airtalk about his article on the group’s holding of its convention inside the All Saints Episcopal Church of Pasadena, C.A. MPAC is also holding a press conference about the “right wing extremists” criticizing the church.

The press release failed to address a single fact in the article. In his discussion with Mauro, Al-Marayati repeatedly accused Mauro and RadicalIslam.org of lying, bigotry and hatred without offering a substantive rebuttal to the facts we presented.

Al-Marayati denied that the MPAC is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and said it does not accept foreign money “even though foreign groups offered it to us.” He also claimed that he is not seeking to convert anyone to Islam because “we have more than enough Muslims.”

You can listen to the debate by clicking here.

When Mauro challenged MPAC to unequivocally condemn and stand against the Muslim Brotherhood as a way of improving the image of the Muslim-American community, Al-Marayati called it a “ridiculous suggestion.”  He said, “You want us to get into a political fight with these [Islamist] groups, it’s not worth our time…We are speaking to the masses.”

While MPAC is quick to condemn its opponents as “right-wing extremists,” its website does not condemn the Muslim Brotherhood as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians protest against it. Al-Marayati made a number of demonstrably false and misleading statements about MPAC on the radio show:

Claim: “[MPAC Founder Maher Hathout] has never said and I challenge anyone to come up with a statement or anything in any meeting or gathering that we are for the Muslim Brotherhood. It has never been stated.”

Maher Hathout, who Al-Marayati calls “the father of the Muslim-American identity,” has praised Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna as a “reformer.” He is a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Southern California, which he and his brother founded and MPAC originated in. The mosque recommends a book on Sharia Law titled Fiqh us-Sunnah by Sayyid Saabiq, a Muslim Brotherhood member working under the guidance of Al-Banna. It also recommends a book by senior Brotherhood cleric Shiekh Yousef Al-Qaradawi.

Hassan Hathout, former MPAC President and Maher’s brother, describes himself as a “close disciple of the late Hassan Al-Banna of Egypt” in their 1989 book. He says that Al-Banna is “the person who most influenced my life” and “centuries might roll over before a similar personality is produced.”

Before coming to the U.S., the Hathout brothers were arrested in Egypt, which banned the Muslim Brotherhood. Hassan Hathout strongly suggested that it was their involvement with the group that led to their detainment, saying, “Long after Hassan Al-Banna, when Egypt had been through the Revolution and the new Regime, but Islam was always considered an enemy. We were persecuted; we were in jail, including my brother and myself.”

The two came to the U.S. in the years following Maher’s release from an Egyptian prison in 1968. Hassan said they sought to start the “Islamic Movement” in the U.S., which is the term that the Brotherhood uses to describe its work and that of fellow Islamists. He explained in 1997, “America needs Islam. If you look objectively you will see that this current civilization harbors in its body the seeds of its own destruction.”

The language mirrors that of an internal U.S. Muslim Brotherhood document from 1991 that describes “its work in America as a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.” The battle, the Brotherhood wrote in its private communications, was a “civilization jihad.” A 1989 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Financial Committee document discusses working with someone by the name of Hathout that is “in the field.”

Claim: “There’s never been any mention of the Muslim Brotherhood since the inception of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.”

The Muslim Brotherhood is mentioned in MPAC’s policy paper, Building Bridges to Strengthen America. It states that “Conservative groups like the Muslim Brotherhood pose long-term strategic threats to violent extremists by siphoning Muslims away from violent radicalism into peaceful political activism.”

The paper also depicts the Brotherhood as an effective counter to Al-Qaeda and cites an article titled, “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood.” The depiction of the Brotherhood is wholly positive.

MPAC’s former Political Director Mahdi Bray went to Egypt in 2007 to, in the words of an Egyptian news site, “express solidarity with Muslim Brotherhood detainees on trial before a military court and to call for an end to the crackdown on the Egyptian opposition.”

Claim: “We are the ones that are your hope in terms of reforming the Muslim world … [to] bring that moderate voice up.”

MPAC upholds Brotherhood-linked Islamists as “moderates” and “reformists,” putting this statement in a different light. As mentioned, it depicts the Brotherhood as a moderate group and Hassan Al-Banna as a reformist.

Read more at Radical Islam