A New Obama? The Media Starts Selling Abdul El-Sayed

In a May 3, 2016 file photo, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, Director of the Detroit Health Department, gives his remarks during the Mayor’s Summit on Health Equity in Detroit. (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via AP)

PJ Media, by Bruce Bawer, Sept. 5, 2017:

On August 24, the Guardian ran an unusually long profile of one Abdul El-Sayed, a 32-year-old Muslim doctor and son of Egyptian immigrants who is already campaigning heavily for governor of Michigan, even though the election won’t take place until November of next year. The headline on Drew Philp’s article dubbed El-Sayed “the new Obama.”

It was the ultimate puff piece, shameless in its utter lack of objectivity and balance, and it began, as such pieces invariably do, with an anecdote calculated to win sympathy for the subject. When he was seven years old, writes Philp, El-Sayed “sat in the eye of Hurricane Andrew,” drinking juice “while swaddled under mattresses between his father and stepmother, who was holding El-Sayed’s newborn baby brother just home from the hospital.”

What does this story have to do with anything? For Philp, it is a metaphor: “At the moment,” he suggests, “American politics feels a bit like being in the eye a hurricane.” Donald Trump is ready to attack North Korea; neo-Nazis paraded in Charlottesville. “No one man can stop the hurricane,” admits Philp. “But in Michigan, a grown-up El-Sayed is now having a go, trying to keep the storm at bay.” El-Sayed, you see, seeks “not just to win, but also to change American politics itself” by becoming “the first Muslim governor in US history.”

Philp goes on to depict El-Sayed as a progressive hero who is struggling against an army of Yahoos. He follows El-Sayed to Adrian, Mich. (“Trump country, white and Christian,” and “the kind of place with lots and lots of American flags”), where the candidate is introduced to an audience by a transgender man (“a brave choice for a region still coming to terms with gay rights, let alone trans rights”). El-Sayed shares “his personal story” with the audience, then goes into some “soaring rhetoric” about “hope and commonality.”

When he takes questions, one “clearly agitated man” asks him about sharia law. El-Sayed replies by saying that he supports separation of church and state and that he wouldn’t take away anyone else’s right to pray and wouldn’t want that right to be taken from him either. (He has made it clear that he prays several times a day.) For this, the audience gives him “an enormous round of applause” – even though El-Sayed’s answer is a total dodge.

Repeatedly, El-Sayed has described himself as a devout Muslim: he prays several times a day; he has said that “his Islamic values are at the center of his work as a civil servant”; his father is an imam. If he’s a devout Muslim, that means he firmly supports sharia law. But how does he square this with his purported approval of secular government? Is he a devout Muslim or a devout believer in the separation of religion and state? You can’t be both.

Whether or not Philp recognizes this contradiction, he certainly doesn’t confront El-Sayed with it. Instead he approaches the religion issue this way: “The rumors surrounding El-Sayed’s faith are small but persistent, spread by a handful of far-right websites preying on the uninformed and fearful.”

He doesn’t spell out what kind of “rumors” he’s talking about, but his message is clear: only “the uninformed and fearful” (and Islamophobes) would be concerned about a having a Muslim governor. “It’s tempting to make any story about El-Sayed about his faith,” writes Philp. “But to reduce him to his faith would also be a disservice. His story is one of responsibility, courage and hope.”

Hope, hope, hope – that’s the mantra here. Never mind that America is still getting over feeling burned by Obama’s empty repetition of that word.

Then there’s El-Sayed’s staffers, with whom Philp is as impressed as he is with the candidate himself: they’re “young, fun and smart” and “hail from Harvard and other elite institutions” and are “incredibly diverse.” Philp tells us about a bathroom visit during which he sees one of El-Sayed’s staffers, a Muslim, “washing his feet in the sink before praying,” while another, “pierced and dyed and queer,” washes his hands in the next sink.

Oh good, another gay guy who thinks Muslims and gays are, as they say, “allies in oppression.”

There are a few details about El-Sayed that Philp doesn’t mention, obviously because they would damage the glowing picture he’s trying to paint of the guy. For one thing, El-Sayed is chummy with Linda Sarsour, the hijab-wearing Women’s March organizer who is a vocal proponent of jihad and sharia law (and who has enthusiastically endorsed his candidacy). At the University of Michigan, El-Sayed was vice-president of the Muslim Student Association, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood.

His wife wears hijab, a fact that seriously undermines the image he seeks to project, and her father is a former president and current board member of the Michigan chapter of the terrorist-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In 2012, when he was in med school, El-Sayed received a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship. Paul Soros, who died the next year, was George Soros’s brother; some sources maintain that the Soros empire is funding El-Sayed’s campaign and grooming him to eventually become president.

Ignoring all this, Philp concludes his piece with a dose of the kind of phony uplift that, again, in the wake of Obama, can only make a sensible reader react with cynicism: “He’s a man who believes politics can be changed, repaired even. His is a story at least as old as the United States, about a person who believes what we were taught in grade school: that all people are created equal, that change can come, that we can live up to our ideals.”

Philp’s snow job appeared about a month after an even longer, if somewhat less breathlessly adulatory, profile of El-Sayed ran in Politico. Both pieces posed the same question — are Michiganders too racist to vote for a Muslim? – the implication being that any concern about a candidate being a Muslim would amount to racism.

Politico quoted voters who spoke about El-Sayed’s religion as if it were a harmless aspect of his identity. “Goddamn, I’m an Irish Catholic,” one man said“We got off a boat and we were discriminated against 150 years ago.” A retired teacher confided: “I think once people hear him … you kind of just forget” that he’s a Muslim.

Yes, it’s hard not to surmise that there’s a lot of forgetting going on here. And denial. And ignorance – specifically, sheer ignorance of the very basics of Islam. El-Sayed and those who are pushing his candidacy are apparently counting on Michigan voters to love him for the same vapid reasons they loved Obama – because he specializes in “soaring rhetoric” about “hope and commonality” and makes them feel impressed with themselves for supporting a dark-skinned guy with a Muslim name.

You’d think the actual Obama record would have inoculated the American electorate against such puerile, irresponsible thinking for at least a generation. And you’d think that in 2017 – when the West has been hammered repeatedly, since 9/11, with brutal terrorist acts rooted in Islamic belief and when mass Muslim immigration into Europe has vividly demonstrated the incompatibility of Islam and Western freedom – a politician’s Muslim faith wouldn’t be a matter of indifference to so many Americans.

But no. Voters seem eager to embrace El-Sayed, and fourteen months before the gubernatorial election the media on both sides of the Atlantic are already selling him every bit as eagerly as they sold Obama. How far we have failed to come!

Could man vying to become first Muslim governor be part of stealth jihad?

Jihad Watch, by Christine Douglass-Williams, Aug. 10, 2017:

The 32-year old Dr. Abdul el-Sayed recently announced his campaign for governor of Michigan. Winning the November 18 election would make him America’s first Muslim governor. The charming el-Sayed knows well how to talk the talk in putting Americans at ease. According to Dick Manasseri, spokesman for the group, Secure Michigan, which educates about the threat of Shariah law: “He’s young, attractive, he does not give out a lot of information, he speaks in platitudes about celebrating inclusiveness and diversity.” Manasseri “predicts that Sayed will at least win the Democratic nomination for governor” and warns that “America is headed down a suicidal path” through a stealth invasion. His words are not without merit:

El-Sayed has substantial connections to the Muslim Brotherhood in both his past and present. So the suspicion that El-Sayed may harbor Islamist convictions and be a Trojan horse are not unfounded, especially given the reality of what some have dubbed a “stealth jihad.”

Linda Sarsour, who called for jihad against the American government in early July, also threw her backing behind El-Sayed in an address she made to the Islamic Society of North America’s 54th annual convention:

When I think about building power, I think about brothers like Abdul Sayed, who is in this room today, who is running to become the first Muslim Governor of the state of Michigan

El-Sayed was sitting in the audience as Sarsour went on to urge the crowd to donate to his political campaign, an increasing pattern in the West, where Muslims are actively solicited to influence election outcomes.

For instance, a company called Jetpac Incorporated focuses on “training Muslim Americans how to leverage social media, data analysis and other critical political tools to build winning campaigns for city council, school committee and other down ballot races.” Jetpac also operates a “separate political action committee” called the Jetpac Action Fund, which raises money for Muslim candidates.

The article below points out that the “liberal convictions” expressed by El-Sayed “don’t seem very congruent with some of El-Sayed’s past and present associations.” This is typical of those Muslims with proven connections to Muslim Brotherhood entities who have made their way into the political arena. For example, while El-Sayed was a student at the University of Michigan, he was “an active member and vice-president of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) – a group founded mainly by members of the Muslim Brotherhood for the express purpose of spreading Wahhabist ideology — an austere form of Islam that insists on literal interpretation of the Quran and views those who disagree as enemies.”

Like all Western nations, the stealth invasion of American civilization continues from within with great fervor, while most remain too unaware and passive to stymie its advance.

“Could Man Vying to Become First Muslim Governor Be Part of ‘Stealth Jihad’?”, by Julie Roys, Christian Post, August 9, 2017:

Abdul El-Sayed, potentially the nation’s first Muslim governor, sounds like the quintessential progressive politician. According to his website, the Michigan Democrat upholds “strict separation of church and state,” and vows to “defend the right of all Americans to pray as they choose.” He also opposes discrimination against the LGBTQ community, and supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

This son of Egyptian immigrants also has an impeccable pedigree for public office. He’s a Rhodes Scholar with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a doctorate in Public Health from Oxford University, and an M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 2015, when El-Sayed was just 30 years old, he was appointed executive director of the Detroit Health Department, becoming the youngest health commissioner ever to serve a major U.S. city.

Not surprisingly, those opposing El-Sayed’s candidacy, claiming he has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and is being groomed by far-left billionaire George Soros to become the “next Barack Obama,” are being dubbed Islamophobes and conspiracy theorists. In a Vice article, Muslim journalist Beenish Ahmed attributed the allegations to a “vile political climate” and “right-wing paranoia about Sharia law.”

El-Sayed denies any ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. And according to one fact-checking website, though El-Sayed received a fellowship to attend medical school from the foundation of Paul and Daisy Soros (George Soros’s older brother and his wife), “there’s no indication that George Soros is tied to the foundation, or to El-Sayad.”

The problem, however, is that despite these vehement denials and inconclusive evidence tying El-Sayed to George Soros, El-Sayed has substantial connections to the Muslim Brotherhood in both his past and present. So the suspicion that El-Sayed may harbor Islamist convictions and be a Trojan horse are not unfounded, especially given the reality of what some have dubbed a “stealth jihad.”

El-Sayed and the Brotherhood Stealth Model

According to the Middle East Forum, the Muslim Brotherhood differs from other radical jihadist groups in strategy, but not in goals. Both the Brotherhood and groups like ISIS seek to destroy the West and establish Sharia, or Islamic, law. But while groups like ISIS promote a military means of conquering the West, the Brotherhood, as stated in its internal documents, seeks to penetrate and destroy Western civilization from within — “‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their (own) hands.”

As a result, the Brotherhood tends to be “more deceptive in language and appearance,” actively recruiting Muslim professionals and intellectuals, who can infiltrate Western legal and social systems without detection.

As one correspondent with the Middle East Forum put it, both the Brotherhood and militant jihadists will “shout Allahu Akbar and bomb Israel, support jihad, and support the violation of the rights of women and non-Muslims. One will do it openly and loudly while wearing his primitive Islamic dress and his untidy beard, but the other will be a PhD holder from Oxford University or the Sorbonne, and he will do it cunningly and secretly while wearing his German or French suit and a tidy beard, from an air-conditioned office, all the while making deals with the Americans.”

So the ideal Brotherhood politician would be someone who secretly harbors radical Islamic convictions, but looks, acts, and talks like a mainstream, major-party candidate. This candidate would not hide his Muslim identity, but instead would leverage it for political advantage, making Islam sound moderate and appealing to values like multiculturalism.

Publicly, El-Sayed espouses a very tolerant form of Islam, once remarking that he was running for public office “because of the values my Islam teaches me” like beliefs in “equity” and “the fundamental rights of all people.” El-Sayed also frequently talks about people of different faiths coming together, upholding his “extremely diverse” family as a model. (El-Sayed’s father, Mohamed El-Sayed, married a white woman who converted to Islam. So now, through his step-mother, El-Sayed has a grandmother who’s a Presbyterian and apparently, an uncle who’s an atheist.)

Yet these espoused liberal convictions don’t seem very congruent with some of El-Sayed’s past and present associations, prompting suspicions that he fits the stealth Brotherhood profile. While a student at the University of Michigan, El-Sayed was “an active member” and vice-president of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) – a group founded mainly by members of the Muslim Brotherhood for the express purpose of spreading Wahhabist ideology — an austere form of Islam that insists on literal interpretation of the Quran and views those who disagree as enemies.

The MSA bills itself as a networking and support group for Muslim students. But according to terrorism expert Patrick Poole, the MSA “has been a virtual terror factory. Time after time after time again, we see these terrorists . . . MSA leaders, MSA presidents, MSA national presidents — who’ve been implicated, charged and convicted in terrorist plots.”

The extensive list of MSA terrorists includes Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Queda senior recruiter and organizer who was the first U.S. citizen to be targeted and killed in a U.S. drone strike. During his tenure at Colorado State University, al-Awlaki was president of the campus MSA. Similarly, Ramy Zamzam, convicted in Pakistan for attempting to join the Taliban and kill U.S. troops, was president of the MSA’s Washington, D.C. council. And then there’s Omar Shafik Hammami, the former president of the MSA at the University of South Alabama, who abandoned his wife and infant daughter to join the terrorist group Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

The MSA’s pledge is almost identical to that of the Muslim Brotherhood and states, “Allah is my lord. Islam is my life. . . . Jihad is my spirit. Paradise is my goal. I will die to establish Islam.” As an executive in an MSA chapter, El-Sayed certainly would have recited this pledge repeatedly.

I emailed El-Sayed’s office, inquiring about his prior involvement with the MSA, but it did not respond. The office also denied my request for an interview.

El-Sayed’s involvement with the MSA, however, is not his only association that raises red flags. El-Sayed’s father-in-law is Dr. Jakaku Tayeb, former president and current board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan.

Like the MSA, CAIR purports to be mainstream — simply a “grassroots civil rights and advocacy group.” Yet many have asserted that it’s really a terror group with board members and staff who have been accused and/or convicted of terrorist charges. In 2007, CAIR was actually named by federal prosecutors as “unindicted co-conspirators” in a criminal plot to support the terrorist group Hamas.

Some, like Dick Manasseri, spokesman for Secure Michigan, have also expressed concerns that El-Sayed wants to promote Sharia law. There’s no doubt that El-Sayed and his wife, Sarah Jakaku, are Sharia compliant. Jakaku wears a hijab in public. And in a 2010 radio interview about his courtship and marriage, El-Sayed said he didn’t touch his wife when they were courting because “in my interpretation of Islamic law, I wasn’t allowed to touch her until after we were married.”

Of course, these are personal matters, which would seemingly have no bearing on holding public office. However, according to Manasseri, “Sharia adherents believe … that Sharia is the supreme law and takes precedence over any man-made law.”

This makes El-Sayed’s support for making Michigan the nation’s first “sanctuary state” especially disconcerting. Adopting sanctuary status would mean giving the state permission to defy federal immigration officers and essentially, violate the U.S. Constitution. This, Manasseri said, would open the door for legal pluralism, which many see as a first step to embracing Sharia…..