Bazian Uses Islamist Convention to Push “Islamophobia” Scare

by John Rossomando
IPT News
May 5, 2017

University of California, Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian has made a career out of demonizing critics as Islamophobes and flipping the script, arguing jihad is not the problem, but its critics are. He accuses opponents of promoting a type of McCarthyism and a racist clash of civilizations against Muslims.

“…Islamophobia comes in as a way to rationalize a clash of civilizations, using cultural markers as a way of constructing difference,” Bazian said in a speech last month at the Muslim American Society’s  (MAS) joint conference with the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) held in Baltimore. “Let me say the following: Cultural racism is another signpost for biological racism.”

Bazian’s anti-Semitism runs deep. As a San Francisco State University (SFSU) student in the late 1980s and early 1990s he campaigned against Hillel, the student Jewish organization. He allegedly participated in an assault on the SFSU campus newspaper, The Golden Gator, claiming it was filled with “Jewish spies,” a 2011 Campus Watch report said. Bazian also allegedly worked to prevent a Jewish student from being appointed to the Student Judicial Council. He also served as president of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), which was aligned with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Bazian has a long association with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to isolate Israel. He helped found Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) in 2001 as an outgrowth of GUPS; SJP is known for its pro-Hamas stance and anti-Semitic acts such as disrupting an on-campus Holocaust remembrance event at Northwestern University. In recent years, Bazian has served as chairman of the national board of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). It is closely connected with groups that comprised the Muslim Brotherhood’s defunct anti-Israel network in the United States called the Palestine Committee. Bazian also raised money for KindHearts, a Hamas front whose assets were frozen by the U.S. government in 2006.

Bazian’s Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project that he founded in 2009 churns out academic papers through its Islamophobia Studies Journal that blames the West for terrorism. He also helped found Zaytuna College, the first Muslim liberal arts college in America.

For Bazian, screaming “Islamophobia” is a way to build a smokescreen against inconvenient truths when debating the facts about Islamist aggression.

Some in the Islamic community, such as California Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, contend the entire concept of Islamophobia is about shirking responsibility.

“By declaring [Islamophobia], the number one threat to Islam and Muslims in the United States, we effectively bypass the central doctrines of self accountability, and moral fortitude; principles upon which our faith is founded,” Ahmad wrote in The Lotus Tree Blog in 2010. “The sooner we wake up and take an intrepid and honest look at ourselves, the better.”

Bazian’s hosts for his recent speech have their own ties to international Islamist movements.

Prosecutors describe MAS as the “overt arm” of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S., and it has been alleged to have financial ties to Hamas. ICNA retains a strong spiritual connection with Islamist pioneer Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi, founder of the radical South Asian Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami. In his book Jihad in Islam, Maududi argues that Muslims should destroy “all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam regardless of the country or the Nation which rules it.” ICNA’s 2010 Member’s Hand Book advocates the “struggle for Iqamat-ad-Deen,” or the establishment of Islam in its totality, “in this land.”

In his MAS-ICNA remarks, Bazian specifically named Investigative Project on Terrorism Executive Director Steven Emerson, Pamela Geller, David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes as drivers of the “Islamophobic industry” dedicated to preserving Israel’s interests.

Playing off the foundations of Islam, Bazian defined the “five pillars of Islamophobia” starting with the government’s “constant war on terrorism that defines it as a war on Islamic terrorism.” He misleadingly cited data to argue that Muslims are responsible for only 4 percent of terrorism in the United States and Europe. He did not cite a source for his data, but did note that it covered a period ending in 1995 – before al-Qaida, ISIS, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and other Islamist terrorist movements that have recruited westerners and attacked Western targets.

Other “pillars” Bazian mentioned include the counter-jihad movement, neo-conservatives and liberal interventionists. But Bazian’s emphasis on “Islamophobes” is to be expected. One cannot expect to attract funding for an Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project without concocting the frightening specter of “Islamophobes.”

Bazian similarly denounced Emerson, Pipes and Geller following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings for connecting the bombings to jihad before the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the attacks were identified.

“…[The] crime of the terrorist is immediate, while that of the Islamophobes is long-lasting, for it creates and impresses on our collective public mind the logic of hate and racism …,” Bazian wrote in an academic paper called “Boston Bombing, Islamophobia and Sudden Ignorance Syndrome.”

But this was no wild leap of logic. The pressure-cooker bombs used in Boston were just like those recommended by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s English language magazine, Inspire. Dhzokhar Tsarnaev later told investigators he and his brother, Tamerlan, got their idea for the bombs from the magazine.

In Bazian’s world, however, it’s Islamophobic and racist to connect violent and imperialistic interpretations of Islam to acts of terrorism today. The Tsarnaevs, indeed, were the bombers, he acknowledged. “But the Islamophobic machine committed crimes against our collective consciousness by exploiting the suffering and pain of our fellow citizens.”

Much of his MAS-ICNA speech was spent attacking Samuel Huntington’s 1993 essay, “The Clash of Civilizations?” which predicted global conflict would be driven more by cultural differences than ideology and economics.

Bazian dismisses this as a “clash of ignorance,” arguing that the past sins of white Western Christians are more important to discuss than jihadist terror.

“Bernard Lewis’ question about Islam of ‘What Went Wrong?’ should be asked in relation to European history with emphasis on the Inquisition, genocide of the Natives in the Americas, the European Trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonization, 8 Apartheid South Africa, WWI and WWII, with the good White Aryan Christian Europeans responsible for the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons against civilians recorded in history to this day,” Bazian wrote.

Then as now, Bazian charged that “Islamophobes” relished in a clash of civilizations.

“It’s interesting that repeated aggressions by Islamists, both violent and non-violent [including Bazian’s speech] don’t count for anything, while criticism of Islamists is used to say that the Bill of Rights is being rescinded,” Pipes told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “That’s highly untenable considering that we’re not the cause of jihad.”

Islamophobia has nothing to do with misunderstanding Islam or Muslims integrating into Western societies, Bazian said at the MAS-ICNA convention. It’s about protecting Western dominance over the rest of the world.

“So often [what] you get with debate and discussion, immediately the Islamophobes who jumps in – ‘well Islam is not a race.’ Well, again, race is a socially constructed category, but the directions of how people are racialized could be for a number of areas,” Bazian said. “You could be racialized because of your language; you could be racialized because of your skin tone; you could be racialized because of your religion.”

Bazian’s cultural racism concept is a flawed one, said American Islamic Forum for Democracy founder and President Zuhdi Jasser. Islam is a belief system. It cannot be treated as a monolithic entity  exempt from criticism.

“If you are going to believe that Islam cannot be debated and cannot be reformed, and cannot be changed, the bottom line is you have to make it into a racial identity,” Jasser said. “That’s why Islamists are wedded … to the idea of Islam as a single tribal identity that is defined by the leaders of that tribe who are imams, clerics or theocrats.”

Islamists then use this tribal identity to depict Christians, Israeli Jews and the West as the enemy, Jasser said.

Fellow Muslims also can be “Islamophobes” if they disagree with Bazian. That’s the word he used to slur Muslims who supported the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, which ended the Muslim Brotherhood’s brief rule. Presumably this included Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s most important clerical institution, who blessed Morsi’s ouster.

When it comes to aggressive clash of civilizations rhetoric coming from Islamists, Bazian turns a blind eye. He chose to write for UCLA’s newsmagazine Al-Talib in the late 1990s and early 2000s despite the fact that Al-Talib regularly featured pro-jihadist articles. For example, an article he wrote in the March 1999 issue appeared along with a piece praising Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

The July 1999 edition contained an editorial titled “Jihad in America” that criticized calling Osama bin Laden a terrorist. Bin Laden, it said, was a “freedom fighter” who spoke out against oppressors.

By that time, bin Laden had publicly declared war on the United States, “Jews and Crusaders.” That fatwa invoked the Quran to declare that killing Americans “an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it…” The al-Qaida suicide bombing attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania took place the year before Bazian’s Al-Talib article.

Bazian could have opted to stop writing for the newsmagazine after the pro-terrorist articles were published, yet he chose to submit articles in Al-Talib’s September 1999 issue and again in Al-Talib‘s March 2000 issue.

“I think he is a classical civilizational Islamist supremacist,” Jasser said, “meaning that until he is caught and exposed on various positions he’ll do whatever possible to advance the concept that where Muslims are a majority that an Islamic state is the best avenue for governance.”

Islamists love clash of civilizations rhetoric because they view the world in terms of the Land of Islam and the Land of War ruled by non-Muslims,  Jasser said.

Bazian’s effort to accuse “Islamophobes” of a racist clash of civilizations at the MAS-ICNA conference and on other occasions distracts from the Islamists’ stated desire to supplant Western civilization.

NATO Ally Turkey Working with U.S. Muslim Brotherhood

Osama Abu-Irshaid (National Director of American Muslims for Palestine, AMP, a founding member of the USCMO), USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal (center) and Naeem Baig (President of the Islamic Center of North America, ICNA, a founding member of the USCMO) outside AK Party Headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, during an August 2014 visit

Center for Security Policy, April 3, 2017:

During the 2016 U.S presidential campaign, senior leadership figures of the United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) began strategic planning to ensure the advancement and protection of the group’s objectives, no matter who won the White House. USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal and HAMAS dba Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad set plans in motion to defend the Muslim Brotherhood’s Civilization Jihad inside the U.S. Those objectives were first exposed and described in the Center’s 2015 publication, in Star Spangled Shariah: The Rise of America’s First Muslim Brotherhood Party.

Joining directly in those efforts then and now is the pro-HAMAS Turkish government, under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP). The groundwork for what is now a close working relationship began well before the March 2014 announcement of the USCMO’s formation, but it is known that on 15 May 2013, a visiting President Erdoğan placed a ceremonial stone on the 16-acre construction site that would become the Turkish Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland. The following year, in August 2014, a USCMO delegation led by Secretary General Oussama Jammal traveled to Ankara to meet with President Erdoğan and AK Party leaders. And then, on 29 December 2014, in a recorded video message, Dr. Mehmet Görmez, President of the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), addressed the 13th Annual MAS-ICNA (Muslim American Society-Islamic Circle of North America) Conference in Chicago, Illinois and discussed a gift for all Muslims: the Turkish Diyanet Center of America. Of note for the future of the US Muslim Brotherhood-Turkish relationship, this conference was sponsored by the Turkish-backed American Zakat Foundation and included the first-ever attendance of a Turkish-American group at a MAS-ICNA conference.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shaking hands with USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal during the USCMO delegation reception with Erdoğan in NYC in September 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressing an assembly of US Muslim Brotherhood leadership during the week of the September 2016 UN General Assembly meeting. USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal is in the front row at the far right, Mazen Mokhtar, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society (MAS), can be seen in the middle, and Nihad Awad, CAIR Executive Director, is seated at the far left. Awad also welcomed the Turkish government delegation to CAIR’s WDC headquarters that same week.

It will be recalled that Erdoğan himself joined U.S. President Barack Obama on 2 April 2016 at the opening ceremonies for the Diyanet Center of America, located on a large 16-acre site in Lanham, Maryland. The Diyanet Center, also known as the Turkish American Cultural Center (TACC), is a wholly-owned facility of The Presidency of Religious Affairs, an official state institution of the Turkish government.

Under the Trump administration, the USCMO is especially concerned with legal issues, as calls were heard during the 2016 campaign urging that the 2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) HAMAS terror funding trial be re-opened to pursue possible cases against the more-than-200 unindicted co-conspirators named by the Department of Justice. Apparently concerned over possible vulnerability should the books of mosques, Islamic Centers and Muslim Brotherhood front groups come under renewed official scrutiny, CAIR and other members of the USCMO therefore engaged the services of the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), itself a founding member of the USCMO.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the first major event to be co-sponsored by the USCMO, TACC and the MLFA in the Trump era will be a 13 May 2017 Muslim Non-Profit Leadership Conference, to be held at the Diyanet Center of America. Among the program topics are Safeguarding 501(c)3 status; Board fiduciary responsibilities; record keeping and disclosure requirements; Fundraising regulations, state registrations, unrelated business income; and Banking regulations, FDIC, DOJ, Watchlists, international charitable giving.

One of the MLFA’s top legal representatives, now working openly with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, is U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander (ret.) Charles Swift, formerly of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Swift, a 1984 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, who was recognized by the Muslim Brotherhood for his legal role advocating for client Salim Ahmed Hamdan in the U.S. Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfield 548 US 557 (2006). This role doubtless contributed to the choice of Swift as Director and Counsel for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA), a project of the Muslim Legal Fund of America led by Executive Director Khahil Meek.

The MLFA’s CLCMA project presents itself as dedicated to two primary missions:

  • “Challenging governmental security measures affecting Muslim communities which encroach upon the constitutional liberties guaranteed to all.”
  • “Protecting the rights of Muslim individuals and organizations in the United States to exercise their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights to worship.”

Pictured left to right: “Jihadis in Suits” Nihad Awad, Khalil Meek, Oussama Jammalerdogan

In apparent pursuance of these missions, the MLFA continues actively to seek the release from federal prison of defendants in the HLF trial, which concluded in late 2008 with a unanimous guilty verdict on all 108 counts. The MLFA also engages in lawfare, using lawsuits as an offensive means of shutting down opposition to its civilization jihad operations. For example, as noted by the Thomas More Law Center in the 2009 case of Joe KAUFMAN, Appellant, v. ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF ARLINGTON, Texas, Islamic Center of Irving, DFW Islamic Educational Center, Inc., Dar Elsalam Islamic Center, Al Hedayah Islamic Center, Islamic Association of Tarrant County, and Muslim American Society of Dallas, Appellees, No. 2-09-023-CV: “The head of that organization [MLFA], Khalil Meek, admitted on a Muslim radio show that lawsuits were being filed against Kaufman and others to set an example. Indeed, for the last several years, Muslim groups in the U.S. have engaged in the tactic of filing meritless lawsuits to silence any public discussion of Islamic terrorist threats.”

More recently, in response to U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s early March 2017 revised executive order to restrict immigration from six Muslim-majority nations, the MLFA working in conjunction with the USCMO, is referring all Muslims to its “advisory prepared by Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America.” The MLFA may cloak itself in the colors of Star Spangled Shariah as a “constitutional rights organization” but Executive Director Khalil Meek still whines that “We continue to be troubled by this administration’s ongoing attempts to single out Muslims for adverse actions. Such blatant discrimination is a violation of our nation’s constitutional freedoms of speech, expression and religion.”

Finally, it is worth taking note of the following guidance. The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) provides the authoritative juridical backup on Islamic Law (shariah) for the American Muslim community and U.S. Islamic legal organizations such as the MLFA. Addressing the U.S. Muslim community on 28 November 2016, shortly after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election, AMJA issued the following bracing statement:

“No one could possibly be unaware of the political storm that has recently overtaken this country…For this reason, the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America is addressing the Imams, Islamic workers and the entire Muslim community with permanent values that must be emphasized during this stage as well as a number of principles to be used in dealing with these events, what has happened as well as what is expected to happen…Islam, with respect to its belief and legal foundations, is unalterably fixed. It does not accept any replacement for change. (emphasis added)

While the Center for Security Policy has followed the activities of the USCMO, MLFA and AMJA, the realization of just how closely the Turkish government at the highest level is working in collusion with these Muslim Brotherhood-associated groups to thwart any legal measures that may be directed their way by the new Trump administration and Department of Justice led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions still comes as something of a shock. The U.S. Brotherhood and its international partners were way ahead of the Trump team in foreseeing a possible renewal of legal risk and liability under this new management and began taking steps to confront it. They bring significant financial and legal resources to the fight, plus, as we now see, state-level backing from NATO member Turkey whose pro-HAMAS stance has long been known.

But given that an official organization of the Ankara regime is now operating a large Center (with numerous associated centers and mosques) barely thirteen miles from the U.S. Capitol and working there in collaboration with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood to thwart possible legal actions by the U.S. government is certainly noteworthy. As the international as well as U.S. Muslim Brotherhood gear up for coming confrontations, so must U.S. national security leadership as well.