Trump’s ‘Principled Realism’ Is Not Very Realistic about Islam

The principal fiction in the president’s speech in Saudi Arabia was the claim that we share ‘common values’ with the sharia society.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, May 22, 2017:

So for what exactly is the “extreme vetting” going to vet?

That was the question I could not shake from my mind while listening to President Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to dozens of Sunni Islamic leaders and a global television audience.

There were certainly some positives in the president’s rhetoric. Trump did not cite American policy or “arrogance” as a contributory cause of jihadist savagery, as President Obama was wont to do. He was less delusional about the splendor of Islam than were Obama and President George W. Bush. Gone were absurd inflations of Islam’s historical achievements and place in the American fabric; gone were allusions to the “religion of peace and love.” In their place was an acknowledgment that Islam is besieged by a “crisis” of terror that is engulfing the world, a crisis that is ideological in nature and that only Muslims themselves can solve.

All true. Nevertheless, the theme that came through the speech is that terrorism is something that happens to Islam, rather than something that happens because of Islam. That is simply not the case, even though it is true, as Trump asserted, that the vast majority of those killed by Muslim terrorists are themselves Muslims.

There is thus a good deal that is not real about “Principled Realism,” Trump’s name for what he heralds as a new American strategy — “new approaches informed by experience and judgment,” a “discarding” of strategies “that have not worked.”

The principal fiction in “principled realism” is that we share “common values” with Sunni Arab sharia societies. That is problematic because these purported “common values” — in conjunction with “shared interests” — are said to be the roots of Trump’s approach.

The president stressed that during his first overseas trip as president, he would be “visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic faiths.” The irony was palpable, at least to some of us. Trump is not visiting the holiest places of Islam.

Yes, upon departing Saudi Arabia, he headed to Israel where he prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In the offing is a jaunt to Rome, to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Francis. But for all the treacle about “why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation [Saudi Arabia] that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic faith,” Trump sidestepped the fact that he is not welcome in those two sites, Mecca and Medina.

Why? Because the president is a non-Muslim. Non-Muslims are not allowed to step their infidel feet in Islam’s sacred cities.

That iteration of Islamic intolerance is squarely based on scripture — see, e.g., the Koran’s Sura 9:28: “Oh you who believe! Truly the idolaters are unclean, so let them not, after this year, approach the sacred mosque” — a verse that specifically relates to the Grand Mosque in Mecca (Makkah), and has been extended by Islamic scholars to Medina. That is why Trump’s House of Saud hosts enforce a ban on entry by non-Muslims to both cities.

I say that this ban is just one “iteration of Islamic intolerance” for two reasons.

First, there are many other iterations. Scripturally based Islamic doctrine systematically discriminates against non-Muslims in many particulars, and against women in many others. Since Trump’s “principled realism” is said to be rooted in “common values,” it might be worth a gander at the guidance Trump’s State Department provides to Americans pondering a trip to the kingdom:

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, imprisoned, subject to physical punishments, or even executed. Penalties for the import, manufacture, possession, and consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs in Saudi Arabia are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, public floggings, and/or deportation. The penalty for drug trafficking is death . . .

Faith-Based Travelers: Islam is the official religion of the country and pervades all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi authorities do not permit criticism of Islam, religious figures, or the royal family.

The government prohibits the public practice of religions other than Islam. Non-Muslims suspected of violating these restrictions have been jailed. Church services in private homes have been raided, and participants have been jailed.

Muslims who do not adhere to the strict interpretations of Islam prevalent in much of Saudi Arabia frequently encounter societal discrimination and constraints on worship.

Public display of non-Islamic religious articles, such as crosses and Bibles, is not permitted.

[And, of course . . .] Non-Muslims are forbidden to travel to Makkah (Mecca) and Medina, the cities where two of Islam’s holiest mosques are located . . .

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual relations, even when they are consensual, are criminalized in Saudi Arabia. Violations of Saudi laws governing perceived expressions of, or support for, same sex sexual relations, including on social media, may be subject to severe punishment. Potential penalties include fines, jail time, or death.

The State Department guidance suggests that readers consult the International Religious Freedom Report produced in 2015 by State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. It relates the brutal punishments meted out by some Islamic countries — not jihadist organizations, but governments in Muslim-majority countries — for blasphemy and apostasy. The paragraph on the Kingdom is worth reading:

In Saudi Arabia, media and local sources reported that the General Court in Abha sentenced Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh to death for apostasy in November, overturning a previous sentence of four years’ imprisonment and 800 lashes (the death sentence was subsequently overturned in February 2016 and a sentence of eight years’ imprisonment and 800 lashes imposed). Officials from the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice initially arrested Fayadh in August 2013, after reports that he had made disparaging remarks about Islam. In a separate incident in January, authorities publicly lashed Raif Badawi 50 times in accordance with a sentence based on his 2013 conviction for violating Islamic values, violating sharia, committing blasphemy, and mocking religious symbols on the Internet.

This is why, watching Trump and his senior aides prance about the palace in Riyadh, doing “the sword dance” with their fellow male revelers, I couldn’t help but wonder if they realized how often their host regime uses the scimitars to carry out beheadings for violations of Islamic law. There were 153 decapitations last year and 158 in 2015.

It is worth emphasizing: That is not something that was done by ISIS for violations of sharia. It was done by the government of Saudi Arabia for violations of sharia.

Which brings us to the second reason why Islamic intolerance must be noted in our consideration of “principled realism”: That intolerance is the foundation of “extremism,” the studiously unexamined term Trump now applies to jihadist terrorism, just as Obama and Bush did before him.

There was much ado in the lead up and delivery of Trump’s speech regarding how he would describe the phenomenon he labeled “radical Islamic terrorism” throughout the 2016 campaign — ridiculing the craven political correctness of rivals who shied away from this terminology. As with much else Trump said on the hustings, the label is the subject of intense infighting in his administration.

Reflecting the view of former military commanders who serve in the administration’s top ranks (and who carried out Bush’s “Islamic democracy” building and Obama’s embrace of our Islamic “partners”), national-security adviser H. R. McMaster is said to be repulsed by the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” apparently seeing it as needlessly provocative. Other Trump strategists, who supported the campaign’s promise to be unflinching in illustrating the nexus between Islamic scripture and Muslim terrorism, strongly favor the term. Trump, who simultaneously wants (a) profitable relations with the Saudis, (b) the refutation of claims that he is anti-Muslim, and (c) credit for being honest about the connection between Islam and terror, seems torn.

The intramural squabble was evident during the speech. As prepared, the text had the president calling for “honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires” (emphasis added). But when he actually delivered his remarks, Trump departed from the script, speaking instead of “honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.”

An unidentified aide insisted to the New York Times that the president was “exhausted” and simply misspoke when he invoked “Islamic.” To the contrary, I believe he is struggling to resolve this tension. As I pointed out prior to his inauguration, however, it is unclear that Trump grasps why the tension is significant: For him, it may reflect concern over the inevitable criticism if he abandons hot campaign rhetoric, not over whether the distinction between Islamic and Islamist is viable.

We draw this distinction out of a conviction that Islam the religion should not be confounded with Islamism the political ideology. This conviction may be more a matter of wishful thinking than anything that can be called “realism.” That is manifest when we review the afore-described State Department guidance. Intolerance of non-Muslims and subjugation of women is not a reflection of jihadist “extremism”; it is mainstream Islam as practiced and codified in sharia societies.

So here is the problem: The definition of “extremism” that Trump’s “principled realism” sets itself against is artificial and incoherent. It is true, of course, that not all Muslims who support the intolerance rooted in Islamic doctrine and expressed by the policies of majority-Muslim regimes will become violent jihadists. Nonetheless, violent jihad is a natural progression from that intolerance. Yet Trump’s “principled realism” holds that the American people and sharia societies share “common values” that will cause the latter to fight jihadism.

How could anyone believe this is the case unless he is willfully blind to how the kingdom is governed, the longstanding support Saudis have provided for terrorism, and the number of Saudis complicit in anti-American terrorism? Trump is trying to have it both ways: acknowledge that the threat is ideological (and demand plaudits for brave political incorrectness in doing so), but pretend that the violent aspects of the ideology can be — indeed, have been — compartmentalized from the intolerant dehumanization of non-Muslims at the core of the ideology.

If this is Trump’s position, then why all the fuss about “extreme vetting”?

If you are myopically focused on terrorism, you are missing most of the challenge posed by sharia encroachment.

The imperative to enhance the vetting process for people trying to enter the U.S. from hotbeds of radical Islam was a major plank of the Trump campaign. It is the eventual goal hovering over disputes over temporary travel bans the president has tried to impose since the start of his administration. But does anyone remember the objective of “extreme vetting”? It was to bar entry to those adherent to the ideology (which I prefer to call “sharia supremacism”) that promotes not just terrorism but anti-Americanism and anti-constitutionalism. Our immigration law already vets for ties to terrorism.

In his “principled realism” speech, however, the president takes the position that we’re only concerned about violence. “We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do,” he says. Our “goal is . . . to conquer extremism” — a term the president narrows to mean terrorism — lest he insult his “gracious hosts.” If you are myopically focused on terrorism, however, you are missing most of the challenge posed by sharia encroachment. Jihadist terror is not pointless; its purpose is to impose sharia — a version of it similar to what the Saudis enforce.

The president is up in a balloon because, as he explained in his speech, he has “signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.” Perhaps his strategists could inform the president that when Saudi Arabia invests in America, the result invariably includes the construction of schools and mosques that propagate the ideology that causes the State Department to issue the travel guidance outlined above. (See, e.g., my 2010 profile of the Dar al-Hijra mosque in Virginia.)

According to the president, “principled realism” is based not only on purported “common values” but also “shared interests.” That does make sense. The Trump administration is returning American foreign policy to its pre-Obama orientation against the Shiite jihadist regime in Iran. The Sunni states also oppose Iran. That is the “shared interest.” It is a significant area of agreement, but a narrow one. We should not delude ourselves into thinking it signifies “common values.”

In a passage that could as easily have been spoken by President Bush, and probably even by President Obama, President Trump asserted:

This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between Good and Evil [capitalization in White House-issued text].

So we’re back to the question whether Islam has anything to do with Islamist (or Islamic) terrorism.

I’ll take it from the Saudi perspective. Let’s say, as the president does, that we are truly engaged in a battle between good and evil. When you read the State Department’s guidance regarding travel to Saudi Arabia — guidance that is necessary because of the way the Saudi government treats non-Muslims, women, apostates, and homosexuals — do you suppose the Saudis and their Sunni confederates see the United States as the “good” or the “evil” side?

President Trump is banking on the former. I’m not.

Vox Voxplains Radical Islam As No Threat To Americans Or The West

Photo U.S. Department of Defense / Public Domain

The Federalist, by  Megan G. Oprea, May 12, 2017:

Will Wilkinson at Vox wants to warn us about the strange men influencing President Trump’s White House and pushing for the Muslim ban. But instead of settling for a reasonable critique of their beliefs—and there is certainly much to criticize—he opts for a full-throated insistence that there are no reasonable arguments to be made that radical Islam poses any threat to the United States or Western civilization.

Wilkinson begins by attacking the idea that there’s going to be an all-out war with Islam. Here, he focuses on Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart executive and Trump’s advisor, who has said, “We’re in a world war against a messianic mass movement of evil people, most of them inspired by a totalitarian ideology: Radical Islam.” I won’t defend Bannon’s views, because I don’t agree with many, but I will point out the confused assertions Wilkinson makes, showing his limited knowledge not only of Islam but of international affairs.

Wilkinson compares the military budgets and economic strengths of the United States and its NATO allies with those of the nine top-spending Muslim-majority countries, pointing out that the West has the obvious advantage. He’s right that radical Islam can’t really pose a threat to the United States or its NATO allies in military capacity to conduct traditional warfare. Then again, no one is really arguing that point.

Wilkinson goes on to dismiss Iran as a threat by simply saying it “spends less on its military than Canada.” Never mind the danger Iran poses throughout the Middle East, most specifically to our ally Israel, and the questionable status of its nuclear program. He also argues that Pakistan, the only Muslim nuclear power, is of no concern because we’re allies.

Yes, Lots of Muslims Support Hostile and Radical Policies

Finally, he acknowledges that “this is an exceedingly silly exercise. It shows only that even if the entire Muslim world were hostile to the United States, and unified in that hostility, it would not pose much of a threat. But how many radical anti-US Muslims are there? Not many. Again, the vast majority of the world’s 1.7 billion Muslims live in countries with which the US is friendly.”

He’s right that it’s a silly exercise. One of the reasons it’s silly is because he conflates the official position of a Muslim country’s government toward the United States with the number of “radical anti-US Muslims” in that country. Wilkinson apparently thinks that because Pakistan is officially a U.S. ally, its population must not adhere to a fundamentally anti-liberal interpretation of Islam, and the number of Pakistanis who do have those beliefs must be inconsequential.

In fact, vast numbers of Pakistanis inside and outside their government do have radical beliefs about Islam, which certainly made a difference in sheltering Osama bin Laden for ten years.

Wilkinson can barely bring himself to acknowledge that “Muslims in countries in which Islam is already recognized as the official religion do tend to support the integration of sharia into their countries’ legal codes.” In the Pew study he cites, this “tendency” is overwhelming in the largest Muslim-majority countries. He can’t come to terms with this because he doesn’t understand that in most of the Muslim world, although certainly not all, the integration of government and religion isn’t radical. It’s simply what Islam calls for, because Islam is a fundamentally political religion.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t alternative interpretations of Islam that reject that notion. There certainly are, especially among Muslims living in the West. But they aren’t even close to the majority in the Muslim world.

So why should we care whether Muslims outside the West want Sharia law or ascribe to fundamentalist views if it’s not an “existential threat,” as Wilkinson points out? We should care when it involves human rights, like equality for women and the LGBT community, or when it threatens our allies, like Israel, or promotes instability in a region, like in Syria and Iraq, or when it means sheltering terrorists who are plotting attacks against America. We should care, for example, when Jakarta’s Christian governor is imprisoned for insulting the Quran.

All Who Notice Radical Islam Are Not Steve Bannon

Wilkinson sets up a straw-man argument in which Bannon supposedly represents anyone who argues that there are real and threatening trends in the Muslim world that could not only affect Western liberal values but threaten the growth of peace, equality, and democracy around the world. Since Bannon is such an easy target, and has many oversized, sometimes hysterical, opinions about Islam, it’s easy to knock him down.

Although Wilkinson does acknowledge the existence of al-Qaeda and ISIS, he argues that “from the perspective of empirically grounded risk assessment, this barely ranks as a minor threat to American or Western life and limb. The threat to European or American civilization is zilch.” Again, another handy conflation, this time between the risk of a wholesale military defeat and the wearing away at the Western values of freedom, democracy, and the separation of church and state.

Here, Wilkinson shifts gear to attack the proposition that there’s a threat from “stealth jihad,” what he calls an intellectual “retreat” for those bested by his arguments against the all-out war theory.

A key assumption of stealth jihad propaganda is that something like ISIS’s fundamentalist vision of Islam — the medieval elements, the torture, the beheadings, the obsession with building a caliphate — is indeed the genuine article. On this view, Islam is essentially committed to the imposition of religious law, or sharia, on believers and nonbelievers alike.

In their heart of hearts, therefore, all Muslims are committed to replacing secular political authority with Islamic religious law. This makes Islam an inherently seditious doctrine impossible to square with loyalty to a secular liberal-democratic regime.

First, most of the people who are worried about stealth jihad are not concerned that we are going to begin seeing torture and beheadings in the West. As for the concept of building a caliphate and the implementation of Islamic law, as noted earlier Wilkinson is apparently unaware of some very basic concepts within Islam, not to mention beliefs held by the majority of Muslims around the world. But let’s just look at Muslims in the West.

There Is Good Data on Western Muslims, Lots of It Scary

Wilkinson claims that “There’s no good data on Muslim support for the incorporation of sharia into the official law of Western liberal democracies, because it’s irrelevant. Muslims are very small minorities throughout Europe and North America.” Offering only the example of German Muslims of Turkish descent as proof of how un-radical Muslims living in Western countries are, he points out that only 12 percent of Turks want to replace German law with Islamic law.

What he fails to note is that young Muslims in Western countries tend to hold far more radical views than the older generation does. A BBC poll from 2007 found that 36 percent of Muslims in the United Kingdom aged 16 to 24 think Muslims should be killed if they convert to another religion. Seventy-four percent think women should wear a veil. Eighty percent of young Turks in the Netherlands don’t think it’s wrong to commit jihad against a non-believer.

If there is no problem with integration, and if so few Muslims in the West believe in sharia, jihad, or any other number of fundamentalist values, then why is it that after the Bataclan massacre in Paris, it took police months to find the prime suspect because he was being hidden and sheltered in the largely Muslim Molenbeek neighborhood in Belgium?

Wilkinson thinks it’s crazy to believe that Muslims “seek to replace secular, democratic government with sharia,” but he’s willing to grant it to make the point that, even so, there are so few Muslims in the West that it doesn’t matter. “The means by which such tiny minorities could assert control in strong states dominated by other religions and robust liberal norms remains utterly mysterious.” Yet we’ve seen both here in the United States and in Europe the extent to which the Left bends over backward to accommodate Muslim communities and push back against any criticism of them whatsoever.

Whenever the topic of women’s rights in the Muslim world is brought up, there’s always a backlash from the Left, which prefers its multiculturalism to its feminism. Or take the Rotherham sex abuse scandal, in which city officials didn’t pursue evidence of a child sex ring because the perpetrators were of Pakistani origin and they were afraid of being accused of Islamophobia. Or the fact that whenever there’s a terrorist attack in the West perpetrated by a Muslim, there’s a stampede to insist it has nothing to do with Islam, despite the avowal of the attacker himself.

These efforts are significantly supported by Islamist organizations in the United States like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has taken upon itself to be the spokesman for American Muslims, pushing out more moderate voices, and which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, a terrorist organization. It would seem, contra Wilkinson, that fundamentalist interpretations of Islam do, indeed, have a strong influence in the West, despite being a small minority.

The Truth Is, the Muslim World Is Largely Illiberal

Unlike Wilkinson, I am not interested in making radical and absolutist claims. I don’t think we’re at war with Islam; I don’t think we’re about to see beheadings codified into law; and I don’t anticipate an imminent global battle between Western countries and Muslim countries.

I do, however, think that the Muslim world, while home to many kind and charitable people, is also largely illiberal—and that in itself is a problem that we should care about. The majority of Muslims in the West, especially in the United States, tend to be a self-selecting group of people open to moderate interpretations of Islam, which is one reason they have settled in the West to begin with.

But they are not all like that, and their voice is not as weak as Wilkinson would have us believe. What is most worrisome is the increasing de facto censorship of any criticism of Islam, even in its most extremist manifestations. That, not roving bands of machete-wielding mujahedeen, is what threatens Western civilization and liberal values.

Wilkinson concludes with an obtuse declaration that “In the real world…the idea that anything at all about the West could be threatened by ‘stealth jihad’ is either an expression of studied ignorance or a form of malicious religious intolerance.” His reductive argument would have been infinitely stronger had he understood the issue not as black and white, as a choice between believing the armies of Islam are marching on the West or denying there’s any reason for concern.

But Wilkinson made no real effort to persuade, which is why he’ll fail to convince anyone who doesn’t already agree with him. Then again, maybe his purpose was not to persuade, but merely to signal his own virtue.

Megan G. Oprea is editor of the foreign policy newsletter INBOUND. She holds a PhD in French linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Free Speech and Islam: Fired for Reporting the Truth

Simply tweeting video of a Muslim student characterizing his religion on an interfaith panel cost me my job.

National Review, By Andy Ngo — May 12, 2017:

Last month, I attended an interfaith panel discussion, “Unpacking Misconceptions,” at Portland State University, where I’m a political-science graduate student. I ended up being fired as the multimedia editor of our student newspaper, the Vanguard, for tweeting about what was said there.

Much of the discussion was uncontroversial. The students on the panel mainly shared complaints of what they perceived as misconceptions about their religions. A Hindu student lampooned author Reza Aslan for his depiction of Hinduism on CNN’s Believer, which showed a minority sect’s practice of eating human flesh. A Jewish student said most Jews don’t have payot, the side curls worn by some Orthodox Jewish men. An atheist student spoke on behalf of a secular-humanist worldview and challenged the audience to think about how we as a society can develop our own moral framework without religion.

At one point, a woman in the audience asked the Muslim student if a specific verse in the Koran actually permitted the killing of non-Muslims. “I can confidently tell you, when the Koran says an innocent life, it means an innocent life, regardless of the faith, the race, like, whatever you can think about as a characteristic,” he began.

At this point, I took out my mobile phone and began recording as he continued:

And some, this, that you’re referring to, killing non-Muslims, that [to be a non-believer] is only considered a crime when the country’s law, the country is based on Koranic law — that means there is no other law than the Koran. In that case, you’re given the liberty to leave the country, you can go in a different country, I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. So you can go in a different country, but in a Muslim country, in a country based on the Koranic laws, disbelieving, or being an infidel, is not allowed so you will be given the choice [to leave].

Although I was not there officially as a reporter to cover the event, I shared a 40-second snippet of the video on my personal Twitter account, with a message that conveyed my understanding of the speaker’s meaning — namely, that non-Muslims would be killed or banished in a state governed by Koranic law:

At @Portland_State interfaith panel today, the Muslim student speaker said that apostates will be killed or banished in an Islamic state. pic.twitter.com/YpsVSB1w9P

— Andy C. Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) April 27, 2017

I later posted a longer version of the video in a follow-up tweet to provide more context:

.@Portland_State Here is full clip that I recorded. An audience member asked about Quran 5:51 & “infidels.” He summarizes Quran 5:32 just before video starts pic.twitter.com/7FMgsPbFR6

— Andy C. Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) April 27, 2017

This longer video includes a response by someone in the audience who disagreed with the speaker, saying it was “perfectly okay for non-Muslims to live in Muslim lands.” The audience member cited the existence of religious-minority communities in the Middle East as an example of Islamic tolerance.

Four days later, the editor-in-chief of my school newspaper called me into a meeting. The paper’s managing editor was also present. They asked me about a Breitbart piece describing the event. It was the first time I’d seen the piece, which included my tweets and a tweet from one of the panelists.

My editor, whom I deeply respected at the time, called me “predatory” and “reckless,” telling me I had put the life and well-being of the Muslim student and his family at risk. She said that my tweets implied the student advocated the killing of atheists. Another person in the meeting said I should have taken into account the plight of victimized groups in the “current political climate.” The editor claimed I had “violated the paper’s ethical standards” by not “minimizing harm” toward the speaker.

As far as I’m concerned, the job of any reporter is to report facts, and that’s what I was doing when I tweeted about the panel.

All these accusations were shocking to me. Moments after publishing the original video, I shared the tweet with the editor and a Vanguard reporter who was at the event. Neither of them expressed any outrage in response back then. The tweets apparently only became “predatory” and “reckless” when conservative sites picked up on them.

In my defense, I told the two editors that I had simply been relating the speaker’s words. While dozens of Muslim states do not consider apostasy or blasphemy a crime, 13 Muslim-majority countries punish these actions with death. The speaker was admitting as much, and as someone who has covered the persecution of atheists and apostates in Muslim countries, I considered that newsworthy.

Nevertheless, my editor turned to me and said, “We have to ask you to step aside.” She said I had “a history” of affiliation with conservative media, and argued that that history was toxic to the “reputation of the Vanguard.”

The Vanguard rejected my original idea for this piece when I pitched it to them, citing concerns that it would cause the unnamed Muslim panelist further distress. For my own part, I remain baffled by my former editors’ reasoning. As far as I’m concerned, the job of any reporter is to report facts, and that’s what I was doing when I tweeted about the panel. I find it distressing that I could be fired for continuing to uphold that mission when the facts in question are liable to make people uncomfortable, as facts often are. Much like the student I spoke to that evening at the panel, I was disinclined to sugarcoat the truth. I just couldn’t have imagined it would cost me so dearly.

— Andy Ngo is a graduate student in political science at Portland State University. He is the former multimedia editor of the Portland State Vanguard.

Links Between Islamism and Executions

Gatestone Institute, by Majid Rafizadeh, May 10, 2017:

  • People have, it seems, often been arrested or detained on the basis of a rumor; then convicted without trial, counsel or often even the chance to mount a defense.
  • As Amnesty International points out, “In many countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the proceedings did not meet international fair trial standards. In some cases, this included the extraction of ‘confessions’ through torture or other ill-treatment”.
  • The laws under which these people are sentenced to death are often not only vague and open to interpretation. Charges that warrant the death penalty, for instance, include being “corrupt on earth”, “enemies of Allah on Earth”, or alleged “crimes against chastity”. What exactly does “corrupt on earth” or “enemies of Allah on Earth” mean?

Just how strict and brutal it is to enforce Islamic law, sharia, has now been revealed by Amnesty International.

Amnesty’s study, which details the number of reported executions around the world, clearly maps out the most at-risk populations. Lands ruled predominantly by sharia are apparently the most vulnerable to multitudes of executions without fair trials. At the top of the list, with the most executions, are those nations that enforce Islamic sharia law. Despite many human rights violations, these nations, apparently undeterred, continue to execute their citizens.

Sharia makes those in authority infallible and untouchable. Therefore, whatever the government or those in power deem to be “just” can be carried out without question or consequence. Under sharia law and the Islamic penal code, executions can be carried out in sickening forms. Those convicted may be beheaded, hanged, stoned, or shot to death.

As disturbing as the numbers in the report may be, they do not represent the reality that the citizens in these nations across the world face every day. There is, evidently, a connection between radical Islamist governments and extremist groups. The report does not include the gruesome executions that are carried out on a regular basis by extremist Islamist groups and non-state fundamentalists, such as members of the Islamic State (ISIS) and their affiliated groups.

These executions include, as we have seen, slitting throats, burning alive, drowning alive and crucifixion.

If these acts were included in the Amnesty International report, the total number of executions committed under the authority of Islamist law would be far higher. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, for example, pointed out that the Islamic State executed 33 people in the first week of April alone.

The report also did not include the number of Westerners being shot, executed and terrorized by Islamist groups. Many of these, such as ISIS, Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), the Badr Organization, Or Kata’ib al-Imam Ali (the Imam Ali Battalions), are funded and trained by Islamist governments and oil-rich, unaccountable leaders.

Mass executions are evidently also being carried out by both extremist Islamist governments and Islamist groups. A culture of executions, often extra-judicial, as in Pakistan, seems to run rampant within the borders of these countries. Without any consequences for this horrifying disregard for human life, the numbers will only increase.

In Pakistan, Asia Bibi (pictured with two of her five children), a Christian, sits on death row for “blasphemy.” Asia’s “crime” was to use the same water glass as her Muslim co-workers. “You defiled our water,” the Muslim women told her.

Both Islamist governments and Islamist groups justify their brutal acts by referring to the “religious” Islamist legitimacy of their murders. Members of fundamentalist Islamist governments, to legitimize these types of atrocities, also exploit the right of “sovereignty”: they point out that they belong independent state with a fully operating and “legal” judiciary.

In the Amnesty International report, the Iran ranked number one, per capita, in executing people. It also accounted for 66% of all officially recorded executions in the region. Again, this amount only represents those executions that were officially registered.

It is also critical to point out that the statistics Amnesty International provides were given by the very governments that carried out the executions. This method means that those in power were the ones to calculate and decide what number should officially represent their country. The unofficial number is thought to be even higher. There is nothing to stop governments from simply keeping the true number to themselves.

Executions carried out under the strict governmental laws of sharia and Islamist judicial systems can have even more grotesque characteristics. The high number of executions included children, some convicted before the age of 18. Death sentences may frequently have lacked due process and what many would consider acceptable standards of proof. People have, it seems, often been arrested or detained on the basis of a rumor; then convicted without trial, counsel or often even the chance to mount a defense. As Amnesty International points out, “In many countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the proceedings did not meet international fair trial standards. In some cases, this included the extraction of ‘confessions’ through torture or other ill-treatment”.

Prisoners’ vulnerabilities also had no bearing on their executions. Even those seriously ill were executed. Mass executions or stoning could be ordered and then carried out within a very short time, sometimes within days, giving those convicted no time to mount any form of appeal.

The laws under which these people are sentenced to death are often not only vague and open to interpretation. Charges that warrant the death penalty, for instance, include being “corrupt on earth”, “enemies of Allah on Earth”, or alleged “crimes against chastity”. What exactly does “corrupt on earth” or “enemies of Allah on Earth” mean? There are no guidelines to establish guilt or innocence. Those in power are therefore able to decide who has violated what laws on what can only be a capricious basis. Islamist sheikhs, imams, or judges can subjectively interpret charges any way they like. A charge of being “corrupt on earth” can apply to having fun at a party or writing poetry that government decides is critical of it. A charge of being “corrupt on earth” can apply to someone who is homosexual, someone who is claimed to have committed adultery, or who has simply declined to accepted an unwanted advance. It can mean anyone who has done anything that the ruling leaders dislike.

These Islamist laws, moreover, also serve as a perfect tool for exploitation. A woman finding herself accused of breaking a law may be assured that if she agrees to sleep with a judge, for instance, he will interpret the law in a lenient way and protect her from the death penalty. After a woman submits to this, she can be executed nevertheless. Sometimes girls are forced into sighah — the Shiite Islamist law of temporary marriage — with a cleric, or a governmental official; after “consummating” it, they can also be put to death.

What does a charge such as “crimes against chastity” mean under sharia? This accusation can apply to a girl who has been raped. Instead of the law providing protection for the victim and consequences for the rapist, the victim is accused of the crime of “adultery”, convicted without a fair trial, and swiftly executed.

When Islamist laws enter a land, it seems the number of stonings, beheadings, and executions goes up.

Leaders of these nations can use this flexibility to terrorize and control entire societies, expand their power, export their ideology, and ensure that there is no opportunity to resist. More disturbing is that those numbers are just a portion of the truth.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, political scientist and Harvard University scholar is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is author of “Peaceful Reformation in Iran’s Islam“. He can be reached at Dr.rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu.

New Film Documents Muslim Genocide on Christians in the Middle East (Video)

Creeping Sharia, May 7, 2017:

Source: Faithkeepers: New Roma Downey Film Documents Christian Genocide in the Middle East | The Stream

“We want to say ‘never again,’” said Paula Kweskin, film producer, of genocide, “but in the last two decades we’ve seen so many instances of it. Why haven’t we changed?” she asked during an interview with The Stream. Kweskin has just produced a new documentary that details the horror of genocide, kidnappings and rape in the Middle East.

Documenting Genocide

Faithkeepers is a documentary of the Christian, Yadizi and other minorities genocide. Witnesses and victims of violence tell the story of how Christians and other minorities are literally being wiped out in the Middle East by ISIS and Muslim infighting. According to Kweskin, it’s a story that needed to be told.

Kweskin met Juliana Taimoorazy, an Assyrian-Christian activist, and learned of her harrowing story of escaping the Middle East. It was then that she decided to do the human rights project. Kweskin teamed up with Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel, among others) and Clarion Project to produce the film.

Protecting Those Who Bear Witness

But it wasn’t easy to get people to speak on camera. Some of those interviewed were glad to tell their story. Others were hesitant and wanted to be filmed in shadow. “It depend[ed] on how people responded to the trauma,” said Kweskin. Those interviewed saw beheadings of family members or experienced torture, kidnapping and rape. Others may have relatives still living in dangerous areas.

‘If I die, I die as a Christian’

It isn’t random violence. Christians, Yadizis and other faith minorities are tortured and killed because they won’t convert to Islam. Their churches and places of worship are destroyed. One woman described how she and her son watched his father be beheaded. Her son stopped talking. Another woman described how women drank rat poison to avoid the torture at ISIS’ hands. ISIS said they wouldn’t let the women die so easily. ISIS took them to the hospital where their stomachs were pumped. Another woman who was raped and tortured explained why she endured the horror. “My only wish was that if I die … I die as a Christian.”

Those who want to help can visit Faithkeepers‘ website. Screenings will also be held in churches nationwide beginning on May 23 for one month.

Also  see:

Experiment with terrorist rehab fails 1st U.S. test

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the existence of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria and all ISIS fighters are required to swear an oath to support him as their caliph. Is it possible to ‘rehab’ an ISIS terrorist? The federal government thinks so and is trying to test the concept out on a Somali man who tried to leave Minnesota to join ISIS.

WND, by Leo Hohmann, May 7, 2017:

After six Somali refugees were convicted of plotting to board planes and join ISIS in Syria, a U.S. federal judge in Minnesota decided to enroll one of them in an experimental terrorist rehabilitation program.

The program was developed in Europe and operates on the principles of the “countering violent extremism” or CVE, which is also part of the global, United Nations-supported Strong Cities Network.

Rather than going to prison, Abdullahi Mohamed Yusuf, 21, was sentenced in November to a 20-year supervised release. He was granted time served and sent to live in a halfway house. He receives counseling, reports to a probation officer and wears an ankle monitor but is otherwise free to come and go.

Abdullahi Mohamed Yusuf same to U.S. as a child refugee from Somalia but tried to leave and fight for ISIS.

But less than six months from the time he was released, Yusuf has already hit a road block.

He was returned to federal custody last week for allegedly failing a polygraph test and watching a documentary about ISIS in Europe.

According to a report by a U.S. probation officer, Yusuf failed a polygraph while under questioning, then admitted to watching CNN’s “ISIS: Behind the Mask,” a film about a Belgian ISIS soldier that was on TV April 18 at his halfway house, the Star-Tribune reported.

The terms of his 20-year supervised release include a provision that Yusuf not “possess, view, access, or otherwise use material that reflects extremist or terroristic views or as deemed to be inappropriate by the U.S. Probation Office.”

It’s all part of a “unique approach to supervising federal terrorism cases,” the Star-Tribune reports. This approach was approved by federal Judge Michael Davis and the U.S. District Court’s Probation and Pretrial Services department, which chose the Minnesota case to introduce the country’s first terrorism “disengagement and deradicalization” program.

In essence, they would try to “deradicalize” the young jihadist.

The program is based on evaluations and training from German researcher Daniel Koehler, who concluded that Yusuf had “a medium to low risk of future offending and a comparatively advanced stage of disengagement,” according to court filings.

Almost everyone in Minnesota law enforcement is not on board with the controversial program, sources tell WND. And groups that try to educate police on the religious underpinnings of jihad are typically closed out of the discussion.

Even citizens find it hard to get the ear of their local sheriff or police chief, says Debra Anderson, the ACT for America chapter leader for Minnesota.

“It’s CVE at the highest level down to the local level and even though the grassroots activists are trying to train our law enforcement it’s almost impossible to even get these guys to have a meeting with you,” Anderson told WND. “I get doors shut in my face every day.”

Philip Haney, who spent more than a dozen years screening for jihadists at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before retiring in 2015, told WND that Minnesota is not the first to experiment with the idea that terrorists can be rehabilitated.

He says it’s been tried many times, in many places, including the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp.

The concept, that religiously motivated terrorists can be reformed, finds its roots in the “countering violent extremism” movement – an approach that began in Europe and was brought to the U.S. by the Obama administration.

“Rehabilitation is part of CVE. In fact, the idea that terrorists can be rehabilitated is woven into the overall CVE concept,” said Haney, co-author of the book “See Something Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad.”

“But the bottom line is these programs have been demonstrable failures,” he said. “They started with Saudi Arabia rehabbing Gitmo prisoners, and it’s actually achieved the opposite results.”

According to data released in March, the intelligence community has confirmed a total of 121 former Gitmo detainees have re-entered the battlefield. Another 87 former detainees are suspected of rejoining the ranks of their brother terrorists. The total of 208 confirmed and suspected terrorists makes up 30 percent of all those released from Gitmo.

Sweden and Denmark have also engaged in a concerted effort to rehab their jihadists.

“They’re trying it out in Denmark now, but there’s no real quantifiable way of demonstrating the program is effective because they universally overlook the real source of what they call ‘radicalization,’ and no program will ever work if you overlook the source of what is causing this violent behavior,” Haney said.

Such attempts completely ignore the original source of inspiration for Islamic violence – the Islamic texts, which include the Quran and hadiths – the reported words and deeds of the prophet Muhammad, Haney said.

Rehab in Denmark

Morten Storm, a former Danish al-Qaida member, told Newsweek he dismisses the experiment on its face.

“It’s completely ridiculous,” he says. “It means disregarding the life and dignity of the people the jihadists have been terrorizing – simply because the jihadists happen to be Danish. And deradicalizing the jihadists doesn’t work, because they’re religiously motivated. Yes, some may enroll [in the program], but then they’ll go back to the front lines.”

Danish leaders, like Obama’s former U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harp, are striving to pin the causes of terrorism on something other than Islam. Harp famously said it was a lack of jobs in the Middle East that led young men to become terrorists.

But what about here in the U.S. or Europe, where jobs are plentiful and education is often free?

“One school of thought is that the jihadists feel excluded, versus the reality that assimilation into a non-Muslim society is counter to the teachings of Islam, so we’re blaming the host nation for not being inclusive enough and enabling the [Muslim] migrants to be a part of our country when in reality they don’t want to assimilate and be a part of it,” Haney said.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently blamed “Islamophobia” for “fueling the rise in global terrorism.”

Strong Cities Network

On Sept. 29, 2015, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the launch of the Strong Cities Network at United Nations headquarters in New York.

“At that point, CVE went global, it morphed into this Strong Cities Network, part of a much bigger agenda to enable, or refuse to acknowledge, the threat that we face from Islamic terrorism,” Haney said. “The White House all but admitted it didn’t work and yet they tripled the budget for CVE as part of this attempt to provide alternative narratives that transform how we think about terrorism. The focus of law enforcement went from ‘Islamic terrorism’ to ‘violent extremism in all its forms.’”

The U.S. State Department even launched a Twitter campaign in February 2016 to try to deny the Islamic role in terrorism. It was a bust. The year 2016 was the most Islamically violent year in decades with terrorist attacks launched across Europe and the U.S., from Orlando to Paris, Normandy, Nice, Bavaria and Berlin.

And Minneapolis, with its large Somali refugee community admittedly struggling with ISIS and al-Shabab “recruitment problems,” was one of three cities the Obama administration chose in 2014 for CVE pilot programs, along with Boston and Los Angeles.

Minneapolis and L.A. would go the extra step and join the global Strong Cities Network, or SCN.

Minneapolis was one of four initial U.S. cities to sign up for SCN, along with New York, Denver and Atlanta.

Jordanian Prince Zeid Raad Zeid al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, came to New York to help roll out the SCN in September 2015 at the U.N., standing beside Loretta Lynch and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Since then, six more U.S. cities have joined the global policing network – Aurora, Colorado; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Los Angeles; San Diego; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Louisville, Kentucky.

See list of Strong Cities Network member cities worldwide.

So the CVE and Strong Cities Network are inexorably linked, both tracing their U.S. points of origin into the heart of the Obama administration and its effort to take the heat off of Islam and place it onto “right wing” terrorists.

Draining the swamp?

All of this was done without consulting Congress, or with any apparent consideration of states’ rights, or the Constitution itself, says Haney.

Part of the U.N.’s focus is to cultivate global governance through cities, bypassing nation-states. This was made evident in the New Urban Agenda adopted by the Obama administration and more than 100 other world leaders at the Habitat III Conference last year in Ecuador.

As for the Trump administration, it has shown little awareness of the power of these programs, nor has it signaled any sense of urgency in reversing them, Haney said.

“I don’t think they really are aware of how much is really being done [through the U.N.], I think Trump is on a steep learning curve, and he’s touching some of these issues and I give him credit for it,” he said. “The question is whether he has the political courage to go forward, because if he’s going to drain the swamp these are the kinds of programs that need to be drained. They put our sovereignty subject to an outside international body.”

Ignoring history

Most of the government attempts at deprogramming jihadists focus on poverty or some other “subjective” cause that deflects attention from the central issue, Haney said. They also ignore the broad sweep of history.

“Islam is not a subjective ideology, but they’re using subjective terms to try to define a religion that is objectively very well defined … poverty, colonialism, lack of inclusiveness, it has all existed well before modern times,” Haney said. “The ideology existed before the times we live in. We saw it in their crossing the Straights of Gibraltar in 711 A.D. [into Spain]. And we saw it in 732 A.D. exactly 100 years after Muhammad died, when they were invading France, only to be driven out by Charles Martel.”

Another incursion was made in 1683 at the Gates of Vienna, only to be repelled by the Polish King John Sobieski.

The West has been in a 1,300-year, on-and-off war with Islam. It seems the war is back on, but few in the West are aware.

Anderson said the Obama policy of playing nice with terrorists has had a severe impact on her state, which is home to so many Somali Muslims.

“They have fundamentally transformed counter-terrorism from a law-enforcement-based approach, which treated them as criminals with all the rights of normal defendants and that in itself was the subject of great debate, but Obama took it a step further and transformed the U.S. system from a law-based approach to a civil-rights and civil-liberties approach. So they’ve basically paralyzed our law-enforcement system,” Anderson said.

Gov. Dayton tells detractors: ‘find another state’

Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, speaking openly at a community forum in St. Cloud in October 2015, told residents that anyone who cannot accept living alongside Somali immigrants “should find another state.” Less than a year later, in September 2016, a Somali refugee went on a stabbing spree at the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, injuring 10 people.

“We have a governor who doesn’t listen to us and our mayor in Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, signed us up for Strong Cities Network, so we have it bad here,” Anderson said. “We’re just a sinking state.”

“On the one hand the grassroots is getting it, we’ve circumvented the hostile media, and we’ve traveled around and what I’m learning is the surrounding states are recognizing Minnesota is ground-zero for jihadi training,” Anderson said.

Waleed Idrus al-Maneesey is a radical imam who heads up the Al-Farooq mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota, attended by at least six known terrorists and terrorist supporters.

Dar al-Farooq in Bloomington is one mosque that draws suspicion. It operates under the guidance of imam Walid Idrus al-Maneesey, who is also a member of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, the organization responsible for issuing fatwas in North America.

The mosque supports the Islamic University of Minnesota, which turned out its first graduating class recently with intense training in Shariah law, the Quran and Islamic jurisprudence. At least six Somali terrorism suspects have been known to attend al-Maneesey’s mosque.

And now the Minneapolis police are tolerating an Islamic Shariah cop who patrols the Cedar Riverside neighborhoods looking for violations of Islamic dress and food laws, as well as social interaction deemed inappropriate between the sexes. He has recruited 10 others to work under him and police have not arrested any of them.

Another example of Minneapolis police backing off of Somali Muslim criminal activity occurred last June in the Linden Hills community on Lake Calhoun. For three straight days a gang of Somali thugs terrorized the neighborhood, riding vehicles over lawns, shouting threats of rape and pretending to shoot people on the beach. One neighbor’s dog was beaten. Not a single arrest was made and the police chronically showed up “too late” to catch the thugs when they were called by residents.

“They are more interested in protecting their civil rights and civil liberties than protecting the local population,” Anderson said.

“What the average citizen does not know is they no longer have reliable law enforcement,” she added. “They don’t know that. Linden Hills is a perfect example of that.

“So this is a country gradually surrendering to Islamic sharia law. We are, already, incrementally surrendering. Former Obama-appointed U.S. attorney for Minnesota, Andrew Luger, several times made public statements that showed his bias toward Muslims and against non-Muslims in Minnesota. After the Somali arrests, and after the Brussels, Belgium, terrorist attack he said ‘we’re here to protect you, our Muslim friends, from Islamophobia.’”

San Diego: Ground Zero for Islamic Indoctrination in American Public Schools

San Diego Unified School District trustees have approved a plan to fight Islamophobia and bullying against Muslim students. Concerns about discrimination against Muslims have been expressed on many campuses this year, including at UCSD in the above photo. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/education/sd-me-islam-unified-20170405-story.html

American Thinker, By Janet Levy, May 5, 2017:

With a decade-long history of yielding to Islamic demands and recent, more alarming submissions, San Diego city schools appear to be ground zero for Islamic indoctrination within American public schools.  The current capitulation includes an Islam-centric curriculum with input and resources from a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organization, which raises First Amendment issues as well as serious concerns of favoritism toward Muslims students over students of other faiths.

The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) history of accommodation to the demands of Muslim students began in 2007.  That year, Carver Elementary School in East San Diego ignited controversy when 100 Somali Muslim students transferred from a closed charter school.  To accommodate these new students, the school rescheduled its recess periods to allow a 15-minute break each afternoon for Muslim prayer.  The school also added Arabic to its curriculum and removed pork and other non-halal food from the cafeteria.  The outcry forced the school to rescind the break, but it simply shifted the lunch hour to accommodate Muslim prayer.  SDUSD wasn’t as accommodating to a Christian student in 1993 and was successfully sued when it denied a high school student’s request for a lunchtime Bible study group.

This past week, SDUSD, in collaboration with the Council on American Islam Relations (CAIR), instituted an anti-bullying campaign aimed specifically at protecting Muslims students.  In launching the initiative, SDUSD cited an unsubstantiated study by CAIR claiming that 55% of American Muslim students surveyed in California said they were bullied because of their religion.  The new program will include adding lessons on Islam to the social studies curriculum that emphasize prominent Muslims in history, creating Muslim-only “safe spaces,” adding Muslim holidays to the school calendar, and providing support and resources for Muslim students during Ramadan.

According to Stan Anjan, SDUSD’s executive director of family and community engagement, the new program will focus on promoting a positive image of Islam.  Special disciplinary measures will also be created for the so-called bullying of Muslims cited by CAIR.  Instead of detention, the school plans a “restorative justice” program in which students dialogue with each other about perceived bullying words or actions.  Educational materials on Islam and resource listings will be provided to parents and school personnel as well.

CAIR, “a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas,” according to terrorism expert Steve Emerson, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror-funding case brought by the Justice Department in 2007.  CAIR operatives have repeatedly refused to denounce terrorist groups Hamas and Hezb’allah, and several CAIR executives have been successfully prosecuted and incarcerated for terrorist activities.  CAIR was designated as a terrorist group by the UAE in 2014.

In 2015, Kevin Beiser and Michael McQuary, two members of the SDUSD Board of Education, issued a formal proclamation in support and recognition of CAIR San Diego, citing ten years of “constructive civic engagement” in San Diego and Imperial Counties.  They praised the organization’s work to “promote not only religious and cultural tolerance and understanding but also justice and equality for all who live in the United States.”

CAIR director Hanif Mohebi was specifically complimented for his commitment to “promoting equitable educational opportunity for all students and preparing them to succeed in a culturally diverse society.”  The trustees recognized a community partnership with CAIR in mediating school situations involving “discrimination and other behavioral issue[s]” and announced CAIR’s upcoming tenth anniversary banquet, centered on the theme “Strengthening Our Voices, Advancing Together.”

CAIR, billing itself as a benign Muslim civil rights organization, has long been at the forefront in pressuring schools and businesses to accommodate the special needs of Muslims.  In 2009, CAIR complained of favoritism when Christian students in Roseville, a Detroit suburb, were given permission slips to attend off-site Bible study classes.  Yet CAIR pushed in 2012 for Dearborn public schools to accommodate Muslim prayer on school grounds and early Friday dismissals for Jumu’ah prayers.  The organization has pressured schools to have a say on textbook selection and to feature its own lecturers for school assemblies.  When a public school teacher in Concrete, Washington referenced the Taliban and Hamas while citing examples of the use of violence to bully people, CAIR cried “racism” and called for a federal investigation, saying the teacher had veered off topic to make anti-Muslim statements.  The school district responded that the teacher’s comments were taken out of context.

Mohebi, the head of CAIR San Diego, has been pushing the “anti-Islamophobia” program.  He recently tried to prevent the San Diego Police Department from attending a training session on Islamic terrorism featuring Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the Clarion Project, a nonprofit dedicated to exposing the dangers of Islamic extremism.  Mohebi said officers would be learning “conspiracy theories” from Mauro.  Further, Mohebi importuned that no taxpayer dollars should pay for the training and that the SDPD should not confer continuing education credits for attendance.  In a further attempt to control police training on Islam, Mohebi requested the ability to monitor police training to vouch for its accuracy and to provide clarifications throughout the session.

CAIR’s recent activity and its incursion into the San Diego schools’ curriculum has been criticized by Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF).  LiMandri said the San Diego program represents a “wholesale realignment of school curricula and the students’ learning environment to the recommendations of a religious organization whose stated mission is to “enhance the understanding of Islam” and “empower American Muslims.”

The FCDF maintains that the First Amendment prohibits a government agency from attempting to effect a secular goal by the propagation of religious concepts.  LiMandri points out the litigious pitfalls of a curriculum which could easily be construed as a governmental endorsement of a religion.  He also cautions that CAIR’s interpretation of the term “bullying” could extend to the stifling of criticism of Islam, further impinging on First Amendment protections.

Citizens for Quality Education San Diego, a non-partisan group of citizens concerned about public education, voiced their opposition to the new Islamic-friendly curriculum and characterized it as an attempt to implement at local schools “anti-American sharia law,” incompatible with the U.S. Constitution.  The group criticized the blatant singling out of the Muslim religion for special accommodations and demanded that the policy be rescinded.  Despite widespread community outcry, the district seems to be moving ahead.

If allowed to stand, the SDUSD anti-bullying program – geared specifically to the CAIR-identified needs of Muslim students – could mark a dangerous departure from treasured constitutional principles and First Amendment protections.  This case warrants serious attention, as it has grave implications for the direction of education and the supremacy of Islam in the nation.

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