Homeland Security

Facebook and Disney Sponsor Islamist Group MPAC’s Media Awards Honoring Dead Anti-Semitic Activist Jamal Khashoggi

The entrance to Walt Disney Co. corporate headquarters in Burbank, Calif., is seen Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

On the evening of April 14, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) conducted its annual “Media Awards” at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, with the lead honoree named as Jamal Khashoggi, the murdered Washington Post writer, Qatari mouthpiece, activist advocate for the Muslim Brotherhood, and recently revealed virulent anti-Semite.

Following the event, MPAC’s Sue Obeidi, director of the organization’s “Hollywood Bureau,” re-tweeted MPAC National’s listing of the event’s corporate sponsors and said, “So much gratitude. Thank you for making tonight so amazing.” These companies included Facebook, Universal, CBS, and Walt Disney Studios.

What were these media titans sponsoring with their money and legitimizing with their brand? It does not take much searching online to learn that MPAC is hardly an innocent non-profit group merely concerned with supporting Muslim rights and improving Islam’s image in popular culture. MPAC is an organization with roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, a devotion to political activism, and participation in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, a cause founded on anti-Semitism. The group is so controversial that in June 2017 the Department of Homeland Security removed MPAC from a list of organizations to be awarded grants in the Countering Violent Extremism program.

In an authoritative article by Andrew C. McCarthy describing the organization’s history, the former federal prosecutor wrote about the organization’s founders and their public embrace of Islamism and terrorism:

In reality, MPAC is yet another Islamist wolf in the “social justice” clothing of the hard Left. Its founders include Hassan Hathout, the former MPAC president who has described himself as “a close disciple” of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. Hathout’s brother Maher, a senior MPAC adviser, is lavish in his praise of both Hezbollah’s “freedom fighting” and the social-justice pioneering of Hassan al-Turabi, the leader of Sudan’s National Islamic Front — the genocidal junta that gave safe haven to al-Qaeda in the early 1990s while imposing sharia on that war-torn east African nation.

The twitter feed of MPAC’s president Salam Al-Marayati makes the organization’s nature clear enough with its recent claims that “Netanyahu gets an A for Apartheid” and “US and Israel governments violate international law again.” Al-Marayati’s anti-Israel sentiments go back further and hit harder. On September 11, 2001, following the terrorist attacks, Al-Marayati told an LA radio station:

“If we’re going to look at suspects, we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what’s happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies.”

Al-Marayati also called to ally with the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Greater Los Angeles (CAIR-GLA) branch. Since 2014 the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has classified CAIR as a terrorist organization. CAIR and MPAC collaborating is nothing new, for example, both appeared together in 2015 with representatives from the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an Islamist umbrella organization, in support of new plans to combat “Islamophobia.” Al-Marayati was also present when CAIR-GLA’s longstanding executive director Hussam Ayloush made his offensive comments equating Jews serving in the Israeli Defense Force with Muslims joining ISIS.

The dynamic between MPAC and CAIR could be characterized as one of “cool older sister and aggressive younger brother.” MPAC is six years older than CAIR and generally operates more quietly and under the radar, particularly with its behind-the-scenes influence in Hollywood through Obeidi. Whereas CAIR has set up affiliates all over the country, each in search of potential controversies to use to forward the false narrative of widespread “Islamophobia” oppressing Muslims and to simultaneously justify the organization’s existence and generate fodder for more fundraising.

Regarding the evening itself, MPAC claimed that this year’s awards would “celebrate voices that speak truth to power, create more inclusive stories, and spearhead a moment, making it into a movement through telling timely and touching stories.”

There seems a contradiction. Which is it: “speaking truth” or “touching stories”? Fact or fiction? Brain or heart? Truth or lies?

MPAC’s statement blending the two fit the night’s broader theme. Given the mythology that has been promoted around Khashoggi following his murder, it seems a bit ironic that an event based around the creation of popular fictions would center its focus on an Islamist ideologue transformed into a martyr for journalism and freedom. Perhaps part of the motivation for MPAC’s boosting of the Khashoggi fabulism is the hope of planting seeds among the Hollywood elite in attendance to pursue film projects in support of this new narrative.

Given the event’s representation across multiple forms of mainstream media, it is worth considering more deeply the sponsorship of Facebook, Universal, CBS, and Disney. These four corporations’ support of MPAC’s event is not out of the blue. Each one possesses previous contacts of note with MPAC, with Disney, CBS, and NBC (owner of Universal) listed as companies which have consulted with Obeidi. On March 27 MPAC put out a press release boasting that now Facebook was taking its suggestions regarding white supremacist groups on the platform.

If MPAC is not yet actively on the radar of those concerned with Islamism’s influence on American culture then this episode should be a loud wake-up call. MPAC is stealthily advancing Islamist ideology into America’s media, cultural, corporate, and technology powerhouses and it’s time for Hollywood to call “cut” on the organization’s too-long-running charade. MPAC does not speak for moderate Muslims; it is just as radical and untrustworthy as its comrades and kin CAIR, USCMO, Khashoggi and the international Islamist ideological movement which they work to advance.


David M. Swindle is the Southern California associate of the Counter-Islamist Grid. He also works as the Director of Research for The Israel Group. Follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle