A Muslim American patriot attacked the Obama administration’s penchant for removing references to Islam and Islamic terms in terror reports — little things like editing Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s 911 call to remove references to the Islamic State and changing “Allah” to “God” — as the real insult to Muslims. Paradoxically, denying the connections to Islam is patronizing, rather than honoring, to our Islamic fellow citizens.
“As a devout Muslim who loves my faith and loves my nation, the de-emphasis of radical Islam is the greatest obstacle to both national harmony and national security,” declared M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Jasser testified at a Senate Judiciary hearing entitled “Willful Blindness” on Tuesday.
“Wholesale denial of the truth by many in our government and political establishment is not only dishonest, it infantilizes Muslims while lying to the American people,” Jasser declared. He also warned that “it emboldens the extremists on both sides of this debate, because the radicals or their cauldrons of Saudi Arabia, Iran end up speaking for Islam.”
He argued that “linking Islamism to Islam” is a serious error. Jasser made an important distinction between the Muslim faith and the political push for an expansion of Sharia (Islamic law) in countries across the world. His organization “was founded by the premise that terrorism, ISIS, Al Qaeda, are symptoms of theocratic beliefs” that Islam should ultimately reject.
“We formed our organization to counter political Islam and separate mosque and state just as the Founding Fathers fought against theocracy,” Jasser declared. This Muslim also showed true patriotism in his response to ISIS’ ideology. Rather than addressing terrorists as lone rogues, inspired by poverty or bad circumstances, he insisted that the Muslim community encourage a heroic dedication to American values in opposition to ISIS’ theocracy.
“ISIS is reaching youth…who are growing up in the West wanting to die for the Islamic State,” and “the only counter to that is not this whack-a-mole of countering extremism, but starting to teach our kids that it would be much more preferable to die for America.”
“If we are on the side of Muslim dissidents, we would be on the sid eof having this debate” about what Islam is and how it differs from political Islam, also known as “Islamism.” He noted that “America was formed on a debate verses theocracy,” and argued that American Muslims “are adult enough to have this debate and do it functionally, without saying that we are having a debate in which we demonize 1.6 billion people.”
While the Obama administration claims to be separating Islam from terrorists by avoiding the phrase “radical Islam,” Jasser argued that the very act of doing so actually harms the Islamic community in the U.S. “I would tell you as a Muslim in this month of Ramadan that we demonize Muslims by letting the Islamists speak for our community,” he said.
Next Page: The battle for the soul of Islam, and how the government’s avoidance of the term “radical Islamic terror” gives the Islamists the higher ground.
“Neither Islam nor Muslims are monolithic,” Jasser added, and “the majority of Americas are smart enough to understand [that saying] the House of Islam has no problems is just as problematic as declaring that Islam and Muslims are the problem. The national security policy of refusing to say that Islam currently has a problem is dangerous.”
The Muslim patriot also argued that Islam does not need to be misogynist, anti-Semitic, or homophobic. “It is time to stop engaging Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups, government, and media, and recognize they are misogynist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic,” Jasser said. “We must at least recognize they are not the only voice for American Muslims and we must make women’s issues and freedom of conscience a litmus test.”
This debate is impossible under the government’s policy, he added. “The refusal to identify political Islam as the root cause and the conveyor belt that creates radical Islam is the greatest obstacle to reforming the ideas that churn out these militants.” In order to identify and combat the ideas of political Islam, “we should be able to have the maturity to engage what does umma mean, what does Wahabism mean, what does Islamism mean, what does Jihad mean?”
“Not to engage those terms is not only dishonest but it actually marginalizes the very Muslims you want and claim to respect,” Jasser declared.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who ran the hearing, praised Jasser for his bravery in testifying on these issues. “I thank you for your courage in defending truth, at risk of great personal vilification and even personal risk. That is a powerful and important demonstration of courage,” Cruz said. Hear hear!