Diversity in Utah: Imam on Terror Watch List Delivers Prayer at State Senate

(Facebook video screenshot)

The state of Utah has given us Mitt Romney in the Senate, and as if that weren’t enough punishment, they’re not finished frog-marching us into the glorious multicultural future. In a new display of just how enlightened and woke flyover country can be, the Utah State Senate has had Yussuf Awadir Abdi, imam of the Madina Islamic Center of Utah in Salt Lake City, deliver the opening prayer at one of its sessions. Those who can never let a multiculti love feast go by without throwing a rotting cabbage onto the sofa, however, will have the bad manners to point out that Abdi, for all his doubtless impeccable liberal credentials, is on a terror watch list.


It’s unclear whether or not the Utah solons were aware of Abdi’s exalted status, or if they simply thought it would be too “Islamophobic” to have the temerity to check into his background before inviting him to beseech the Almighty on their behalf. Abdi, for his part, was thrilled, effusing on Facebook: “All praises is due to Allaah who gave me to mention his name and his prayer front of our state senators. Thank you UTAH Muslim Civic league for giving me this opportunity.”

All praises is due to Allaah who gave me to mention his name and his prayer front of our state senators. Thank you UTAH Muslim Civic league for giving me this opportunity.

Posted by Imaam Yussuf Abdi on Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Nor was this a singular event, an oversight from an otherwise vigilant political class. The Madina Islamic Center of Utah’s Facebook page features greetings for the end of last year’s Ramadan from Senator Romney (“Eid Mubarak!” writes Mitt happily, without the slightest indication that he is aware that the mosque’s imam is on the terror watch list). Last October, the Islamic Center noted that “our congressman ben mc Adams came to madina masjid today and we discussed a lot of issues specially our brothers and sisters in Kashmir and much more. Thank you Utah muslim civic league ( UMCL) for working hard to establish a good relationship with the leaders. Good job guys.”


In a similar vein, there is this from January 7: “Today we got chance to meet our governer utah and our new elected mayor during ceremony inauguration and our new mayor will be visiting our mosque madina masjid to meet our muslim community. UTAH always well comes refugees and immigrants.”

All these goodwill meetings took place well after Abdi went to court to challenge his placement on the terror watch list – and lost. The Associated Press reported on April 24, 2018, that “a judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Utah Muslim leader who said he was wrongly placed on a government watch list and temporarily blocked from leaving Kenya with his family last summer. The lengthy screening process undergone by Yussuf Abdi on flights since the trip is inconvenient but not unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson wrote in the decision Monday.”

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Abdi’s lawsuit alleged that he “was added to a watch list in 2014 that let him fly but required extra security measures. He asked to be removed, arguing he had no criminal record and no reason to be on the list.” He was not, however, removed from the list. In November 2019, a U.S. District Court dismissed his lawsuit against “the directors of several federal agencies challenging his placement on the ‘Selectee List,’ a subset of the federal government’s terrorist watchlist, which he alleges subjects him to enhanced screening at the airport and requires the government to label him as a ‘known or suspected terrorist’ and to disseminate that information to government and private entities.”


Would the state senators who invited Abdi to lead them in prayer have similarly welcomed a Christian pastor was on a terror watch list? Probably not, but the political elites now have no need to fear any fallout from cozying up to Abdi and the Islamic Center of Utah. Welcoming Muslims without making any distinction between those who are genuinely peaceful and those who are suspected of pro-terror sympathies is an entirely safe political position to take, and to suggest that such a distinction should be made will only get one dismissed as “Islamophobic.”

The Utah State Senate was happy to welcome imam Yussuf Abdi and bow their heads for his prayer, because the senators know that to do otherwise would be to join the forces that the media elites want us to believe stand only for “hate” and “division.” By having him lead them in prayer they have demonstrated their virtue and insulated themselves against any possible charges of “racism” and “Islamophobia” that might possibly come their way in this overheated age. And that’s all that matters. Might there be good reasons why Abdi is on a watch list, making it imprudent at best to give him and his mosque so many official seals of approval? No one in Utah cares about such questions, and so why should you, you racist, bigoted “Islamophobe”?

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.




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