The PJ Tatler

At Chautauqua Institution, the Truth About Qaradawi and Terrorism Will Out

To fully appreciate the meaning of interfaith dialogues with so-called “moderate” Muslims and friends, consider the apt Sears Optical commercial. “Mama,” Kitty’s myopic owner, fails to see without her glasses. She opens the door to let Kitty in to “snuggle with mama” but instead, a raccoon―known to carry rabies―runs in and jumps in with ‘mama’ on her cozy bed.


Consider this an analogy for a distressing drama in progress at Chautauqua Institution, a strikingly beautiful summer retreat in Chautauqua, N.Y. While enveloped by pastoral landscape, Lake Chautauqua, beautiful houses and gardens, and enriched by music, visual arts, ballet, opera, symphony, chamber music and much more, Chautauqua is opening its doors to another sort of rabid beast.

After toying with the idea for many years, Chautauqua’s religion department this summer announced plans to add a Cordoba House to the Institution’s “Abrahamic family,” to be led by the infamous Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a move it describes as “highly supported by Chautauqua Faith leaders.”

What’s the rush? Why now, when bands of Islamic brigands roam much of the Middle East and Africa, and Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers worldwide endanger Western civilization? Why at this moment, as Islamic jihadists slaughter Christians throughout the entireMiddleEast as well as elsewhere. After all, Chautauqua Institution was founded by Protestant Christians.

Rather than outrage over endemic tyrannical Islamic abuses of Christians, associate religion department director Maureen Rovegno expresses what an objective individual could at best describe as naiveté:

“The only way that this fear [of Islam] can be alleviated, or neutralized, is to get to know each other in a personal way.” As the Psalm goes: ‘How good is it, and how pleasant, when people dwell together in unity’.”


Thus, only this summer, Chautauqua featured five influential Muslim Brotherhood functionaries and apologists as guest speakers: Former Islamic Circle of North America president Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Imam Rauf, DaliaMogahed, KarenArmstrong and John Esposito, a Georgetown University professor and head of its Prince Alwaeed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding, eponymous for the Saudi royal who in 2005 donated $20 million to the center.

Esposito has long espoused views consistent with Brotherhood doctrine and during the 1990′s was known to claim that Islamic fundamentalism, in fact, was democratic and posed no threat to the U.S. Esposito has also served with global Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusef Qaradawi―since 1999 banned for his terror support from entry to the U.S.―at both the Institue of Islamic Political Thought and the Circle of Tradition and Progress as well as the United Association For Studies and Research (USAR), part of the Hamas’ U.S. Muslim Brotherhood support infrastructure.

On Aug. 15, 2014, I tried to question Esposito following his presentation at the Chautauqua Hall of Philosophy. Chaos briefly ensued. I began with a referral to Sheikh Qaradawi, the MB spiritual leader banned in the U.S., and a major supporter of Hamas―the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

I stated:

John Esposito is known to view Sheikh Yusef Qaradawias a “reformist.”

Karen Armstrong considers him a moderate.


Imam Rauf favorably describes him as the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today.”

Dalia Mogahed, a featured Chautauqua speaker during the Week on Egypt, conducted her first interview with Qaradawi on his Islam Online website.

(All four, presumably involved with Chautauqua’s future Muslim House, were the Institution’s guest speakers this summer.)

I intended to share the following data on the horrors that Qaradawi sanctions, authorizes and stands for. Esposito refused to let me read even a small sample of Qaradawi’s edicts:

  Qaradawi condones female genital mutilation;

  Qaradawi endorses  killing Muslims who leave Islam (apostates);

  Qaradawi claims that Hitler was sent by Allah to punish the Jews (see video);

  Qaradawi declares force a legitimate means to establish or support Islamic principles (“changing wrong by force whenever possible”)  Priorities of the Islamic Movement chapter

  Qaradawi promotes Islamic conquest of the West;

  Qaradawi describes the mosque as a political institution to mobilize participants for jihad;

  Qaradawi endorsed the use of suicide bombers and killing Americans in Iraq.

Time clearly was not at issue. The preceding questioner was as short as possible. To paraphrase, he asked (55:13-55:45)

The U.S. state department declares Hamas a terrorist organization. Would you be willing to denounce Hamas?”

Esposito claimed that this was not his topic. When pressed, Esposito again dodged.


At other Chautauqua assemblies, questioners ran on at length but asked no question—and received applause. On Jul. 15, 2014, after Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid spoke, for example, another woman stood in the same Hall of Philosophy and for two minutes (1:03:27 1:05:05) bemoaned the fate of Sami Al-Arian, a “convicted terrorist-supporting felon, …under…separate indictment for criminal contempt,” as if he were a “poor victim.” Al Arian workedwith the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and served as a board member. In September 1991, Al Arian was caught on tape declaring:

These people – whom God, the Glorious and sublime, had made into monkeys and pigs, had become discontent and angry with, had cursed in this world and in the hereafter… [Koran 5:78, 5:60, and related Hadith]”

On Aug. 15, by contrast, I could have finished my question in under one minute. However, Esposito interrupted repeatedly and instructed me to “show some civility.” (55:50 – 58:40) This same man refers to the wicked Qaradawi ― for good reason banned from the U.S. for 15 years ― as a “reformist” and “continues to consider Al-Arian a ‘very close friend’ and ‘a man of conscience with a strong commitment to peace and social justice’.” Obviously, he wished only to conceal the truth.

Fellow audience members shouted me down, displaying appallingly belligerent disrespect. They thus unveiled Chautauqua’s general tolerance for such fascist attitudes: not a single voice asked the hecklers to behave with decorum.


The sad reality: about Islam, Chautauqua won’t let the truth out. The precepts of sharia (Islamic law) prohibit criticism of Islam. As if in keeping with that, Esposito manipulatively suppressed any legitimate questions, much less open, honest discourse. He evidently acquiesces to sharia’s bans of free speech, press and conscience.

It makes sense: Esposito regularly appears as a keynote speaker at the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the U.S. fund raising arm of Hamas, and an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land terror-funding case, with ties to Hamas that led the FBI to terminateany official contact with the group.

At a recent CAIR fundraiser, Esposito smeared Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a highly acclaimed champion of the rights of Muslim women,asan “Islamophobe” (7:15-7:23), a slanderous noun for a fictitiousphenomenon. “Phobia” means an unusually persistent fear of some object or situation. Indeed, the word Islamophobia was reportedly concocted by Islamists at the Virginia offices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). Chautauquans, especially, use it to tiringly silence all critics of Islam and more specifically all criticism of the barbaricIslamiclegal code. They intend solely to prohibit correct, indeed highly appropriate, expressions of alarm.

Sadly, at this pace, Chautauqua Institution’s engagement of radical supporters of Islamic law will undoubtedly render it a tyrannical place, especially regarding the alarmingly supremacist Islamic political ideology. Chautauqua apparently prefers to assume the mantle of a protector and advocate of Islam than defend the Western civilization that made its existence possible.


The myopic “mama” missing her glasses in the Sears Optical ad cannot distinguish between her kitty and a raccoon. That Chautauqua, similarly, fails to see the reality of “civilization Jihad” as described by the Muslim Brotherhood’s explanatory memorandum, could potentially have far more devastating results.

At some point, the truth will out, even at Chautauqua. Let’s hope that by then, it’s not too late to save the Institution from its own folly.

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