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Zuhdi Jasser: SPLC 'Facilitates Global Jihad' of Islamist Theocrats and ISIS

M. Zuhdi Jasser in a suit and tie

OXON HILL, M.D. — In an interview with PJ Media, Muslim reformer M. Zuhdi Jasser argued that the Leftist attack dog the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has become a tool of Islamists across the world, including ISIS. By attacking Muslim reformers who are striking at the root of Jihad, the SPLC is abetting radical Islamic terror in the name of identity politics.

Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), expressed his support for Maajid Nawaz, a British politician and founder of the anti-Islamist organization the Quilliam foundation, who sued the SPLC for defamation last year, after the group labeled him an "anti-Muslim extremist." (Hilariously, SPLC cited his bachelor party at a strip club as one reason he's an "anti-Muslim extremist.") Jasser argued that the SPLC intends to silence reformers like himself and Nawaz because their cause is inconvenient for identity politics.

"The SPLC ends up becoming a tool of the theocrats — like the Saudis and others who you think they'd disagree with — but they don't care about what they're facilitating globally, which is global jihad of the Islamic Republic of Iran or Saudi Arabia," Jasser told PJ Media at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

The AIFD president explained that the SPLC "just want to use us Muslims as an identity politic. So the biggest threat to their power are Muslims within our identity who reject their identity politic. That's why they want to label us Islamophobes and bigots, and I think Maajid's suit is a smart thing. Anything I can do to help him, I will."

As for the SPLC, Jasser said "they are basically doing the work to silence and marginalize the authenticity of the voices of Muslim reform." In doing so, the echo the work of Islamist regimes across the world.

"That's what the Saudis do, but they even do it more flagrantly, by whipping and flogging folks for disagreeing with their interpretation of Islam," the AIFD president said. "They say [those who disagree with them] are not Muslim, they've left Islam, when they criticize the government there. So what's different? There is no difference."

Indeed, Jasser suggested that the Saudis "have the SPLC do their work for them." He also rebuked Georgetown University's Center on Muslim-Christian Understanding — which is named after a Saudi prince, who funded it to the tune of $20 million — for attacking him and other Muslim reformers in 2016. That report cited the SPLC.

Jasser has also been attacked by a similar group in Britain, Hope Not Hate, which attacked him in a report on "The Counter-Jihad Movement" in 2015. The report, which originally included hijab-wearing Muslim reformer Raquel Saraswati, appears to be no longer available. "Our decision to include Zuhdi Jasser was because of his involvement/support for groups like ACT! for America and the Coalition to Stop Sharia, groups that clearly fit our description of counter-jihad groups."

"They listed me with just absolutely useless information," Jasser told PJ Media Saturday."It was basically taken from the CAIR website about me, which includes three paragraphs that include no quotations from me but simply false associations with organizations that I might have tangentially interacted with but in no way epitomizes my ideology."

Why do these groups attack Jasser, Nawaz, Saraswati, and others? "The way to shut down free speech in countries that have free speech is to call us bigots, and to call us hatemongers," Jasser told PJ Media. "In fact, it is the Islamists who are the bigots who don't allow diversity of opinions."

"To the Islamists and to the Left, diversity is identity politics," the AIFD president explained. "As long as you have an African-American, a white American, an Egyptian, a Saudi, a Pakistani, a European Muslim, then that’s diversity. It’s all based on ethnic diversity."

In fostering a shallow kind of diversity, these groups actively squash a deeper kind of diversity. "What the Left doesn’t want to recognize — and what the SPLC intentionally ignores — is that diversity, real diversity, is ideological diversity," Jasser said. "You could have a Salafi, a liberal Muslim, a feminist Muslim, a gay Muslim, that we have a diverse ideology within our community that needs to be engaged."

By silencing Muslim reformers, Leftist groups like Hope Not Hate and the SPLC actually help Jihad. They abet the existing power structure in Islamist countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, which Jasser said depends on the same Jihadist ideology driving the Islamic State (ISIS). The armies of countries like Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia fight with bravery partially because they believe what ISIS fighters believe — that when they die fighting in a jihad, they will go to heaven and have 70 virgins.

"That jihadism is the same jihadism that the Saudi military believes in, that the Iranian military believes in, that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan believes in," the AIFD president told PJ Media. "But what they don’t like is the viralization of that ideology among the people. And that’s the difference."

The reformer insisted that the only difference between many Islamist governments in the Middle East and radical Islamic terrorists like ISIS is the possession of organized power. "It's just a much more organized fashion of theocracy."

If the SPLC is abetting terrorism in some way by attacking Maajid Nawaz, it would not be the first time. While the Southern Poverty Law Center started as a legal advocacy firm to attack racist terror groups like the Ku Klux Klan, it has expanded its mission in recent years, describing mainstream conservative Christian organizations as "hate groups" and plotting them on a "hate map."

Tragically, a terrorist by the name of Floyd Lee Corkins II found the Family Research Council (FRC) on this "hate map," and showed up with a semi-automatic pistol, intending to kill everyone in the building. This would-be mass shooting was prevented by a security guard in 2012.

This same "hate map" marked the innocent town of Amana Colonies as the location of the white supremacist website Daily Stormer. A similar SPLC map plotting Confederate monuments listed elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. The organization had to remove an elementary school from this list after learning the school was not named after a Confederate general, but a stone wall.

After the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va., large companies partnered with the SPLC. Apple pledged $1 million to the organization, along with other key benefits, while J.P. Morgan chipped in $500,000. As of 2015, the SPLC had $328 million in net assets, and it took in $50 million in contributions that year. More damningly, the Washington Free Beacon reported that the group sent multiple transactions to foreign entities, including two cash payments of $2.2 million into the Cayman Islands.

After CNN, ABC, and NBC repeated SPLC talking points branding ADF a "hate group," 47 nonprofit leaders signed a letter warning that the "SPLC is an attack dog of the political left," and urging the media to stop citing them as a credible source on "hate."

Nawaz is far from alone in suing the SPLC for defamation. Christian nonprofits Liberty Counsel and D. James Kennedy Ministries each sued the group last year.

As for himself, Jasser said he will not focus on responding to Hope Not Hate, as the SPLC "is a much bigger organism — a [George] Soros organism, if you will."

Soros and all SPLC donors should get the memo, however. If they don't want to attack Muslim reformers and therefore prop up the same kind of ideology behind ISIS, they should consider sending their money elsewhere.

Watch Jasser's video interview with PJ Media's Tyler O'Neil below.