America’s Muslims fight back

Hany Ghoraba
Sunday 23 Feb 2020

Prominent Muslims in the United States are combating Islamist attempts to take over political podiums in the country and standing up to those who claim to speak on their behalf

It has taken much meticulous planning, abundant financing and manipulative politics for the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate certain groups in the United States over the past four decades. Since the drafting of its masterplan to take control of various Muslim communities in North America in 1980, the Brotherhood has worked to spread its influence in Islamic centres in the US and to bring a number of Islamic communities in the country under its banner. 

The Brotherhood has not operated under its own name, however. Instead, it formed several offshoot groups such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). These organisations, using the fronts of NGOs, have spread the doctrines of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US. Unlike in Europe, especially in the UK, the Brotherhood chose to work under different aliases in the US to throw off suspicions of their allegiance to the group. 

The Brotherhood’s plan has worked, and the group capitalised on events such as the horrific terrorist attack of 9/11 on New York and Washington to present itself as representing American Muslims facing a political and social backlash as a result of the terrorist actions committed by Al-Qaeda. The CAIR and ISNA lobbied US politicians in Congress and elsewhere to adopt their cause, and more recently they managed to secure the election of Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tulaib, both propped up by Islamist circles funded by the Muslim Brotherhood and even by Brotherhood regime figures. Omar received campaign donations in September 2019 from Halil Mutulu, co-chairman of the Turkish-American National Steering Committee (TASC), a political advocacy group in the US with close ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

However, there have been growing protests from mainstream US Muslims against this Islamist influence. Many US Muslims believe that the Islamists are damaging their name and hijacking their faith in order to attain their own particular gains. One of the latest examples is Iraqi-American journalist Dalia Al-Aqidi, who herself immigrated to the US and has grown tired of the behaviour of Ilhan Omar, who has attempted to portray herself as an exemplary Muslim woman while acting in a way that misrepresents Muslims in general. 

Al-Aqidi’s collision course with Omar started when she criticised the latter’s behaviour on Twitter, saying that she had adopted Islamist causes and had exploited her status as a minority in the US to gain unwarranted sympathy for these while pushing preset agendas. Omar’s supporters then managed to get Al-Aqidi’s Twitter account suspended for a while. 

Omar’s hypocrisy became evident when she met Erdogan, who has been responsible for mass murders in the Middle East region, all of which Omar has chosen to be silent about. Instead, she has given her support to various Islamist agendas, including the imprisonment of members of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group in Egypt. She even refused to support a bill in the US Congress recognising the Armenian Genocide by the Ottomans, giving the flimsiest of excuses. 

Omar has attempted to diminish the atrocity of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 by calling them something that Muslims “have paid a hefty price for.” While it is true that US Muslims endured discrimination after the attacks committed by Al-Qaeda on 9/11, it is an undeniable fact that Muslim Brotherhood and more broadly Islamist doctrines encourage confrontations with the West and have been adopted by the likes of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group for this purpose.

Omar’s comments on the deaths of 3,000 innocent people in the 9/11 attacks had a very negative impact in the US, stirring up controversy and hatred towards Muslims as a result. This was all the more the case as they came from a US Congresswoman who claims to represent Muslims. 

MEDIA RESPONSIBILITY: Al-Aqidi wanted to confront Omar about these double standards, but Omar, who would gladly appear on the Qatari Aljazeera TV network, ignores other calls to interview her. 

Al-Aqidi believes that Omar and others cause misconceptions and bigotry towards Muslims in the United States, and as a result she has chosen to nominate herself as Republican Party candidate in Minnesota’s fifth congressional district, Omar’s seat, in order to confront her directly and give state voters an alternative option. It is a David-versus-Goliath situation given Omar’s enormous financial backing, but Al-Aqidi is adamant about carrying on the fight.

Al-Aqidi is also not alone. Other prominent US Muslims combating the Islamists include Egyptian-American political analyst Tawfik Hamid, prominent author Zuhdi Jasser and journalist Shireen Qudosi. All of these and others have contributed to growing efforts to stop the advances of the Islamists in taking over political podiums in the US. Groups such as the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) formed by Jasser is an alternative for Muslims in the US who want to stand up against the Islamists who choose to speak on their behalf. 

The Muslim Brotherhood has thus far successfully averted attempts by US Congressmen to designate it as a terrorist group. Thanks to the influence the Islamists exert, backed by the financial power of the likes of Qatar and links to the Muslim Brotherhood’s global networks, including political support from the Turkish state, these efforts have not yet succeeded. Even with the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group in predominantly Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Syria among others, the US Congress is still not motivated to make real moves against the group. 

Unfortunately, the call to do so has been met by a deluge of criticism from voices in the US media who believe that it would be “Islamophobic” to take such action as it could allegedly disrupt relations with countries with Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated governments, such as Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan. This flimsy excuse cannot be entertained indefinitely, since allowing the existence and operations of a notorious terrorist group on American soil to keep cordial relationships with a handful of countries is clearly counter-productive. 

By this logic, the US could have spared itself over six decades of confrontations with communism and communist parties throughout the world during the Cold War on the grounds that this would sour relations with the former Soviet Union and European Eastern Bloc countries as well as others across the world. There seem to be “useful idiots” in the US Congress who believe they are better informed about Islam and better suited to identify who is a Muslim and who is a terrorist than countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, making them “more royal than the king.” 

It is imperative that the US administration seek the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, as this will represent a nail in the coffin for the terrorist group’s ambitions in North America. It will also encourage the European countries to follow suit, rendering the lives of Muslim Brotherhood members in Western societies that much harder.

It is to be hoped that there are US politicians who will rise to the occasion, as women like Dalia Al-Aqidi have already done, and expose Islamist practices in Western societies and the threat they represent.

The writer is a political analyst and author of Egypt’s Arab Spring and the Winding Road to Democracy.


*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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