Islamophobia Machine Targets American Muslims
by Nihad Awad
[Nihad Awad is national executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s leading Muslim civil liberties organization.]
“Are you a believer?” asked the participant in a Capitol Hill gathering of Islamophobes and Muslim-bashers who – according to conference materials – were seeking to promote “freedom of speech and religion.”
When CAIR’s intern answered, “Yes, of course,” the conference participant – whose card indicated he works for “Encountering Islam Christian Ministry” and obviously thinking “believer” meant something other than Muslim – replied, “Good, because we want to cut their [Muslims’] necks off.”
Just one hour later, the officially-registered intern was asked to leave the conference, which was held in the U.S. Congressional Auditorium, because “some of the panel members do not feel comfortable with you being here.” So much for freedom of speech and religion.
Before being ejected, CAIR’s intern heard one audience member seek advice from a panelist as to how American Muslim rights could be “curtailed,” given the fact that “unfortunately” Islam itself cannot be outlawed.
But not to worry - one of the speakers at the Washington, D.C., conference does advocate outlawing Islam in America. That speaker, David Yerushalmi, works for one of the other speakers at the conference, Frank Gaffney Jr.
Other panelists included anti-Islam hate blogger Pam Geller, who has appeared at Muslim-bashing events with Gaffney and with another conference speaker, Florida House of Representatives Majority Leader Adam Hasner. Hasner recently hosted an appearance by extremist anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert “ban the Quran” Wilders in Florida, which was co-hosted by the hate blogger and promoted by another conference panelist, Tom Trento of the Florida Security Council.
Does all this make sense? It does if you understand that there is an “Islamophobia Machine” made up of extremists of all stripes who coordinate and cooperate in a relentless effort to demonize Islam and deprive American Muslims of their civil rights.
The list of attendees at CAIR’s recent sold-out 15th annual banquet in Arlington, Va., further illustrates how the Islamophobia machine works.
Two of those who purchased tickets for the banquet were notorious Islamophobes with histories of Muslim-bashing and associations with hate groups.
Among the 750 Muslim community members and activists, interfaith leaders and diplomats from Muslim-majority nations who heard addresses by speakers such as Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs of Progressive Faith Foundation were the two “moles” – a hijab-clad representative of an anti-Islam group and a “counterterrorism consultant” who claims Thomas Jefferson only owned a Quran “so that he could know his enemy, so he could confront them, know them, kill them.”
The consultant, John Cosgrove, made that claim weeks earlier as he protested the “Day of Islamic Unity,” during which thousands of American Muslims gathered for prayer on Capitol Hill. Cosgrove is head of the Virginia chapter of the anti-Muslim hate group called the United American Committee (UAC). He was one of the main opponents of the expansion of an Islamic school in Virginia.
In 2007, the head of the UAC called Islam a “cult” and said terrorists are “honest” Muslims. He also stated that anyone who believes Muslims are not the “enemy” is “incredibly ignorant or a simple-minded fool.”
SEE: GOP Women’s Group Promotes Anti-Muslim Hate
Hijab-wearing mole number two, Christine Brim, is senior vice president for policy and program management at the Center for Security Policy. She was asked to leave the event after being observed surreptitiously recording the banquet speeches, despite earlier being given legal notice that such recordings were prohibited. Instead of speaking to security personnel, Brim immediately fled to the hotel’s exit. (CAIR’s dinner was an open event with media present. Unauthorized recordings are prohibited only to prevent abuse by those who have, in the past, sought to smear the speakers by distorting their words.)
Brim, along with Cosgrove, was an opponent of the Islamic school in Virginia.
Her group and its President Frank Gaffney Jr. actively promote the racist and anti-Islam ideology of David Yerushalmi, the center’s general counsel, who has advocated outlawing the practice of Islam in America and permanently closing all U.S. mosques.
SEE: Center for Security Policy Staff
In a 2007 commentary headlined “War Manifesto – The War Against Islam,” Yerushalmi called for a “war against Islam and all Muslim faithful.” He wrote in part:
“On the so-called Global War on Terrorism, GWOT, we have been quite clear along with a few other resolute souls. This should be a WAR AGAINST ISLAM and all Muslim faithful…At a practical level, this means that Shari’a and Islamic law are immediately outlawed. Any Moslem in America who adopts historical and traditional Shari’a will be subject to deportation. Mosques which adhere to Islamic law will be shut down permanently. No self-described or practicing Muslim, irrespective of his or her declarations to the contrary, will be allowed to immigrate to this country…”
Another such “manifesto” called for making “adherence to Islam” punishable by a 20-year prison term.
In a 2006 article for The American Spectator, Yerushalmi wrote: “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization…The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies.”
In another article, Yerushalmi wrote: “Instead of a promise of victory, Sura 24:52 must be made ashes in the mouths of Muslims. A seemingly unending air control campaign over enemy territory is the way to continually remind the Muslims of their subordinate status and the impotence of Allah without becoming mired in the quagmire of counterinsurgency.”
He also wrote that he “has staked out an approach which is to Know the Enemy by declaring the enemy historical, traditional, and authoritative Islam.”
Yerushalmi’s website once contained the following white supremacist language as part of its mission statement:
“America was the handiwork of faithful Christians, mostly men, and almost entirely white, who ventured from Europe to create a nation in their image of a country existing as free men under G-d.”
Other articles on his website made racist statements such as: “There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote,” and “Race matters and affects your intelligence. Jews are the smartest white people around. Orientals smarter than Whites. Latinos next. Then Blacks.”
Another article stated:
“Is there something unique about the Black American (or, at least the Black New Yorker) that leads him to murder so disproportionately and to most often kill and victimize his own?”
Yerushalmi is also the former employer of Dave Gaubatz, his one-time “Director of Intelligence and Counter-terrorism Studies” and author of a Muslim-bashing book. In 2007, Yerushalmi’s group paid Gaubatz $148,898 for “research.”
Gaubatz has a long history of bigotry targeting Islam and Muslims. He has called Islam an “evil ideology” and a “terminal disease.” Along with his past rhetorical attacks Islam, Gaubatz has called President Obama a “crack head” and wrote that “a vote for Hussein Obama is a vote for Sharia Law.”
It is becoming obvious to anyone who puts all the parts of the Islamophobia machine together that American Muslims are being targeted by a coordinated and well-funded nationwide effort to disenfranchise their community and demonize their faith.
This insidious effort will only succeed if Americans of all faiths fail take a stand against un-American attempts to divide our nation along religious lines.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.