By WILLIAM MAYER
April 21, 2014 – San Francisco, CA – PipeLineNews.org – The Muslim Public Affairs Council, MPAC is undoubtedly the most media-wise major Islamist organization in the United States. This makes it a problematic entity because it has largely succeeded in camouflaging its mission of stealthily advancing and where possible, enforcing, Shari’a compliance.
First a quick backgrounder on MPAC’s roots, courtesy of the Center For Security Policy’s white paper, Shariah: The Threat To America
“The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) was formed in 1986 as the Political Action Committee for the Islamic Center for Southern California, one of the largest Wahhabi mosques in America. In 1988, the Political Action Committee separated from the Islamic Center of Southern California and became the Muslim Public Affairs Council. The founders of the Islamic Center for Southern California are Hassan Hathout and his brother Maher Hathout. The late Hassan Hathout was a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. The two brothers spent time in an Egyptian prison during the early days of the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities there, led by the Brotherhood’s founder Hassan Al Banna. MPAC’s own publication, The Minaret, has proudly called Hassan a “companion of” and Maher “a close disciple of” the Brotherhood founder…”
Maybe because of the group’s extremist origins, MPAC avoids the flamboyance of its similarly motivated brethren such as CAIR and ISNA. Thus it’s maintained an ability to float at a treetop level, just below the din generated by the more in your face American Islamist organizations.
Headquartered in LA, MPAC has had some success - often partnering with other Islamist organizations - influencing how Muslims are depicted in films. Towards that end it maintains an elaborate presence in Hollywood to do just that:
"MPAC's Hollywood Bureau serves as a bridge between the Muslim community and the entertainment industry. The Bureau is responsible for advancing Muslim American perspectives in the entertainment industry by serving as an information clearinghouse in Islam for the Hollywood community. The Bureau also works with the Muslim American community to nurture creative talent and connect aspiring Muslim filmmakers, writers and actors with Hollywood professionals...MPAC experts provide information, background, and consultation that addresses cultural and religious sensitivities in such areas as civil rights, politics, foreign affairs, art, culture, history, law, family issues and more...The Bureau works with studios and production companies to serve as a consultant on film and television projects that depict Islam or have an impact on the Muslim community. The Bureau seeks to promote balanced and accurate portrayals of Muslim-related issues in such movies and shows, as well as educate the filmmakers and producers about religious, political and cultural issues in the Muslim world in order to give deeper context to their creative work." [source, MPAC website]
The group is very serious about this to the extent of organizing workshops for Muslims aspiring to work in Hollywood as script writers, enlisting, “…insiders like Oscar-nominated Tom Cook to teach courses specifically tailored to Muslims..” [source, Alex Cohen, Muslim Americans Try To “Write” Hollywood’s Wrongs, NPR]
This has been a good political strategy overall, enabling the group to largely shield itself from scrutiny while still having a major impact.
Salam Al Marayati has served as the President of MPAC for over 20 years, but behind his affable public persona his views fall well within the confines of Islamist ideology.
For example, an entry in Middle East historian Dr. Daniel Pipes' blog reads in part, "Mr. Al-Marayati, like so many other American Muslim leaders, purveys an extremist political agenda..." [source, Needed: Muslims against Terror - and Not Salam Al-Marayati ].
Similarly his bona fides as a moderate were called into question during testimony presented by Steven Emerson to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, by terrorism expert Steven Emerson, "Marayati has repeatedly justified the actions of Hizbollah before the Department of State invited him as a speaker. In November 1999, on News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Marayati responded to accusations that he supports Hizbollah: “ If the Lebanese people are resisting Israeli intransigence on Lebanese soil, then that is the right of resistance and they have the right to target Israeli soldiers in this conflict. That is not terrorism. That is a legitimate resistance. That could be called liberation movement, that could be called anything, but it's not terrorism." [source, House of Representatives doc, Testimony: Steven Emerson]
MPAC has skillfully put into play two potent leftist techniques:
1. Bending language in an effort to control the dialogue. An example of this is the group’s heavy involvement in “anti-bullying” campaign, which they see as an opportunity to brand criticism of Muslims or Islam as “hate” speech. Another would be uncoupling Islam from any mention of terrorism. In this way jihad becomes “workplace violence.”
2. This one is a little more esoteric but it revolves around the ideas developed by the Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci who observed that if you control the institutions which create culture, you will eventually be able to control society.
Gramsci's technique has been referred to as “marching through the institutions,” and it is exactly what has happened in the West as the left has infiltrated these entities, slowly and methodically snuffing out contrary opinion and honest dissent.
This idea is remarkably similar to that which was laid out in a memorandum created by members of the American Muslim Brotherhood which was designed to topple the West through a campaign of internal subversion.
The 18 page document [half in English, half in Arabic, available here General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America, Investigative Project on Terrorism] was a key piece of evidence in the largest terror funding prosecution in American history, U.S. vs. Holy Land Foundation trial. In the English preface, Akram states quite categorically, "understanding the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America…the process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process" with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions ."
Organizations which are driven by religious fanaticism are not content to rest on their laurels, and MPAC is no different, having announced an ambitious new effort it is calling the “Safe Spaces Initiative” which is accompanied by a very slickly produced144 page workbook intended to serve as an aid to this da’wa exercise.
The term “safe spaces,” though is a misnomer. This isn't an effort to create for example areas where battered children might find some comfort or a place where violence prone individuals might be able to receive some counseling
It’s nothing like that; in MPAC lexicon, “safe spaces” are areas where one can, “discuss sensitive or taboo subjects in a comfortable and non-judgmental atmosphere. This should include discussions about religious and civic identities, concerns over national and foreign policies, sectarianism, etc.” [source, manual pg. 24]
This discussion is guided however towards, “Action-Oriented Civic and Political Training.” [pg. 24]
At the college level the program is tailored to, “Create a Safe Space for Discussion and Activism.”
Though couched in the soft sounding “safe spaces,” what MPAC really has in mind as a template is a meeting of the Muslim Students Association where Israel is held up as a Zionist colonial oppressor. It could also be a place where plans are made to carry out projects of a political nature, perhaps petitioning campus authorities to cancel “controversial” actions such as awarding Ayan Hirsi Ali an honorary PhD, as was the case recently at Brandeis University.
Let’s more deeply examine some of the language in MPAC “safe spaces” gambit.
“…Since the tragic attacks of 9/11, MPAC has doubled its efforts to both understand what drives people to commit acts of violence in the name of Islam and also what drives people to spread Islam’s message of equality, mercy and justice….” [pg. 7]
Since September 11, 2001 the American Islamist community has cast itself in the absurd role of victim of religious hate. This has resulted in classifying critics of Islam or its adherents as “Islamophobes.” In reality this is merely an example of offense being used as a defensive strategy when no wrongdoing has taken place.
“Violent extremism is basically another term for “terrorism”. Violent extremists can range from domestic U.S.-based groups like Far-Right militias and violent Neo- Nazis to foreign groups such as the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups. As our short list of examples indicate, it is clear that groups claiming to act in the name of Islam aren’t the only ones threatening our nation…” pg. 15
To our knowledge neither neo-Nazis, “right wing” militias nor FARC are a factor is modern mass-casualty terrorism. This is a very heavy-handed and transparently silly dodge, conflating all political violence as if it were one being. Only Islamic terrorists can claim sacralized authorization for their atrocities. If one reads the Qur’an literally there are scores of examples where violence is justified to extend the reach of Islam.
For example Qur’an Surah 9:29, which we sourced directly from the translation of the Qur’an which CAIR used to distribute free of charge [pg. 294-295]
“Fight against those who - despite having been vouchsafed revelation [aforetime] – do not truly believe either in God or the Last Day and do not consider forbidden that which God and his Apostles have forbidden, and do not follow the religion [which God has enjoined upon them] till they agree to pay the exemption tax with a willing hand after having been humbled [in war].”
Unfortunately we have to get into the weeds to understand the following point because it’s an important concept.
“Takfirism – This is an ideology espoused by violent people that include al-Qaeda Central and its affiliated and allied organizations, movements and lone individuals. This is often imprecisely referred to as “jihadism,” “Islamist violent extremism,” “Islamic extremism,” etc. (We categorically reject using the latter set of terms…” [pg. 21]
MPAC is free to categorically reject whatever it wishes, but that doesn’t allow the organization to simply make things up.
In Islam takfir is the process of in essence “excommunicating” someone from the Islamic faith. As used in this sense it’s a verb, not a noun describing an ideology as disingenuously stated in “safe places.” Someone who has been declared takfir is no longer a Muslim, he is an apostate and subject to the death penalty in the Shari’a.
Yet how can members of al-Qaeda and its associated groups, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and the myriad of jihadist spin-offs not be Muslim when they justify their actions based upon the words contained in Islam’s most sacred book?
Consider Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the poster-boy jihadist for the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and their ilk.
Below from Qaradawi’s WikiBio:
“He…joined the Institute of Religious Studies at Tanta, and graduated after nine years of study…moved on to study Islamic Theology at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo [earning] a diploma in Arabic Language and Literature in 1958 at the Advanced Arabic Studies Institute. He enrolled in the graduate program in the Department of Qur'an and Sunnah Sciences of the Faculty of Religion's Fundamentals (Usul al-Din), and graduated with a Masters degree in Quranic Studies in 1960. In 1962, he was sent by Al-Azhar University to Qatar to head the Qatari Secondary Institute of Religious Studies. He completed his PhD thesis titled Zakah and its effect on solving social problems in 1973 with First Merit, and was awarded his PhD degree from Al Azhar.
According to MPAC Qaradawi must not be Muslim but a “takfir,” yet he has a PhD from the oldest Sunni religious training center [Al Azhar] in the world. Are we to believe that Qaradawi’s numerous fatwas authorizing jihad aren’t authentic? Qaradawi is so influential among Muslims that he has a very popular radio program which is said to have as many as 60 million listeners.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, though absent the formal religious training of Qaradawi is still thoroughly steeped in the Islamic ideology of jihad. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood at age 14 and the Brotherhood’s expressed purpose was to “purify” Islam according to its founder Hassan al Banna and its most influential theologian, Sayyid Qutb.
Hassan al Banna not a Muslim? Was the pious Qutb, who was executed for his beliefs by the Egyptian government not a Muslim?
As many know, Zawahiri today leads al-Qaeda central.
Is MPAC saying Zawahiri isn’t a Muslim? Make that declaration to Muslims outside of the United States and you will get laughed off the stage; it’s akin to alleging that jihad does not mean “holy war" - a ludicrous proposition.
What is really happening here is that MPAC has chosen to, without any justification, let alone the Shari’a based religious legal authority, kick terrorists, who happen to be Muslim, out of the Islam.
MPAC’s “safe spaces” program takes the concept a bit farther, quasi-justifying Islamic violence as a possible response to "Western aggression."
“…For many, the desire to engage in violence is less about intellect and more about emotion. In this context, being intellectually convinced by particular details of an ideology is less important than seeing oneself as a defender of Muslims against perceived Western aggression…” [pg. 36]
“…The motivations for joining extreme groups and engaging in violent behaviors are vary from person to person. In many cases, they end up having less to do with certain ideas being intellectually convincing and more to do with certain problems going on in a person’s life. In other cases, some may be mainly motivated by intellectual arguments…” [pg. 40]
Intellectual arguments concerning what?
The Qur’an and the Shari’a of course.
According to MPAC, what American Muslims need are imams who are crafty enough to speak the language of the West while undermining it from within, i.e., they must speak in code language given the religious freedom enjoyed by liberal societies. In their parlance, Muslim religious leaders in the U.S. must become stealth jihadist imams.
“…Mosques need imams who are trained in Islam, but who are also educated in the functions of an imam in the American [cultural and political] setting…” [pg. 45]
· “In Boston, under the leadership of Imam Suhaib Webb and Executive Director Yusufi Vali, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center offers an array of services including mental health counseling, legal assistance and programming geared toward converts, teenage and college youth and young professionals.44 Other model institutions pg 48
"...The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC), which more recently became the Muslim American Society-Boston (MAS-Boston) has known ties to radicals. This mosque was founded by former American Muslim Council director, Abdurahman Alamoudi, who pleaded guilty to engaging in "prohibited financial transactions with Libya," "unlawful procurement of Naturalization," and to engaging in a "corrupt endeavor to Impede Administration of Internal Revenue Laws" in July of 2004. According to a DOJ press release, Alamoudi was part of a plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. ISB members claimed that they had broken ties with Alamoudi for years. Records obtained during the discovery phase of a lawsuit filed by the ISB against IPT Executive Director Steven Emerson and others showed that the ISB had paid a speaking fee to Alamoudi as recently as 2000. The ISB dropped the lawsuit in 2007.
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a leading cleric from Qatar, has been closely affiliated with the Boston mosque. Qaradawi was listed on ISB tax filings from 1998-2000 under "List of Officers, Directors, Trustees, and Key Employees"; the listed address is Doha, Qatar. Qaradawi is known for his support of suicide bombings, or as he has referred to them, "martyrdom operations." [Investigative Project Islamic Society of Boston, Boston, MA, Muslim Brotherhood]
We find the Muslim Public Affairs Council's "Safe Spaces" initiative to consist of little aside from deception and apologia. It has nothing to do with its "touchy-feely" title and everything do with takiyya, religiously approved of lying to extend the reach of Islam. MPAC's "Safe Spaces" is 144 pages of da'wa, language specifically constructed for the sole purpose of conversion and obfuscation. Despite the considerable amount of time and effort it took to produce this "tool kit" the content is easily recognizable as being disingenuous to a degree that is almost breathtaking.
Because the document's content is so transparently club-footed it's not nearly the clever shell game its authors intended.
Cheryl Gatesworth contributed research for this article.
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