Ex-CAIR Member Takes on Free Speech
December 17, 2007
The Hate Hurts America Interfaith and Community Coalition (HHA), headed by former CAIR-Los Angeles spokesperson and CAIR-Orlando executive director, Sabiha Khan, sprang into the public spotlight in recent days by pushing for a boycott of radio shock-jock Michael Savage by his sponsors.
Formed in the wake of comments by Savage on his nationally-syndicated "Savage Nation" radio program that were critical of Muslims and terror-apologists at CAIR, the HHA called upon companies "to withdraw their advertisements from ‘The Savage Nation' as a concrete demonstration of support for the American traditions of religious and cultural tolerance and mutual respect."
The objective of such action, according to the organization's website, is to prevent hate-filled words from entering public discourse, because they "can and do lead to violent actions." However, can Khan or a CAIR-connected coalition really qualify as a moral authority on this topic? While one may not condone what Savage said, Khan is certainly in no position to comment on deterring hate-speech.
In her prior incarnation with CAIR – a coalition member – Khan had her own long history of facilitating the promulgation of hate speech. As spokeswoman for the organization's Los Angeles chapter from late 2001 through 2006, she worked hand-in-hand with Hussam Ayloush, the chapter's executive director, to defend hatemongers – most notably, radical cleric Wagdy Ghoneim.
Ghoneim, a native of Egypt, came to the attention of immigration officials in North America and Europe as a result of his repeated calls for violent jihad against Jews, and active participation with terror-connected organizations. "Palestine will not be liberated by speeches and peaceful means, but through jihad," Ghoneim said at a 1997 Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) conference. He continued, "The Jews are scared by the word ‘jihad.'…We have to prepare ourselves for jihad against Jews and to liberate Aqsa Masjid. This is a must whether we accept it or not."
Comments like this and actions like leading a song, at a 1998 CAIR co-sponsored rally held at Brooklyn College, which contained the chorus, "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes," pushed Ghoneim into the spotlight of both U.S. and Canadian immigration officials. As a result of this, and his affiliation with HAMAS and the Muslim Brotherhood, he was denied entry into Canada in 1998 and, in 2004 after being arrested in the U.S. for immigration violations, was denied bond. In the words of then-Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Virginia Kice, Ghoneim's bond denial was "based upon Department of Homeland Security concerns that his past speeches and participation in fund-raising activities could be supportive of terrorist organizations."
Again, predictably, CAIR-LA was first on the scene to defend the speech of those broadcasting hatred against Jews. Rather than presenting Ghoneim's radical past, CAIR-LA portrayed the scenario as yet another instance of so-called "Islamophobia." Following Ghoneim's arrest, Ayloush stated, "The whole Muslim community today is under a microscope of scrutiny. Committing a mistake that would invite a slap on the wrist for anyone else could lead to prison or deportation for a Muslim."
Khan organized what was called an "emergency town hall" meeting in the wake of Ghoneim's detention. "Yes, people are worried that we are being persecuted because we are Muslim," Khan told the Orange County Register. A sign posted at the town meeting said "Justice delayed is justice denied. Free our imam- teacher Wagdy Ghoneim unjustly detained by the INS."
When Ghoneim finally agreed to leave the country voluntarily in December 2004, Ayloush called this settlement "a dent in our civil rights struggle" and lamented the "high level of fear" in the community. Even after agreeing to leave the country, CAIR-LA never ceased to defend the "free speech" rights of those who preach hate, and slur as "Islamophobic" both those who reported on Ghoneim's hate speech and the U.S. government's immigration policies.
Viewing the present controversy involving Savage and CAIR/HHA in light of previous actions by Khan and her former organization shows Islamists' vision of "free speech" and "hate speech" to be incredibly selective, and equally telling. Maybe it is time for Khan to heed her own words, uttered during another controversy in 2004 that involved participants in an all-Muslim football tournament adopting team names such as "Mujihideen" and "Soldiers of Allah":
"We do still live in America. We still have freedom of speech."