The most powerful oppressors of liberal Muslims in modern times aren't Arab dictators or armies, according to Essam Abdallah, an Egyptian liberal intellectual. Abdallah, who teaches at Ain Shams University in Cairo, writes that the main threats today emanate from "Islamist lobbies" such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).
Months into the "Arab Spring" revolutions that swept across the Middle East last year, it became apparent "that the Western powers, and the Obama Administration have put their support behind the new authoritarians" of the Middle East, Abdallah writes. Islamists like the Ennadha Party in Tunisia, the Muslim Brotherhood, and some members of Libya's ruling Transitional National Council "have been systematically supported by Washington at the expense of real liberal and secular forces."
In Washington, the two main forces of the "Islamist lobby" are "Muslim Brotherhood [Ikhwan] fronts" (which Abdallah defines as CAIR, MPAC and the Islamic Society of North America) and a "pro-Iranian lobby" spearheaded by NIAC.
Since the early 1990s, CAIR and its allies "have attacked Copts, Southern Sudanese, Lebanese, Syrian reformers, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Muslim dissidents in the United States," he writes. "The Ikhwan of America demonized any publication, book, article, or interview in the national media or local press raising the issue of secular freedoms in the Middle East."
During the 1990s and continuing into the years after 9/11, Middle East dictators joined Islamists in working to crush supporters of liberal democracy. Egypt's Hosni Mubarak; Syria's ruling Assad family; Libya's Muammar Gaddafi; Sudanese ruler Omar Bashir and "Khomeinist regimes" in Iran "fully supported the so-called Islamophobia campaign waged by CAIR and its Iranian counterpart NIAC against dissidents calling for secular democracy in the region," Abdallah adds. "The dissidents were accused of being pro-Western by both the Islamists and the dictators."
Today, the Islamist networks are targeting Walid Phares, whose 2010 book "The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East" predicted the reform campaigns which swept across the region last year. "As a freedom activist from the Middle East, Phares is a force driving for a strategic change in U.S. foreign policy towards supporting secular democracies in the region," Abdallah concludes.
Read Abdallah's article here.