Douglas Farah gives an excellent review yesterday of the domestic fallout from the Mazen Asbahi resignation. From the story reported by Glenn Simpson at the WSJ to the predictable Islamist response of victimology and obfuscation, this cycle has become all too familiar. A prominent Muslim is scrutinized on his ideologies related to political Islam and the ideologies of American Islamist organizations, only to have the American Islamist organizations and their apologists respond with exaggerated claims of Islamophobia and silence on the central question of ideology.
In all that has been written or said about the Asbahi resignation- few Muslims have commented on where the appointee actually stood in reference to the agenda of political Islam and Islamist organizations. Probably because few people know or are willing to address ideology when it's a lot easier to address victimization.
Back in October 2007, our American Islamic Forum for Democracy laid out simple ideological benchmarks for government appointees about whom Americans have concerns about ideological ties to Islamist organizations. At the time, similar concerns were levied against Esam Omeish of the Muslim American Society after he was appointed by Virginia Gov. Tim Kane. Omeish had a long history of support of transnational Islamist organizations (i.e. HAMAS) and membership in the MAS which multiple reports connect directly to the Muslim Brotherhood (see this extensive 2004 investigative report from the Chicago Tribune). Similarly, the media at the time generally ignored what are legitimate ideological concerns of Americans (including many anti-Islamist Muslims) over Islamists and their legal and transnational agenda. Instead they focused on exaggerated claims of Islamophobia. Gov Tim Kane of Virginia appropriately accepted the resignation of Esam Omeish from his commission.This time around, Americans were again left with little understanding or comfort about Asbahi's stances regarding the agenda of political Islam or the Islamist organizations and other apologetic organizations which came to his defense.
As our nation continues to try and develop a strategy against militant Islamists, we cannot over stress the importance of our leaders and their appointees having a grasp of the connection of political Islam to the development of militant Islamists. Terror is only a means. The end game of radical Islamists--the Islamic state-- needs to be confronted by all of our political leaders, Muslim and non-Muslim, if we are ever to address the root ideological causes of terrorism. Just being non-violent is not good enough.
The Muslim Brotherhood RespondsA most interesting development in this whole story is an op-ed yesterday out of London, by Khaled Salam, chief editor of the Muslim Brotherhood's English website (www.Ikhwanweb.com) giving an Islamist MB take on the whole Asbahi affair. It looks like the "Godfather" of global Islamist organizations, the MB, just could not hold itself this time from weighing in on the changing climate of acceptability of Islamist ideology in the United States. It is very interesting that Salam and his MB elected to break a general policy of silence on the domestic politics of American Islamist organizations and come to the aid of their Islamist brethren in the U.S. by name. They must be feeling the pressure now and are globalizing the apologetics for Islamists in the U.S. (Note-they also reposted James Zogby's Huffington Post piece). Even more interesting is the pains to which Salam goes on behalf of the MB this time to dissociate the MB from any of their brethren Islamists in the United States. It is instructive to reproduce a good portion of Salam's self-defeating rebuttal,
"The MB has repeatedly denied it has any representation in the U.S., nor does it maintain any links with any of the Islamic or charitable organizations in the U.S. We have previously clarified that moderate and pragmatic Islamic thought is not exclusive of the MB, however, there are many other Islamic movements and organizations throughout the world that have the same mainstream principles as the MB but not necessarily part of its organizational structure. In this regard, the MB confirmed that it absolutely has no organizational links, ties, or associations with any of the Islamic organizations in the U.S., including but not limited to: The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Muslim Student Association (MSA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)." There are however, ideological similarities between the MB and most of above mentioned Islamic organizations for the fact that these ideologies represent mainstream moderate Islamic thinking. However, some of the founders or members of these organizations were at some point in their lives either members or sympathizers of the MB in their native countries before they migrate to the U.S. or other countries.
During the 1960s, many members of the MB have fled Egypt to escape persecution by the Egyptian regime. Most of them settled in European countries or the U.S. and benefited from the atmosphere of freedom and prosperity in these countries and continued to practice and promote moderate Islamic thought. Thus, several local Islamic organizations were created to help Muslims integrate within their local communities and engage in charitable work mandates by Islam. Islamic work worldwide was also enriched by Muslim students who studied abroad and were keen on practicing their religion. In the U..S, several of these local active groups have merged and created large national organizations widely known throughout the country. Most of the alleged ties between the MB and any of the U.S. based organizations were extensively scrutinized during the Holy Land Foundation trial and were found groundless by the juries in court case that ended in mistrial. The prosecution in this case failed to establish any evidence that link the MB as an organization with any of the Islamic organizations in the U.S., but instead presented the court with notes, diaries and minutes of meetings among individuals who were not in any form or shape part of the MB and were not representing it, although they might of shared its ideology as we previously alluded to.
The so called Global Network of the Muslim Brotherhood is merely a Hollywood fiction that only exists in the minds of those who created it as part of their scare tactics to insight fears among the public and instigate government hostilities. There is no "global network" for the Muslim Brotherhood, but rather coordination among the different MB chapters in various countries, in which the MB has formal presence or representation, which clearly does not apply to the U.S. This coordination among international MB chapters mainly revolves around political issues, sharing experiences in the field of public Islamic work and exchange new idea
It's the Ideology not the Party!
Oh, all right, now I get it. There's clearly no association between the MB and all these Islamist organizations! Hardly. At the risk of being trite, if it looks like a duck, acts like a duck and sounds like a duck, what is it?Salam must think his readers have no capability of independent thought. Very few people I've ever met actually believe the MB has membership cards that it gives to it members internationally. He, however, admits to exactly what makes them brethren organizations—their shared religio-political ideology and Islamist ideological mindset. He dismisses their shared ideology as a manifestation of "mainstream moderate Islamic thinking." Sorry, but this is not Islamic ideology (related to the religion). It is actually Islamist ideology related to establishing Islamic states and the Islamization of governments (i.e. establishment of governmental shar'ia). That is a distinction which Islamists will never make in the west since it will expose their long term goals while disrobing their false religious cloak. Being a part of the MB does not mean carrying a card of the party in 2008. It simply means following the political ideology of Islamism (political Islam) in your native country as taught by the forefathers and legacy of the MB ideology over eighty years ago by Sayyid Qutb and Hassan al-Banna and all of their succeeding protégés. Salam and his MB leadership can deny the connections of organizations like CAIR and MAS, from here to eternity, in order to help their brethren, but until we begin seeing these American Muslims join our effort to frontally counter Islamist movements and their ideologies of political Islam, they will remain part of the Islamist brotherhood whether they publicly accept it or not. The inconsistencies above in Salam's denial are evidence enough.