In a recent interview with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islam Online website, and reported by the BBC Middle East Monitoring Service, the Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR), Executive Director Nihad Awad reflected on "interfaith dialogue," the Bush administration, the upcoming presidential election, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Asked about the prospect of a new U.S. president, and whether American Muslims regret support for George W. Bush in 2000, Awad's answer offers a disturbing window into his soul.
"We should not blame the Muslims for taking part in the political process, and we should not blame the United States alone for the 11 September 2001 attacks, but we should also blame the perpetrators." (Emphasis added)
It shouldn't surprise anyone to see Awad give an interview with a Brotherhood-linked website. After all, the Brotherhood's deputy chief, Mohammed Habib, recently acknowledged in an interview that there is a relationship between his group and CAIR. That's what federal prosecutors in the Hamas financing case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) have said for more than a year, naming CAIR as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's "Palestine Committee." That is less than thinly-veiled code for Hamas. Awad's former employer, the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), was also named in the same document as part of the Brotherhood's Palestine Committee, and has been named by two federal judges as a Hamas front group.
Incidentally, prosecutors reiterated CAIR's role in the conspiracy last week, introducing their Second Supplemental Trial Brief for the upcoming case, which stated:
"Along with the HLF, whose function was to raise funds on behalf of Hamas, the Palestine Committee oversaw the Islamic Association for Palestine ('IAP'), the United Association for Studies & Research ('UASR') and, later on, the Council on American Islamic Relations ('CAIR')."
The prosecution sees CAIR as a sister-organization to the chief financial front group for Hamas in the U.S., and not without reason. In the days after the horrific 9/11 terror attacks, CAIR used its website to solicit funds for HLF, sending visitors who clicked on a button which read, "Donate to the NY/DC Emergency Relief Fund," to the HLF website. In other words, CAIR used the occasion of the worst terror attack on U.S. soil to direct its constituents to send money to a Hamas-front group.
Before founding CAIR, Awad, in his capacity as Public Relations director for IAP, famously wrote a letter to the American Muslim periodical, The Message, excoriating the publication its use of the word "Israel." Awad wrote that he hoped it was merely "the result of an oversight," and that the magazine would "return to the terminology ‘Occupied Palestine' to refer to that Holy Land."
That, along with Awad's on the record support for Hamas, is the prism through which one should look at CAIR and its long-time Executive Director, despite CAIR's self-description as nothing more than a "prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group."
During Awad's interview, in response to a question about whether religious symbols could be used to influence politics, Awad said:
"Those who occupied Palestine did not do so out of the impact of political ideas on them, but on the strength of religious ideas and beliefs. Those who want to expel this occupation should not depend on the political platform only and forget all about the religious roots."
Now, as noted above, Awad doesn't even believe there should be a country called Israel – that all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is nothing more than "Occupied Palestine." And as a supporter of Hamas, or "the Islamic resistance," Awad's exhortation that "the religious roots" of the conflict should be remembered is rather telling.
A look at the Hamas Charter amply demonstrates how members of the Muslim Brotherhood view the "religious roots" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory)."
Hassan al-Banna is the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Nihad Awad and CAIR, as noted above, are a part. Hamas' Charter continues to expound on the "religious roots":
"Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah's victory is realised."
"The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:
"The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem)."
Incidentally, this "religious" prophecy is followed not only by Hamas. Another branch of the American Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Society of North America, included this passage on its website until IPT reporting forced them to take it down, although a version still exists on the webarchive.
Back to Awad's interview. When asked whom he favors in the Presidential election, he responded:
"Public opinion polls among American Muslims point out that they support Obama more than they support McCain although Obama's recent statements were unsatisfying. The Democrats should be more careful and should not sacrifice the votes of the Muslims. They should have a strong leadership in their ranks."
By "recent statements," Awad is referring to Senator Obama's June 4 speech before the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee in which he voiced strong support for Israel and an undivided Jerusalem as Israel's capital city. Obama later backtracked after a chorus of outcries from the Arab and Muslim world.
Similarly, the Obama campaign has had several high profile instances which have ruffled the feathers of the organized Muslim leadership in the U.S.: one in which his staff moved several women wearing traditional Islamic headscarves from a campaign rally so they would not be pictured behind the candidate, and another in which Obama's Muslim outreach coordinator resigned because of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
While Awad is clear that his sympathies lie with the Democrats this year, it is not clear how receptive the party will be to many of his views, including those on the separation of church (or religion in general) and state:
"I believe that religion and politics have a reciprocal influence on each other. As far as the Muslims are concerned, it is important to regulate the relationship between religion and politics. This does not mean that we should separate them from each other. It also does not mean that they should enter into an unstudied integration. Since life is complex, we should take all its ingredients and components of their success from both religion and politics."
Of course, in the Muslim world, there is very little separation from religion and state. And Nihad Awad's long time partner, CAIR Chairman Emeritus Omar Ahmed, is on record (see page 99) as stating that the Koran should be "the highest authority in America, and the Islam the only accepted religion on earth."
Americans should be very wary when any CAIR official expounds on matters involving the relationship between religion and state.