Answering Our Critics – The Counter-Jihad Movement, Exposed
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 10 December 2015, 15:19
Yesterday, HOPE not hate released a report into the ‘Counter-Jihad movement’, a loose alliance of individuals and organisations fuelling anti-Muslim sentiment worldwide.
Our main conclusion was that anti-Muslim hatred was moving from the margins to the mainstream – as has been proved in the last few days by Donald Trump and his widely-attacked comments about banning Muslim visitors to America.
Over 900 groups and individuals across 22 countries were mentioned in our report, one of the most comprehensive of its kind ever produced.
Coming off the back of Trump’s “ban Muslims from America” speech, as well as rising anti-Muslim sentiment post-Paris and San Bernadino attacks, the strong showing of the Front National in France during regional elections, and the founding of a new PEGIDA UK movement by the former leader of the English Defence League, its launch was very timely.
However, there has been some concern raised over social media about the naming of three particular individuals in the report. Their defenders pointed out they were ‘Muslim reformers’. After consultation with several sources we removed one of the three (a person with a very marginal mention) but retained the other two – and here’s why.
One of the figures we included in The Counter-Jihad Movement was Zuhdi Jasser, who is the founder as well as President of an organisation called the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). In 2014, Jasser said that the “quiet majority” of American Muslims “hate America.” He’s also suggested that American Muslim military personnel should not be allowed to have beards, and that American Muslim school kids who recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic will encourage them to “join ISIS.”
He is an Advisory Board member of the Clarion Project (formerly the Clarion Fund), as well as a Consulting Editor of Family Security Matters (FSM), plus a supporter of the Coalition to Stop Shariah (CSS). He has also spoken at meetings of ACT! For America. All of these groups fit into the broader counter-jihadist milieu and are included in our report.
The Clarion Project (formerly known as the Clarion Fund) was founded in 2006 to educate Americans on issues of national security, in particular radical Islam. It was cited in the seminal report Fear, Inc, produced by the Center for American Progress, as a media outlet which was part of “the Islamophobia echo chamber”.
Before the 2008 presidential election the Clarion Fund distributed a DVD: Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, to more than 28 million swing-state voters. According to Fear, Inc, Jasser narrated The Clarion Fund’s film, The Third Jihad, which “claimed that radical Muslim extremists had infiltrated America with the nefarious purpose of establishing a theocracy”.
Family Security Matters (FSM) is a rightwing think tank that was founded in 2004 as a "national security resource for American families". In 2010 it launched the Eurabia Watch blog [“Eurabia” is a fantasy term among some counter-jihadists, who believe that Europe is being overrun by Muslims] and supports the Coalition to Stop Shariah. I shall return to FSM and CSS shortly.
Yet it is ACT! for America that is one of the most pernicious counter-jihadist groups in the USA. It is a single-issue, grassroots national security campaigning organisation. ACT! campaigns against the introduction of Sharia law and the (perceived) Islamisation of America.
It supports the Coalition to Stop Shariah and claims 170,000 members worldwide in 630 local chapters across the United States, as well as in 12 other countries. ACT! organises an annual national conference to which leading activists and ideologues in the counter-jihad movement are invited.
In 2009 ACT! for America launched a Stop Shariah Now campaign to increase public awareness over the “perceived threat” of creeping Sharia law into the USA.
Interestingly, ACT! works closely with the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA), the Center for Security Policy (CSP), the wider Tea Party movement as well as Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) – which is classified as a “hate group” by the Anti-Defamation League and was co-founded by the notorious counter-jihadist, Pamela Geller, who was referred to 12 times in Norwegian killer Anders Breivik’s ‘manifesto’. Along with SIOA’s Executive Director Robert Spencer, Geller has had frequent contact with English Defence League founder ‘Tommy Robinson’ and has placed anti-Muslim advertisements onto US buses and tubes, via her organisation the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI).
ACT! is run by Brigitte Gabriel, who by any stretch of the imagination is one of the leading anti-Muslim activists in America. Let me give you a flavour of Gabriel's mindset. She denies that there can be a moderate Muslim: just practising and non-practising Muslims. And this is what she says about practicing Muslims:
I call it a practicing Muslim and a non-practicing Muslim. I think it is a better description than “moderate” and “radical.” A practicing Muslim goes to mosque, prays five times a day, doesn’t drink, believes God gave him women to be his property – to beat, to stone to death… He believes Christians and Jews are apes and pigs because they are cursed by Allah. He believes it is his duty to declare war on the infidels because they are Allah’s enemies. That is a practicing Muslim.
She claims that 98% of the world’s Muslim population fits into her definition of “practicing Muslim”.
At a 2004 “concert against terrorism” at Duke University, Gabriel referred to Arabs as “barbarians”. She has elsewhere claimed that Islamist terrorists "are really just very devout followers of Muhammad. They are following his example and doing exactly what the Koran teaches and their mullahs exhort them to do."
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, during a 2007 lecture to the Defense Department’s Joint Forces Staff College in 2007, as part a course on Islam, she told her audience that Muslims should be prohibited from serving in public office on the basis of their faith. She went on:
“If a Muslim who has — who is — a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day — this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”
In March 2011, Gabriel told The New York Times: “America has been infiltrated on all levels by radicals who wish to harm America. They have infiltrated us at the CIA, at the FBI, at the Pentagon, at the State Department.” She repeated this message on the ACT! website: “Tens of thousands of Islamic militants now reside in America, operating in sleeper cells, attending our colleges and universities. … They are here — today.”
Alongside Zuhdi Jasser, whom we included in our report, fellow contributing editors to Family Security Matters (FSM) include Frank J Gaffney Jnr, who appears to have had a strong influence on Donald Trump’s recent statements about Muslims (in 2007 Jasser appeared in one of Gaffney’s films). When Trump recently said that 25% of Muslims polled agreed that violence against America was justified as part of global jihad, and that 51% said that Muslims in America should have the chance to be governed by Sharia, he was quoting Gaffney’s discredited research.
Gaffney bandies about the idea that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated its way into the American political sphere; has written about the “jihadist vote” in America; and pushed questions about President Obama’s birth.
Likewise, Trump’s comments about Muslims creating no-go zones in the US and the UK also appear to have originated from Gaffney. The Daily Beast has credited Gaffney with pushing the idea of state and federal anti-Sharia laws.
Other contributing editors to FSM include Clifford Kincaid (on the Editorial Board of Pamela Geller’s Stop Islamization of Nations); Daniel Adams (co-founder of Geller’s Stop Islamization of America) and Brigitte Gabriel, of ACT!. Contributors include both Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer (who runs the Jihad Watch blog as well as SIOA with Geller: his writings were cited dozens of times in the manifesto written by Anders Breivik and he was banned with Geller from the United Kingdom as an extremist in July 2013), America’s two leading anti-Muslim activists.
For those still in doubt, don’t just take our word for it. The Center for America Progress’s Fear, Inc report into US Islamophobia labelled Jasser as a “validator” for groups such as ACT! The highly-respected civil rights group, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), in a report from CPAC 2015, had an entry on Jasser which described him as “one of the few Muslim spokespersons within the anti-Muslim movement”.
The inclusion of a second individual which was questioned by some on social media, Tawfik Hamid, was also justified in The Counter-Jihad Movement. The SPLC has said that “Hamid was one of the first to spread the groundless fear of Shariah law”. He has also been criticised for a piece in the Wall Street Journal calling on Islam to prove its peacefulness, and a column in The Washington Examiner that pushed the notion of Sharia law ‘taking over’ in the USA. Furthermore, he is listed in Fear, Inc as being linked to Brigitte Gabriel, of ACT! For America, as another “validator” for anti-Muslim groups, and listed as one of the “misinformation experts”.
As we set out in our report, the Counter-Jihad movement is a disparate and varied mix of people and organisations who believe that Western civilisation is under attack from Islam. Some are of course more extreme than others. Whilst the counter-jihadists have some differences between them, all agree that Islam is a supremacist religion and many see little difference between violent Jihadists and the ordinary Muslims who live their lives peacefully.
If anyone wants to discuss the inclusion of those cited in our report, then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Counter-Jihad Movement: Anti-Muslim hatred from the margins to the mainstream: www.hopenothate.org.uk/counter-jihad/
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