The following essay by Andrew Harrod was previously published at Sharia TipSheet.
Muslim Brothers Shut Out Critics
by Andrew Harrod
July 25, 2019
The email announcing the Eventbrite refund of my ticket for Washington, DC’s July 23-24 Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy conference clearly indicated to me a depressingly familiar tactic of controlled public relations. Once again defenders of Islam like the Hamas-derived Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) had excluded the inquisitive eyes and ears of a known critic like me from participation in a purportedly public event.
Numerous past and present CAIR officials filled the conference schedule, such as CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad, Abbas Barzegar, Zahra Billoo, Robert McCaw, and Corey Saylor while CAIR had promoted the conference online. CAIR’s radical political allies such as the past and present Congress members Keith Ellison, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib also appeared in the conference lineup. New York City Muslim-American political activist Debbie Almontaser and the nationally-known Gold Star father Khizr Khan also continued their long history of event appearances with CAIR.
Such CAIR involvement gave this author a foreboding feeling when he purchased a conference ticket. CAIR’s longstanding practice of strictly scrutinizing event attendees does not allow entry for anyone who would question CAIR’s pro-jihad/sharia affiliations. CAIR has accordingly refused this author admittance to CAIR’s gala dinner, as well as CAIR Capitol Hill and National Press Club briefings.
CAIR’s aversion to prying eyes reflects a broader pattern among its likeminded Islamist allies. Georgetown University Professor Jonathan Brown once ejected this author from a lecture, before outrageously proclaiming that Islamic doctrine precluded condemnation of slavery and sex slavery. Brown later similarly revoked this author’s invitation to a conference co-hosted by Georgetown’s Saudi-established Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU), which Brown directs.
Representative Omar’s own personal behavior at the conference continued this see, hear, and speak no evil maxim. As with a past refused request to condemn Al Qaeda publicly, she responded testily to a request to denounce Muslim practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) made by a fellow panelist, Muslims for Progressive Values President Ani Zonneveld. Omar claimed that such questions directed at Muslims were offensive and rejected commenting upon FGM, a horror that 98 percent of females suffer in Omar’s ancestral Somalia, the highest rate globally.
Contrary to Omar’s no-comment policy, the conference’s very agenda raises disturbing questions that questioning reporters should raise. Her fellow panelist Khan rose to prominence on the basis of rebuking presidential candidate Donald Trump with the heartbreaking sacrifice of Khan’s son, an army captain killed during the Iraq war. Yet the CAIR official and conference participant Billoo has scandalously shown contempt for America’s war dead.
Even more disturbingly, Khan shared a conference panel with Omar and gushed over this radical’s role in supposedly strengthening a diverse America. Her name and those of and others “will be written with golden letters on the pages of history,” he stated. Contrastingly, other Americans will more remember how she slandered American military personnel as indiscriminate killers during the 1993 international relief operation in Somalia.
Such conference content caused American Muslim reformer Zuhdi Jasser to term the event a collection of “Islamist all-stars,” a description that shades even more negatively the conference’s attempts at political influence. Given the modern American Muslims’ heavily Democratic-leaning political proclivities, conference organizers had invited the Democratic 2020 presidential candidates to attend. That only Senator Elizabeth Warren agreed to make a livestream address disappointed the organizers.
Leading Democrats may have stayed away from CAIR and its allies at the conference for now, but Americans as a group should demand closer scrutiny of these groups. In particular, Democrat public figures attending such future events must face difficult questions about who does and does not attend according to gatekeepers guarding against “Islamophobia.” A free public has a right to know what these self-identified Muslim conclaves mean for the wider body politic.
Andrew E. Harrod, PhD, JD, Esq. is the author of over 150 articles online and in print concerning various political, religious, and international relations topics.