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December 7, 2007

Zuhdi Jasser: 'Exposing the "Flying Imams'

CAIR.jpg

We've previously noted that the entire "praying imams" event fits squarely in the Islamist agenda to use our freedoms and legal systems against us and was planned, evidenced by the almost immediate request by Muslim Congressman-elect Keith Ellison to meet with executives of US Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission. The "playing out of an agenda" has been so obvious that it was actually hypothesized in an Investors Businesss Daily editorial, then proven.

Now in The Middle East Quarterly - Winter 2008, M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, takes the "Flying Imams" and their attempt to extort the airlines and the public to task, writing among other things, that countering Islamism and combating Islamist terrorism should be a greater public responsibility for the organized American Muslim community than the obsession with civil rights and victimization in which current Islamist organizations like CAIR engage, and says the credibility of the Muslim community suffers because groups such as CAIR, ISNA, and the North American Imams Federation deny the interplay between Islamism and terrorism (HT - LGF):


[...] On November 20, 2006, airline officials in Minneapolis removed six imams from U.S. Airways flight 300 to Phoenix after their behavior raised the suspicion of fellow travelers.[1] The imams decried the incident as racist and evidence of discrimination. On March 12, 2007, they filed suit against the airline, airport, and fellow passengers. Some of the imams' claims are exaggerated; many are false. In reality, the incident was a tactical move to support the imams' claim to leadership over the American Muslim community. Indeed, the "flying imams" case, Ahmed Shqeirat et al. vs. U.S. Airways,[2] appears to mark just the latest front in the war between Islamists and mainstream, pluralistic American Muslims.

The airport episode appeared pre-planned, the American equivalent of the manufactured Danish cartoon controversy, in which Danish Islamists, who hoped to benefit from polarization, exaggerated victimization and sought a pretext for crisis.[3] The six imams, five of whom hailed from the Phoenix area, were returning from a North American Imams Federation conference. Three drew attention to themselves when they conducted prayers at the departure gate rather than in the airport chapel or quietly in their seats. However, they drew no response. On the plane, however, they aroused passenger suspicion with loud Arabic conversations, requests for apparently unnecessary seat-belt extenders--which can be used as weapons--and a post-boarding seating switch. Other passengers expressed their worries to the crew, who had them removed. After this incident, Omar Shahin, president of the North American Imams Federation and a prominent Phoenix imam, told the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR, an Islamist advocacy group) and its attorneys, "Security at the airport isn't our problem; it's their problem."

[...] The involvement of CAIR, an organization that has received significant Saudi financing,[5] injected impressive machinery and resources into the case. Omar Shahin explained, "Since minute one of this incident, I contacted [CAIR communications director] Ibrahim Hooper and [CAIR executive director] Brother Nihad Awad, and we arranged everything ... Everything's being coordinated with CAIR."

[...] I have known three of the plaintiffs in the U.S. Airways suit for almost a decade. Soon after settling in Arizona in 1999, I became involved in the local Muslim community. Before moving to Scottsdale, I usually attended Friday congregational prayer services at the Islamic Community Center of Tempe, Arizona. Often, Ahmed Shqeirat, now the primary plaintiff, delivered sermons at the mosque where he has long been imam. I was struck by the political nature of his sermons. He repeatedly criticized both U.S. domestic and foreign policy and often exaggerated Muslim victimization. He advocated political unification of Muslims internationally and blamed the United States, Israel, and the West for perceived slights. He called for the political empowerment of Muslims in American society.

After hearing several sermons, I spoke and wrote to him to express my dismay at his emphasis of political over spiritual topics. He responded that "secularism is Godlessness" and asserted a right to "speak about political injustice." The concept of purely spiritual Islam and creation of an intellectual environment welcoming to all Muslims regardless of political persuasion was anathema to him.

To give one example of his abuse of pulpit, during a Friday sermon in April 2004, he displayed an image, which CAIR had distributed, of an American soldier in Iraq with two young Iraqi boys. In the photo, the soldier held a sign saying, "Lcpl Boudreaux killed my dad, then he knocked up my sister."[15] Shqeirat neither made any attempt to verify the image's authenticity nor to determine, if real, whether it was representative. Nor, when he was asked, could he explain how such a display related to Islamic theology or spirituality. The goal of using faith identity to divide society highlights the incompatibility of Islamism with traditions of American culture and society.

I had similar concerns regarding the sermons of Marwan Saadeddin, another plaintiff, whose sermons I heard in the Phoenix Valley. Following the U.S. Air 300 incident, Saadeddin spun the incident to the media[16] and transformed it into a parable of victimization during a Friday sermon at a Phoenix Valley mosque. During the sermon, I heard him say, "I'd rather be dead than removed from an airplane in handcuffs." Such is the political and fanatical ranting of one of Arizona's leading imams. As is common among Islamist preachers, he substituted politics for theology and spirituality.

I also know Omar Shahin, another imam plaintiff. He resides in the Phoenix area and has been the head of the Valley Imam Council of Phoenix, the former imam of the Islamic Center of Tucson, a teacher with the Arizona Cultural Academy, and the imam of the Islamic Center of the East Valley. His hyperbole is typical of the Phoenix-area Islamists. He called the day of his eviction from the U.S. Air flight "the worst day of [his] life,"[17] a statement far more forceful than any he issued after the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the March 11, 2004 train bombings in Madrid, the July 7, 2005 London bus and Underground bombings, or in response to any Al-Qaeda video seeking to justify the murder of Americans and noncombatants in the name of religion. Indeed, he blamed the 9-11 attacks not on Muslim terrorists but on the CIA and FBI.[18]

There should also be concern regarding the involvement of some of the imams with Islamic charities shuttered because of their terror financing. Shahin was the Arizona representative of Kindhearts and the Holy Land Foundation, both of which the U.S. Treasury Department shut down because of their involvement with Hamas.[19] Saadeddin dismissed Hamas connections as any reason for concern, recently stating that, "Hamas has nothing to do with [the] United States. Talk about Al-Qaeda only, because this is where they hit America ... [If] America consider[s] it--the foreign policy of America consider[s] Hamas--as a terrorist. That's their business."

Continue reading: Exposing the "Flying Imams"

Cross posted from Hyscience



Posted by Mike in Iraq at December 7, 2007 11:36 AM





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