“There is nothing to fear in Islam,” proclaimed Imam Talib M. Shareef during the February 9 “Tackling Islamophobia at Home” presentation at Washington, D.C.’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. Before over 300 largely sympathetic listeners in the library’s Great Hall entrance atrium, the panel presented an airbrushed understanding of an Islam perfectly at home within a “Red-Green” alliance.
Shareef, imam at a Washington, DC, area mosque, defined Islam as “surrendering to peace” and thus conjoined the disputed translations of this Arabic word as “peace” or, more accurately, “submission.” Among Shareef’s questionable Quranic interpretations, he indirectly referenced Quran 5:82 to suggest an Islamic scriptural basis for affinity between Christians and Muslims. Like many Islam apologists, he ignored how this very verse plays a central role among numerous Islamic canons supporting the antisemitism that is rampant among modern Muslims. Such inconvenient truths undercut his ludicrous contention that “there is nothing in the Quran that says anything against Christians and Jews.”
Shafeer’s fellow panelist, St. Mary’s College of Maryland professor Sahar Shafqat, strained credulity even more with her simultaneous struggles against “Islamophobia,” “homophobia,” and “transphobia.” She leads the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD), whose diversity does not include criticism of Islam, as shown by how she cited a Washington Blade article calling for restricting Islamic immigration: the politically incorrect references to Islam’s often lethal hostility to gays in Washington, DC’s leading LGBT newspaper prompted her to denounce the article’s “disgusting arguments and comments about how Islam is uniquely violent.”
Shafqat railed against President Donald Trump’s seven-nation temporary travel ban without any concern for national security. “There should not be a list, it just should not exist.” By contrast, she personally and MASGD as an organization have appealed to “reject Zionism by signing on to the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction campaign” (BDS) against Israel.
Also speaking was Corey Saylor from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Hamas-derived Islamist organization and unindicted terrorism financing co-conspirator. Saylor, who is the Director of CAIR’s Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia, dismissed any rationale behind Trump’s ban covering “seven countries from which exactly zero terror attacks on the United States have originated.” Saylor was ignoring the 72 individuals from these countries, which include the state terrorism sponsors of Iran, Sudan, and Syria, who have been convicted in recent years on terrorism-related offenses.
Saylor further criticized the travel ban as merely victimizing Muslims. He considered the ban’s preferences for minorities such as Christians who are targeted by jihadists an unconstitutional “favoring one group of people over another,” even though Soviet Jews received similar attention. The ban’s screening against support for phenomena such as honor killings or religious persecution, real enough dangers in Muslim countries, appeared to him as mere “code language that is used by the anti-Muslim network.”
Saylor worried that a “Muslim Ban Part II” would follow in an American designation of the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, as several other countries have done. Given CAIR’s background, this designation would place it and other like-minded organizations under increased scrutiny for their past and present affiliations. Saylor cast this justified vigilance as a squelching of all-American diversity, claiming that “people who have a political outlet right now will suddenly be deprived of their voice.” He similarly reviled and mischaracterized laws that were designed to protect Constitutional rights against the encroachment of foreign law, falsely stating that “ten states in this country that have passed laws that were intended to vilify Islam.”
Like Shafqat, CAIR also supports BDS; Saylor has condemned the “Israeli apartheid lobby.” Before going to work for CAIR, he worked from 1998 to 2001 at American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ), a defunct radical organization once described as “crudely anti-Jewish.” AMJ events featured neo-Nazis and accolades for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.
Saylor’s background should serve as a caveat when considering his call for interfaith understanding via community service projects, such as those that CAIR chapters and other Islamist organizations have undertaken with Habitat for Humanity. People from different faiths “both say the same kind of foul language when we hit our thumb with a hammer,” he stated, as if only these statements, and not what people say about totalitarian jihadist movements, mattered. He also urged participation in radical leftist organizations such as the Southern Poverty Leadership Council (SPLC), and praised as “awesome” the Women’s March on Washington led by his fellow Islamist radical Linda Sarsour.
Despite such disturbing biases, the panel received no critique from Jewish moderator Julie Zauzmer, a sympathetic Washington Post religion writer who rejected any suggestion that “Islam is a political ideology, not a religion.” Instead, Saylor dismissed critics of political Islam as bigots while calling upon his audience to form a kind of thought police and “not tolerate bias statements in conversations that you are taking part in.” Yet Islam’s role in a dangerous world deserves far more scrutiny than the monotone offered at the panel by establishment media, Islamic apologists or supremacists, or Washington, D.C. safe spaces.