The Washington Post reports:
Allegations of religious bias are being leveled against a notable federal body: the one responsible for monitoring international religious freedom.
Some past commissioners, staff and former staff of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom say the agency charged with advising the president and Congress is rife, behind-the-scenes, with ideology and tribalism, with commissioners focusing on pet projects that are often based on their own religious background. In particular, they say an anti-Muslim bias runs through the commission’s work– a charge denied by its chairman, Leonard Leo.
From the start, critics say, the commission has disproportionately focused its efforts on the persecution of Christians, while too often ignoring other religious communities and downplaying their claims of persecution.
“It was predetermined who the bad guys are and who the good guys are,” said Khaled Abou El Fadl, a Muslim who served as a commissioner from 2003 to 2007 and teaches human rights at UCLA. “There is a very pronounced view of the world, and it is that victims of religious discrimination are invariably Christian. It was rather suffocating.”
Although the persecution of minorities in many Muslim majority countries cannot be denied, there is certainly no monopoly on religious intolerance. Muslims are persecuted in many countries, such as in China, Russia, and Israel. To its credit, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom does address some of these issues. Yet, former and current employees allege that this is only at the insistence of the staff, which often compensates for the pro-Christian and anti-Muslim bias. The Washington Post article goes on:
Others who work or used to work for the commission said advocacy for Muslims and the balance typically evident in the commission’s public statements are due to the professional staff.
“When anti-Muslim violence is mentioned, it’s usually because staff forces it,” said Kustin, 26, a South Asia researcher for the commission until she resigned in July to protest commissioners withdrawing Ghori-Ahmad’s contract. “The staff compensates for the biases of the commissioners.”
As with other congressionally created bodies, the commission is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, so meetings and internal communications are private. With commissioners allowed to focus on any issue, their work is vulnerable to charges of arbitrariness.
What really irks me is when ideologues exploit and abuse the suffering of people to further their agendas and push their hate-infested propaganda. It is these people who gleefully report the persecution of their coreligionists in order simply to demonize what they see as “the other.” They view it as a football match: each time they can report “the other” persecuting someone else, that’s a score! The concern is not for the persecuted, but for demonizing a population. Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller do it, and so do Usama bin Ladin and his cronies. Two sides of the same coin.
We certainly cannot tolerate our tax dollars being used to further the propaganda of right wing Christians who view the world in a binary way. These charges should be taken very seriously and thoroughly investigated. And by investigated, I don’t mean it the way the Israeli government does when it says that.