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Take Action: Protest Zuhdi Jasser’s Farcical Appointment to the USCIRF

Guest Editorial by J. Hausner (Islamophobia Today)

Please take the few minutes required to sign this petition!

Sen. Mitch McConnell‘s choice of Zuhdi Jasser for appointment to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) can only be described as a farce. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser has amassed a reputation as a prominent Islamophobia-enabler and ally of anti-Muslim organizations (well known for their attempts to diminish American Muslims’ civil and religious liberties).

The appointment of Jasser undermines the USCIRF’s purported goals of reviewing, “the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress.” The appointment of Jasser is a “contradiction in terms” because Jasser has been a useful ally to some of the most virulent forces working against religious and civil liberties in the USA.

There are several key reasons why this is so:

1.) Most problematically, Jasser allies himself with and receives funding from anti-Muslim organizations and personalities who work tirelessly to curb the religious and civil liberties of Muslims in the USA.

Jasser’s organization has received funding, to the tune of $100,000 from a major backer of Rick Santorum, Foster Friess. Friess was featured as one of the major backers of Islamophobic organizations in the Center for American Progress’s groundbreaking report,Fear, Inc.: On the Roots of the Islamophobia Network:

According to the Washington Post, Jasser received a $100,000 donation from Christian conservative financier Foster Friess, who is now bankrolling the super-PAC supporting Rick Santorum’s presidential bid. Jasser declined to elaborate on exactly how much Friess had given AIFD, though he said the financier contributed $70,000 to his organization in 2010 for a Muslim youth retreat hosted by the group. (Friess told MSNBC that he was backing Santorum because he is “incredibly versed in one of the number one issues of our time—and that is violent Islamic extremism.”)

Jasser told Mother Jones that the AIFD had accepted $5,000 from the Center for Security Policy:

The center published a report in 2010 warning that American Muslims are seeking to replace the Constitution with a strict interpretation of Islamic law. The “expert” in Islamic religious law cited in the report, an attorney named David Yerushalmi, is responsible for authoring draft anti-Shariah legislation that has served as a blueprint for anti-Shariah laws across the US. Yerushalmi has suggested that “acting in furtherance of Islam” should be a felony.

Mother Jones also reports that,

Jasser said his group has also received a one-time, unsolicited donation of $10,000 from the Clarion Fund, which is associated with Aish HaTorah, a right-wing Israeli group described by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic as “just about the most fundamentalist movement in Judaism today.”

The Clarion Fund has released several films that warn of Muslim conspiracies to reestablish a global caliphate. Jasser is a Clarion board member and in 2008 narrated a documentary bankrolled by the group called The Third Jihad, which darkly warns that Muslim extremists are attempting to “infiltrate and dominate America,” a conspiracy implicating most prominent American Muslim organizations. The New York Times reported that the film was shown to thousands of NYPD officers as part of their counterterrorism training, which the police department later apologized for.

How can an individual who supports the curbing of Muslim civil and religious liberties at home be trusted as a ”commissioner” to review and analyze violations of religious freedoms abroad?

2.) In another blow to the religious liberties and freedoms of American Muslims, Jasser’s organization the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) supports state wide legislative bans on Muslim personal religious practice relating to: marriage, prayer, wills, etc. Jasser’s organization has published press releases “applauding” such legislation, which many, including US Courts have considered unconstitutional infringements on the religious liberties of Muslims.

How can an individual who supports the curbing of Muslim civil and religious liberties at home be trusted as a ”commissioner” to review and analyze violations of religious freedoms abroad?

3.) Jasser was outspoken in his opposition to an interfaith and Islamic Center in Manhattan, supporting efforts to block it from being built, remarking that, “This center is trying to change the narrative of 9/11 — to diminish what happened at Ground Zero.”

How can an individual who supports the curbing of Muslim civil and religious liberties at home be trusted as a ”commissioner” to review and analyze violations of religious freedoms abroad?

4.) Jasser’s advocacy and support for the NYPD’s illegal profiling and secret surveillance program targeting Muslims for monitoring at their houses of worship, businesses and universities is not only unconscionable but contradicts the USCIRF’s purported goals of reviewing “the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress.” 

Once again, how can an individual who supports the curbing of Muslim civil and religious liberties at home be trusted as a ”commissioner” to review and analyze violations of religious freedoms abroad?

The above points are only a snippet of why the choice of Zuhdi Jasser as a US Commissioner on  International Religious Freedom makes a mockery of the legitimacy of the USCIRF.

The US cannot legitimately or conscientiously criticize other nations when one of its own commissioner’s is a flagrant violator of religious liberty at home.

Please take the few minutes required to sign this petition calling on Sen. Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner and the US Congress to repeal Zuhdi Jasser’s appointment to the USCIRF as flagrant oversight that presents a moral contradiction and a likely source of  international embarrassment to the US.

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  • Reynardine

    A lot of Spanish surnames sound Islamic, and many people of Spanish descent look so, because their ancestors were moriscos. I had a student, very long ago, whose surname was Abuchaibe and whose looks went with it, yet his family had been both Catholic and Colombian for four centuries. I also knew a family of the purest Castilian blood who favored Moorish names for their daughters. There are quite a few more types who are probably taken for “Mooslins” and “Ayrabs” when they’re not, and they’ve probably come in for more carp than I have.

  • Juju

    I am happy to see this petition. I hope it makes a change! Keep us updated!

  • Susie

    Why is he a hero, Gus?

  • Crow

    so ask him on a date then Gus

  • Gus

    Dr. Jasser is a hero!!!

  • Daniel

    Reynardine, it’s kind of funny, but where I live there are lots of “Medinas”, though they’ve been in the United States since before it was the United States. A lot of Spanish surnames sound “Muslimy”, even though 99 % of the Medinas I meet are Catholic (the rest being Protestant.)

    And yes, a lot of them could pass for “Middle Eastern” in looks. I can only imagine what the TSA thinks when then travel outside of areas with high Hispanic populations.

  • Daniel

    I am an Evangelical Christian, and signed the petition. I’m a bit surprised that more haven’t signed it.

  • Reynardine

    I signed the petition. Naturally, one must put one’s own name to a petition, and I did; these day, one must put one’s email, and I did; this one requests a physical address, as well. I am not a Muslim and never was, though my surname is one thought of as such; I am American born of Americans; yet the midnight knock on the door crossed my mind. How much more strongly, then, might others have been affected? That might be the reason your numbers are slow.

    I note to my disgust that this man looks something like Eric Cantor.

  • Géji

    @No imaginary friends

    Why don’t you use yourself the “donation” you’re willing to give Jasser The-cheerleader of hate, and open-up your own bigotry club from where you’re from?? Cause last I’ve heard, anti-Muslims/Islam hatred was an open business pretty easy to join.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee CriticalDragon1177

    @JD

    Unfortunately anti Muslim bigots have done a very good job of demonizing CAIR. I got into an argument with an anti Muslim bigot on someone elses youtube channel, and he brought up CAIR.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee CriticalDragon1177

    @JD

    Maybe we’re just not doing a good enough Job getting the message out, or maybe its a bit too early. I might consider making a video for my Youtube Channel on this, but I don’t know how. So far I’ve only know how to mirror videos made by other people. But even so, I don’t have a lot of subscribers, yet.

  • Solid Snake

    OT but this a must read especially about the MEK,

    LW can you guys post this its by Glenn Greenwald with contributing writer Jeremiah Goulka
    http://www.salon.com/2012/03/28/guest_op_ed_mek_and_its_material_supporters_in_washington/singleton/#comments

    Ill post the part about the MEK (Its disgusting and scary how evil this group is, Something out of a novel or video game)

    By Jeremiah Goulka

    THE IRAN WAR HAWKS’ FAVORITE CULT GROUP

    Despite the flurry of support by some prominent politicians as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scrutinizes its case, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a dissident Iranian group based in Iraq with a propaganda arm in Paris, is no enigma.

    The U.S. declared the MEK a terrorist organization 13 years ago partly because the group is thought to have assassinated three U.S. Army officers and three U.S. civilian contractors in Tehran in the 1970s. The group’s pep rallies feature U.S. politicians lured with high fees to come speak on its behalf. The MEK wants the U.S. government to take the group off its terrorist list – as the E.U. and U.K. have already done. But before that happens the group requires close scrutiny.

    I studied the MEK for the U.S. military and visited Camp Ashraf, the MEK facility 40 miles north of Baghdad. I also interviewed former MEK members. As Human Rights Watch also concluded, I saw that the MEK is a cult. It uses brainwashing, sleep deprivation, and forced labor to indoctrinate members. It segregates men from women, mandates celibacy, forces married members to divorce (except for its leaders), and separates families and friends who must seek permission just to converse.

    MEK members must report their private sexual thoughts at group meetings and endure public shaming. In a Catch-22, those who deny having sexual thoughts are accused of hiding them and shamed, too. The cult has but one purpose: to put itself in charge in Iran.

    A brief history lesson illuminates how the MEK transformed from a radical student group in 1965 to what it is today. When the MEK was founded it embraced both Marxism and Islam and dedicated itself to the violent overthrow of the Shah of Iran. All this is reflected in its name, the “People’s Holy Warriors.” By 1979 the MEK evolved into a major movement that threatened Ayatollah Khomeini’s dominance after the Iranian Revolution. He suppressed the group, executing some leaders and imprisoning others. In 1981 some MEK leaders escaped in a stolen plane. Among these was Masoud Rajavi. Exiled to Paris, he established the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella organization of Iranian dissident groups opposed to Khomeini. The NCRI soon became the propaganda arm of the MEK. Rajavi’s wife, Maryam, runs the NCRI, which is also on the U.S. terror list. She calls herself “president-elect” of the NCRI’s “parliament-in-exile.”

    When Saddam Hussein waged war against Iran, Rajavi moved the MEK from Paris to Iraq. His alliance with Saddam in a brutally violent war cost the MEK credibility and its font of recruits. Isolated in Iraq’s desert, Rajavi instituted authoritarian control over his decimated army and confiscated his troops’ assets. He encouraged Saddam to send Iranian POWs to MEK’s Camp Ashraf rather than repatriate them. With promises of asylum for POWs and family reunions with the new MEK members, Rajavi duped Iranian visitors to come to the camp and stole their passports so they couldn’t leave.

    Human Rights Watch reports that those who tried to escape endured confinement or torture. After the U.S. invaded Iraq, the MEK ejected its most “difficult” members and used guards and concertina wire to entrap the rest. Members must swear allegiance to Masoud and Maryam, whose pictures are in every building at Camp Ashraf. But these days Maryam’s is the public face of the NCRI. Masoud Rajavi mysteriously disappeared in 2003.

    Maryam trumpets the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program and gives the NCRI credit for discovering Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. That self-serving claim is doubtful, as is the NCRI’s posture as a democratic government-in-waiting. While its propaganda arm espouses Western values to Western audiences, the MEK continues to force-feed its doctrine to members who may not criticize the Rajavis and are not free to leave the Ashraf compound.

    While many people would like to see a change of regime in Tehran, no one should believe that the MEK would provide Iran with a government based on liberty and justice for all. Indeed, based upon its treatment of its own adherents in Iraq, a MEK regime might not be much improvement over the current one.

  • JD

    and the petition was sent out by CAIR in there email news letter still only 600 people have signed it

  • JD

    What is sad is the petition has 600 people only
    600 PEOPLE

    come on muslim community where are you . This is what really Piss Me Off .

    If this was about the jewish community or the Black community there would been over 10,000 people on there by now.

    No one will help people that dont help them self Get off your lazy butts and do something.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee CriticalDragon1177

    @Garibaldi

    It might not be planned or organization in anyway. Many of the Islamophobes who post comments here aren’t even trying to make an argument. On at least a few occasions they just leveled insults at Loon Watch. A lot of them just might be angry and wanting to mouth off, knowing full well they won’t change anyone’s mind.

  • Garibaldi

    Interesting how the haters send sock puppets like “no imaginary friends” to LW all the time.

  • Aspie and Atheist

    No imaginary friend here:

    Stop antagonizing and grow up, dumbass.

  • Aspie and Atheist

    I recently got a DVD in the mail from the Clarion fund about how supposedly Muslims are trying to take over the world and the threat of “radical Islam”

    I broke the DVD’s and then threw them out in the trash, the place where all the rest of this anti-Muslim/anti-Islam rubbish belongs.

  • crow

    No imaginary friends here, when mommy gives you your allowance send it here it will be put to good use. Now go back to whatever Justin bieber site you were looking at before you decided to go trolling a**hole

  • crow

    No imaginary friends here, yes in fact there is a way for you to donate….when mommy gives you your allowance send it to this site, we’ll make sure he gets it. Now back to looking at the Justin bieber site you were on before you decided to troll a**hole

  • mindy1

    I wonder why he was chosen to begin with…

  • No imaginary friends here

    It looks interesting I will be sure to look into Mar Jasser further from the little I’ve read he seems to be quite a decent person. I wonder if foreigners like me can donate to him or his organisation?

  • Omar

    McConnell is a Republican .. i mean it’s understandable that he would choose an idiot like Jasser.

  • JT

    Zuhdi Jasser has no right to tell other countries about religious freedom when he fights against it in his own country.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee CriticalDragon1177

    @Guest

    Thanks for posting this here. I just signed the petition.

    By the way, here’s more on Jasser from Sheila Musaji.

    Zuhdi Jasser-AIFD/AILC – Identified by Rep. King as Ideal American Muslim Leadership
    http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/zuhdi_jasser/0018442

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