The Anatomy of CAIR’s Orlando Statement
CAIR's statement on the Orlando shootings was a layer cake of deceptions about radical Islam, masking their subversion of a tragedy to forward their own agenda.
BY Shireen Qudosi · @ShireenQudosi | June 16, 2016
On Sunday June 12, 2016, 29-yearold American-born Omar Mir Seddique Mateen launched the most devastating attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. With up to 50 confirmed dead and 53 wounded, the son of Afghan immigrants single-handedly led an organized attack on Pulse, a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
At approximately 2 a.m. EST, Mateen – whose father claims he was at some point incensed after seeing two men kissing – began terrorizing and killing club goers. Twenty minutes into the rampage, Mateen placed a call to 911 dispatchers during which time he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS). The incident ended with Mateen’s death. Mateen had been on Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Homeland Security watch lists after being suspected as an ISIS sympathizer.
Before the dust had settled and as Americans were waking up across the country, another organization was quick to surface to the scene: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Within hours of the tragedy, CAIR hosted a press event expressing their dismay and disapproval of the massacre of 50 American lives.
CAIR’s National Communications Director and spokesperson, Ibrahim Hooper, offered a “condemnation of this horrific crime.” Following Hooper, CAIR founder and National Director, Nihad Awad spoke. This is what he said:
“As a Muslim as an American, I would like to make this statement. Our hearts thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We offer condolences to the families and we pray for the recovery of the survivors. This is a hate crime, plain and simple. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms. It violates our principles as Americans and as Muslims. Let me be clear, we have no tolerance for extremism of any kind. We must not tolerate hateful rhetoric that incites violence against minorities. Religious freedom is the cornerstone of our beliefs as Muslims and as Americans. Today we must stand united. For many years, the LGBTQIA community have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Muslim community with any acts of hate crimes, Islamophobia, marginalization and discrimination. Today we stand with them, shoulder to shoulder. The liberation of the American Muslim community is profoundly linked to the liberation of other minority groups: Blacks, Latinos, Gay, Jewish, Trans, and every other community that has faced discrimination and oppression in this country. We cannot fight injustice against some group and not against others. Homophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia are interconnected systems of oppression. And we cannot dismantle one without dismantling the others. Homophobia and other forms of phobia take lives in this country every day, and we must stand up for the victims and their families. The criminals, the terrorists and the extremists behind this kind of attacks mean only to divide us and turn us against one another. We cannot afford to let them succeed. As Muslims, as Americans, now is the time to speak out and make it clear that we will not give into hate and fear. We heard in the news that the alleged perpetrator called in and pledged allegiance to Daesh or as we call it, ISIS. I have a word for ISIS and their supporters. How would you stand before God and answer to your crimes against thousands of innocent people, Muslims, Christians and other minorities. You do not speak for us. You do not represent us. You are an aberration. You are an outlaw, or as we call it in Islam, they are ‘khewarej,” they are outlaws. They don’t speak for our faith. They don’t belong to our beautiful faith. They claim to, but the 1.7 billion people are united in rejected their extremism and their interpretation and their acts and senseless violence. And to those politicians who may try to exploit this tragedy, we ask them to respect the victims and their families. This is not the time to score points. This is not the time to exploit fear. This is the time for unity and faith. Thank you.”
Nihad Awad’s statement is a layer cake of deceit and manipulation. It’s riddled with divisive language, Islamic supremacy, exaggerations, misdirection and threats. At almost every turn, Awad exploits a jihadi attack as an opportunity to further the Islamist group’s agenda.
Early in the statement, Awad takes the opportunity to set the stage and define the narrative. There’s zero mention of Mateen’s own words, and instead Awad refers to the act as a “hate crime.” It’s a strategic move. The choice of language directs our attention away from Islamic terrorism, and focuses us instead upon CAIR’s agenda of supporting America’s ‘disenfranchised’ Muslims. The country that has given Muslims every opportunity to worship freely and rise free of social and economic chains that keep them oppressed in Muslim nations, is carefully painted by CAIR as an oppressor of Muslim Americans.
The Deep Well of Hate, Violence and Extremism
In fact, extremism, violence and hate toward minorities are characteristics common in Muslim-majority countries. From Turkey to Pakistan, homosexuality is seen as an incurable disease of the mind that justifies psychological and physical abuse.
Islamic governments following in the footsteps of radical Islam are known for taking extreme measures to ‘deal with’ gays. ISIS throws gay people off rooftops. Iran flogs and hangs members of the LGBTQ community from cranes. In Yemen, the sentence for gay sex ranges between whippings, up to 7 years prison time, or death by stoning. In Iraq, judges following a sharia-based penal system will order death sentences for homosexuality. Homosexuality is hated in the Muslim world because Islamic ideology demands zero tolerance for it.
Yet strangely, some of these cultures do fully endorse pedarasty. In Afghanistan, the practice of “bacha bazi” (or “boy play”) shackles young boys into prostitution rings. Among the burdening horde of Muslim refugees coming into Europe, sodomy of young boys has also become commonplace. Somehow the Islamic world has often managed to endorse the most poisonous sorts of sexual abuse that happen to involve homosexual conduct, without finding room for decent men and women who want to live loving lives as adults.
Even in Muslim homes across America, Muslims are ostracized from their community and disowned by their family for being gay. Some LGBT Americans in culturally Muslim families can come out of the closet if their families are not too devoutly religious. Others must live a double life, running significant psychological risks by doing so. New mothers are warned not to allow their young children — toddler or preschool aged boys – to wear nail polish, or even a tuck flower in their hair for fear that they might “become gay.” There is a deep seated fear and loathing of any identity that is not strictly in accord with Islam’s sexual code of conduct.
The Myth of Standing “Shoulder to Shoulder” with the LGBT Community
Awad’s statement is literary fiction that imagines CAIR’s “shoulder to shoulder” alliance with the gay and lesbian community. In fact, prior to the Islamopobia event that was canceled after the Orlando jihadi attack in order to then have a LGBT solidarity event, there is no documented or institutional partnerships or support by CAIR of the LGBT community. It doesn’t exist.
Nevertheless, that is the narrative that CAIR’s Orange County chapter started spinning within days of the tragedy. They have been portraying themselves as long-time friends of the gay community. Well, long-time Muslim residents in Southern California whom I interviewed have attested that this is a total fabrication.
CAIR’s and Islam’s 21st Century Paranoia
A millennia ago, Muslims would look out the window and imagines jinns. The modern Muslim looks out the window and sees the ‘great white oppressor.’ These are largely fantasies, much like the fantasies CAIR spins to get a bleeding heart public to sympathize with it.
For CAIR and Muslim Americans siding with an Islamist agenda, their paranoia is one where a “white” America strips and oppresses Muslim identity. American Muslim identity is only rigid yet feeble because organizations like CAIR shelter it from dialogue and critical conversation, even that which is introduced by reform-minded Muslims like myself.
American culture is not without its faults, but it is a largely tolerant society that has sheltered millions of refugees – including Muslim Americans – long before the modern Islamist narrative painted America as an oppressor of Muslim identity.
In fact, America needs to be far more aware of its immigrant community. Each immigrant that comes to America brings more than just a suitcase. They bring their hope, their dreams, and their culture. Others bring other things. Mateen’s father was supporter of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, a group whose values are fundamentally opposed to American secular democracy. The Taliban is also a terrorist group America has been at war with for over a decade, ever since they sheltered al Qaeda terrorists who had planned the 9/11 attacks.
The younger Mateen was born an American citizen but flocked to the teachings of Marcus Dwayne Robertson (aka Abu Taubah). He was a bank robber turned radical Muslim cleric who is alleged to have further influenced Mateen.
That is what we’re seeing from Muslim Americans – immigrant or not. We are seeing a renewed and unflinching “Muslimness” that rejects the hybrid East-West identity that has produced many secular and even reform-minded Muslims. Instead, last week 50 people lost their lives to a man guided by a strong sense of Islamic supremacy. That sense is growing stronger within the United States and abroad. It is also an Islamic supremacy that is peddled by CAIR at every turn. The ghettos of the mind that CAIR constructs are even more dangerous than the Muslim enclaves Europe is struggling to cope with.
Supremacism isn’t exclusive to Neo-Nazi groups. It is also rooted also in Islamic ideology. Islam adopted an aggressive and warring position against non-Muslims in order to survive through Islam’s early years. The extremism, violence and hate is a systematic part of radical Islamic doctrine and it is what justified Mateen’s violence against American citizens.
CAIR wants to paint the extremist thinking as a result of outside influences that has victimized Muslims as much as it has victimized other Americans. What Awad is point blank telling the media and grieving Americans is to remember that “we’re victims too.”
Nothing could be further from the truth, nor more dishonorable and cowardly.
CAIR hijacked a national tragedy triggered by a person whose faith CAIR claims to represent. The only reason CAIR works so hard to be a first responder to jihadi acts of violence is so that it can control the narrative. Its real interest is not standing with gays, but in controlling the minds of the American people. CAIR is like the mythic serpent, making a calculated and underhanded move to subvert the mourning of the wounded gay community. Instead, CAIR wanted the ceremony to serve its own agenda.
A Press Blue Print to Challenge CAIR
CAIR National’s press conference where Awad spoke in response to the oppression of minorities and the attack on Pulse, came complete with its own act of oppression against a minority. CAIR Spokesman Ibrahim Hooper along with other CAIR representatives at the event, forced a Breitbart reporter to leave the premises before the event started. With micro-expressions unquestionably revealing hostility, a disengaged Hooper – not the calm face and tone he wore later for the cameras – demanded the reporter leave, adding the event is “for legitimate media only. Breitbart and you are not legitimate media.”
With the Breitbart reporter pressing for an explanation on why he isn’t “legitimate media,” another CAIR official referenced past articles Breitbart has produced that are critical of CAIR. The reporter choose to leave peacefully after CAIR called the police to have him ejected from the building.
CAIR, a group that prides itself as defending minorities and spoke moments later in defense of minority communities, threatened to remove a reporter who was the minority in a room. And this, no less, on a day of national mourning where moments later Nihad Awad went on stage speaking against systems of oppression.
CAIR is a system of oppression. They’re rooted in Muslim Brotherhood ideology that is supportive of the most extreme interpretations of Islam. CAIR monopolizes Islam in America and routinely lobbies for counter narrative propaganda that exploit deepening cracks in American society. CAIR has documented links with the terrorist group Hamas. Their goals include softening the United States, socially and politically, for the next wave of ideological infiltration.
Media outlets, bloggers, and group organizers need to rally together to focus their efforts on taking CAIR down. Effectively challenging CAIR requires a multi-wave plan of attack.
First: Cease Giving CAIR Relevance as a Muslim American Organization
The jihadi attack in Orlando has given rise to voices in the Muslim American subculture who are also tired of CAIR monopolizing a larger faith. If a journalist needs a Muslim American response, then reach out to an alternate source of Muslim Americans who can introduce you to Muslim points of view that are not as corrosive as continuing to give CAIR a national platform. Groups such as Muslims for Progressive Values, Critical Loyalty, The Qudosi Chronicles, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and The Muslim Reform Movement can connect with you Muslim voices and experts so the public can cease relying on CAIR as a mouthpiece for American Muslims.
Second: Overwhelm CAIR with Engagement
No media outlet needs to wait for a national situation to request a response. There are many issues surfacing weekly and plenty of brewing stories that shed light on deeper shifts within the Muslim American culture. Develop those stories and ask CAIR for critical responses that force them to take controversial positions. CAIR will offer vague responses or they’ll give a safe answer. Do not accept these. Push back and if needed connect with secular Muslim Americans who are openly anti-Islamist to help formulate questions that do not allow for vague or oversimplified answers.
CAIR is already growing flustered by pushback from Muslim reformers. The Islamist group has gotten good at adapting to appear American but they’re entirely unskilled in controversy and conflict. Muslim reformers on the other hand, live and breathe controversy; they know how to leverage it to expose the underbelly of Islamist personalities. Work with Muslim reformers as needed to help overwhelm CAIR in both time and resources, while also psychologically exhausting them.
Third: Stimulate and Document Moments of Controversy
Whether it’s over the phone in recorded interviews or at live events that are recorded or live-streamed through Periscope, it is critical to ‘out’ CAIR representatives the way Breitbart did. Being skilled at doing this off the cuff means understanding the controversies surrounding CAIR.
The simplest way is through Islam. CAIR will always take advantage of an opportunity to promote Islam. Members of the press can respond with genuine questions that show an understanding of Islam. In the case of the attack on Pulse, know that atrocities against homosexuality are common place in the Muslim world. Attacks against the community are condoned by Al-Azhar University, the highest scholarly authority in the Muslim world – one that is respected by CAIR.
For instance, consider Al-Azhar’s declaration that homosexuality is a “moral atrocity.” Notable scholars at Al-Azhar University relied on teachings in the Quran, sharia (Islamic law) and the Hadiths (second hand accounts of the Prophet Muhammad) to make this declaration.
They further underlined that homosexuality is punishable by death.
If CAIR responds that the Quran has layered meaning and interpretation toward homosexuailty, then ask if CAIR disagrees with the Al-Azhar ruling. If CAIR adheres to traditionalist interpretation of Islam, which they do, they will not be able to denounce the Quran, hadiths or Sunnah – and they certainly won’t go against a decree from Al-Azhar.
Engaging CAIR at this level does not need to be hostile. It just needs to be persistent. Reporters should remain steadfast on the question of justified acts of violence in the Quran, a culture of violence against the gay community in the Muslim world, and their own practice at smiting minority opinions that aren’t supporting of an Islamic supremacist worldview.
We may not be able to easily control the next jihadi attack on American soil, but we need not suffer the political and social warfare that CAIR routinely wages. Prayers for Orlando are meaningless if we cannot or will not do everything in our power to destroy radical, political Islam.
Shireen Qudosi is a Muslim writer based in California.
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