Influence: The Muslim Brotherhood in America

The Media Rehabilitation of CAIR’s Nihad Awad

Recently served with a summons at CAIR's annual dinner, Awad is a self-described supporter of Hamas and a voice of radical Islam.

BY Shireen Qudosi · @ShireenQudosi | July 1, 2016

Awad being served at CAIR’s annual dinner.

Last winter, VICE revealed a “terrorism blacklist” it claims secretly wields power of the lives of millions. The article identifies prominent figures in the Muslim community red-flagged in a confidential database. Applauded as a “sterling piece of investigative journalism,” the article rehabilitates legitimately suspect individuals by treating Islamist and non-Islamists as leaders with equal gravitas.

They are not equal. There is a world of difference between Maajid Nawaz and Nihad Awad, both of whom are identified in the list. Nawaz is a widely respected activist and co-founder of Quilliam, a UK-based counter-extremism think tank that has done exemplary work in the field. Awad, an open supporter of Hamas, is co-founder and executive director of CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator of the Holy Land Foundation.

Hamas and its supporters continue to aggressively undermine regional peace and stability, acting as aggressors toward Israel and triggering greater bloodshed for the Palestinian people under the pretense of seeking liberation. Branded a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, Hamas supporters work toward the goal of establishing an Islamic State in its place – an Islamic State that by definition would undermine Israel’s right to exist at every possible opportunity. Hamas, like the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist ideology, is of a totalitarian mindset where no counter idea can be allowed to exist. This is the political and ideological makeup of Nihad Awad, who has been propped up as representative of the Muslim American community. The LA Times, for one, recently named Nihad Awad as one of the nation’s ‘new civil rights leaders.’

In the days after 9/11, Awad was invited to the White House press conference to denounce the attacks – the very type of violent attacks that Hamas launches daily on its own people and its Israeli neighbors. He’s been in closed-door meetings guiding the direction of America’s struggle with extremism; he has worked law enforcement agencies; and he’s a regular participant in U.S. State Department programs. Leveraging CAIR’s rising influence, Awad has also received a string of laurels applauding his service to the Muslim American community – the very community that CAIR undermines by demanding special treatment resulting in heightened frustrations with (and among) Muslim Americans.

Meanwhile, FBI analysts and other intelligence officials have reported Awad as being “intimately tied to the most senior Hamas leadership.” The National Security agency and the FBI were also engaged in surveillance of Awad’s email account. It’s little wonder why the intelligence community is struggling in the war on terror. On one hand the work of the intelligence community is frequently undermined and their intelligence ignored; on the other hand, red-flagged personalities like Awad continue to be propelled by media fan-fare and granted open door invitations with access to the highest levels of office.

And yet he, like CAIR, has been propped up as representative of the Muslim American community.

Appointing Awad as a figurehead of Muslim American leadership marginalizes secular Muslims like myself, and tens of thousands of others, who are far more diverse in our makeup. We branch from deeply spiritual to humanist, falling across the political spectrum and quickly learning to work together in innovative new ways with limited resources. We’re not only excluded from liberal media and government, but our entire existence is completely disregarded.

Even though Muslim like myself represent the plurality of Western society, we’re shunned because we don’t offer a PC-friendly ‘feel good’ story that can be lapped up by the media or used to score points (and votes) by liberal politicians who caricaturize the Muslim identity.

Muslim Americans don’t need rescuing or saving. We don’t need standing up for. We don’t need the rights of others infringed so we can be heard. We just need a leveled playing field where the diverse spectrum of Muslim American identity is recognized. That has not happened. As a result, over the last eight years a secular Muslim American society has activated, becoming skilled disruptors in response to increased obscurity in the face of extreme political correctness that favors victim narratives.

Brute force exclusion from mainstream narratives has forced secular Muslims like myself to adapt and find new ways to be heard. Muslim Americans have launched new organizations to draw attention to the Muslim American journey. Other Muslim American women set up successful local chapters, like the Council of Muslim Women, to better engage their communities without the limitations of patriarchal systems. Several years ago, I launched a blog as a way to be heard after hitting brick wall after brick wall with leaders at local Islamic organizations – none of whom were interested in collaborating with a female who didn’t seek an apologist world view from others. Yet, these leaders are part of the boys club Awad belongs to – a tight knit group of Islamists that work within the framework of civic groups to expand their agenda.

Someone like CAIR’s executive director Nihad Awad, who collaborates with and supports the rule of exclusion for counter narratives, is someone who represents neither civil rights nor American values. He doesn’t represent the burgeoning Muslim subculture seeking a platform for its voice.

The counter narratives are there and growing, leading to the rise of Muslim reformers and secular voices for humanity, particularly among Muslim American women who are the most disenfranchised Muslim population – none of which you’re going to hear about when the news of the day is wasted on rehabilitating Islamist personalities like Nihad Awad. Moderate Muslims, the very people who espouse American ideals, are the ones marginalized through a collective effort to ease the perceived hardship of Muslim Americans.

The truth is there is no harsh American landscape for Muslim Americans. It’s a construct invented to manipulate and ostracize counter ideas, which in itself is the most un-American course of action.


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