The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and the Community's Response
To follow is the testimony by M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., President and Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) at the March 10, 2011 House Committee on Homeland Security’s hearing entitled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response”. Dr. Jasser is a former Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy and served 11 years as a medical officer, where among other accomplishments he served as Medical Department Head aboard the USS El Paso during Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.
Thank you Chairman King, Ranking member Thompson, Distinguished members of the committee, for seeking my testimony on what I feel is the most important threat to American security in the 21st century, Islamist Radicalization.
My name is Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser and I am the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. I sit before you a proud, devout, American Muslim whose country is polarized on its perceptions of Muslims and the radicalization that occurs within our communities.. One camp refuses to believe any Muslim could be radicalized living in blind multiculturalism, apologetics, and denial, and the other camp believes all devout Muslims and the faith of Islam are radicalized...
Between these two polarities is a reasoned, pragmatic approach focused on solutions that recognizes the beauty of one of the world’s great religions, while also acknowledging the existence within of a dangerous internal theo‐political domestic and global ideology that must be confronted ‐ Islamism.
I hope that these hearings are the beginning of a rational national conversation about those solutions.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former chief of the United Nations nuclear agency, said Wednesday that he intended to run for president, although he set conditions under which he would pursue the office vacated last month by Egypt’s longtime leader, Hosni Mubarak.
“When the door for presidential nominations opens, I intend to nominate myself,” Mr. ElBaradei said on a talk show broadcast live by the Egyptian satellite channel ON TV.
The announcement came amid a growing sense of uncertainty as Egypt begins to chart its future after decades of autocratic rule and as violence has begun to escalate.
On Tuesday night into early Wednesday, 13 people were killed and 140 wounded in fighting between Muslims and Christians in the suburbs of Cairo, the Health Ministry said. The clashes, which broke out during a protest by several hundred Christians over the burning last week of a church in the village of Soul, were a significant departure from the sense of solidarity that had prevailed among people of different backgrounds throughout the weeks of protests that led to Mr. Mubarak’s resignation.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference is the closest thing in the modern world to a caliphate. It is composed of 57 members (56 sovereign states and the Palestinian Authority), joining voices and political heft to pursue the unitary interests of the ummah, the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims. Not surprisingly, the OIC works cooperatively with the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most extensive and important Islamist organization, and one that sees itself as the vanguard of a vast, grass-roots movement — what the Brotherhood itself calls a “civilizational” movement.
Muslims are taught to think of themselves as a community, a single Muslim Nation. “I say let this land burn. I say let this land go up in smoke,” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini famously said of his own country in 1980, even as he consolidated his power there, even as he made Iran the point of his revolutionary spear. “We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah.” Muslims were not interested in maintaining the Westphalian system of nation states. According to Khomeini, who was then regarded by East and West as Islam’s most consequential voice, any country, including his own, could be sacrificed in service of the doctrinal imperative that “Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.”
Because of that doctrinal imperative, the caliphate retains its powerful allure for believers. Nevertheless, though Islamists are on the march, it has somehow become fashionable to denigrate the notion that the global Islamic caliphate endures as a mainstream Islamic goal.
As the whole world breathlessly watches events unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa, everyone is wondering whether these revolutions will usher in democracy and human rights, or just a new type of oppression for the people in the form of Islamic states ruling with the cruel, merciless fist of Islamic law.
The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung took the first step toward answering this question by interviewing Hussein Mahmoud, who is the general secretary of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and was imprisoned three times during Mubarek’s rule for his Muslim Brotherhood involvement. The Muslim Brotherhood is a key factor in understanding what may happen in Egypt, which is the most influential nation in the region. If Egypt falls into the hands of a government based on Islamist philosophy, the whole region will be influenced in that direction.
What did this interview reveal? On the surface, Dr. Mahmoud’s answers implied that Muslim Brotherhood loves democracy and wants to blend in to the new government. However, in this article I want to show you the real meaning behind his words and why Western nations need to be very concerned about the influence of Muslim Brotherhood in the region. At the end of this article, I will describe what could happen in Egypt, based on a similar revolution that occurred in the late 1970s.
Anwar at Georgetown: A Case Study in the Shaping of Expert Opinion
Anwar's affection for and ties to the most influential Muslim Brotherhood cleric, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, are also extremely well-known to those paying any attention at all--that would be "Hitler didn't finish the job" Qaradawi; that would be "I encourage the mutilation of women's genitals" Qaradawi; that would be "Rape victims should be flogged" Qaradawi... Wouldn't you think Georgetown would be wary of inviting such a speaker to present the views of "moderate Muslims" about the Muslim Brotherhood?
Prompted by Harlech's question, I want to offer some thoughts about why we're having a serious debate in America now about the Muslim Brotherhood's aptitude for "moderation."
I should say that his comment seems to have annoyed quite some number of Ricochet members, but I appreciated it. I have a better sense now of what many outside of the small community of American Ikhwan-watchers must be thinking: "Surely the people who are calling the Muslim Brotherhood moderate, or otherwise benign, couldn't be that wrong? They are, after all, experts, no?"
Those of us who follow the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood closely keep smacking our foreheads in bewilderment at these blithe pronouncements, unable to comprehend how this could be a matter of debate at all. There are serious debates to be had about the Ikhwan, but they're not debates about whether they're moderate. They are debates about how powerful they really are--in Egypt, for example--and what their strategy is apt to be at a moment like this, which appears to have caught them by surprise as much as it has everyone else. These are questions worthy of debate and difficult to answer.
That we're having a serious discussion, however, at high levels of our foreign policy establishment, about whether the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate should be seen not as a sign that those who say they are might be right, but as a symptom of a pathology in our foreign policy apparatus. It's important to recognize just what has happened to our intelligentsia--our experts, in other words--and to evaluate what they're saying in this light.