On Saturday, February 24, 2018 — nearly 24 years after the founding of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) by activists associated with Hamas — CAIR-Georgia will host its second annual fundraising banquet. A seemingly benign American non-profit organization, CAIR-GA’s event theme is ‘Living Our Faith, Defending Your Freedom.’ It’s a catchy slogan, evoking an image of American liberty and justice. Yet, the banquet’s theme has little to do with reality. In truth, not much about CAIR has changed since it was founded; it continues to espouse radical ideologies and nurture the Islamist anti-Israel obsession.
One of the headline speakers is the Executive Director of CAIR-Florida, Hassan Shibly, who has a lengthy record of bigoted rhetoric and extremist behavior. In August 2014, he tweeted that “Israel and its supporters are enemies of God and humanity.” Yet, his November 2006 interview with his university’s newspaper revealed Shibly’s clear disregard for “humanity” — as long as those humans are Israeli. Questioned about Hezbollah, Shibly told the paper that the violent, Iran-supported group was “absolutely not a terrorist organization.” Shibly also denied that Hezbollah sought to murder Israeli civilians, despite multiple Human Rights Watch reports to the contrary.
Shibly’s extremist sentiment is not exactly surprising. It was under Shibly’s leadership that CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a July 2014 pro-Hamas rally outside the Miami branch of the Israeli consulate, where attendees repeatedly screamed, “We are Hamas,” “Let’s go Hamas,” and “Hamas kicked your ass.” Following the rally, the event organizer, Sofian Zakkout, wrote in Arabic, “Thank God, every day, we conquer the American Jews like our conquests over the Jews of Israel!”
Shibly’s ire isn’t only directed at Jews or Israelis, however. He’s also shown considerable hostility to his fellow Muslims! In November 2017, Shibly endorsed Khatme Nubuwwat (KN), an international network dedicated to inciting violence and hatred against Ahmadiyya Muslims, a peaceful Muslim sect that has suffered persecution at the hands of Islamists.
Shibly seems not to care that KN has also used threatening language against the United States, labeling America “the land of infidels.” Apparently, his concern for “humanity” is narrower than CAIR would like us to know.
Given the other speakers’ (including activist Linda Sarsour and CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell) purported concern for human rights, it’s a wonder they don’t protest at being featured alongside such a purveyor of hateful agitprop.
Perhaps Sarsour and Mitchell are happy to speak alongside Shibly because their views, in fact, align with Shibly’s illiberal ideas.
Lately, Sarsour has been making headlines as a leader in the feminist movement, co-chairing both the 2017 and 2018 Women’s Marches. Yet, when it comes to her hatred for Israel, Sarsour’s rhetoric is far more similar to that of Hamas than someone who claims to care about the equal rights of minorities. In October 2012, she tweeted, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism,” and in a recent Facebook post, she excused Palestinian terror, saying, “Nobody gets to tell an occupied people how to respond to their own oppression and the continued stripping of their humanity, agency and land… Oppressed people determine how, when and where to resist.” Of course, for Palestinian terrorists Hamas and Islamic Jihad, this includes suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and mass stabbings of Israeli civilians. Like Shibly, Sarsour ignores this.
Edward Mitchell, for his part, is just as open about his support of the Muslim Brotherhood as Sarsour is about her hatred of the “creepy” Jewish national liberation movement. This month, Mitchell posted a report lamenting the sentencing of five leaders of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), an Islamist charity that covertly raised millions of dollars for Hamas — a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot — and was subsequently shut down by the U.S. government. Incidentally, during the HLF trials in 2007 and 2008, CAIR was named an (unindicted) co-conspirator to the crime.
And, when Egypt’s mufti endorsed the death sentence against ousted Egyptian president and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, Mitchell wrote, “I hope this isn’t true. May God grant freedom to all the wrongfully imprisoned men and women of Egypt.” Morsi had been charged with colluding with foreign groups, including Hamas, to commit terrorist acts. Mitchell tweeted that Morsi’s death sentence was “laughable,” and, in another Twitter exchange, he even suggested to the Muslim Brotherhood that they demand Morsi’s release from prison and the return of their “assets.”
These speakers are prime examples of how CAIR has never left its roots in anti-Israel vitriol, support for Palestinian terror, and other extremist sympathies. Their leadership can declare that its Georgia event and other events like it “defend freedom,” but this is merely a façade created to hide CAIR’s bigoted and fear-driven ideology.
It is time to set the record straight.
Joe Kaufman is a writer for Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.