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The Council of American Islamic Relations [CAIR] may tout itself as an "organization
that challenges stereotypes of Islam and Muslims," and as group that
was formed "to challenge anti-Muslim discrimination nationwide." But in
fighting the good fight against hate, at least one of its regional
leaders demonizes Jews as the source of Muslims' problems.
"Who are those who incurred the wrath of Allah?" CAIR-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid asked in a May 25 sermon
at the Islamic Organization of North America mosque in Warren, Mich.
"They are the Jews, they are the Jews," he answered himself in Arabic.
Aside from being one of CAIR's most visible spokesmen, Walid appears frequently in the media and has traveled abroad at least twice
on trips paid by the State Department. During a 2010 trip to Mali, for
example, he criticized treatment of Muslim Americans after 9/11, saying
they "have been subjected to increased discrimination from racial and
religious profiling by law enforcement." And he cast the 2009 shooting
death of a Detroit imam as unjust, even though the imam refused orders
to lay down his weapon and surrender, and then opened fire first after a
police dog was sent in to subdue him.
If it isn't the Jews incurring Allah's
wrath by disobeying him, the hands of the pro-Israel lobby are
undermining American Muslims and Palestinians alike, Walid claimed in
"One of the greatest social ills facing
American today is Islamophobia, and anti-Muslim bigotry. And if you
trace the organizations and the main advocates and activists in
Islamophobia in America, you will see that all those organizations are
pro-Israeli occupation organizations and activists," Walid said. "You
will see every single last one. Do you know why? Because one of the
leading Islamophobes by the name of Daniel Pipes, said the political
empowerment of American Muslims is a direct threat to Israel."
The "pro-Israeli occupation lobby that is
connected to the Islamophobia network" is the reason why America
experiences "more problems, more Islamophobia, more hate crimes, more
desecration of mosques, more anti-Muslim activity" than other countries
in North and South America, Walid said.
This Zionist lobby is also the biggest
obstacle to Muslims "liberating" Palestine, Jerusalem, and the al-Aqsa
Mosque, the heat of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, he said.
Walid isn't alone blaming Jews for
Palestinian problems or Islamophobia. Conspiracies about a Jewish or
Zionist lobby controlling American foreign policy, especially towards a
future Palestinian state, are frequently repeated throughout Arabic and
Islamist media. Their champions include Hamas, Iranian news outlets, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
For example, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh blasted the United States as an "enemy of Islam" in 2006 in part because it is "influenced by the Zionist lobby."
"So this is why you see the Islamophobia
network trying to gin up negative information about Muslims and Islam.
This is a direct connection to the occupation of Palestine. It is a
direct connection. And [it is] because the strongest Israeli lobby in
the world is in America, because America is the sole patron of Israel,"
He goes on to pray for the brothers in
Syria, Yemen, Palestine, and Mali, all places with active Islamist
insurgencies, as well as "the Mujahideen in your way everywhere."
As mentioned, the rhetoric is just the
latest example of extremism from one of CAIR's highest profile
directors. Yet, in addition to government-financed trips abroad, Walid
routinely meets with key government decision makers. In October, he met
with Detroit U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade seeking her help monitoring a
local zoning issue.
In January 2011, he joined imams from 20
local mosques in a meeting with FBI officials to discuss their concerns
over FBI surveillance and training tactics. In 2009, he was among four
dozen local faith leaders to meet with Department of Homeland Security
Assistant Secretary of Intergovernmental Programs Juliette Kayyem.
The May 25 sermons isn't the first time this year that Walid's sermons targeted Jews.
When the Quran describes a slaughter of
Jews at the hands of Muhammad's army, it isn't an indication of
anti-Semitism, he said in a Detroit speech in January.
The Jews had it coming.
Muhammad order the killing of Jews?" Walid asked in a Twitter post
promoting the video. In response, an Islamist follower wrote, "Yes he
did and I agree with it…Well isn't treason a sentence to death."
Rather than oppose a hateful perspective,
Walid merely corrected the follower and reinforced the anti-Jewish
sentiment. Muhammad "didn't order it. Sa'ad ibn Mu'aadh [one of his
followers] ordered that punishment. It was a correct one."
The reference is to the Battle of the
Trench in 627 AD involving Muhammad's army. "Zionists" use the event to
attack the prophet, Walid stated in his speech, by arguing that the
Quran and the prophet preached a hatred of Jews.
Jews there entered into an agreement to join with the prophet. But the men "committed treason, [by sitting] with the polytheists against the believers." For this, all the men of the tribe were beheaded and the women and children were sold into slavery.
"Is this just something that is in Islam
for treason? Even for the nations that came before, even in Torat [the
Torah] according to what the Jews had at that time, committing treason
during a time of war is punishable by death. Because their own book says
an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life, and a
breach for a breach," he added.
His endorsement of a mass murder of Jews,
with the women and children sold into slavery, and his suggestions that
Muslims "shouldn't be shy" about defending it, reinforce significant
concerns about his attitude toward the Jewish community.
Walid's comments are shocking, said Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum.
"Here is a ranking official in an American
organization that compares itself to the NAACP, an organization
respected by the mainstream media, political leaders and law
enforcement, and its staffer is justifying the Islamic tradition of a
cold-blooded massacre of Jews," Pipes said. "All ancient religions have
legacies that are at times problematic, that make people today feel ill
at ease; the usual response is, 'that was then, this is now.' But
Walid's not doing this. He's explaining away the report of an ancient
There is no parallel example of other
faiths justifying a massacre in their own histories. "This," Pipes said,
"is far outside the mainstream American political life."
In his speech about the Battle of the
Trench, Walid also stated that Muhammad was not anti-Jewish. Instead he
"gave Jewish people their rights." He claimed that the evidence of Jews
invoking God's wrath is mentioned both in the Torah and in the Christian
Bible, providing "proof against them and what they have done. So we
shouldn't be shy about that at all, and we shouldn't be shy about
defending our Prophet Muhammad."
Nor should Muslims feel uncomfortable with
these stories, but should be proud of them because they have Quranic and
'true' historical origins. He quoted that Quranic verses in Arabic,
saying "Other than those upon whom is wrath. They are the Jews. And
those who go astray are the Christians."
Walid's record shows that his sense of justice has often been erratic and extreme.
He championed the cause of a Detroit imam who died in a hail of bullets
in 2009 after opening fire first on FBI agents who came to arrest him
on a criminal complaint. He ignored the imam's history of advising
followers never to surrender peacefully and the series of investigations
found the agents acted appropriately. He also compared the use of
informants in counter-terrorism sting operations to Jim Crow segregation
laws and claimed the FBI has recruited more extremists than al-Qaida.
Walid's account fits into a mentality that
everything Islamic is good and "there's never any reason to apologize
for anything," Pipes said. And that ignores Islamic imperialism, in
which the faith is expanded primarily through the sword. That is
exemplified by Muslim attacks on churches in Nigeria, Iran's obsession
with obtaining a nuclear weapon and the 9/11 attacks.
"To Islamists these attacks are not
imperialism," Pipes said, "They bring a higher civilization to the
infidels and we should be thankful for this. Such attitudes are not
acceptable by today's standards; making changes to this supremacist
mentality is part of the work that Muslims need to do to modernize their