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By Robert Spencer
Muslim students at Australian universities have demanded that class schedules be changed to work around their prayer times, and that male and female students be provided with separate cafeterias and recreational areas.
This is in line with similar initiatives in the United States, where the Muslim Students Association carries, on the "Muslim Accommodations Task Force" page of its website, pdfs of pamphlets entitled "How to Achieve Islamic Holidays on Campus," "How to Establish a Prayer Room on Campus," and "How to Achieve Halal Food on Campus."
The MSA directs Muslim students to present these demands in the context of multiculturalism and civil rights. "Most campuses," explains the publication on getting recognition of Islamic holy "include respecting diversity as a part of their mission statement. They consider enrollment of diverse students an asset to the community, as they enhance the classroom learning experience and enrich student life. Try to find these statements specific to your campus, and explain that recognition of Islamic holidays would serve as a practical example of upholding these ideals."
Such recognition would also serve to right wrongs done to Muslims on campus: "If any cases of bias against Muslims took place on campus in the recent past, present the proposal as an opportunity to foster cooperation and increase understanding." It would be a simple matter of civil rights: "Additionally, if special holiday recognition is being offered to other faith communities (Jewish, Catholic, Protestant), Muslims have strong grounds to make a petition for equal consideration of their holiday requirements."
It's ironic that such calls for equal consideration would be made in service of an agenda that is so interested in being separate: the calls for separate eating and exercise facilities are a strange discordant note in a movement that claims for itself the mantle of the American civil rights movements. By the MSA's lights, the Muslim Rosa Parks would insist on sitting in a separate place on the bus, and Muslim students would demand the right not to have to eat at infidel lunch counters.
This is one of the primary reasons, but by no means the only reason, why the increasingly shrill demands in Western countries for accommodation of Muslim practices are not the latest manifestation of the push for equal rights for minorities, notwithstanding the posturings and protestations of Muslim leaders. Demanding a place at the table is not the same thing as demanding a separate table of one's own. In the civil rights movement, black Americans were working for full inclusion in the larger secular democratic culture, not trying to carve out their own enclave within it. If anything, they had that already, and that was the problem: if the Supreme Court could conclude in Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka that "in the field of public education, the doctrine of separate but equal has no place," because "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal," then they are still unequal.
And just as they were deemed unequal in 1954 because they abetted cultural attitudes that exalted one group as superior to the other, so also today: the demands of Muslim groups for separate facilities are in the service of a supremacist ideology that emanates from the Qur'anic assertions that Muslims are the "best of people" (3:110) while unbelievers are the "vilest of created beings" (98:6). Unbelievers are unclean (9:28) - which leads to the conclusion, reasonable to the pious, that Muslims should be chary of contact with them. Every Western capitulation made to demands for Muslim accommodation only feeds these supremacist notions, and works directly against the actual goals of the civil rights movement, which were equal justice and equal rights for all.
What's more, the MSA, the chief proponent of the growing Muslim accommodations movement in the United States, was listed as a "friend" of the Muslim Brotherhood in the infamous 1992 memorandum which spoke of the "grand Jihad" aimed at "eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah's religion is made victorious over all other religions." The victory of Allah's religion over other religions is a Qur'anic imperative: "And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah" (8:39), and it is an inherently supremacist imperative, in which non-Muslims pay a special tax from which Muslims are exempt, the jizya, "with willing submission and feel themselves subdued" (9:29).
Instead of capitulating to Muslim demands for separate facilities, university administrators and public officials ought to question those making the demands about their overall goals, and about the incongruity of claiming that creation of their own enclave is a matter of equality of rights for all.
But when will we have university administrators and public officials with that kind of courage and foresight?
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion of Peace?.
By Patrick Poole
Feb. 19, 2008
In December 2005, Georgetown University announced receipt of a $20 million gift to endow the school's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, after whom the Center was renamed. The Center's director, John Esposito, has been known for his vigorous apologetics for Islamic extremism, authoring several books prior to the endowment's announcement dismissing the global influence of extremist Islamic ideology. Under Esposito's oversight, the Center has also developed questionable ties to individuals and organizations directly involved in Islamic terrorism. One example of these ties is the joint conference held by the Center with the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR) in July 2000. By that time, UASR had long been identified as the political command for HAMAS in the United States, and Esposito's co-chair for the conference was then-UASR executive director Ahmed Yousef, who fled the country in 2005 to avoid prosecution and currently serves as the spokesman for the HAMAS terrorist organization in Gaza.
As a result of the Saudi funding and terror ties, Rep. Frank Wolf last week directed a letter to Georgetown president John DeGioia expressing his concerns as an alumnus of the university over the activities of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and the seeming absence of criticism or discussion by the Center of human rights abuses and denial of religious freedom by the Saudi regime. An article by Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project reporting the contents of Rep. Wolf's letter also noted Esposito's long history of defending radical Islam and his vocal support and praise of his self-described "good friend", convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian.
In fact, there is much more for Rep. Wolf and other Georgetown alumni to be concerned about. Since Prince Alwaleed's gift, the Center at Georgetown under Esposito's direction has since become a haven for Muslim Brotherhood-connected scholars and longtime paid representatives of the Saudi Wahhabi regime. Two individuals that have recently been appointed to top positions within the Center, Susan Douglass and Hadia Mubarak, have been active in leadership positions with known front organizations for the international Muslim Brotherhood - identified as such in court documents by the Department of Justice. Douglas, who has additionally been a longtime paid employee of the Saudi regime (discussed below) is listed as the Center's educational consultant and Mubarak is identified as the senior researcher for the Center. A third staff member is Abdullah Al-Arian, the oldest son and family spokesman for Sami Al-Arian, who is listed as a researcher for the organization.
The appearance of Susan Douglass on the staff of the Center should be of particular concern. As investigative reporter Paul Sperry observed in a 2004 article, Douglass was a longtime instructor at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, VA - a Saudi government-funded institution that has been described by some media outlets as "Terror High". One recent class valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was convicted in 2005 of joining Al-Qaeda and plotting to kill President Bush. Two other former students have also been convicted of plotting terrorist attacks. As Senator Chuck Schumer observed in a 2005 letter to then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar concerning the school's troubling record, the school's former comptroller, Ismail Elbarasse, is a known HAMAS operative and former assistant to designated HAMAS terrorist leader Mousa Abu Marzook. And just a few months ago, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom asked the US Department of State to close the school down as a danger to the country for its open promotion of hatred and religious bigotry in its Saudi curriculum, as reported by the Washington Post. One Post front page article in 2004 describes how children at the school "file into their Islamic studies class, where the textbooks tell them the Day of Judgment can't come until Jesus Christ returns to Earth, breaks the cross and converts everyone to Islam, and until Muslims start attacking Jews."
During her tenure at the Islamic Saudi Academy, Douglass had a series of textbooks published by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), an organization raided by federal law enforcement authorities investigating terror financing as part of Operation Greenquest. The Washington Post reported in 2004 how IIIT was founded with money from Muslim Brotherhood operatives and the Saudi terror funding network. Perhaps coincidentally, Esposito's "good friend" Sami Al-Arian has been charged with contempt of court for refusing to testify about his terror funding operation's ties to IIIT. Al-Arian initially claimed there was nothing to testify about, but later changed his story that testifying would put his life in grave danger (his attorneys have yet to explain how testifying about nothing would put him in danger).
But perhaps the most important point concerning Susan Douglass' past work is her role as the principal researcher and textbook review for the Council on Islamic Education (CIE), which has been pressuring American textbook publishers to revise their respective curricula to promote an extremist and revisionist view of Islam. One CIE campaign was directed at Houghton Mifflin Publishers, which resulted in a number of changes to their public school curriculum, including open promotion of Islam and requiring students to participate in Islamic worship activities. Gilbert Sewall of the American Textbook Council has documented the changes to textbooks resulting from CIE's efforts, and the changes made to textbooks under CIE's direction has been criticized by former Secretary of Education William Bennett. One published estimate states that Douglass and CIE have also trained more than 8,000 public school teachers.
It is precisely her role as "educational consultant" at the Georgetown Center that should cause concern. As noted by Stanley Kurtz last July, Georgetown is one of a few universities that receive money from the federal government under Title VI of the Higher Education Act for Middle East Studies centers to develop approved K-12 Middle East curriculum. This program has been used by the Saudis to circumvent educational oversight. Kurtz describes how this end-run works:
The United States government gives money - and a federal seal of approval - to a university Middle East Studies center. That center offers a government-approved K-12 Middle East studies curriculum to America's teachers. But in fact, that curriculum has been bought and paid for by the Saudis, who may even have trained the personnel who operate the university's outreach program. Meanwhile, the American government is asleep at the wheel - paying scant attention to how its federally mandated public outreach programs actually work. So without ever realizing it, America's taxpayers end up subsidizing - and providing official federal approval for - K-12 educational materials on the Middle East that have been created under Saudi auspices. Game, set, match: Saudis.
With a directed effort by the Saudis to influence American attitudes by exercising its influence of educational curriculum under this program, it is hardly surprising that Esposito's Saudi-funded Center would suddenly create an "educational consultant" position to be directly involved in this effort. Nor is it any surprise that the Saudis would turn to one of their own - Susan Douglass - who is a former longtime educational employee of the Saudi regime to oversee their educational efforts at Georgetown.
Then there is Hadia Mubarak, the Center's "senior researcher". Not only is Mubarak the former president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), but she is also a former national board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Both organizations were identified last year by the Department of Justice as unindicted co-conspirators and as front organizations for the international Muslim Brotherhood in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism finance trial.
Ms. Mubarak's extremist views can be seen in her attacks on Stephen Schwartz, a moderate Muslim leader and director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, for his criticism of Saudi Wahhabism and the Muslim Brotherhood. She was quoted in an article in Church Executive magazine as saying regarding Mr. Schwartz that he maintained a "deep hatred of Islam", notwithstanding his own Islamic beliefs and leadership in the American Muslim community. Schwartz responded in an article noting Mubarak's multiple ties and involvement with MSA and CAIR, part of what his organization identifies as key components of the "Wahhabi Lobby" operating in the US. He concludes:
The real message of Ms. Mubarak is the classic Wahhabi spin on Islam. That is, only one interpretation of the religion is acceptable, that propagated by the Saudis, and anybody who disagrees with the Wahhabi doctrine is an enemy to be attacked. With dreadful results, this view of Islam, denying its vital internal diversity, has come to dominate Muslims as well as non-Muslim so-called experts on Islam in the U.S.
Last, but certainly not least, of notable characters on the Georgetown's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding employee directory is Abdullah Al-Arian, oldest son of convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader and fundraiser, Sami Al-Arian. Abdullah's uncle, Mazen Al-Najjar, was also detained for three years during the Clinton Administration and later deported from the US for his alleged terrorist ties.
In recent years, Al-Arian has championed his father's innocence as the family's chief spokesman, undeterred by his father's guilty plea to conspiracy to materially support a terrorist organization. During his father's trial, Abdullah appeared as a character witness along with his sister, claiming that they never heard their father speak of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Apparently, they had never seen the videos of their father fundraising for Islamic Jihad, cursing the United States for its support of Israel, or being introduced by others as the head of Islamic Jihad at terror fundraising events. During his court testimony, the prosecutor questioned Abdullah about his own sympathies for Hezbollah and the Iranian regime, which is the primary financial backer of Islamic Jihad.
Abdullah made national news of his own in July 2001, when he was removed from a meeting at the Old Executive Office Building by the Secret Service, as reported by the New York Times. But more recently he has been semi-famous for his international promotion of the recent Norwegian directed and produced "documentary", USA vs. Al-Arian, in which he and his family figure prominently. The documentary declares Sami Al-Arian's innocence and casts Al-Arian and his family as martyrs of freedom and victims of an unjust American terror prosecution (despite Al-Arian's voluntary guilty plea), a narrative with Abdullah himself has openly promoted. One recent article covering a special premier of the film sponsored by CAIR quotes the younger Al-Arian reflecting on his father's upcoming deportation and the difficulties of locating a country that will take him. "It's a sad day when you have to leave the U.S. to be free," Abdullah said.
Confirming the business maxim that "personnel is policy", we can readily see the extremist and narrow interpretation of Islam promoted by John Esposito and the Georgetown Center as seen by these three staff members. Under Esposito's direction and since Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's capital endowment, the Center at Georgetown has become an active front for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi Wahhabi regime, which has repeatedly shown its international commitment to using its significant financial resources to gain access and control of respectable private institutions for its own questionable purposes. (As an aside, I have not taken up the issue here of other scholars at Georgetown funded by terror-connected groups, such as IIIT.)
If Rep. Wolf or Georgetown President DiGioia want to know what's going on at Georgetown Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and the version of Islam they're promoting, they don't have to look far if they have the will to look.
By Stephen Emerson
February 15, 2008
A U.S. congressman is asking Georgetown University about its academic scrutiny of Saudi Arabia and its use of $20 million donated by a Saudi prince in 2005.
U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) wrote to Georgetown President John DeGioia Thursday, saying he was concerned about how the money was being spent at the university's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Of particular concern, Wolf said, was the university's role in training current and prospective U.S. foreign service personnel.
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, center, is seen with Georgetown president John J. DeGioia and John Esposito in this 2005 photograph. The prince gave Esposito's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding $20 million.
"The Saudi government continues to permit textbooks to contain inflammatory language about other religions," Wolf wrote. "Restrictions on civil society and political activists continue to be pervasive. No changes have been made to the underlying legal authority relating to non-Muslim worship that the Saudis have relied on to enforce these rules. The Saudis have cleansed their own country of religious liberties by severely restricting public religious expression to their interpretation and enforcement of wahhabism."
Wolf's letter seeks assurances the Georgetown center "maintains the impartiality and integrity of scholarship that befits so distinguished a university as Georgetown." He then asks whether:
Harvard University also received $20 million from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal but that is not addressed in the letter. Wolf is the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations and is co-Chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.
- "the center has produced any analysis critical of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for example, in the fields of human rights, religious freedom, freedom of expression, women's rights, minority rights, protection for foreign workers, due process and the rule of law."
- "the center has examined Saudi links to extremism and terrorism, including the relationship between Saudi public education and the Kingdom-supported clerical establishment, on the one hand, and the rise of anti-American attitudes, extremism and violence in the Muslim world, on the other."
- "the center has examined or produced any critical study of the controversial religious textbooks produced by the government of Saudi Arabia that have been cited by the State Department, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and non-governmental groups for propagating extreme intolerance."
- "any of the Saudi-sourced finds have been used in the training, briefing or education of those going into or currently employed by the U.S. government.
The answer to his questions likely will be no, said Martin Kramer, former director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University and a fellow at Harvard and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Prince Alwaleed's money wasn't designed to stop academic scrutiny of Saudi Arabian society and policies, Kramer said. The Georgetown center wasn't doing that anyway. Rather, "It's a move to change the subject [and say the roots of terrorism lie elsewhere]. For the Saudis after 9/11, changing the subject is important."
The Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding is run by John Esposito. His research has not delved into aspects of Saudi society or human rights to determine why 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, or why so many of the foreign fighters in Iraq have been from the Kingdom. Rather, Kramer said, Esposito's research places U.S. policy under the microscope and finds it responsible for fostering anger and resentment.
"He's not doing anything he wasn't doing before he got the Saudi money, he was doing it anyway," Kramer said. "The Saudis just rewarded him for it."
Esposito has a history of minimizing the threat of Islamic extremism and supporting Islamist regimes and movements. He has praised Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guide Yusuf al-Qaradawi as an intellectual who "reinterpreted Islamic principles to reconcile Islam with democratization and multiparty political systems and recast and expand traditional doctrine regarding the status (dhimmi) of non-Muslim minorities."
Qaradawi has expressed support for the killing of American forces in Iraq and praised Palestinian suicide bombers, writing "it is wrong to consider these acts as 'suicidal,' because these are heroic acts of martyrdom, which are in fact very different from suicide."
In the summer of 2001, Esposito criticized those who emphasize the threat Osama bin Laden posed. "There's a danger in making Bin Laden the poster boy of global terrorism, and not realizing that there are a lot of other forces involved in global terrorism," Esposito wrote in The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs. "Bin Laden has become the new symbol, following in the footsteps of Qaddafi, Khomeini, and Sheikh Omar Abdur Rahman. Bin Laden is a perfect media symbol: He's tall, gaunt, striking, and always has a Kalashnikov with him. As long as we focus on these images we continue to see Islam and Islamic activism through the prism of ayatollahs and Iran, of Bin Laden and the Afghan Arabs."
In addition to his academic work, Esposito has been allied with a series of people directly involved in terrorist and extremist movements. He continues to consider Sami Al-Arian, an acknowledged member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, to be a friend and "[o]ne of the most impressive people I have met under fire."
He served on the Board of Advisory Editors for the Middle East Affairs Journal, published by United Association for Studies and Research (UASR). The UASR was established by Hamas Deputy Political Director Mousa Abu Marzook and run by Ahmed Yousef, now a Hamas spokesman in Gaza.
When the gift was made, the $20 million was reportedly designed to finance scholarships, three faculty chairs and expand academic outreach to "beef up" what the center already had in place.
In 2001, Alwaleed's attempt to donate $10 million to a fund for 9/11 victims was rejected by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani after Alwaleed suggested U.S. policy contributed to the attacks. In a news release, Alwaleed called on the U.S. to reexamine its Middle East policies "and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause."
Esposito defended the Prince's statement, saying "He was expressing his enormous sympathy with the United States but also trying to give people the context in which this [terrorist attack] occurred."
In addition to probing how the prince's money is being used at Georgetown, Wolf is asking the Bush Administration similar questions in opposition to a proposed $20 billion arms sale to the Saudi government.
In 2006, Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom issued a report on Saudi Arabian education. Despite claims that it modernized its curriculum and text books to remove intolerant and extreme references, the study found "an ideology of hatred toward people, including Muslims, who do not subscribe to the Wahhabi sect of Islam."
The issue of Saudi education was highlighted in a 2006 study by the Freedom House Center for Religious Freedom. Nina Shea, the report's author and then-director of the Freedom House center, penned an op-ed piece in the Washington Post on May 21, 2006 saying, "The texts teach a dualistic vision, dividing the world into true believers of Islam (the "monotheists") and unbelievers (the 'polytheists' and 'infidels').
This indoctrination begins in a first-grade text and is reinforced and expanded each year, culminating in a 12th-grade text instructing students that their religious obligation includes waging jihad against the infidel to 'spread the faith.'"
Among the many examples Shea cited was this, from a sixth grade textbook:
Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavor to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God's power.
The heart of Wolf's concern in both his letter to Georgetown, his alma mater, and in his opposition to the arms sales, appears to be a question of how reliable an ally Saudi Arabia is in the fight against terrorism and extremism. In addition, Wolf seems concerned over a cumulative effect Saudi interest in the U.S. has on policy. The letter notes a request to the Government Accounting Office about investigating "the revolving door" of senior officials who leave government only to lobby on behalf of governments where they previously served. And he specifically asks Georgetown about training current and future foreign service officers.
He notes that there has been a fair amount of promising talk, but "the Saudi government's promises remain unfulfilled."