“Interfaith Sharing” As Da’wa
By CHERYL GATESWORTH
Two weeks ago, the Muslim Public Affairs Council [MPAC] held its 12th annual convention. What distinguished this event from its predecessors – the rhetoric is always the same – was the venue, All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA. Regarding the event, on the MPAC web site, Salaam Al Marayati, MPAC’s Executive Director, stated that MPAC: “will be taking the next step in its mission by crossing the interfaith line.”
The road to this joint venture has been a long one, and Saturday’s event was the logical culmination of that journey.
Whenever one attends a Muslim convention or conference at least one spokesperson tells the audience [in one form or another] that the way to political success for Muslims in the United States is to form coalitions. The American political scene is one of coalitions based on common interests, perceived or real. Muslims who self segregate [Lenin's term] will have little or no success in the political arena.
For example, at a recent convention of another Muslim Brotherhood Front, the Muslim American Society [MAS], then director, Mahdi Bray [formerly with MPAC], gave specific examples. He said [and I paraphrase] that one can find coalition partners in the most unlikely places. Fundamentalist Christians – no problem – find a liquor store or an adult bookstore ready to open and form a coalition with them to stop it, citing the devastating effect either one would have on children; libertarians – both parties agree on virtually unlimited immigration; Catholics – talk about abortion.
MPAC was founded by Muslim Brotherhood [MB] activist Dr. Maher Hathout and his late brother, Dr. Hasan Hathout. Both men left – left, perhaps the most gentle interpretation of the reason for their migration – Egypt when things got a little too hot for prominent members of the
MB.1. The two brothers founded the Islamic Center of Southern California [ICSC] in 1988. MPAC was at first a part of the ICSC. Salaam Al Marayati was chosen to lead MPAC when it became a separate entity with Dr. Maher Hathout as its Senior Advisor, a post he still occupies.
MPAC began its work with outreach to local political figures giving them awards for tolerance at their banquets and reminding them that Muslims voted. Interfaith work began with Dr. Maher Hathout, Reverend George Regas, then pastor of All Saints Church in Pasadena, and Los Angeles Rabbi Leonard Beerman.
Dr. Hathout led the interfaith discussions, and they invariably took place in a friendly venue. Dr. Hathout and his interfaith partners would agree as to the victimhood of Muslims in America. Thus did Islam in America become part of the ethnic grievance industry. The theme stressed was always the commonality of the three faiths, having a joint Abrahamic origin. In such a multicultural atmosphere the organizers were able to successfully portray Islam as just another religion and not an aggressive jihadist political system.
Both Rabbi Beerman and Reverend Regas were always quick to point out that every faith has extremists and that they should not be judged by them. This allowed them to decouple the 9/11 hijackers from Islam itself. They were also quick to point out the religious tolerance of Islam by quoting from the Qur’an, of course using the portion of the book which was “revealed” to Mohammed while he was in Mecca.
This tactic is an essential attribute of the Islamist dog and pony show. By point of clarification – when Mohammed was in Mecca, he had little power and a small – in the hundreds – following, he kept his preaching benign because of these factors. This allowed him to white-wash Islam as being a benign force until the point came when it had become such a powerful force that masking its intentions no longer mattered.
At these Islamic “interfaith” sessions [actually they are seen by Muslims as opportunities to make Islamic converts and hence, interfaith to them is indistinguishable from da'wa] Another common theme at these events is for the presenters to freely employ the term Islamophobia to silence any critic of Islam, further muddying the waters. Interfaith work brought unimagined success to MPAC and Islam in America. It provided a fig leaf to cover Islam’s intentions. It brought Islam into the main stream and made it as American as apple pie. Why was anyone surprised at MPAC’s convention venue? I was surprised it did not happen sooner.
Muslim Brotherhood fronts in America have a number of goals. First to prevent any analysis of Islam that is critical. Then to carefully construct a third rail beyond which no discussion of Islam can take place. The Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR] was founded in 1994 as Islam’s watch dog in America. It carefully monitored criticism of Islam and issued what were termed “action alerts” when such criticism occurred. Muslims and their sympathizers would be asked to send e-mails to critics, threatening to boycott their newspapers, TV shows, consumer products, persons running for political office. Invariably an apology from the target would be issued. No one wants to offend, no one wanted negative attention, no one thought they had a dog in that fight. Then CAIR would issue a “good news” alert: the target folded: we won. A handful stood their ground, but they were in the distinct minority. And finally no one saw that the third rail had been completed.
Now anyone who criticizes Islam regardless of the truth of what they say is marginalized. Under such conditions, hate speech laws and First Amendment modification were not necessary…moral cowardice worked equally well. What do you suppose would have been the outcome of World War II had the allies not been permitted to criticize Nazism?
Sprechen zie Deutsch?
When the venue for the MPAC convention was announced, a number of conservative blogs criticized the church for permitting this. MPAC called a press conference in which many pastors participated. The conference took place in the church proper and Salaam solemnly read from what he termed the “hate mail” that had been received. Let us assume that if one were going to complain about hate mail and wanted to give an illustration, one would read from the more extreme letters. Saalam read this quote:”You are true stereotypes of the useful idiot, first recognized and exploited by Lenin.”
The Reverend Susan Russell of All Saints Church read the following “chilling” excerpt: “You endanger my country and my grandson’s future.” Presenters referred to the convention as a sort of Advent. One wanted to take each of them by the hand and gently explain to them that this is not Riyadh and what they offered was not hate mail. It was dislike mail. If they wanted an example of hate mail they might ask Robert Spencer, Dr. Daniel Pipes, Debbie Schlussel, Pamela Geller, or for that matter writers for PipeLineNews.org, for examples of hate mail They are regularly threatened with kidnapping, torture and death.
It would to be difficult to print these threats as most of the letters would have to be asterisks. As a rule, law enforcement tends to ignore their complaints and treats them as the cost of doing business. LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, another prime example of a dhimmi [dhimmi being the Arabic word for a conquered people] assured MPAC of heightened security and they “bravely” held their convention.
Whew…that was a close one! There were no surprises at the convention. Reverend Bacon reminded his audience during a workshop that “Christianity is littered with acts of evil,” Rabbi Sarah Bassim, a member of New Ground, a Muslim group begun after 9/11 to facilitate dialogue between Muslims and Jews, called for more interfaith work. Narinjan Singh Kalsa of the Sikh community in Los Angeles said that this conference had sown the seeds of peace.
The audience stood and cheered, some with tears in their eyes. Was it the Advent Reverend Russell spoke of? Actually, it put me in mind of something else. As the clouds of World War II gathered over Europe and Winston Churchill was informed of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s capitulation to the Nazis, he said: “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.” These naive clergy will have their war later. End note: 1. Regarding MPAC, the Hathouts and the Muslim Brotherhood, respected counter-terrorism expert Steven Emerson has written:
“Maher Hathout has served as a senior advisor to MPAC and, with his brother Hassan, helped found the Islamic Center of Southern California [ICSC] based upon the teachings that were enshrined in them from their upbringing with the MB. In recounting their childhood and involvement in the MB, Hassan explained that Maher had grown up and followed a similar path:
“It was no wonder that my brother Maher [ten years younger] grew up a bird of the same feather, even after I left the country. At a certain time of our political history, martial courts lavished jail sentences for Muslim activism even for giving a donation…to the families of imprisoned Muslims…In one of these mock trials my brother [Maher] and three of his fellows were at court interrogated…” Maher himself later admitted to participating in anti-British resistance activities during an interview, on MPAC’s Muslim Wavelength Radio in September 2000.”