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Silencing the Watchdogs of Religious Freedom: Durbin's War on the USCIRF

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

We have been hearing a lot about the Muslim Brotherhood lately - and none of it is good news. Get used to it. With the Brotherhood's ascendancy in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and beyond, the world is going to be subjected to a crash course in Islamist supremacism - and what it means for the rest of us.

We were on notice even before the Egyptian elections in which the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and their allies secured upwards of sixty percent of the votes in that country's new, post-Mubarak parliament - and the murderous violence towards Coptic Christians that preceded them. A reminder came on December 7th when a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed convictions of leaders of the MB-associated Holy Land Foundation. The earlier trial in 2008 did much to expose the totalitarian, supremacist nature and seditious objectives of that group, elsewhere and here in the United States.

Notably, evidence introduced (uncontested by the defense) in that case by federal prosecutors established that the Brotherhood has established myriad front organizations, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), to pursue what it calls "civilization jihad." This is a stealthy form of holy war, designed to "eliminate and destroy Western civilization from within...by their hands [i.e., those of the infidels]."

The Obama administration has greatly facilitated the efforts of such organizations to penetrate and influence the government of the United States. To cite but one example, on December 12-14, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is convening a meeting with representatives of the Brotherhood's multinational official counterpart, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). As Phyllis Chesler points out in a brilliant essay published by PJMedia entitled "The End of Religious Freedom," the OIC's stated purpose for this meeting is to counter: "media campaigns and fabrications made by some quarters in non-member states regarding the mistreatment of non-Muslim minorities and communities in the OIC member states under the slogans of religious freedoms and so on."

Put simply, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other adherents to the Islamist politico-military-legal doctrine of shariah seek to impose their practice of "blasphemy" laws worldwide. Accordingly, they seek to suppress information that "offends Muslims" or otherwise puts them, their agenda or their behavior in a negative light - no matter how accurately.

In recent years, the U.S. government has increasingly conformed to what amount to shariah blasphemy laws. A singular exception has been the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Since its inception by act of Congress in 1998, the unpaid commissioners have rendered incalculably important servicemonitoring and reporting on threats to freedom of religion emanating from Islamist and other sources.

USCIRF has, for example, documented the plight of Copts in Egypt and Christians and Jews inother parts of the Middle East. They have exposed how non-shariah-adherent Muslims and "apostates" from Islam have been raped, tortured and killed for deviating from what is deemed to be the true faith by Brotherhood, OIC and like-minded forces.

The Commission has also helped expose how Saudi government-supplied textbooks used, among other places, in American madrassas, extol violent jihadism and intolerance for people of other faiths. Interestingly, such texts explain three different ways homosexuals can be executed in conformity with shariah's treatment of their behavior as a capital offense.

Now that Team Obama has made promoting the radical lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender agenda whatMrs. Clinton calls a U.S. foreign policy priority," one would think the administration would be grateful for the work the Religious Freedom Commission has done, among other things, to expose and demand changes in such Saudi textbooks.

To the contrary, the Obama administration has been working behind the scenes to do as its Islamist friends have demanded by shutting down the USCIRF. It has enlisted for this purpose Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate's Number 2 Democrat. Sen. Durbin is not only perfectly placed to do the deed stealthily. He has his own close associations with a number of the Brotherhood's top fronts and operatives in his home state of Illinois, in Washington and elsewhere across the country.

As it happens, in addition to serving as the Majority Whip, Sen. Durbin is a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees - the panels responsible for reauthorizing and funding the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He has used his leadership and committee positions to place what amount to secret "holds" on legislation that would extend the life of the commission.

Consequently, unless something changes before the current government funding bill expires, our nation's sole official, independent and still-effective watchdog for religious liberty - and the most trusted and important American voice for those being denied it - will go out of business on December 16th.

The Majority Whip's role in this stealthy jihad against an agency that still dares to speak the truth to the Islamists' power is all the more reprehensible since Senator Durbin frequently excoriates his colleagues' use of secret holds. In fact, he has cosponsored legislation to bar the practice. Such rank hypocrisy simply adds to the venality of Sen. Durbin's conduct in this matter.

So does the reported reason for the hold Senator Durbin has yet to acknowledge he is exercising against the USCIRF. Evidently, he is trying to euchre members of the House of Representatives into earmarking funds for the federal government to purchase a state prison in Thompson, Illinois that his home state can no longer afford to operate.

When the idea of a federal takeover of this facility was first floated last year, it ran into strenuous opposition on both sides of Capitol Hill. Not only was the deal deemed to be unaffordable at a time of yawning federal deficits. It turned out that the Obama administration and its allies in Illinois' Democratic machine in Washington and Springfield state had in mind another, even more outrageous motivation: the Thompson prison could serve as the place to relocate terrorists currently held offshore at Guantanamo Bay, allowing Gitmo's closure.

In other words, Sen. Durbin is seeking to secure by stealth an earmark that would overturn existing legislation barring the relocation of such detainees inside the United States - and the real risk that they would, thereby, be granted constitutional rights, access to civilian U.S. courts and perhaps be set loose in our country by irresponsible federal judges. How many more reasons do the American people need to oppose and condemn Dick Durbin's shenanigans?

Voters in Illinois and elsewhere need to call out Senator Durbin's contribution to the stealth jihad - both with his office and, in the case of other Senators' constituents, those of their own representatives. America needs to safeguard religious freedoms against all enemies, foreign and domestic. To that end, we must strengthen, not garrote, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom - the one official entity still doing that vital mission.

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