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"Fear, Inc." Exposes the Real Cowards

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

The Center for American Progress’s “Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network” in America claims to have exposed America’s Islamophobes by naming a network of so-called dangerous fear- and hate-mongers. Yet it was the authors of this 138-page report that demonstrated a real phobia when they evaded the urgent question: Does America have a reason to fear Muslims?

Europe warns America that the answer is yes, but – most urgently – Europe also warns that moderate Muslims have the most to fear. The political Islamists who have segregated western Europe into many hundreds of sharia-compliant zones where women’s rights are stripped away and non-Muslims fear to tread (yes, this is real fear) have Europe in a state of panic. For America to foolishly stumble down this road to the same predictable and desperate dead-end would be absurd. Yet by trying to muzzle all who attempt to engage this cultural conversation, CAP’s progressives intend to commit America to the same disastrous course.

It is true that some who encourage the American debate are not careful to make the distinction between moderate and sharia-driven Muslims – and it also may be true that some do not believe there is a distinction to be made. But Fear, Inc. insistently framed all sincere efforts to confront the Islamist agents of radicalization as hate-motivated. I know; I happen to have been pivotally involved in one of the reports’ showcase examples of reported Islamophobia. Not surprisingly, the readily available facts tell a very different story.

It was not fear of Muslims that drove the February protest of two radical imams in Yorba Linda, Calif; rather, it was widespread alarm over news that Abdel Malik Ali would be headlining a local Muslim fundraiser. In fact, there was so much community outrage over the invitation of a Hamas-supporting, extremist agitator, city officials asked that the sponsor group rescind Ali’s invitation. The response: Not a chance. So the only way for the community to express opposition to the imam’s message was to appear for an organized “patriotic and peaceful protest.”

Also attending, though not invited, were hecklers who provided CAIR’s waiting video cameras with fodder for a full-scale propaganda campaign. Although CAIR clipped from the official video which showed speakers affirming moderate Muslims over a dozen times, the CAIR product intentionally and singularly hyped ignorance, hate and hysteria. Fear, Inc. perpetuated the fraud by disregarding the real concerns that drove the protest – as well as the message that the main rally sent – and both have cynically exploited an opportunity to alienate Muslims who would have appreciated the commitment of 500 Americans to denounce radical Islam. The message is that Islamists get a pass, while Americans willing to ask the critical questions about constitutional concerns are condemned.

Another of the travesties committed by the efforts to stifle debate is that Muslim leaders are not held accountable to clearly define the practice of Islam in America. A recent speech by Los Angeles CAIR Director Hassam Ayloush described sharia as the essence of goodness, justice, mercy and equality. He instructed the faithful to defend sharia as “enforcing many of the beautiful values of the [American] Constitution.” Ayloush obviously expects all to take his poetic platitudes at face value and not note the reproach that arose from the very crowd assembled to hear him speak; all attendees were male.

As the video camera swept the Islamic Institute of Orange County training session audience of “brothers,” not one sister was apparently present. From separated prayer and teaching meetings to the covering of women to marriage and divorce rules that disadvantage females, it is deceitful to call sharia’s discriminatory practices consistent with the spirit or letter of the American Constitution.

America deserves straight answers about whether sharia dictates that men, as heads of households, may apply “light [physical] disciplinary action” when their wives commit a “moral infraction.” This was the interpretation offered by Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America, Muzammil Siddiqi, to soften the Koranic instruction regarding “women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly)” (An-Nisa': 34-35).

And do Muslim leaders still agree that “all Islamic schools of jurisprudence consider “gay acts to be unlawful” but only disagree on the “terms of penalty”? Where is the call from CAP to square these practices with American constitutional due process, equal protection, equal rights and freedom of conscience?

Ayloush relied upon the same lexicon of fluff words for defining jihad as “striving for goodness.” Apparently this clarification was not received by the Muslims in the Norwegian asylum center last week who beat and burned a Muslim convert to Christianity, “doing jihad” to punish the convert’s violation of the Ramadan fast.

Clarity and leadership are desperately needed from Muslim teachers who must explicitly say reform is expected of the hardliners. Otherwise Americans and Europeans can only then conclude that the harsh sharia terms still stand behind the façade of frothy pronouncements of truth and light.

It is time to challenge the soft peddling of sharia in America. Either Muslims hold to a divinely dictated, and clerically interpreted, system of unassailable rules – or they consent in word and deed to a secular system of self rule, founded upon constitutional standards.

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