On Friday, a hashtag campaign targeting what was described as systematic racism exploded over social media. The tag, #BlackinMSA, drew out the experiences of African American Muslims who experienced prejudice in Muslim Student Association (MSA) Chapters, on college campuses.
The Muslim Students Association, founded in 1962, is the oldest Muslim Brotherhood organization in the United States, according to archival Brotherhood records submitted in Federal Court. A NYPD intelligence report describes MSA as “potential incubators” of terrorism, and multiple MSA leaders and members have been arrested on terrorism related charges since 9/11.
Social media users complained of coldness and bias from Arab and South Asian Muslims towards Black Muslims, including the use of the Arabic term “Abdeed” (slave) as a term for Blacks. Additionally, tweets focused on discrimination in the appointment of non-Arab Muslims to leadership positions within the MSA.
But the primary driver of the conversation appeared to be the lack of involvement with MSAs related to Black Lives Matter and related protests.
The campaign received only limited pushback from what appeared to be Arab Muslim twitter accounts, predominately focused
The hashtag campaign appears to have been the brainchild of Tariq Touré, steering committee member for the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC). MuslimARC also directed the hashtag discussion with a poll question, and other tweets, raising questions about MSAs willingness to engage in the BLM movement and recent protest actions at University of Missouri.
According to Co-founder Margari Hill, MuslimARC was created in response to a call to action on the issue of the role of African American Muslims issued by Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan Chapter head Dawud Walid. Walid receives a “special thanks” on MuslimARC’s website.
CAIR has been actively involved in supporting and participating in BLM protests, beginning as far back as the Ferguson case. Dawud Walid himself linked the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson with the FBI shooting death of Luqman Abdullah, the Detroit-based “Emir” of a group called “The National Ummah” headed by convicted cop-killer Jamil Abdullah Amin, the former Black Panther radical known as H.Rap Brown.
Amin played a key role in the formation of the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), one of the first efforts to integrate indigenous African American Muslim Islamist groups like National Ummah, with the larger U.S.-based network, led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Luqman Abdullah was a board member of MANA prior to his death.
Interestingly, MuslimARC co-founder Hill also has an association with MANA, having served as the Curriculum Developer for the United Muslim Masjid (UMM). UMM a predominately African American Muslim organization led by Luqman Al-Haqq (AKA Kenny Gamble) a Philadelphia based Music mogul who has been accused of attempting to create a “Muslim-only enclave” in Philadelphia. Like Luqman Abdullah, Al-Haqq is a board member of MANA.
With the hashtag campaign aimed at forcing national MSA leadership to become more overtly involved in the BLM movement, it appears that the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. may be facing some blowback, from a campaign that has sought to position their Islamophobia narrative within the wider of racial politics.
This no doubt stems in part to an increasing merger between traditional Islamist ideology, and leftist social justice rhetoric.
For example, a popular Tarbiyah Guide (a curriculum developed by MB-linked entities for Islamic education of members,) references both traditional Muslim Brotherhood ideologues like Yusuf Al Qaradawi, S.A. Maududi, and Sayyid Qutb, but also leftist thinkers including Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, in addition to the aforementioned Jamil Abdullah Amin.
This is not the only case where MB organizations have run afoul of a younger generation where Islamic grievances are incorporated into theories of intersectionality.
Back in April, MB groups squabbled amongst themselves after a coalition of groups endorse Turkey and opposed an Armenian genocide resolution, only to be denounced by campus level groups like MSAs and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP.)
It may be that we are seeing a generational challenge, as MB-linked entities responded to those who have been indoctrinated within a milieu of both Islamist and leftist social justice politics.
This younger generation, Muslim Brotherhood 2.0 so-to-speak, are as adept at referencing Qutb, as they are Frantz Fanon. Where they successfully navigated this challenge, as in the case of CAIR in the Ferguson protests, MB-linked groups open up additional allies for their cause. Where they fail, however, they face embarrassing public relations trouble, as was the case for #BlackinMSA.