The Rise of the Muslim Agent-Provocateur: Asra Nomani
Sitting at a recent event held by prominent American Muslim scholars Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir – a very salient point was raised regarding Islamophobia in America. Imam Yusuf, the founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, CA flipped through a slide show of recent anti-Islam sentiment, and raised the point that the level of Islamophobic rhetoric is well-beyond that which existed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
The imam stated that sure, there were isolated attacks against Muslims and those resembling Muslims during the early period after the attacks – however most Americans understood that those responsible for the terror did not represent Muslim nor the religion of Islam as a whole. While the country joined together on the slow, arduous path to recovery – a new industry began to take shape: The Islamophobia Industry. While the seeds were already planted long before 9/11 – as Hamza so appropriately said: “We are now tasting those bitter fruits a decade later.”
Although Yusuf and Shakir referred to the industry as a machine – that grossly understates the level and scope of this overall operation. This is due to the fact that the industry employs many different machines – which are now attacking from all angles. For example, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Brigitte Gabriel and Steven Emerson – each receive more funding per annum from their billionaire angel investors, than the largest Muslim organization in America: CAIR. The next machine in the industry consists of pseudo-scholars such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali – who is employed as a fellow at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute, or the godfather of Islamophobia in America: the Middle East Forum’s Daniel Pipes. While the first two groups are highly responsible for poisoning the public discourse – there is a third group – a group that is becoming increasingly visible, and is inflicting more damage than the former two. Names like Zuhdi Jasser, Asra Nomani and Irshad Manji are very familiar with the public – as they are depicting themselves as the voice of true Muslims in America. By painting themselves as concerned Muslims who are representing their community, they have become a key weapon of helping push through the anti-Muslim agenda in the U.S.
While Jasser is a key witness at Congressman Peter King’s hearings on Islamic Radicalization, we will focus on Nomani – a frequent presence when Muslim-related controversy arises. This self styled former Wall Street Journal writer has gained a cart blanche within the media – right and left alike. And while the Muslims in America have been greatly in need of a representative voice of truth within the mainstream – voices like Nomani have reinforced the existing Muslim stereotypes – along with her near-reflexive tendency to defend any actions against mainstream Muslims.
The image of a liberal, non-conformist rebel has served Nomani well during the past few years. In her most recent Daily Beast Column, she labels herself as a hardcore liberal: pro-choice, pro-gun control, and pro-same sex marriage. For all her liberal attributes however, her views on Islam-related issues are more in-line with Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. Nomani’s previous pet causes (to name just a few) have been opposing the Park 51 mosque project, supporting racial profiling of Muslims, and most recently – her support for the biased radicalization hearings of Congressman King. Her books, articles, radio and television interviews all paint Muslims – especially Muslim men with a broad brush; she has called for the removal of “certain verses of the Quran.” But for Nomani, you see – it’s ok…because she’s a Muslim. And Muslims need a voice, right?
Nomani has every right to speak her mind – as within the religion of Islam, there are all levels of faith. It does become problematic, however, when individuals like her and Jasser are used as tools of frame biased narrative about what Muslims do believe. Her latest column is a clear example of that. She is apparently a fervent supporter of King’s hearings – what a surprise – but does she even know what they really are about? Does she know why the Muslim community is protesting the nature of the hearings? What her and Dr. Jasser would like you to believe, is the narrative that the Muslim community and its well-established groups such as CAIR are not for compliance with law-enforcement. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In what has become a pattern – Nomani once again misses the mark with her analysis. Muslims are not against radicalization hearings – there is definitely an issue that needs to be be examined, and Muslims need to understand how they fit into the big picture when it comes to combating home-grown terror. This is not an issue. The issue is behind the hearings? Peter King? The fervent supporter of a the IRA – a group that was labeled a terror-organization – killing hundreds in the 1980’s? Not to mention the fact that King has shown that he is unfit for this role by previously saying that there are “too many mosques in America.” He has also fabricated statistics based on hearsay that 85% of imams within the U.S. are radicalized.
Who has been brought in to have this dialog, and solve the problem? Experts on the Quran, and imams from the community? No, unfortunately – Dr. Jasser has been exposed as an agent provocateur, who spends more time creating suspicion of Muslims, rather than interfacing with the Muslim community at large. He is a resident of the same Phoenix community as me – and I have seen, heard and read firsthand how he uses character defamation and uses buzzwords such as Wahhabi and Political Islam to create fear of the local mosques. Jasser enjoys the same cart blanche within the local media, who jump on his non-conformist, yet highly politically motivated rhetoric. Just as Nomani, the Dr. has parlayed his success onto the national level – as they are both perfect fodder for the Islamophobia Industry.
So the issue isn’t the fact that the dialog is necessary – it has everything to do with the fact that it was biased to begin with. Although Nomani likes to pat herself on the back as the only Muslim who will stand up, nothing could be further from the truth. Her article almost pokes fun at the fact that Congressman Keith Ellison broke down in tears during the testimony, and became the only focus of the hearings. She chides the defenders of the Muslim community such as Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee among others, stating that they missed the point. It was Ms. Nomani however, that has missed the point once again. She may be really trying hard to be “that one Muslim voice,” however in reality she is serving the function of a march larger anti-Muslim cause.
In the days leading up to and the hours directly after the first King Radicalization hearing – the voices of the Islamophobia machine re-emerged. Steven Emerson – the man who tried to pin the Oklahoma City bombings on Muslims – seemingly re-emerged after a long slumber to support the hearings and to defame CAIR in the New York Daily News. Congressman King emerged in an interview, insinuating that Muslims have largely imagined Islamophobia. All is running well at the factory, as the rhetoric is seemingly pouring out in record fashion. Nomani’s latest media blitz just follows suit – supporting the cause of those who are attempting to marginalize and disenfranchise Muslims – whether she knows it, or not.