Zuhdi Jasser: “Leading” Us off a Cliff
Zuhdi Jasser: “Leading” Us off a Cliff
By Imraan Siddiqi
Zuhdi Jasser brought his dog and pony show to NYC last month with his rally to support the NYPD, in the wake of their seemingly endless string of controversial actions involving the Muslim community. We have seen Dr. Jasser emerge on the national scene in recent years – especially during last year’s Peter King hearings on Radicalization of Muslims – where the doctor (MD, for the record) was portrayed as some sort of Islamic scholar and Muslim community leader. Needless to say, Dr. Jasser is considered neither a leader, nor a scholar for that matter – and I should know – as I come from the very same Phoenix Muslim community, that he claims to represent. What the doctor is perceived as by most is an opportunist and a provocateur, which the same can be said about many of the members of his newly formed coalition the American Islamic Leadership Council.
The NYPD came under fire recently by training officers on Islam with the Clarion Fund produced movie – “The Third Jihad,” which has been proven to be no more than a propaganda piece, aimed at misrepresenting the American Muslim community, and stoking the public’s fear. The movie is basically an hour and a half mashup of screaming Arab clerics, against a backdrop of angry anti-American mobs – presented in a context that would make James O’Keefe proud. It’s no surprise that Dr. Jasser is defending the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies to train their officers with the film – he is the movie’s narrator and protagonist, for crying out loud.
Jasser’s rise to fame and prominence has come largely from his ability to connect with right-wing leadership, especially here in our home state of Arizona. In fact, he is a close personal friend of Senator John Kyl, whose office I visited the same day Jasser held his rally. During the meeting, the Senator’s rep stressed their office’s strong relationship with Jasser, which wasn’t surprising. The rep also stated how the Senator is in strong alignment with infamous right-wing pundit Frank Gaffney. I promptly reminded the rep on how Gaffney has taken the position that Muslims should not be protected by the Bill of Rights, since he claims “Islam is not a religion.”
So as a professed “Islamic Leader,” many find it interesting to hear of Dr. Jasser’s strange alliances. Every chance he gets to appear in media, he serves the function of mud-slinger at the mainstream Islamic groups in America, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim American Society (MAS), and the Muslim Students Association (MSA.) His narrative is that America is under attack by what he terms “Islamism” and the spread of “Sharia Law,” and continually poisons the discourse on prominent Muslims by alluding or insinuating their ties to radicalism or terror. In today’s society, there is no other label that can be put on a person that is more damaging than the term “associated with terror.” This doesn’t stop Zuhdi from his continual attacks – as he parrots the same lies and allegations about prominent Muslim institutions as prominent Islamophobes Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and the aforementioned Gaffney perpetuate throughout their realm of influence. This very same level of flame-throwing was displayed during Jasser’s role in “The Third Jihad” where he continually paints himself as the only good Muslim – while everyone else should be under a cloud of suspicion.
For the record, Jasser has sided against the plaintiffs, who eventually were victorious in the infamous U.S. Airways “flying imam” case. In the aftermath of their court victory, Jasser continues to defame these individuals in the press on a frequent basis. On any major issue facing Muslims over the last 5 years – Zuhdi has always opposed the basic inalienable rights that his community is afforded by law. In his viewpoint, Muslims are guilty of terror by association and are subject to litmus tests (i.e racial profilingm and limits as to when/where they are free to worship) before they are accepted as true Americans, like him.
With “leaders” like this, I’m not sure what the Muslim community should do. How absurd is it that Jasser and his cavalcade of no-name outcasts supports racial profiling of Muslims by the NYPD? Let’s examine this issue more closely. The MSA of various northeast universities were basically under surveillance for the better half of the last decade. Points of interest for law enforcement were – how many times the person prayed, how long was the person’s beard, what restaurants they ate at, what speaking events they attended. This was done by the NYPD – yet the spying stretched far beyond the jurisdiction of said department. Zuhdi’s argument is that “the Muslims should have nothing to hide,” if they are not caught up in sordid activities. While he comes from such staunch Constitutionalist Republican stock, it seems as though he is of the same opinion as Gaffney – in that Muslims are not subject to the 4th Amendment rights. The fact that Jasser supports arbitrarily profiling and tracking U.S. citizens who have no prior record of criminal activity nor any questionable associations is un-American at its core, and antithetical to the Republican ideals of small government and wasteful use of taxpayer funds.
I have personally seen Jasser poison the rhetoric in my local community, which he is now taking to a national scale. Due to his highly right-wing viewpoints and his support against demonizing and marginalizing the Muslim community, it is no surprise that he finds little support. While part of his message is fundamentally sound – all Muslims should condemn radicalism and terrorism (which incidentally ALL Muslim groups have done long before 9/11,) this is the extent to which the doctor is right. Dr. Jasser is an especially useful political tool for the likes of Senator Kyl, Congressman King and the Clarion Fund – but for the community of which he is a purported leader – there is hardly any use for him.
*Update***Jasser has now been appointed as a Commissioner on the United States Council for International Religious Freedom, by Senator (R-KY) Mitch McConnell. As we all know, this individual is not a proper representation for those who really support religious freedom – as he is being funded by the same groups attempting to pass anti-Shariah legislation in 20+ states.
Please view the petition below that outlines why Dr. Jasser is not an ideal candidate for this appointment.