Posts

Declaration of Muslim Reform nailed to door of Islamic Center in Washington, D.C.

In the midst of the swirl of events following the Jihad massacre in San Bernardino, a “Summit for 20 Western Muslim Voices for Reform against the Islamic State and Islamism,” was organized in Washington, D.C. At the conclusion a news conference was held at the National Press Club. The press conference capped a two day conference the purpose of which was to publish Declaration of Muslim Reform principles. At the rostrum was an international contingent of reformers from Canada, the U.S., Europe and Pakistan. Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Forum for Islam and Democracy was the organizer and moderator of the event. A list of the organizations  and participants can be found here. The principles of  the reform declaration,  as published in a Gatestone Institute article, co-authored by  Dr. Jasser and Raheel  Raza are:

  • We reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam. We invite our fellow Muslims and neighbors to join us.
  • We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including ethnicity, gender, language, belief, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression.
  • We are for secular governance, democracy and liberty.
  • Every individual has the right to publicly express criticism of Islam. Ideas do not have rights. Human beings have rights.
  • We stand for peace, human rights and secular governance. Please stand with us!

Watch this You Tube video of the Muslim Reform Summit press conference:

muslim reform declaration

Washington Islamic Center custodian removing Muslim Reform Movement Declaration December 4, 2015. Source: Muslim Reform Movement.

Following the conclusion of the National Press Club event, two women from the group headed  over to Massachusetts Avenue, the location  of the Saudi financed and controlled Washington Islamic Center. They nailed a signed copy of the Muslim reform declaration to its door. That was modeled on the 95 Theses that Martin Luther nailed to the door of the All Saints Church on October 31, 1517 that purportedly sparked  the Protestant reformation. However, within seconds a caretaker came out and tore it off the Center’s door.

The daunting problem that the Muslim reformers face is that normative Islam believes that there is no need for reform since any distortion of the uncreated words of Allah, would be deemed idolatrous. However, given the declarations by  Egyptian President  El-Sisi  in a meeting with leading  Sunni clerics at  Al Azhar University in Cairo on New Year’s 2015, at least one Muslim country leader believes that  Islam is in dire need of reform. He says that is required to combat the apocalyptic pure Islamic terrorism  espoused by the self-declared Caliphate  of the Islamic State.

One of the women who participated in the Washington Islamic Center  event  was former Wall Street Journalist and author of Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam, Asra Nomani.  Normani was a colleague of the late Dan Pearl in Pakistan.  She saw him off in October 2002, never to return, kidnapped and slaughtered by 9/11 Al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM).  She was also involved in the 2011 investigations that led to KSM being identified as Pearl’s  killer. Nomani is U.S. born, the daughter of Indian Muslims from Mumbai who settled in Huntington, West Virginia. She is a graduate of both the University of West Virginia and American University.

Asra Q. Nomani

Asra Q. Nomani

Nomani  is in league with  other Muslim  and former Muslim women  like Raheel Raza,  Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji and other like minded reformers who believe the effort to reform should be started.  Nonetheless, she is doubtlessly viewed as an apostate, heterodox in the standards of normative Sunni Islam. Having said that she is a fearless defender of personal freedoms for Muslim women reflected in her proposed Muslim women bill of rights. Further she recognizes the problems that both she and the others at the Reform Summit  see as persisting in Political Islam. Sharia that follows of way of Allah demanding devotion to Jihad against unbelievers.

This morning Nomani was paired off against Dalia Mogahed, a former Gallup pollster on Islam ,now director of research for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Mogahed is what the Obama White House considers as an exemplary American Muslim woman, resplendent in her Hijab.

Back in  July 2010, we wrote  about Mogahed’s  appointment by President Obama to the White House Advisory Council on Faith Based  and Neighborhood Partnerships. She is coauthor of the book and film Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. She worked  Dr. John L. Esposito, a Georgetown University colleague at the Prince Alaweed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding.   At the Jasser contended in a report by The Investigative Project  that Ms. Mogahed’s outreach to radical Muslim groups did not help.

Dalia Mogahed

Dalia Mogahed

The damage is immeasurable to Muslims seeking non-radical alternatives. They are going to say, why bother? The government has chosen sides in the conflict.

Note this exchange among Rich Lowry of the National Review, Dalia Mogahed and Asra Nomani from today’s  NBC Meet the Press transcript:

RICH LOWRY:

Well, it seems to me that this debate, whether Islam is a religion of peace or not, really, it’s irrelevant for outsiders. It’s for Muslims to decide whether it’s a religion of peace or not. And if enough of them do, then you cut off the oxygen to the radicals. But at the moment, the extremists have significant financial popular and theological backing in the Middle East. And that is an enduring phenomenon. And it’s one that is going to require a long, ideological war to win.

DALIA MOGAHED:

I’m sorry, I’m going to have to disagree with you. They simply do not have ideological, theological, or popular support. And this is a criminal organization that is funding their criminality with things like drug trade and selling oil. They do not have the ideological support that you’re describing at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They’ve had a number of voices from across the spectrum say that what they’re doing is completely un-Islamic. They have no support popularly, in terms of the general public. So–

RICH LOWRY:

But yet they’re still there.

DALIA MOGAHED:

But so are many other terrorist organizations. And their primary victims are Muslims. I think that’s very important.

ASRA NOMANI:

And to that point, I think what speaks loudest and what speaks to your point is the blood that’s spilling from Australia, to now California. I mean, how much blood has to be spilled until we recognize inside of a Muslim community that we do have an ideological problem? And that we do have support? I mean, there are–

DALIA MOGAHED:

I think the blood is spilling in Syria and it’s mostly Muslims–

ASRA NOMANI:

Excuse me. There are hundreds and hundreds of followers of Islamic State around Europe and the U.S. The Saudis are showing this. And all you have to do is look at the conversation inside of our mosques and inside of our communities. And you will hear it. And I hear it. And I have to say that I saw it in 2002, went to Islamabad, Pakistan, and met women who were supporting this ideology. I call them the Taliban Ladies Auxiliary back then. This young woman in California would’ve been a star member of it.

Watch the Meet the Press segment with  Asra Nomani dueling Dalia Mogahed:

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

U.S. State Department Genocide Victim Ruling Excludes Middle East Christians

Nina Shea of the Washington, D.C.-based Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedman is the most outspoken critic of Administration policies towards Middle Eastern Christian and other non-Muslim religious minorities.  The latest episode concerns a proposed ruling by the State Department of minorities threatened by extinction by the Islamic State, as a predicate for possible rescue, asylum determinations and assistance. Incredibly this ruling excludes, those Christians in Syria and Iraq, who are threatened with extinction by ISIS barbarity.. Shea writes about this in a National Review On-line article, “ISIS Genocide Victims Do Not Include Christians, the State Department Is Poised to Rule.

The State Department official poised to issue the ruling is none other than Anne Patterson, former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, and now Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Near East Affairs. Patterson was a controversial figure and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader.

Shea cites an investigative  report by Michael Isikoff about the callous rationale behind why Patterson chose to Include Yazidis, but exclude Syriac and, especially Chaldean Christians:

Yazidis, according to the story by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, are going to be officially recognized as genocide victims, and rightly so. Yet Christians, who are also among the most vulnerable religious minority groups that have been deliberately and mercilessly targeted for eradication by ISIS, are not. This is not an academic matter. A genocide designation would have significant policy implications for American efforts to restore property and lands taken from the minority groups and for offers of aid, asylum, and other protections to such victims. Worse, it would mean that, under the Genocide Convention, the United States and other governments would not be bound to act to suppress or even prevent the genocide of these Christians.

The rationale for Patterson ruling:

An unnamed State Department official was quoted by Isikoff as saying that only the attacks on Yazidis have made “the high bar” of the genocide standard and as pointing to the mass killing of 1,000 Yazidi men and the enslavement of thousands of Yazidi women and girls. To propose that Christians have been simply driven off their land but not suffered similar fates is deeply misinformed. In fact, the last Christians to pray in the language spoken by Jesus are also being deliberately targeted for extinction through equally brutal measures. Christians have been executed by the thousands. Christian women and girls are vulnerable to sexual enslavement. Many of their clergy have been assassinated and their churches and ancient monasteries demolished or desecrated. They have been systematically stripped of all their wealth, and those too elderly or sick to flee ISIS-controlled territory have been forcibly converted to Islam or killed, such as an 80-year-old woman who was burned to death for refusing to abide by ISIS religious rules.

Shea notes the clear evidence of ISIS atrocities against  Christian communities in Syria and Iraq;

ISIS atrocities against Christians became public in June 2014 when the jihadists stamped Christian homes in Mosul with the red letter N for “Nazarene” and began enforcing its “convert or die” policy. The atrocities continue. Recently the Melkite Catholic bishop of Aleppo reported that 1,000 Christians, including two Orthodox bishops, have been kidnapped and murdered in his city alone. In September, ISIS executed, on videotape, three Assyrian Christian men and threatened to do the same to 200 more being held captive by the terrorist group. Recent reports by an American Christian aid group state that several Christians who refused to renounce their faith were raped, beheaded, or crucified a few months ago.

Christian women and girls are also enslaved and sexually abused. Three Christian females sold in ISIS slave markets were profiled in a New York Times Magazine report last summer. ISIS rules allow Christian sabaya, that is, their sexual enslavement. Its magazine Dabiq explicitly approved the enslavement of Christian girls in Nigeria, and the jihadist group posted prices for Christian, as well as Yazidi, female slaves in Raqqa.

The Congressional response to the State Department exclusion of Christians-  H.R. 75:

In recent weeks, the stalwart Knights of Columbus have been placing emotionally searing ads in Politico and elsewhere advocating the passage of H.R. 75.

This bipartisan bill was initiated by Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R., Neb.) and Representative Anna Eshoo (D., Calif.) to declare that genocide is being faced by Christians, Yazidis, and other vulnerable groups. The ads — depicting a mother and child, who appear as the very personifications of grief, against a landscape of ISIS destruction — might strike a nerve within the Obama administration. But as of now, the administration looks poised to preempt the bill and render a grave injustice to the suffering Christians of Iraq and Syria.

One who knows how dangerous this misbegotten ruling by Patterson is Joseph Kassab, President of the Iraqi Christian Advocacy and Empowerment Institution. (See out interview with Kassab in the November, NER: Iraqi Christians Face Extinction.  Note this exchange with Kassab:

Gordon:  How threatening is the ISIS genocide towards Assyrian–Chaldean Christian communities in both Iraq and Syria?

Kassab:  ISIS brutalities and atrocities committed against innocent Christians and Yazidis in Iraq is a very serious issue that needs to be immediately confronted by the international community. These evil acts of ISIS are leading to serious cultural and human genocide. ISIS’ acts of brutality are intentional to gain the attention of the world and the global media is falling for it. Our suggestion is not to fall for it as it is better to look into their evil Islamic ideology and expose it to the world.

Kassab voiced  prescient concern about the fate of his Chaldean Christian  co-religionists following the fall of Mosul to ISIS in June 2014. Watch this  You Tube Overview video interview by Raymond Arroyo with Kassab. Note Kassab’s prediction of the fate that may already  have be fallen Iraqi Christians, extinction;  if assistance is not speedily  forthcoming from the Administration.

Over a year has passed since Iraqi Christians fled from Mosul and the Biblical Nineveh plains. They languish ill-housed as urban refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan. They are without prospects for sanctuary in the West and Diaspora, because they allegedly do not qualify for asylum status under UN definitions applied by the State Department Bureau of population, Migration and Refugees.  Now, Assistant Secretary Patterson is poised to deprive Syrian and Iraqi Christians of sanctuary here in the US. Despite, as Kassab has demonstrated they have been vetted and accredited for possible P2/P3 Family reunification Visas.

The mean-spiritedness of Patterson and the State Department may assign these ancient Christian minorities to possible extinction with this proposed Genocide ruling. Their behavior is appalling and beyond contempt. All Americans should be outraged. They should press for passage of H.R. 75 by the House effectively rebuking this incredulous State Department proposed ruling.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of the two blindfolded men, shaved by Islamic militants, who were crucified for their belief in Christianity.

U.S. Senator Cotton’s Letter to Iran’s Leaders Clarified

When Arkansas junior Senator Tom Cotton sent his open letter on Monday, March 9th to “The Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” signed by 46 other Republican colleagues, 7 declined, it caused a ruckus.

Cotton’s letter endeavored to  remind Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif of the Constitutional authorities.  The Executive Branch’s power in Article II, Sec.2 gives  it the right to negotiate foreign agreements. The Legislative Branch, in this case the Senate, must provide its “advise and consent” to treaties on a two-thirds vote and a three-fifths vote in the instances of Congressional-executive agreements. Anything not approved by Congress, such as the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei is deemed an executive agreement which could end with current term of the President in January 2017. Thus “the next President could revoke the executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

From the President to leading Democratic Senators, the short missive was rebuked as an unwelcome ‘stunt’ interfering with the Executive Branch of government prerogative of engaging in foreign relations.  President Obama considered it “ironic” considering  the signatories of the Cotton letter in league with those notorious hard liners in Tehran.  He alleged they were seeking to upend the MOU. The New York Daily News published a front page  picture of the Cotton letter accusing the signatories of being ‘traitors’.  For the first 48 hours that continued to be the criticism of Sen. Cotton and the GOP leadership in the Senate, with the exception of the 7 who agreed with the White House for different reasons. Senator Corker (R-TN) thought it was unhelpful as he was endeavoring to line up Democratic votes for his Senate Bill 615, The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) of 2015 co-sponsored by embattled Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif while calling the Cotton letter, “a propaganda ploy” argued:

“I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law,” according to Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The executive agreement was not bilateral but rather multi-lateral with the rest of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, subject to a resolution of the Security Council.

That majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate.

That “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such mere executive agreements that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.”

Ayatollah Khamenei considered the Cotton letter reflective of the “US disintegration”. According to the Mehr news agency, the Supreme Ruler said:

Of course I am worried. Every time we reach a stage where the end of the negotiations is in sight, the tone of the other side, specifically the Americans, becomes harsher, coarser and tougher. This is the nature of their tricks and deceptions.

Further, he said the letter was ‘a sign of the decay of political ethics in the American system”, and he described as “laughable long-standing U.S. accusations of Iranian involvement in terrorism.”

Jen Psaki 3-11-15  Legal Insurrrection

Source: Legal Insurrection

Notwithstanding the roiling criticism of the Cotton letter, comments by Secretary Kerry at a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Wednesday, echoed those of State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on Tuesday who said, “historically, the United States has pursued important national security through non-binding arrangements.” Kerry said in his testimony that the Obama Administration was “not negotiating a legally binding plan” but one from “executive to executive,” Politico reported. Kerry insisted such a deal would still “have a capacity of enforcement.” Thus, he confirmed that the proposed Memorandum of Understanding  between the P5+1  and Iran was non-binding on the parties hinging on verification of conditions.  Something hitherto unachievable with the Mullahs who have a tendency to hide developments. This despite representations by President Obama that the negotiations in Geneva were making good progress towards that goal. Kerry said it was non-binding because we currently don’t recognize the Islamic Republic of Iran, passed embargoes arising from the 444 day Tehran US Embassy seizure and hostage taking in 1979 and adopted Congressional sanctions against its nuclear program. Further, the State Department considers the Republic a state sponsor of terrorism, something Ayatollah Khamenei categorically disagrees with as witnessed by his comments on the Cotton letter.  But seeing is believing when it comes to the Shia autocrats in Tehran proficient practitioners of taqiyya, otherwise known as lying for Allah. Iran ‘reformist’ President Hassan Rouhani suggested that diplomacy with the Administration was an active form of “jihad” equivalent to the 2,500 mile range cruise missile Iran unveiled this week.

Two legal experts on the matter of executive agreements disagreed with the position of Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and Secretary Kerry in the context of the Cotton letter. Daniel Wiser writing in the Washington Free Beacon asserted  that Cotton was correct and Zarif wrong. They concurred that future US Presidents could revoke the agreement over a bad deal, meaning, violation of provisions by Iran:

Jeremy Rabkin, a law professor at George Mason University and an expert in international law and Constitutional history, said in an email that “nonbinding” by definition means that the United States “will not violate international law if we don’t adhere to its terms”—contrary to Zarif’s assertion.

“In other words we’re saying it is NOT an international obligation, just a statement of intent,” he said.

“What Kerry seemed to say was not that his Iran deal would be in the same category but that it would not be legally binding in any sense, just a kind of memorandum of understanding,” Rabkin said. “I wonder whether he understood what he was saying. It was more or less conceding that what Cotton’s letter said was the administration’s own view—that the ‘agreement’ with Iran would not be legally binding, so (presumably) not something that could bind Obama’s successor.”

Cotton responded with a Tweet, saying:

Important question: if deal with Iran isn’t legally binding, then what’s to keep Iran from breaking said deal and developing a bomb?

Wiser then cites a National Review article by a second legal expert, John Yoo, a law professor at University of California, Berkeley and a former Justice Department official in the George W. Bush Administration:

The Cotton letter is right, because if President Obama strikes a nuclear deal with Iran using only [an executive agreement], he is only committing to refrain from exercising his executive power—i.e., by not attacking Iran or by lifting sanctions under power delegated by Congress. Not only could the next president terminate the agreement; Obama himself could terminate the deal.  Obama’s executive agreement cannot prevent Congress from imposing mandatory, severe sanctions on Iran without the possibility of presidential waiver (my preferred solution for handling the Iranian nuclear crisis right now). Obama can agree to allow Iran to keep a nuclear-processing capability; Congress can cut Iran out of the world trading and financial system.

But the fracas over Cotton’s letter continued unabated. An unidentified resident of Bogota, N.J.  “C.H.” shot off a petition to the Obama White House website, “We the People,” expressing the view that the 47 signers were in violation of the 1799 Logan Act and may have jeopardized achievement of a nuclear agreement with Iran.  Further “C.H.” contended that the Republican Senators might be subject to possible criminal actions brought under provisions of the hoary law that private individuals are barred from engaging in foreign relations. The petition took off like a rocket with upwards of 165,000 signatures heading for over 200,000 in less than 48 hours. That will allegedly require a response by the President, as witnessed by an earlier petition on support for medical marijuana.

But “C.H.” is wrong. Members of Congress in either chamber are exempt from that restriction. Moreover, there have been a number of instances where the many of the Democratic Congressional and Administration critics of Cotton and his Republican colleagues have engaged in private foreign relations episodes.  Among those who undertook such actions were Vice President Biden, Secretary Kerry when they were Senators and current House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and the late Teddy Kennedy.  In Pelosi’s case, following her assumption of the House Speakership in 2006, she went off to Damascus in 2007 to sit with President Bashar Assad, despite the protestations of the Bush Administration who were trying to isolate the Syrian dictator.  However,  Republicans have done the same thing when it also suited their political purposes.

Finally, there was another groundswell campaign seeking to gain passage of Sen. Corker’s INARA.  Christians United for Israel (CUFI) flooded Capitol Hill with more than 57,000 emails from members across the US in support of passage of INARA because they were worried about Iran’s possession of nuclear capabilities.  The CUFI initiative was triggered by the March 3rd address by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu before a Joint Meeting of Congress  who made it abundantly clear that he believed the Administration’s 10 year phased deal was a “very bad deal.”

 writing in the Legal Insurrection blog about the Cotton letter controversy concluded:

And to think, all of that wailing and gnashing of teeth from Democrats wasted over a non-binding agreement, one that would have absolutely no legal sway over Iran.

RELATED ARTICLES:

What You Need to Know About the White House’s Talks With Iran

Is Obama Sidestepping Congress and Going to UN on Iran Deal?

Iranian President: Diplomacy with U.S. is an active jihad

Saudi Nuclear Deal Raises Stakes for Iran Talks

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) poses for photographers in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Source: Carolyn Kaster— AP.