The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) represents itself as an â€œAmerican institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of American Muslims.â€
MPAC was founded by Muslim Brotherhood members, specifically Hassan and Maher Hathout. The former passed away in 2009 and had served as its president. The latter remains a senior adviser.
MPAC was originally the Political Action Committee of the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC). It became independent and changed its name in 1988, though the two remain intertwined. The MPAC Foundationâ€™s 2010 IRS Form 990 says one of its primary purposes is to â€œserve the community of the [ICSC] and promote its ideology and principles.â€ Maher Hathout is the spokesman for the ICSC and ICSC sponsors MPAC conventions. 
The ICSCâ€™s website has a bibliography page that includes texts by Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi and Brotherhood member Sayed Sabiq, who authored his book under the supervision of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. Hathout addressed this fact at the 2012 MPAC convention, calling it the â€œfunniestâ€ criticism he has faced. His answer was, â€œSo what? You want censorship?â€ He compared it to how schools have books by Marx and Hitler.
Maher Hathout and three of his colleagues were jailed in Egypt because of their membership in the Muslim Brotherhood. Hassan Hathout described himself as a â€œclose discipleâ€ of Hassan al-Banna and said in 1997 that he â€œis the person who most influenced my lifeâ€ and that â€œcenturies might roll over before a similar personality is produced.â€
Maher Hathout was released from prison in 1968, and the brothers left for Kuwait. In 1971, they moved to Buffalo, New York, before ending up in California to establish the ISCS in 1978.
Maher Hathout said at the 2012 MPAC conference that he came to the U.S. with the objective of â€œsharing the gifts of Islam.â€ Hassan Hathout said that they came to spread the â€œIslamic Movementâ€ inspired by Hassan al-Banna.
Maher Hathout says that his relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood ended when he came to the U.S., and he and MPAC have had no foreign links since. However, a 1989 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Financial Committee document includes instructions to contact someone named Hathout â€œin the field.â€
A 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood memo, which says its â€œwork in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within,â€ does not list MPAC as one of its affiliated organizations. However, MPAC has long worked in unison with those that are.
For example, on September 17, 1993, MPAC signed a joint condemnation of the Oslo Accords with the Islamic Association for Palestine,Â Islamic Society of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Muslim Arab Youth Association andÂ Muslim Students Association.
The statement said â€œto recognize the legitimacy of that crime [the creation of the state of Israel] is a crime in itself and any agreement which involves such recognition is unjust and untenable.” The 1991 memo identifies every single one of these as â€œour organizations and the organizations of our friends.â€
In 1997, Maher Hathout praised the work of Hassan al-Banna, Tunisian Islamist Rashid al-Ghannouchi and Sudanese Islamist Hasan al-Turabi as â€œreformists.â€ Hassan Hathout also said Muslim-Americans should follow in the footsteps of Hassan al-Banna because â€œthis current civilization harbors in its body the seeds of its own destruction.â€
In 1998, Maher Hathout said of Hezbollah, â€œI disagree with them on other issues, but on the issue of fighting to liberate their land and attacking only armed forces, this is legitimateâ€”that is an American valueâ€”freedom and liberty.â€ MPAC President Salam al-Marayati similarly said in 1999 that Hezbollahâ€™s attacks on Israeli soldiers are â€œlegitimate resistance.â€
In 1999, an MPAC position paper tried to make the case that Hezbollah is not a terrorist group. It said that Hezbollahâ€™s bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 â€œwas not in a strict sense, a terrorist operation. It was a military operation, producing no civilian casualtiesâ€”exactly the kind of attack that Americans might have lauded had it been directed against Washingtonâ€™s enemies.â€ Â In 2006, MPAC said it â€œcompletely deplore[s] the attackâ€ and was just pointing out a â€œhighly relevant fact.â€
In 2000, Maher Hathout gave a speech where he predicted that a â€œgeneral intifadaâ€ would resulted in Arab governments â€œflushed down in the cesspools of history of treason.â€ He described Israel as â€œbutchersâ€ and â€œan apartheid state against every fiber of the modern world.â€
When this attracted negative attention, he said he regretted the â€œharshness of my remarksâ€ but stands by them. MPAC says it supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On May 18, 2001, MPAC accused Israel of â€œethnic cleansingâ€ and state-sponsored terrorism:
â€œIf terrorism is defined as the use of violence against noncombatants to achieve a political goal, then US policy is aiding and abetting the worst terrorists of the world. When Israeli civilians are killed, it is called terrorism. When Palestinian civilians are killed, it is called security â€¦ These actions constitute state-sponsored terrorism and escalate the cycle of violence. Yet Israel is not found on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in the State Department report. No mention is made of Israel’s indiscriminate use of military force against civilians.â€
Before heading the Muslim American Societyâ€™s Freedom Foundation, Mahdi Bray was MPACâ€™s Political Director. In October 2000, he was on stage with Abdurrahman Alamoudi when he declared his support for Hamas and Hezbollah. The audience cheered and Bray gestured his approval. Alamoudi was later convicted on terrorism-related charges and admitted to being a secret Muslim Brotherhood member.
Bray later condemned the Israeli assassination of Hamasâ€™ spiritual leader as â€œstate-sponsored terrorism.â€ He also accused the U.S. of waging a â€œwar on Islam.â€ In February 2008, Bray traveled to Egypt to stand in solidarity with Brotherhood members being prosecuted by the ruling government.
On September 11, 2001, MPAC president al-Marayati immediately cast suspicion on Israel, saying â€œIf weâ€™re going to look at suspects, we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from whatâ€™s happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies.â€
Maher Hathout likewise entertained conspiracy theories suggesting that the U.S. government had provided false names of the hijackers. On September 13, 2001, he was in an online chat where someone claimed that one hijacker was alive and another had been dead for over a year. Hathout asked him to call MPACâ€™s publication.
Dr. Ali Mazrui spoke for MPAC in 2002. He compares Israel to Nazi Germany and said at the event:
â€œThere is also suspicion that some members of the Bush administration in collusion with Israel are more than ready to plunge the Middle East into turmoil in the hope that the final outcome would be to the territorial advantage of Israel and the strategic advantage of the United States. All this is part of the emerging external sadism of the United States, a readiness to hurt others abroad.â€
In 2003, MPAC opposed the designations of Hamas and Hezbollah as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. It said:
â€œIt is clear that the terrorist threat to the U.S. emanates from Al-Qaeda and not Palestinian groups. There is no evidence that Palestinian groups designated as terrorist organizations have any connections to Al-Qaeda. Yet the preoccupation with these groups raises the question as to whether targeting Palestinian groups serve true national security interests or is based on political considerations.â€
On May 23, 2007, terrorism expert Steven Emerson debated MPAC Communications Director Edina Lekovic on television and quoted from a publication called Al-Talib where she worked when she was a student. A July 1999 issue of the publication, titled â€œSpirit of Jihad,â€ has Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama Bin Laden on the cover. The issue lists Lekovic as a managing editor and its editorial said:
â€œWhen we hear someone refer to the great Mujahid (someone who struggles in Allahâ€™s cause) Osama Bin Laden as a â€˜terrorist,â€™ we should defend our brother and refer to him as a freedom fighter; someone who has forsaken wealth and power to fight in Allahâ€™s cause and speak out against oppressors.â€
Lekovic denied on television that she worked for Al-Talib. Shortly thereafter, she admitted she â€œbrieflyâ€ worked for the publication up until June 1999 when she graduated. She says that the listing of her name in the July 1999 issue was a â€œprinting mistake,â€ and that she was not involved in the issue.
However, the publication acknowledged her role in various capacities a dozen times between October 1997 and May 2002. This includes her name appearing as a managing editor in the May 1999 issue that promoted Holocaust denial and as an assistant editor in the September 1999 issue that claimed that the â€œBlind Sheikhâ€ that was convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bomber is innocent. Lekovic says she â€œabhor[s] the sentimentsâ€ and they are antithetical to her current work.
In 2010, MPAC published a policy paper that depicted the Muslim Brotherhood as a positive force. It said, â€œConservative groups like the Muslim Brotherhood pose long-term strategic threats to violent extremists by siphoning Muslims away from violent radicalism into peaceful political activism.â€
The same report also says that â€œthe takeover of mosques by extremists has been negligible,â€ even though theÂ North American Islamic Trust, identified by the U.S. government as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity, owns mosques and Islamic centers across the country.
In 2011, MPAC arranged two speaking engagements for Tunisian Islamist Rashid Ghannouchi, calling him â€œOne of the most important figures in modern Islamic political thought and theory.â€
When Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 after it was targeted with over 100 rockets by Hamas in the Gaza Strip (a territory that Israel completely withdrew from in 2005) , MPAC immediately condemned Israel. It claimed that the campaign is not about terrorism and is â€œin reality itâ€™s about the assassination of Palestinian leaders, destruction of Gazan infrastructure and the gross killings of Palestinian civilians, including women and children.â€ It did not condemn Hamas or even mention the rocket fire.
Two days later, MPAC said it opposed â€œthe move toward more active warfare by both sidesâ€ but that â€œthe greatest act of violence in the West Bank and Gaza is the ongoing Israeli occupation.â€ It wasnâ€™t until nine days after its initial statement that MPAC took a stronger stand against Hamas. It signed an interfaith statement that criticized both sides and said, â€œThere is no excuse for the indiscriminate firing of rockets onto civilians.â€
MPAC regularly depicts its critics as â€œextremistsâ€ with anti-Muslim motivations. It held its 2012 conference at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. Notably, at the event, Rector Ed Bacon said â€œevangelical Zionismâ€ is an â€œact of evilâ€ committed by Christians, along with slavery and Islamophobia.
Clarion Project National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro wrote an article criticizing the church for partnering with MPAC MPAC and All Saints subsequently held a press conference condemning the writing of â€œright-wing extremists.â€ A report about the â€œIslamophobia Networkâ€ in America was offered to attendees.
At the convention, Marayati called MPACâ€™s critics â€œpolitical extremists in America that cannot see Muslims as basically normal people.â€ Maher Hathout said that the critics think they â€œownâ€ the country and are trying to stop diversity.
MPAC President Al-Marayati was challenged in a radio debate about the event to take an active stance against the Brotherhood. He replied that it was a â€œridiculous suggestionâ€ and â€œitâ€™s not worth our time.â€
Maher Hathout said he is â€œvery proudâ€ of his time in the Muslim Brotherhood and has â€œnothing to regret or apologize forâ€ because he was fighting against the British and the Nasser regime. He said that he has had no connection to the Muslim Brotherhood since arriving in the U.S.
In a radio interview on November 23, 2012, Hathout criticized the power grab of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who represented the Muslim Brotherhood in the campaign. He called it an â€œimminent threatâ€ but said he still has â€œgreat respectâ€ for the Muslim Brotherhood and believes Morsi is â€œsincere.â€
During the 2012 MPAC conference, Hathout said, â€œwe donâ€™t want to enforce Sharia anywhereâ€ and that Sharia Lawâ€™s penal code is not suitable for today. He also called on Muslim leaders to â€œchase out the ideology of death.â€ In addition, he spoke out against banning criticism of Islam.
Although MPAC says its mission is to â€œenhance the political and civic participation of American Muslims,â€ it partnered with other Muslim Brotherhood-originated groups to campaign against the appointment of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser to the U.S. Commission on International Freedom. Even though Jasser is a devout Muslim, MPAC accused him of having â€œanti-Muslim affiliationsâ€ and opposing Muslim religious freedom. Jasser is an anti-Islamist activist and critic of the Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups.
MPAC also said that Jasser has no following. However, a 2011 Gallup poll found that only 6% of Muslim-American males and 1% of females chose MPAC as the organization that most represents their interests, even though MPAC has large resources and has been around since 1988.
In December 2013, MPAC issued a Declaration Against Extremism, but had sponsored an extremistÂ American Muslims for PalestineÂ conference only days prior.
 Address as stated on January 1, 2013 on the â€œContact Usâ€ page of the MPAC website. https://www.mpac.org/contact.php
 â€œOur Vision & Mission,â€ MPAC website, https://www.mpac.org/about/vision-and-mission.php
 â€œDr. Maher Hathout: A Man With Vision,â€ InFocus News, https://www.infocusnews.net/index.php/en/content/blogcategory/1476/1083.
 ICSC is listed as a bronze-level sponsor ($2,500) in the program for MPACâ€™s convention in 2012.
 â€œBibliography,â€ Islamic Center of Southern California website, https://www.icsconline.org/index.php/component/content/article/43-books/prayersalat/186-bibliography
 Hathout, Hassan. â€œLiving Memories: My Mother,â€ The Minaret, Vol. 14, No. 5 (Sept/Oct 1992). As documented by the Investigative Project on Terrorism in â€œBehind the FaÃ§ade: The Muslim Public Affairs Council,â€ https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/358.pdf.
 â€œMuslim Public Affairs Council Tries to Derail Congressmanâ€™s Hearings,â€ press release from the office of Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), republished by IPT News, â€œCongressman Sherman Turns the Tables on MPAC,â€ July 30, 2008, https://www.investigativeproject.org/1120/congressman-sherman-turns-the-tables-on-mpac
 Hathout, Dr. Hassan. â€œThe Man Who Influenced My Life,â€ IslamICity.com, undated. https://www.islamicity.com/voi/transcripts/HassanAB.htm. The Investigative Project on Terrorism records the original source as being the Voice of Islam, December 25, 1997. It is unclear if that is the date of the statement.
 Goodstein, Laurie. â€œA Nation Challenged: The American Muslims; Influential American Muslims Temper Their Tone,â€ New York Times, October 19, 2001. https://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/19/us/nation-challenged-american-muslims-influential-american-muslims-temper-their.html
 Hathout, â€œThe Man Who Influenced My Life.â€
 â€œMeeting Agenda of the Financial Committee,â€ February 18, 1989. Document introduced into evidence during the trial of the Holy Land Foundation.
 Lewis, Michael. â€œIsraelâ€™s American Detractorsâ€”Back Again,â€ Middle East Quarterly, December 1997, Vol. IV: No. 4,Â p. 25-33.Â https://www.meforum.org/372/israels-american-detractors-back-again
 â€œApologists or Extremists: Maher Hathout,â€ Investigative Project on Terrorism, July 9, 2008. https://www.investigativeproject.org/profile/109
 Hathout, â€œThe Man Who Influenced My Life.â€
 The statement was made at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. â€œHate Speech Long an MPAC Specialty,â€ IPT News, February 10, 2010. https://www.investigativeproject.org/1789/hate-speech-long-an-mpac-specialty
 The statement was made on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS, â€œMuslims in America,â€ November 24, 1999. Documented by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, â€œApologists or Extremists: Salam al-Marayati,â€ March 24, 2010. https://www.investigativeproject.org/profile/114#_ftn5
 â€œApologists or Extremists: Salam al-Marayati,â€ the Investigative Project on Terrorism, March 24, 2010. https://www.investigativeproject.org/profile/114#_ftn5
 â€œMPAC Exposes Steve Emersonâ€™s Self-Serving Distortions,â€ MPAC website, January 28, 2004. https://www.mpac.org/issues/islamophobia/mpac-exposes-steve-emersons-self-serving-distortions.php
 Gerstein, Josh. â€œBoard Reaffirms Award for Contentious Muslim Leader,â€ New York Sun, September 19, 2006. https://www.nysun.com/national/board-reaffirms-award-for-contentious-muslim/39917
 â€œFlaws in State Department Global Terrorism Report,â€ MPAC website, May 18, 2001. The article has been deleted by MPAC but is documented here: https://web.archive.org/web/20040626025219/https://www.mpac.org/news_article_display.aspx?ITEM=198
 â€œMASâ€™ Activist Wing Closes Shop,â€ IPT News, June 21, 2011. https://www.investigativeproject.org/2988/mas-activist-wing-closes-shop
 As stated in a March 23, 2004 MAS press release titled, â€œ”MAS Condemns the Assassination of Sheikh Yassin, Calls for Congressional Action.â€ Documented by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, â€œApologists or Extremists: Mahdi Bray,â€ June 20, 2011. https://www.investigativeproject.org/profile/112#_ftn4
 â€œCover Story: American Muslims and Politics,â€ Religion & Ethics News Weekly, PBS.org, November 2, 2001. https://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week509/cover.html
 â€œMB Military Sentencing Session Feb, 26th,â€ IkhwanWeb, February 2, 2008. https://ikhwanweb.com/print.php?id=15945
 Stammer, Larry B. â€œJewish-Muslim Dialogue Newly Tested,â€ Los Angeles Times, https://articles.latimes.com/2001/sep/22/local/me-48579
 Live Dialogue with Dr. Maher Hathout, “American Muslims Condemn Attacks on U.S.: Dialogue 2,” September 13, 2001, as documented by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, â€œApologists or Extremists: Maher Hathout,â€ July 9, 2008, https://www.investigativeproject.org/profile/109.
 â€œMPAC Exposes Steve Emersonâ€™s Self-Serving Distortions,â€ MPAC website, January 28, 2004. https://www.mpac.org/issues/islamophobia/mpac-exposes-steve-emersons-self-serving-distortions.php#.UPM-iyc8B8E
 â€œA Review of U.S. Counterterrorism Policy: American Muslim Critique & Recommendations,â€ MPAC policy paper, September 2003, p. 62. https://www.mpac.org/assets/docs/publications/counterterrorism-policy-paper.pdf#page=70
 May 23, 2007, Kudlow & Company, CNBC.
 â€œThe Spirit of Jihad,â€ Al-Talib, Vol. 9, No. 6, July 1999, https://www.investigativeproject.org/redirect/1999-07_Al-Talib.pdf
 Emerson, Steven. â€œMs. Lekovicâ€¦A Dozen Printing Mistakes?â€ Counterterrorism Blog, May 30, 2007. https://www.investigativeproject.org/293/ms-lekovica-dozen-printing-mistakes
 â€œBuilding Bridges to Strengthen America,â€ MPAC policy paper, condensed version, July 19, 2010, p. 8-9.Â https://www.mpac.org/assets/docs/publications/building-bridges/MPAC-Building-Bridges–Complete_Condensed_Paper.pdf
 â€œAttend MPAC-DC Forum on Islamic Political Movements & Dinner with Ghannouchi, Tunisian Revolutionary Leader,â€ MPAC website, November 29, 2011. https://www.mpac.org/events/attend-mpac-dc-forum-on-islamic-political-movements-dinner-with-ghannouchi-tunisian-revolution-leader.php
 â€œPolitics Aside: Where is the Humanity for the Gaza Strip?â€ MPAC website, November 15, 2012. https://www.mpac.org/programs/government-relations/dc-news-and-views/politics-aside-where-is-the-humanity-for-the-gaza-strip.php
 â€œMPAC Expresses Grave Concern About Gaza,â€ MPAC website, November 17, 2012. https://www.mpac.org/issues/foreign-policy/mpac-expresses-grave-concern-about-gaza.php
 â€œAFPI Statement on Recent Israel/Gaza Conflict,â€ MPAC website, November 24, 2012. https://www.mpac.org/programs/interfaith/afpi-statement-on-recent-israelgaza-conflict.php
 Mauro, Ryan. â€œMPAC-Linked All Saints Church: â€˜Evangelical Zionismâ€™ is â€˜Evil,â€™â€ FrontPage Magazine, January 3, 2012. https://frontpagemag.com/2013/ryan-mauro/mpac-linked-all-saints-church-evangelical-zionism-is-evil/
 Mauro, Ryan. â€œCrossing the Interfaith Line: Islamists Take Advantage of NaÃ¯ve Christians,â€ RadicalIslam.org, December 5, 2012. https://www.radicalislam.org/analysis/crossing-interfaith-line-islamists-take-advantage-naive-christians
 â€œAll Saints Church Under Attack From Right-Wing Extremists for Hosting MPAC Convention,â€ MPAC website, December 4, 2012. https://www.mpac.org/convention/all-saints-church-under-attack-from-right-wing-extremists-for-hosting-mpac-convention.php
 â€œAll Saints Church Criticized for Hosting American Muslim Convention,â€ AirTalk, December 5, 2012. https://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2012/12/05/29554/how-well-do-people-from-different-religions-really
 â€œInterfaith Press Conference,â€ AllSaintsPasadena1 YouTube channel, December 6, 2012. https://youtu.be/LCWRG-8DcQw
 â€œEgyptâ€™s Morsi Dramatically Expands His Power,â€ AirTalk, November 23, 2012. https://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2012/11/23/29387/egypts-morsi-dramatically-expands-his-power
 â€œZuhdi Jasser Does Not Belong on USCIRF,â€ MPAC website, March 30, 2012. https://www.mpac.org/programs/government-relations/dc-news-and-views/zuhdi-jasser-does-not-belong-on-uscirf.php
 Gallup Nightly Poll from January 1, 2008 to April 9, 2011.Â https://www.gallup.com/strategicconsulting/153611/REPORT-Muslim-Americans-Faith-Freedom-Future.aspx
Â â€œMPAC Cosponsors Palestine Conference in Irvine,â€ MPAC website, December 7, 2013.Â https://www.mpac.org/events/mpac-cosponsors-palestine-conference-in-irvine.php#.UrJrmvS1zAl