By American Islamic Forum for Democracy
“Above all, America must remain a beacon to all who seek freedom during this period of historic change…
In defense of freedom, we will remain the anchor of strong alliances from the Americas to Africa; from Europe to Asia. In the Middle East, we will stand with citizens as they demand their universal rights, and support stable transitions to democracy. The process will be messy, and we cannot presume to dictate the course of change in countries like Egypt; but we can – and will – insist on respect for the fundamental rights of all people.” — President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, February 12, 2013
President Obama’s many statements about the need to protect and preserve freedom, universal human rights, and individual liberty would be welcome expressions of American values – if they bore any weight.
This month, the Obama administration continued its legacy of bolstering those diametrically opposed to individual liberty and human rights by inviting Saudi Arabia’s Abdallah bin Bayyah to the White House.
To those unaware of his insidious views, Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah may appear “moderate.” He has signed onto the famed Amman Message, which claims to promote a moderate interpretation of Islam, focused on the promotion of interfaith dialogue and human rights.
He is a mentor to several high-profile figures, including Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, who is known internationally as a soft-spoken, “modern” guide for young Muslims. (Hamza Yusuf calls Abdallah bin Bayyah his “teacher in Saudi Arabia.”) One can also find him heavily quoted and cited at the website of Imam Suhaib Webb of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, which has also published this essay by Abdallah bin Bayyah in praise of Yusuf Qaradawi, as well as this essay in defense of Qaradawi, bin Bayyah’s close associate.
A hallmark of modern Islamism is the employment of doublespeak – the Amman Message, for example – speaks highly of interfaith efforts and global harmony – but several of its signatories, including bin Bayyah himself, call for criminalization of statements considered offensive to Islam and Muslims:
“We ask everyone to ponder the ramifications of provoking the feelings of over one billion people by a small party of people who desires not to seek peace nor fraternity between members of humanity. This poses a threat to world peace with no tangible benefit realized. Is it not necessary in today’s world for the United Nations to issue a resolution criminalizing the impingement of religious symbols? We request all religious and political authorities, as well as people of reason to join us in putting a stop to this futility that benefits no one….
To the world’s Muslims: Expressing outrage in the face of the maligning of God or the Prophet Muhammad is a moral right, as faith cannot be devoid of feelings and immunity from provocation…” –Abdallah bin Bayyah, “Declaration Regarding the Offensive Video to Muslims”
Bin Bayyah’s cohorts are similarly well-versed in doublespeak. Hamza Yusuf’s message, for example, may initially sound moderate – he advises men to have mercy on women, to defend and protect them – but one must listen more closely.
In his lectures, he says that Muslims are in a state of ma’siyah, or “disobedience of Allah” (sin). He describes the following as signs that Muslims are in a state of sin: they have “left Jihad,” and Muslim women “dishonor themselves” by taking off the Hijab. He also says that non-Muslim society is a “sick” “society of wolves” and that Muslim women “have a lot more innocence than their [non-Muslim] women,” even if they do not wear the hijab.
So, while he may rightfully object to men’s fixation on women’s dress, he does so whilst inciting disrespect of women considered to be outside of Islam.
Abdallah bin Bayyah’s resume contains many troubling highlights. A native of Mauritania, bin Bayyah served as the head of Sharia Affairs as well as Judge at the High Court of the Islamic republic, which has yet to fully abolish slavery. The Mauritanian government, of which bin Bayyah was a part, continues to deny the existence of slavery in the country.
While Muslim anti-slavery activists like Nasser Weddady have sought asylum in the United States only to be maligned by the Islamist establishment in the United States, Abdallah bin Bayyah has been championed by groups like the Islamic Society of North America, who sent its president, Mohamed Magid, to meet with bin Bayyah in Mauritina under the guise of promoting minority rights in the Muslim world.
In further unsettling news, a 2004 fatwa (religious edict) released by the International Union for Muslim Scholars (where bin Bayyah serves as vice president of the board), called on all “able-bodied Muslims” to fight U.S. and allied forces in Iraq; stating that to “aid the occupier is impermissible.” This fatwa encouraged Muslims both in and outside of Iraq to fight U.S. efforts to combat insurgents in the region.
As Muslim-majority societies begin to rise against Political Islam (as can be seen in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and most recently in Egypt, which experienced the largest protests in world history as its population surged against the Muslim Brotherhood on June 30), President Obama’s inability – or is it disinterest? – in standing with “citizens who demand their universal rights” – becomes all the more apparent.
Abdallah bin Bayyah was purportedly invited to the White House “to discuss poverty, global health efforts and Bin Bayyah’s own efforts to speak out against Al Qaeda.” Surely there are individuals concerned with poverty, global health and counter-extremism efforts the Obama administration could consult with who aren’t rabid Islamists?
As Dr. Zuhdi Jasser explained on Fox and Friends, Abdallah bin Bayyah may publicly speak against Al-Qaeda, but he is not against the promotion of the Islamic state, of blasphemy laws, gender apartheid, or even Hamas.
If the Obama administration were truly interested in advancing what President Obama refers to as the universal values of freedom, self-determination and individual opportunity, he and his administration would eagerly seek out voices of reform and modernity within the Muslim community, not the voices of those who are actively promoting the global Islamist agenda.
We call on President Obama to recognize that his administration’s credibility isn’t the only thing on the line – indeed, should our government continue in its failure to stand with anti-Islamist Muslims and our allies, the horrors of Boston and Benghazi are but a mere preview of what the Islamists have in store for all of us who refuse to bend to their will.