CAIR Lashes Out at Non-Islamist Muslim Group

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is yet again undermining its own “moderate” credentials by slamming its Muslim rivals (and true moderates) for being part of an “Islamophobia” network and exposing its own Islamist agenda in the meantime.

In its latest newsletter, CAIR promotes — as the top item — an article on how its rival, the American Islamic Congress (AIC) is funded by “America’s Islamophobia network.”

CAIR quotes from the article, “Despite its claim to promote tolerance, the AIC has depended on substantial support from the very same elements that fought tooth and nail to sabotage the Islamic Society of Boston …”

As reported by the Clarion Project, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center has strong Muslim Brotherhood ties and its extremism is well documented. Any moderate Muslim organization should have been fighting against it. A Muslim scholar recently talked with the Clarion Project about the radicalism he saw at the Islamic Society of Boston in 2003 and how he was sued by the mosque for speaking out.

CAIR calls itself “America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group.” The federal government has a different description of the group: An entity of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorism-financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation.

CAIR, the “civil liberties group,” chose to attack the American Islamic Congress (AIC). CAIR’s priority wasn’t responding to a hate crime against an innocent Muslim, nor was it taking up the cause of Egyptian-Muslim protesters against the Muslim Brotherhood. Its priority was telling Muslims that the AIC is a traitor.

The article that CAIR is promoting was written by Max Blumenthal, a journalist who speaks at their events and lambasts CAIR’s opponents as “Islamophobes.” The opening of the article provides some insight into CAIR’s motivation.

It recalls how Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick replaced the imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center with an AIC official at an interfaith service following the Boston bombings.

There is a wide opening for a group like AIC to compete with CAIR. A 2011 poll found that only 12% of Muslim-American males and 11% of females picked CAIR as the organization that most represents their interests. As I wrote after the poll was published, “only 24 percent of Muslim-American men and 19 percent of Muslim-American women feel represented” by the Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups altogether.

The AIC has offices in Washington D.C., Boston, Egypt, Iraq and Tunisia. According to Guidestar, its 2010 revenue was $1,434,830. This is dwarfed by CAIR’s reported revenue of $4,748,618 for 2011 (and that’s just for its national headquarters and not its allies or individual chapters), but it shows why it fears AIC’s ascent since its founding in 2002: It’s become a force to be reckoned with.

The article tries to paint AIC as part of a pro-Israel network that receives funding from groups that they label as "anti-Muslim” such as the Investigative Project on Terrorism and Middle East Forum. These groups are far from anti-Muslim. They promote anti-Islamist Muslims—and if they were really anti-Muslim, why would they use their money to support a Muslim group?

“A staffer for a major Muslim-American civil rights organization told me that AIC’s leadership refused to participate in any initiative with the organized Muslim American community,” Blumenthal writes.

AIC is organized. Take a look at all the work it is doing. Its Executive Director, Zainab Al-Suwaij, is part of the American Islamic Leadership Coalition, an alliance that often takes the side opposite of CAIR. This quote is an example of one of CAIR’s favorite tactics: Depicting its Muslim critics as outside the community and thus having no influence.

CAIR hopes to create a self-fulfilling prophecy where it stops groups like AIC from having influence by saying they have no influence.

The article notes that the AIC began with only $12,000 and attributes its growth to U.S. government and “Islamophobe” funding prompted by its executive director’s support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and President Bush’s re-election. Al-Suwaij is an Iraqi Shiite. Her appreciation of the U.S.-led campaign to remove Saddam Hussein shouldn’t be surprising, and it doesn’t make her any less Muslim.

The article laments that the Obama Administration has found reason to continue financing of AIC.

“Built into the original scaffolding of Bush’s imperial project, the AIC emerged unscathed from its dramatic collapse, finding favor in a new era among Obama’s top allies,” it states. By accusing AIC of being part of “Bush’s imperial project” and being a puppet of “anti-Muslim agitators,” the article accuses AIC of oppressing Muslims.

That’s why CAIR is distributing it. There’s an ideological power struggle in the Muslim world— between the moderates and the Islamists, including in the community in America—and CAIR intends to win.


Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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