On Friday, the Muslim Public Affairs Council issued a Declaration Against Extremism. Only six days prior, MPAC announced it was “proud to be a cosponsor” of an Islamist conference in California run by a group with a background filled with the type of extremism MPAC purports to stand against.
MPAC is a group with Muslim Brotherhood origins and a long history of advancing the Islamist cause. It changed its tone in recent years, but the same leadership is in place. At its 12th annual conference, MPAC founder and Senior Advisor Maher Hathout said, “We don’t want to enforce Sharia anywhere” and that Sharia’s penal code is unsuitable for today’s world.
MPAC also stood out as the only major group with a Brotherhood background to support the revolution that toppled Egyptian President Morsi over the summer. The other major Muslim-American groups with Brotherhood links were silent or rallied for Morsi.
“We rejoice and celebrate the victory of the Egyptian people against the exploitation of religion to suppress the masses and rob them of their God-given freedom and dignity,” MPAC’s July 3 statement reads.
Its new “Declaration Against Extremism” is another step that makes today’s MPAC seem different than the MPAC of the past. Unfortunately, the hope that MPAC has evolved in a positive direction is undermined by its proud cosponsoring of the inaugural conference of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).
The theme of the AMP event is “A Movement United” and it took place on December 7 at the South Coast Chinese Cultural Center. The movement that AMP is a part of is undeniably Islamist.
Shortly before the MPAC-sponsored event, AMP held a large conference on Thanksgiving Weekend in Illinois. The speaker roster consisted largely of vocal Islamists, including supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. This was not new for AMP: Last year’s conference had at least 13 Islamist speakers.
The December 7 event was also sponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity. Another sponsor was the Muslim American Society, which federal prosecutors say was “founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.”
One of the speakers was Hatem Bazian, the chairman of AMP. In 2004, he urged Muslims to carry out an “intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here.” He encouraged the audience to be inspired by the “uprising in Iraq” (referring to the insurgency against U.S. forces) and the “intifada in Palestine.”
In June 2012, Bazian echoed anti-American propaganda that the U.S. is essentially a force for evil in the world.
“The United States wants India to balance China, because if there is conflict with China, we always like that the darker people fight our war and the more these people die is better for the officers because racism can be manifested across many sectors,” he was quoted by Kashmir Media Service as saying.
He is also a co-founder and Academic Services Chair of Zaytuna College, an institution that has Imam Zaid Shakir as one of its leaders. His record of extremism is lengthy. At a conference earlier this year, Shakir preached that Sharia-based governance is superior to the U.S. Constitution because it would deny equality to non-Muslims.
Bazian teaches his view of the U.S. as a force for evil to his students at Zaytuna. Video from a lecture he gave on September 17, 2012 shows him telling students that the “military-industrial complex” has created an “Islamophobic production industry” in order to justify the murdering of Muslims:
“Those who are working on Islamophobia, they believe that the more hatred we have of Muslims in here [America], the more that we have reflexive hatred of Muslims abroad, thus authorizing or making the need for military action and the death and destruction more palatable to us without having to think we are actually killing humans.”
The mantra is similar to one made by MPAC President Salam al-Marayati at a church in May. He talked about a “cottage industry” that is a subset of a “larger machine” including special interests and the military-industrial complex.
Al-Marayati painted MPAC’s critics as being part of an anti-Muslim, bloodthirsty, money-hungry conspiracy. He said they “want more contracts for more weapons to countries that only use these weapons against their own people or against civilians.”
He did state that there is a need for reform in the Muslim world and that there is an ideological struggle happening, but he blamed Islamic terrorism on America’s role in the world instead of the Islamist ideology.
“When a superpower is aiding and abetting oppression and there are grievances, and people react in a violent way, they [Americans] look at the violence and they say it is not time to deal with the grievances,” he said.
Actions speak louder than words. The Declaration Against Extremism has some strong words, but the action of sponsoring an American Muslims for Palestine conference is more telling.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.