Alt-Right Muslims — Islamists 2.0

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A woman wearing an American flag as a headscarf attends a protest for women's rights and freedom in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington in front of Brandenburger Tor on January 21, 2017 in Berlin, Germany (Photo: Steffi Loos / Getty Images)
A woman wearing an American flag as a headscarf attends a protest for women’s rights and freedom in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington in front of Brandenburger Tor on January 21, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Steffi Loos / Getty Images)

The misogyny and patriarchy of San Francisco’s alt-right Muslims has always been a well-known secret among Muslims. Now this pattern of behavior is coming to light. 

The American Muslim community was rightly stunned as yet another high-profile leader with access, means and influence offered a blisteringly callous interpretation of a woman’s place in society. Recently, leading American Muslim imam and Zaytuna college Co-Founder Zaid Shakir wrote a Facebook post saying the Quran has an “essential teaching” regarding sexual abuse charges: Unless a woman can produce four witnesses, she should receive 80 lashes and be thoroughly discredited with no future credibility. 

On social media, many Muslim men and women quickly admonished his simplistic theological interpretation of the law and how it interfaces with the realities of women confronting sexual violence in America.

Others identified it as perhaps a preemptive strike against future accusations of sexual assault against Muslim leaders. Two other alt-right Muslims are already in the spotlight for dehumanizing comments and sexual abuse: Islamic scholar Nouman Ali Khan and Professor Tariq Ramadan. The grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna, Ramadan is facing at least three counts of criminal acts against women.

Alt-right Muslims

Misogynistic, patriarchal views are common among alt-right Muslims. Alt-right Muslims hold the same narrow and regressive views toward society as the political alt-right; they’re just better at hiding it. They are part of the broader anti-feminist, anti-social justice activism. The Muslim alt-right holds a rigid orthodox interpretation of Islam paired with Islamist political views that seeks to saturate both American politics and culture with a bastardized interpretation of Islam. 

They do this through strong optics and intersectional buzz words that mesh with the Left’s current jargon and ride the wave of America’s identity crisis — all while launching covert attacks on mainstream Muslims through social media attacks, intimidation, harassment and other forms of manipulation. 

A vivid example of the Jekyll and Hyde persona of alt-right Muslims is Javed Ali, also based in San Francisco. In the early 2000s, Ali founded the highly-applauded first Muslim American journal called Illume Magazine. He was also part of the duo that created the very famous graphic of a Muslim woman in an American flag hijab that became an iconic image during the Women’s March . Yet privately, Ali is deeply misogynistic with repeated patterns of abuse toward women. 

Alt-right Muslims make up a very small percentage of Muslims, but they have come to represent normative American Muslim identity because alt-right Muslims enjoy the widest platform courtesy of academia, interfaith groups (in which they are very active) and leftist institutions that unwittingly offer safe harbor to their extremist ideas. 

Ironically, alt-right Muslims are most comfortable nested within these identity-driven spaces, which makes San Francisco fertile ground for this ideology. Alt-right Muslims flourish in Frisco because of the community’s obsessive need to push the needle to the hard Left. Here, identity is coveted and always comes first: The tighter the scarf, the longer the robe, the more “Muslim” the individual becomes.

We’re seeing that mindset spread, as now the only normative mainstream representation of a Muslim woman is a Muslim woman in a hijab.

Yet none of these religious markers are required in Islam, which actually rejects the need for symbols. These are merely badges of self-identification to qualify as a member of a privileged, “victimized” identity group. 

Take the case of Dr. Hatem Bazian, radical founder of the anti-Semitic group Students for Justice in Palestine, Co-Founder of  Zaytuna College and lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. Bazian praised the Iraq intifada, which targeted U.S. soldiers, and urged American Muslims to initiate an intifada in the U.S. aimed at changing American political dynamics.

He spouts Islamophobia grievances, systematically used by alt-right Muslims to shut down debate about Islam in the United States — a move that also alienates American Muslims from their inherited right as Muslims to a rich debate about faith issues. 

In 2017, Bazian retweeted anti-Semitic photos that mocked Jews as entitled people who “kill, rape, smuggle organs, and steal the land of Palestinians.” In 2018, Bazian was (ironically) appointed as a city of Berkeley commissioner on the Peace and Justice Commission. 

Apologist groups, particularly in Northern California, respond to identity and grievance propaganda of alt-right Muslims through elevating them to absurd positions of power, often excusing blatantly hateful attitudes under the cover of interfaith or victimized group protection. (In order to be seen as a victimized group, alt-right Muslims must keep pushing the myth of Islamophobia as a widespread bogeyman against Muslims.)

The real threat to Muslims in America is not some anti-Muslim bigot; it’s the alt-right Muslim industry. Specifically, the more unfettered access these individuals and organizations have to university campuses (like UC Berkeley’s Muslims Student Association), the more they put young Muslims at risk. 



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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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