Muslim opposition grows to religious freedom nominee

WASHINGTON — More than 50 Muslim and non-Muslim civic and religious groups asked leading senators on Thursday (April 12) to … Continued

WASHINGTON — More than 50 Muslim and non-Muslim civic and religious groups asked leading senators on Thursday (April 12) to rescind the appointment of an outspoken Muslim activist, Zuhdi Jasser, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Jasser, a Navy-trained physician, is decrying the effort — and others to oust him from the independent watchdog panel — as a “smear tactic.”

A separate online petition that began circulating last week, also asking for his ouster, has garnered more than 2,000 signatures.

“Their letter is patently dishonest, deceptive, and continues their unprofessional unbridled smear campaign against anyone who chooses to take on Islamic reform against Islamist ideologies and groups regardless of whether we are observant traditional Muslims,” Jasser wrote in an email to Religion News Service.

The signatories to the letter, sent to three key senators, argue that Jasser’s rhetoric and activism contribute to a culture that treats Muslims as suspects, and that he would subvert the work of the bipartisan commission, which advises federal officials on the status of religious freedom abroad.

“His consistent support for measures that threaten and diminish religious freedoms within the United States demonstrates his deplorable lack of understanding of and commitment to religious freedom and undermines the USCIRF’s express purpose,” they wrote.

They cite Jasser’s effort to prevent the construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, his support for the New York Police Department’s spying on Muslim institutions, and his defense of anti-Shariah laws, which most Muslim civil rights groups say unfairly paint Muslims as anti-American.

Jasser said his positions are far more nuanced than represented by those who signed the letter, and that his view on the Ground Zero mosque is a “pro-Islamic” one. As for his attitudes toward Shariah, “I have never been against family Shariah laws that, in fact, most of which I practice myself,” he wrote to RNS.

The independent commission was founded by Congress in 1998 to monitor and advise federal officials on the status of religious freedom abroad. Republicans and Democrats take turns making appointments to the commission.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appointed Jasser. The letter is also addressed to Senate President Pro-Tempore Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who chairs the Senate’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

Signatories to the letter include nine individuals and 55 national and local groups, from the well-known Council on American-Islamic Relations to the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus, Ohio.

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Universal Uclick.

  • RedHogg

    Lets take a close look at this statement in the article:

    “They cite Jasser’s effort to prevent the construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, his support for the New York Police Department’s spying on Muslim institutions, and his defense of anti-Shariah laws, which most Muslim civil rights groups say unfairly paint Muslims as anti-American.”

    These are the objections they present, none of which, I am sure, any of my fellow American would have a problem with whatsoever. These are not what most American in general desire by any means. Its clear then that other than Jasser, Muslims do have an agenda game plan for America!

  • EddietheInfidel

    Dr. Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy has consistently argued for a “separation of mosque and state”, and is one of the few Muslims that is willing to admit that there are elements in the American “ummah” that would use violence and/or “legal jihad” to undermine the principles of Constitutional democracy. Rather than trying to continually excuse away the violent actions of some of his co-religionists as being “un-islamic” (remember Nidal Hasan’s SoA “Soldier of Allah” business card, or Faisal Shahzad’s claim of being a “muslim soldier” in open court?), he recognizes the some members of the muslim community embrace the teachings of domestic and foreign jihadists. His support of “anti-Shari’a” measures falls in line with views of most Americans: that foreign or religious law should not be considered when rendering judgments in civil or criminal cases that come before our secular courts. He’s not made any statements denigrating or attacking muslims’ rights to live their personal lives according to islamic tenets.

    It is telling (and disturbing) that these supposedly “patriotic American” muslim groups would be so upset with his appointment to a religious freedom commission.

    CAIR, ICNA, ISNA, MSA and the rest of them are engaging in a major public relations screw up by attacking his appointment.

  • GaryRumain

    Excellent points.