Islamist Watch

ISLAMIST WATCH, a project of the Middle East Forum, combats the ideas and institutions of lawful Islamism in the United States and throughout the West. Arguing that "radical Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution," we seek to expose the Islamist organizations that currently dominate the debate, while identifying and promoting the work of moderate Muslims. Islamist Watch specifically does not deal with counterterrorism but works to establish that lawful Islamism is by and of itself a threat.

Latest Islamist Watch Articles

Rahim Sabadia: Portrait of a Disgraced Defense Contractor  PJ Media  May 28, 2014
How Modernity 'Radicalizes' Western Muslims  FrontPage Magazine  April 16, 2014
The Rising Sex Traffic in Forced Islamic Marriage  Quadrant Online  March 2014

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Nonviolent Islamism in the News

Chládek says he is not against the hijab at school  Prague Post  August 31, 2014
Honor Diaries Star Threatened by Islamic State Supporter  Clarion Project  August 31, 2014
Islamists Pressure FBI to Drop Training on Muslim Brotherhood  Clarion Project  August 31, 2014
Muslim meeting constructive, insists A-G  Australian AP  August 30, 2014
The Vermont Bacon Affair: Is there a there there?  Washington Post  August 29, 2014

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IW News Brief: Burqa Ban Victory, Islamic Pants, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Thu, 28 Aug 2014, 1:44 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

French burqa ban gets seal of approval from European court

In a decision that will refocus the debate over burqas and niqabs, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has backed the French statute that proscribes concealing one's face in public. Judges rejected a woman's claims that she has suffered discrimination and that the limits on personal freedoms are incompatible with European law. Interestingly, the ECHR downplayed valid concerns about public safety and emphasized social cohesion instead. An official statement explains that the court was "able to understand the view" that these coverings "call into question the possibility of open interpersonal relationships, which, by virtue of an established consensus, formed an indispensable element of community life within the society in question." Because the law is not targeted solely at religious dress and does not generally restrict freedom of movement, it "could therefore be regarded as proportionate to the aim pursued, namely the preservation of the conditions of 'living together.'" Objections rang out, but there is no place to appeal.

Beyond affirming the status quo in France and Belgium, which has a similar law and was a party to the defense, the ECHR has reinvigorated opponents of such garb elsewhere. The government of Spain's Catalonia region quickly pledged to advance a bill as the Catalan city of Reus passed a measure of its own. Rumblings about legislation have also been heard in Austria, Britain, Denmark, and Norway. Is this the beginning of the end for Europe's burqas and niqabs?

Left: The culture clash as seen in a photo from a London subway. Right: John Walker Lindh's prison duds have put him in a litigious mood.

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IW News Brief: Niqabs in Court, Jihad in Brussels, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Wed, 25 Jun 2014, 12:01 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

Women testify in Michigan court with faces veiled

Imam Mohammad Masroor was found guilty of raping three children in a case that "may be the first in Michigan and the U.S. where a judge allowed women wearing a niqab to testify," the Detroit Free Press reveals. Combined with other garments, niqabs leave only the eyes exposed. Masroor's lawyer insists that Judge Michael Hathaway's unusual accommodation meant that his client was "denied the right to fully cross-examine and confront" two veiled witnesses. The prosecutor had warned that rejecting them would be "a message to criminals everywhere that they can target women with niqabs or burqas because they would have a hard time testifying." Michigan's top court has set rules giving judges discretion in the matter.

Covered witnesses are rarely accepted, but courts continue to grapple with the subject. In 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada outlined a test for determining if "the salutary effects of requiring her to remove the niqab outweigh the deleterious effects of doing so." Applying the test in 2013, the Ontario judge who had sparked the review by refusing a woman's request to stay veiled nixed it again when the case came back to him. An English judge also did not permit a Muslim to wear a niqab on the stand last year, citing the need "to see the defendant for the purposes of evaluating her evidence." One hopes that the Masroor trial will not mark the beginning of a new trend that puts cultural considerations above the integrity of the judicial process.

Left: Mohammad Masroor was convicted of raping girls of ages 10, 12, and 13. Right: On May 24, a gunman murdered four at the Jewish Museum of Belgium.

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IW News Brief: NYPD Cop-Out, Brotherhood Probe, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Wed, 30 Apr 2014, 2:19 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

NYPD drops intelligence unit detested by Islamists

A year to the day after the Boston bombings, the New York Police Department announced the end of a program designed to protect the city from violent jihad. The Demographics Unit, which angered Islamists by gathering intelligence on Muslim neighborhoods and the radicalism therein, has been disbanded. Reflecting Commissioner Bill Bratton's softer approach, the NYPD will strive to amass comparable data through outreach. Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the "critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve, so that our cops and our citizens can help one another go after the real bad guys" — whatever that means.

Promises that more focused intelligence work will continue are less than reassuring. The New York Post recalls that Bratton "once backed a similar 'mapping' program as Los Angeles' top cop, only to later scrap the idea under political pressure." Given this record of caving, one fears that ongoing objections to what remains could prompt more PC-sodden adjustments. Some also ask if the city will now cease to defend its legal right to conduct proactive surveillance, which is challenged in lawsuits. Finally, the mere perception that New York is letting its guard down could entice jihadists to try their luck, a scenario noted by former police official Paul Browne. If the worst comes to pass, de Blasio and Bratton will have difficult questions to answer.

Left: Islamist Linda Sarsour, a vocal opponent of NYPD surveillance, was among the community "advocates" who were granted a preview of the policy shift a week before the public rollout. Right: David Cameron wants to know what the Brotherhood has been up to in the UK.

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IW News Brief: NYPD Vindicated, Islamists United, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Mon, 31 Mar 2014, 12:41 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

Federal judge backs NYPD's counterterrorism tactics

Outraging Islamists, U.S. District Judge William Martini dismissed a lawsuit accusing the New York Police Department of violating Muslims' civil rights by covertly investigating mosques, businesses, and student groups in New Jersey to identify possible terrorists. The plaintiffs, he explains, "have not alleged facts from which it can be plausibly inferred that they were targeted solely because of their religion. The more likely explanation for the surveillance was a desire to locate budding terrorist conspiracies" after 9/11. "The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself." To the extent that Muslims experienced "adverse effects," the secret program's disclosure by the Associated Press is to blame. "Nowhere … do plaintiffs allege that they suffered harm prior" to that, he notes. An appeal was filed; a separate suit is pending in a Brooklyn court.

The ruling is the latest vindication of the NYPD and a win for common sense. Why does counterterrorism work gravitate to the Muslim community? Because that is where terrorists tend to be found. Other police departments would be wise to ignore the Islamists' complaints, some of which compared the NYPD's efforts to Japanese-American internment, and instead emulate the NYPD. With the anniversary of the Boston attacks near, they should heed an Investor's Business Daily editorial: "If Boston authorities had been as proactive as their counterparts in New York, they might have caught the radicalization of the Tsarnaev brothers at their Cambridge mosque."

Left: Judge William Martini, a reasonable man in unreasonable times. Right: CAIR's Nihad Awad spoke at the launch of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations on March 12.

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IW News Brief: Islamist Condos, Vaccine Lawsuit, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Thu, 27 Feb 2014, 1:24 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

Massive Muslim enclave planned for Toronto area

Residents of Thornhill Woods, a suburb of Toronto, Ontario, are up in arms about a proposed "high-density Muslim community" there. On land that includes its Jaffari Centre mosque, the Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat (ISIJ) wants to add a pair of 17-story condo towers and 61 townhouses, prompting a parade of objections at a public hearing on February 4. Though many concerns focus on overcrowding in the low-density neighborhood, some fear a Muslim-only enclave. Developer Shafiq Punjani insisted that "it will be open to everybody," but ISIJ president Shabbir Jeraj has said the opposite (see video at the link). Asked if the housing will be exclusively for Muslims, he replied, "Of course! Because we are building it. We are paying for it."

Also alarming is that the ISIJ-affiliated East End Madrassah was using Iranian teaching materials that call Jews "crafty" and "treacherous," while urging boys to stay fit "so that you may physically be ready for jihad whenever the time comes for it." Moreover, the ISIJ demanded that Ontario's government apologize for welcoming Salman Rushdie. Problematic Muslim enclaves are not uncommon, but the boldness of the ISIJ plan, the radicalism of its backers, and its location in a "predominantly Jewish area" make this a particularly interesting battle to watch. A city council-sanctioned working group will offer rezoning recommendations by summer.

Left: In this video, a member of the Jaffari Centre looks forward to gender-segregated swimming at the complex. Right: The flu is spreading, but so are conflicts over vaccinations.

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IW News Brief: PC Counterterrorism, Brothers in Exile, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Fri, 31 Jan 2014, 9:55 AM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

Washington promises more politically correct counterterrorism

"The Justice Department will significantly expand its definition of racial profiling to prohibit federal agents from considering religion, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation in their investigations," the New York Times reports, citing an anonymous official. The move responds to "criticism from civil rights groups that say federal authorities have in particular singled out Muslims in counterterrorism investigations." NBC confirms that there will be no exception for national security matters. Details of the updated policy were leaked from a meeting between Attorney General Eric Holder and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City. De Blasio has pledged to rein in the NYPD's controversial intelligence programs that target Muslims.

But counterterrorism has not focused on the Muslim community due to bias; it has done so because that is where the terrorists are. A review of Justice Department data finds that "more than 80 percent of all convictions tied to international terrorist groups and homegrown terrorism since 9/11 involve defendants driven by a radical Islamist agenda." Muslims also dominate the FBI's list of wanted terrorists. Further, while demographic factors have few intrinsic links to most types of crime, Islamist terrorism has religion at its heart. Ignoring reality by formalizing a see-no-Islam approach to terrorism can only end in more Fort Hoods, more Bostons, and worse.

Left: Eric Holder's comical aversion to acknowledging radical Islam as a motivator of specific terror plots was on display at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in 2010. Right: Above this London storefront is the new base of operations for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

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IW News Brief: CAIR's Top Jew, Vaccine Squabble, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Tue, 31 Dec 2013, 2:19 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

CAIR's Philadelphia office hires Jewish executive director

The Philadelphia branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) threw a curveball in October by appointing Jacob Bender, a Jewish leftist, as its executive director, making him the highest-ranking non-Muslim in the nationwide Islamist group. Bender promptly released a letter that quotes from the Koran and speaks of "defending CAIR against the unfounded and hate mongering attacks of the Islamophobic network." He obviously has the jargon down pat. Some Jewish organizations are skeptical about Bender — and given his less-than-friendly stance toward Israel, they should be. The Philadelphia Daily News, which recently talked with him, fuels the fire by relaying that "he doesn't help himself, either, with his critics by refusing to say whether he supports Israel's right to exist." Bender remarked elsewhere that "I find no contradiction between my long-stated opinions on the Middle East and those of CAIR," adding that "I've never had any question or negative feeling about CAIR" — a disturbing thought considering its status as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal trial that focused on the illegal funding of Hamas.

"CAIR's choosing of a Jewish filmmaker to lead its Philadelphia chapter is just a headline-grabbing step in its overall interfaith offensive," writes the Clarion Project's Ryan Mauro, who notes how CAIR uses non-Muslim allies "as a battering ram." Bender's Jewish background provides specific advantages, including the opportunity to revisit the narrative — previously retailed by a CAIR spokesman on Iranian TV — that compares the plight of American Muslims to past Jewish suffering. He is already playing this card: "As part of a community that has historically faced persecution in Europe and the United States as well, I hope that I would bring a certain amount of sensitivity." A non-Muslim chapter head also bolsters CAIR's push to move beyond purely Muslim issues, a rebranding seen in its joining an anti-NSA lawsuit and calling for the Washington Redskins' name to be changed. As useful idiots go, Bender may be more useful to CAIR than most.

Left: Jacob Bender has had a long relationship with Islamists. His film Out of Cordoba was financed and advised by them. Right: Britain's National Health Service has been administering a nasal flu vaccine to kids — and upsetting some Muslims in the process.

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FBI Stats Further Debunk 'Islamophobia' Myth

by David J. Rusin  •  Sat, 30 Nov 2013, 12:58 PM

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The FBI's newly released hate crime statistics covering 2012 have once again thrown cold water on the tired narrative that American Muslims find themselves under siege from increasingly violent "Islamophobes." The 2012 numbers reinforce the conclusion drawn by Islamist Watch's previous analysis of post-9/11 (2002–11) FBI data: Muslims endure fewer hate crimes per capita than other prominent minorities. A closer look at the details:

  • FBI-tabulated incidents of anti-Islamic hate crime fell from 157 in 2011 to 130 in 2012, a decrease of 17.2 percent. Incidents of hate crime spanning all victim groups dropped by only 6.8 percent, 6,222 to 5,796.

  • Of the 1,099 incidents of hate crime motivated by religion in 2012, anti-Islamic ones constituted just 11.8 percent. Anti-Jewish crimes dominated the tally with 674 incidents, comprising 61.3 percent. This distribution saw little change from 2011.

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IW News Brief: NYC Elections, Swiss Burqa Ban, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Thu, 31 Oct 2013, 1:45 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

Islamists salivate over Bill de Blasio, New York's mayor-in-waiting

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's successor will bring change to New York City, and some of it is likely to warm an Islamist's heart. Consider the NYPD's post-9/11 intelligence-gathering operations inside the Muslim community. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have defended these counterterrorism tactics against years of criticism; long-shot Republican candidate Joe Lhota also supports them. However, Democratic frontrunner Bill de Blasio has pledged to replace Kelly and clearly seeks to curb the NYPD, telling Muslims that "the efforts of surveillance have to be based on specifically specific information." Recapping the Islamist terror plots thwarted by the NYPD, writer Daniel Greenfield explains that "the standard of 'specifically specific information' would have led to the deaths of countless New Yorkers." He adds: "They relied on informants drawing out potential terrorists, instead of waiting blindly for them to strike. If Bill de Blasio has his way, that will no longer be something that the NYPD will be able to do." The sole silver lining is that any resulting tragedy will prompt the swift repudiation of such kinder, gentler counterterrorism — at least until forgetfulness triumphs once more.

Another probable change involves city schools. Both de Blasio and Lhota favor closing them on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, a move that Bloomberg opposes. One can reasonably argue that Muslim holidays should be treated no differently than Jewish holidays if the two populations are of comparable size. Yet there are drawbacks to altering the calendar. First, the mere prospect of adding Muslim holidays has already sparked a flood of requests that other groups be similarly recognized. Second, this concession will only embolden Islamists to demand more — and that is never a happy outcome.

Left: Conspiracy theorist Linda Sarsour spoke at the October 16 rally of Muslims for de Blasio. Right: CAIR's Zead Ramadan, who has characterized NYPD counterterrorism work as "f—ked up," also attended the event, a month after he was trounced in a City Council primary.

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IW News Brief: CAIR Exposed, UK Burqa Battles, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Mon, 30 Sep 2013, 2:00 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

CAIR can hide its foreign donors, but not its radicalism

September was the cruelest month for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whose dirty laundry repeatedly made news. Just as CAIR was releasing a report that smears its opponents as bigots, the Justice Department's inspector general underscored the group's ugly track record by censuring FBI field offices for engaging CAIR in outreach despite a ban on such interactions due to its links to Hamas. Will greater isolation result? More damaging was a Daily Caller exposé of how CAIR uses "multiple corporate entities that conceal the large financial donations that come to CAIR from Middle East sources," including governments, in a shell game that appears to violate U.S. law. So much for CAIR's claim to speak for American Muslims.

Al-Shabaab's Kenyan mall massacre also created headaches for CAIR. Rumors that Americans were among the attackers sparked recollections of how CAIR had slammed critics of al-Shabaab and impeded investigations into the terror gang's recruitment of Muslims in the U.S. Regarding the possibility that Muslim Americans had participated in the bloodshed, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper offered this observation: "Who cares?" In yet another September embarrassment, it was revealed that representatives of Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir had "met with [CAIR executive director Nihad] Awad during the 2009 UN summit seeking his help to gain access to individuals in the Obama administration." This occurred eight months after Bashir was charged with crimes against humanity.

Left: Nihad Awad compared al-Shabaab terrorists to "advocates of Islamophobia." Right: Niqabs are seen — and will continue to be seen — at Birmingham Metropolitan College.

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