Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Khalil Gibran principal Almontaser undergoes PR makover switches clothes and headcovering in attempt to disquise Islamist agenda
Khalil Gibran principal Almontaser undergoes PR makover switches clothes and headcovering in attempt to disquise Islamist agenda
"Being a woman in traditional garb has made me a role model for young women throughout the city"
April 16, 2007
MIM:Dhabah Almontaser, the principal of the new Khalil Gibran International Academy, slated to open as a New York Public school in September which has come under fire for being a "jihad school" and a "public madrassah" has changed her image. The KGIA and Almontaser are launching a PR offensive which was clearly evident when she appeared in a picture in a recent newspaper article sporting new headgear. Instead of the cowl like hijab she usually wears Almontaser appears to have donned a "tichel" the head covering often worn by orthodox Jewish women.The change in head covering is purely strategic and it is likely that Almontaser would switch back to her "traditional garb [as] a role model for young women throughout the city" if the school becomes a fait accompli.
After 9/11 she wrote of her hijab "I would rather die than take it off".
It is also worth noting that Almontaser is wearing makeup, floral patterned clothes and jewelery. Quite a change from the drab abaya like outfits she wears in all of her previous pictures. It seems that she and the KGIA has been getting some stylist and public relations advice on how to soften their Islamist agenda.
Picture accompanying Pipeline News Article"New York Set to open public "Jihad School" from a 2005 photograph.
Less then a week later Dhabah "Debbie" Almontaser appears to have undergone what can only be called "An Extremist Hijab Makeover".
April 9th 2007
April 14 2007
Dhabah ( "Debbie") Almontaser, principal-designate of New York City's Khalil Gibran International Academy.
International Herald Tribune "Proposed NYC Public School Causes Stir"
Link to Pipeline News article: "New York set to open public "Jihad" School"
Dhabah's latest look: White intended as the polar opposite of the black outfits usually associated with fundamentalist Muslim garb. Her smirk seems directed at interviewer Dana Rubinstein who made sure the questions afforded Almontaser an opportunity to present the party line on KGIA and not have to answer vexing questions such as "Do you believe it was Muslims and Arabs who carried out the 9/11 attacks-yes or no?"
Khalil Gibran "Jihad" School Principal Dhabah Almontaser Attempts to Hide - refuses to talk to media or respond to concerns" May 14,2007
A few hours after the article appeared she made an appearence at a PTA meeting of concerned parents flanked by officials from the Mayor's office.
The softball propaganda interview sounded scripted and indicates that Almontaser has made a calculated attempt at visibility while avoiding the key issues with the help of journalist Dana Rubinstein whose headline spoke volumes.
MIM: Her comment that "the first thing they see is a a Muslim woman" is meant to imply that she is a victim of prejudice in America. In reality Almontaser herself chose to wear Muslim headgear which is so extreme that it is even forbidden in some Islamic countries because it is seen as a symbol of fundamentalism. Almontaser writes that she donned a hijab to "be a role model to young women across the city" and that her daughter wore a hijab at age nine. She also contradicts her own claim that Muslim women are being harassed due to their hijab in an article which she wrote:
I did not wear it again until I married and moved to New York City. That is when I noticed all over Brooklyn African American Muslims wearing the hijab. I admired them for their grace and beauty in their modest Islamic dress. They seemed comfortable and content with their presence in public. No one stared at them or made remarks about their appearance. I began to reflect about my religion and culture. How can American converts embrace a religion I was born into and I can't embrace it with pride? After a great deal of soul searching I decided to follow my heart and cover my hair. Wearing the hijab empowered me to reach my personal and professional goals. It gave me a high stature. People recognized and respected me for what I knew, not for my physical presence. Being a modern woman in traditional garb has made me a role model for young women across the city.
Still, when my daughter, at the age of nine, decided she would go to school wearing a hijab I prayed that history would not repeat itself. When she came home, I waited nervously to hear what had happened. "Mom," she said, "everyone liked my hijab. Everyone said I look beautiful in it." My daughter, Shifa, is now 13 years old and wears her hijab all the time. She is your typical American girl whose passion is music and being on the phone with her friends especially her best friend, who is Jewish.
Many have asked me to take off the hijab in public and wear it when I get to work or class. I very much appreciated their concern and told them not to worry. But taking off the hijab was not something I would do. I cannot compromise when it comes to my beliefs.I would rather die than take it off. For me, it would almost be like asking me to walk around topless.
MIM: At a panel titled "Living in America" at the American Museum of Natural History in 2002 Almontaser explained that she decided to don the hijab after being amazed by"the poise" and "presence" of three African American Muslim women she met who were "proud to be Muslim"and said that it was the "diversity of New York allowed her to become a better Muslim".
Almontaser's distinctive headcovering caused her non Muslim students to associate all headscarfs with Muslims to the extent that when they saw pictures of immigrant women at the museum on Ellis Island they told her "Debbie, Debbie, they are all Muslims too!".
If moving to New York caused Almontaser to become more Islamically observant and her stated aim is that her "Islamic dress would be a role model for young Muslim women throughout the city" any claims that the Khalil Gibran International Academy aims to help Muslims and Arabs integrate into American life is both cynical and disingenuous.
Rather Almontaser and the KGIA will be teaching students on the state and federal dime how to demand that non Muslim Americans accomodate them by shouting discrimination whenever they are not being given the preferential treatment they feel they are entitled to as compensation for fabricated bias.
Debbie Almontaser, an educator with the New York City Board of Education, noted that many countries have taken Islamic teachings and twisted them to meet their own needs. "It all goes back to politics and governments," she said, adding that all societies of the world have individuals who invade the rights of others.
Almontaser, a native of Yemen, spoke of her evolving faith and how the diversity of New York allowed her to become a better Muslim. Her family first assimilated into the mainly Caucasian community of Buffalo, New York, where she moved as a three-year-old. "I never acknowledge that I was Arab or Muslim," she said.
But when she married and moved to New York, it was a culture shock. "New York City was the melting pot," she said. One day Almontaser saw three African-American women in hijab walking down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. "I was amazed at their poise, their presence. They were proud they were Muslim!" Almontaser began wearing hijab soon after.
MIM: The importance of Muslim women wearing the hijab as a political statement was highlighted at a Muslim Unity event in 2003 where Yahya Emerick who won an Award for Excellence for his book "An Idiot's Guide to Islam" told the crowd that "the Award of Excellence should be given to all the sisters that wear their Islam like a badge -no brother will ever know".
At a 2003 Muslim Unity event held at Madison Square Garden lists her among those honored as one of the 75 attendees who were allotted a place on the stage which she shared with Siraj Wahhaj, (an unindicted co conspirator in the 1993 WTC bombings), Ashrafuzzman Khan, the former head of the Jamaica New York branch of the Islamic Circle of North America.I[ICNA]. Khan is alleged to have executed 7 teachers in Dhaka in 1971 as a member of the Al-Badr death squads]. [Ibrahim Dremali is the former Imam of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton and now heads the Islamic Center of Des Moines was put on a no fly list ].
The IIU was lauded as "an example of the great strides Muslims have made in bring Islam to the public". It reveals the true face of the radical Islamist mileu in which Almontaser moves and the da'wa agenda she is bringing to the KGIA. According to an account of the event:
Sr. Ayesha Mustafa along with Sr. Ayesha Al-Adawiyah, President of Women in Islam, and Sr. Debbie Almontaser, a cultural diversity trainer and consultant for the NY Department of Education, were among those invited to sit onstage. Both agreed that the success of this event was in that broke down the barriers of nationalism and egotism while focusing on education as a tool to further the prominence of the Muslim community. [Note: Almontaser is a board member of Women in Islam].
Sheikh Dremali made an impassioned speech denouncing the concept that any one nationality is superior, "There is no faith without brotherhood and without brotherhood there is no faith." He stressed that superiority only comes to those who possess the most knowledge and taqwa (piety).[Note Dremali is part of the Muslim Brotherhood and linked to Hamas]
The urgency of the day's message lay in the necessity to empower and encourage the Muslim youth through education and activism. Who better to espouse these ideals then Imam Zaid Shakir who has for years advocated the role of the young in the course Islam must run. Move confidently into the future, do not be intimidated because no one can do anything to hurt you when Allah (swt) is with you" implored the Imam. "Preserve your religion. By being the moral conscience and the moral voice for this country, you will be the moral conscience and moral voice for this world. REMAKE THE WORLD!"
While it was the youth that were given this challenge, those who spoke made sure to promote the need to incorporate the work of the sisters. Imam Shakir stated, "Put our sisters talent, skills and knowledge to use. No more tokenism or marginalization, but use the valuable resources that the sisters represent."
MIM: The organizers, the Islamic Internet University aimed at da'wa [Islamic propagation] says 5,500 people attended. It is clear that Almontaser with her position as an instructor in the New York City Board of Education is one of their most valuable weapons for waging jihad through da'wa. The KGIA will seen as her crowning achievement as the first publicly funded madrassa
. According to the IIU mission statement:
Islamic education for Muslim converts is almost nonexistent. It is not surprising that 40% or more of those who convert to Islam revert back to their old ways or feel alienated due to lack of proper Islamic education and support. It will take decades to fulfill the needs of elementary and higher learning of Islam if the current pace of establishment of full time Islamic schools and higher learning institutions continue.
The danger of losing our best assets, the Muslim children, in the melting pot is real. We, Muslims, should not dishearten or get frustrated. Rather we should take it as a wake up call and establish and support the Islamic institutions particularly Islamic educational institutions in this land.
MIM: The event was a virtual Who's Who of radical Islamist individual and groups. Among the speakers were:
Imam Zaid Shakir, a renowned speaker, Shaikh Mohammad Nur Abdullah, President Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Dr.Mazammil Siddiqui, former President of ISNA, Dr. Mumtaz Ahmad of Hampton University and Vice President of Center for American Muslim Research and Information, Shaikh Mukhtar Maghraoui, a well-known speaker and da'ee, Shaikh Ibrahim Najm, a well-known scholar from New York, Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus, first President of ISNA, Dr. M. Yusufuddin, President of ICNA New York, and Imam Jamil Abdul Latif, Ameer of New York Majlis Shura. Speakers included Maulana Yusuf Islahi, a renowned scholar and author on many books in Urdu, Imam Ibrahim Dremali, Imam, Islamic Center Florida, and Ashraf Zaman Khan, former Vice President of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) who spoke in their native languages showing how knowledge, Islamic knowledge, transcends nationalism. http://www.studyislam.com/isp/jsp/IIUEvents/April13_2003.jsp