Islamic speakers bureaus are proliferating in the United States. They represent the vanguard of a new paradigm in jihad being waged by Islamists under the guise of "dialogue."
This emphasis on "legal" Islamism, the stealth jihad has been dictated in part by circumstances on the ground, where many of the most violent Islamists have been either killed, captured or forced to go into hiding, proving that aggression has been counter-productive.
Among the largest Islamic speaker's bureau - with international reach - is the Islamic Networks Group [ING] which claims to promote:
"...religious literacy and mutual respect through on-site presentations and interfaith dialogues to schools, community agencies, and other institutions. With our affiliates, ING's outreach spans the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom...Through the Islamic Speakers Bureau, certified Muslim speakers deliver a variety of presentations to K-12 schools, universities, corporations, health and law enforcement agencies, as well as other organizations..." [source, http://www.ing.org]
On Monday we had the opportunity to attend an interfaith talk given by Maha AlGenaidi, President and CEO of the Islamic Networks Group [ING]. The event was held at the Los Altos, California United Methodist church.
During her 90 minute, Power-Point dog and pony show, she presented Islam in a manner consistent not so much with the idea of religious education but rather with a seeming agenda built around Islamic da'wa, or conversion. Much of the talk was boiler plate, i.e., when Mohammed was born, the five pillars of Islam, "there is no compulsion in religion," and of course numerous references to the questionable proposition that Islam is an "Abrahamic faith," all of which have limited applicability to understanding why the Wahhabist/Salafist brand of Islamic fundamentalism seems so inextricably linked to terrorism.
Far from dialogue, the event only became a conversation upon the occasion when AlGenaidi responded to questions by participants. During those periods, at every problematic juncture, for example, the infamous 2007 case in which Gillian Gibbons, a 54 year old English teacher narrowly escaped a death sentence at the hands of a Sudanese religious court for "inciting religious hatred" by allowing her young students to name a teddy bear Mohammed, or regarding the treatment of conquered non-Muslim populations dhimmis historically and their requirement to pay the jizya1 or tribute tax [usually accompanied by great indignities which ElGenaidi adamantly denied as having existed] the cause was always something extrinsic to the religion or attributed to "underdeveloped Muslims," or rage against the West because of the supposed sin of colonialism, etc.
What is obvious about these types of programs is that they are not about dialogue at all; there is no semblance of faith sharing. Instead they run the gamut in degree of professionalism, from clever to clubfooted expositions, made with the simple intent of leaving a simple-minded but positive impression among the participants, who are hopefully reassured by the "nice lady in the hijab who wasn't threatening and even said complimentary things about "prophet" Jesus."
After the event was over this reporter approached Ms. ElGenaidi, stating that talking about one's faith was all well and good but that at some point organizations have to be judged by the company they keep and their political views. I asked her if she had worked with representatives of the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR, a Saudi funded Hamas mouthpiece and an unindicted co-conspirator in U.S. v Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development [HLF], the nation's largest terror funding prosecution] and she replied no, I pressed the point asking her if she hadn't participated in a panel discussion with CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper at an Islamic Society of North America [ISNA] convention and again she replied no, that she doesn't work with that group.
She did however admit to working with ISNA.
ISNA is also a Saudi backed group, intent upon Islamizing the United States and not so incidentally, also an unindicted co-conspirator in U.S. v HLF, about which ElGenaidi claimed that she "thought" they had been "cleared," a nonsensical response given that they hadn't been specifically charged with a particular crime, but had rather been named as having been affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood [the Egyptian terrorist group responsible for the founding of HAMAS] whose plan to subvert the West, figures large in the schemata of Muslim dialogue.
The plan was discovered, contained in a Muslim Brotherhood document that was seized in a raid in Virginia 15 years ago at the residence of some of the HLF's members and presented into evidence at the Holy Land trial. Within the plan there is reference made to a, "Civilization Jihadist Process."
Having researched the ING's relationships prior to this meeting and having written about the group in the above noted piece, only weeks ago, I knew that Ms. ElGenaidi's statement regarding CAIR was more than a mere case of misstatement, that it was an outright falsehood, because in addition to the below reproduction of a section of the 1998 ISNA convention schedule clearly showing Ms. ElGenaidi did indeed co-present with CAIR's spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, a brief search of ElGenaidi's ING website revealed half-a-dozen examples of her group working with CAIR, participating in joint press conferences, marches, liberally quoting the group's often tainted "data" and even using CAIR's printed materials as handouts.
Saturday, September 5
5:00 - 5:30 AM Salat al Fajr (Iqamah 5:15)
9:00 - 10:30 AM
Session 4B Room 263
Media and Muslims
Panelists: Maha ElGenaidi, Ibrahim Hooper [editor's note: CAIR's spokesman] Nazir Khaja Moderator: Saleem Bajwa
Role of the media in public opinion/policy formation is analyzed and issues such as selectivity of the mainstream media are explored. Abuse of freedom of speech and negative image of Islam/Muslims in the media and Internet are discussed, as are Muslim responses and Muslim efforts to cultivate the media. Interested participants are invited to volunteer for ISNA's media activities. [source, http://sakkal.com/ISNA98_Program.html]
ING Speakers Dialogue in Bay Area Wide Ramadan Open Houses, 9/29 & 9/30/07
On Saturday and Sunday, September 29th and 30th, ING speakers delivered presentations & dialogued with audiences at Ramadan open houses held across the Bay Area, including the Islamic Society of the East Bay in Fremont, the Cordoba Center Mosque in San Martin, the Muslim Community Association of the Peninsula (Yaseen Foundation) in Belmont and the Livermore Islamic Center. All the events were well organized and attended by hundreds of Americans of all faiths coming together to break bread and dialogue in peaceful conversations and to gain a different view and understanding of one another.
At the Cordoba Center in San Martin, which has been the subject of some controversy due to a few neighbors who I've initiated a campaign against the mosque, ING's president, Maha Elgenaidi joined CAIR-Northern California's board member [source, http://www.ing.org/latestnews/default.asp?num=100]
ING President Speaks at Antioch Mosque Vandalism March and Interfaith Event, 9/23/07
ING's president, Maha Elgenaidi joined interfaith leaders from East Contra Costa county at a march and interfaith event in Antioch on Sunday, September 23rd. The event, titled, "Marching Together Against Hate and Violence in East Contra County" was organized in support of the Islamic Center of the East Bay (ICEB) after the August 12th arson vandalism of their building. The march and subsequent interfaith gathering was organized by the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County, and was also in response to a recent hate crime/vandalism incident against an African American family in Brentwood.
The march, which was attended by about 500 local and Bay Area wide interfaith leaders and congregants, as well as local families followed a press conference with ICEB leaders and elected city and county officials. Following the march, participants gathered at Antioch High School for an interfaith program in the auditorium, where interfaith leaders from various faiths spoke of the need for tolerance and understanding and an end to prejudice and hate. Representing the Muslim community along with ICEB leaders were Maha Elgenaidi from ING, and Shafath Syed from CAIR. [source, http://www.ing.org/latestnews/default.asp?num=99]
Recognition awards for Muslim women luminaries in the San Francisco
Bay Area Muslim community were given to:
Malika Khan: B.S., Chemistry from India, B.S., Biology, Fullerton, CA. She has worked as a licensed clinical lab scientist for 15 years. She came to Silicon Valley in 1980, where, with her husband, Br. Mahboob Khan (may Allah have mercy on him) she became one of the founding members of MCA. She is a board member serving as women's representative and community spokesperson, and has been instrumental in involving the community with local city officials, neighbors, and politicians. She has been active in a variety of Islamic activities and organizations, and is a board member of California CAIR. She is the mother of two daughters and three sons. [source, http://www.ing.org/celebrating/events/ann_dinner.asp
These programs are also designed:
To be implemented by local Muslim organizations, be they Masajid, service organizations, or individual Muslims.
To complement and supplement media activities
performed by national organizations, such as the AMC (American Muslim Council), CAIR (Council on
San Francisco Bay Area, 7/08/05) ING Holds Press Coverage Condemning Terror Attacks in the Name of Islam. Joining the press conference were the Islamic Society of San Francisco, CAIR, SBIA, MSAs, and others. Links to some of the coverage include: [source, http://www.ing.org/latestnews/default.asp?num=23]
San Francisco Bay Area, 7/15/05) ING holds press conference saying they will not tolerate hate in mosques. Joining the press conference were the Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR), [source, http://www.ing.org/latestnews/default.asp?num=26]
STAFF DEVELOPMENT & CLASSROOM PRESENTATIONS
Staff Development Training
Title: "Supplementing Cultural Studies Relating to the Muslim World in Grades K-12, and Interacting with Muslim Students,"
Intended audience: All Educators and Administrators
Sources of Stereotypes
Overview of Islam & Muslim Cultures
Supplementing Cultural Studies Relating to the Muslim World in Grades K-12: Tools and Resources
Understanding Muslim Religious Practices
Tips for Interacting with Muslim Students Training Period: 1.5-2.0 hours
Training format: Interactive, where questions can be asked throughout.
Booklet titled, "An Educator's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices", published by CAIR [source, http://www.ing.org/speakers/subpage.asp?num=59&pagenum=3]
From this we must draw the conclusion that ElGenaidi's Islamic Networks Group has a more than casual relationship with both CAIR and ISNA, as a matter of fact ISNA's VP Ingrid Mattson is listed as one of ING's "primary religious advisors" [source, http://www.ing.org/about/page.asp?num=15]
Ms. Mattson is an incendiary personality, spreading hate filled intolerance as a pivotal leader in the Muslim Brotherhood linked ISNA, for example, the following March 14, 2007 citation by Charles A. Radin, a staff writer for the Boston Globe:
"CAMBRIDGE -- The president of the Islamic Society of North America warned last night that American Jews who ally with right-wing Christians to oppose Muslim organizations are pursuing a high-risk strategy that could backfire.
Speaking at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, at an event sponsored by the school and four Muslim student organizations, Ingrid Mattson, a Canadian-born convert from Roman Catholicism who became the Islamic society's first woman president last year, said that many American Jews have an existential fear that Muslims are anti-Israel.
Such fear leads Jews to ally with Christian fundamentalists who are supportive of Israel and critical of Islam, she said.
"Right-wing Christians are very risky allies for American Jews," Mattson said, "because they [the Christians] are really anti-Semitic. They do not like Jews" and enter into the alliance on the basis of fundamentalist beliefs that it would be desirable for all Jews to return to Israel. She suggested that fundamentalist Christians might turn against Jews or that there could be backlash from ordinary Americans against Jewish and fundamentalist Christian supporters of Israel." [source, http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/03/14/islamic_leader_urges_jews_be_wary_of_fundamentalists/]
As Joel Mowbray wrote in a March 26, 2004, piece in Jewish World Review, "Why are Jews lending legitimacy to dangerous Muslim groups?"
Though Dr. Ingrid Mattson appears moderate, she is insidious precisely because she maintains that fašade while steadfastly refusing to criticize radical Islamists, claiming that there is no such thing as Wahhabism and that the term "Islamic terrorism" should not be used in the media. Most shocking of all, though, is how little concern she expressed about suicide bombings in an essay she wrote shortly after 9/11.
At a CNN-sponsored "town hall" forum in October 2001, Mattson - with a straight face - claimed that the radical, Saudi-sponsored form of Islam known as Wahhabism was akin to the Protestant movement in Christianity. Wahhabism "really was analogous to the European protestant reformation," she explained.
This wasn't an isolated use of the analogy. At a November 2003 roundtable sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies Conference, Mattson said the Wahhabist movement in Islam is "a very old struggle...between the more theologically austere Muslims who like Protestant Christianity believe that there should be no saints there should be no intervention between you and G-d."
Mattson takes a similar "see no evil" approach to the idea of Islamic terrorism. Mattson was one of several Muslim "scholars" quoted in a Washington Times article shortly after 9/11 who claimed that the media should not use the term "Islamic terrorism." Mattson took this stance despite the fact, as the Times paraphrased her, that "Islamic terrorists themselves use this term."
The reason Mattson is able to pass herself off as a moderate is probably because she clears the low bar set for most Muslims: the ability to explicitly condemn suicide bombings. But she hasn't done so for very long. In a remarkably revealing essay Mattson penned for Beliefnet.com in October 2001, she wrote that, until then, Palestinian suicide bombings "simply did not cross my mind as a priority among the many issues I felt needed to be addressed." She stated it as matter-of-factly and inconsequentially as someone who apologizes for forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning because it "simply did not cross my mind as a priority." [source, http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0304/mowbray_2004_03_26.php3?printer_friendly]
In discussing with ElGenaidi the motivation behind high-profile prosecutions against admitted terrorists such as Sami Al-Arian and the naming of two organizations with which she intimately works, essentially as accessories to terror, she advanced the reasoning that Islamists almost invariably fall back on, first we must not assess guilt by association and second that the Muslim religion is misunderstood and under attack by Islamophobes, many of whom presumably occupy high political office within the current administration.
This is what "faith sharing" between the Muslim and Judeo/Christian worlds will almost always sublimate to, flowery canned speeches ultimately designed to ingratiate and obfuscate rather than inform.
As ElGenaidi's website clearly points out, her programs have a specific agenda:
While Muslims response to the media has ranged between being apathetic and reactive, we've found that the most successful response to negative media coverage is to be proactive, by establishing relationships with the media, teaching about Islam and Muslims, and giving voice to Muslim views at every chance possible. Such proactive programs have been implemented successfu11y in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1993. These programs are based on the goals of influencing how the media reports or writes about issues relating to Islam and Muslims, while becoming a trusted source of information about Islam.[source, http://www.ing.org/speakers/finalsubpage.asp?num=30&pagenum=104]
And that is really a perfect definition of how Islamists view interfaith dialogue, its merely a process of adopting a non-threatening but completely disingenuous persona - "becoming a trusted source of information about Islam" - so that they are granted increased stature, undeserved legitimacy and most importantly access to the levers of political power
Because of that, the childishly ignorant idea of attempting to breach the chasm between barbarism and civilization by non-revelatory and oft times intentionally disingenuous, fairy-tale presentations is far more harmful than no attempt at dialogue at all.
1. Historically, in lands conquered by Muslim armies, a poll or head tax, known in Arabic as the jizya was imposed upon the non-Muslims who were consigned to a chattel class - in Arabic dhimmi - and often required to offer it in a subservient manner, a testament to their lowly societal status.
Dhimmis were second class people, deprived of most legal rights, barred from owning weapons so that they might not be able to defend themselves against their opressors and prevented even from such seemingly insignificant things as entering a pool while Muslims bathed there. They were forced to tread on the roughest part of public roads and subjected to whatever indignities their dominators prescribed or thought amusing.
Despite Ms. ElGenaidi's protestations to the contrary it is a fact that these indignities included in many cases the mandatory wearing of identifiers, cloth patches pinned to their clothing or sometimes even lead or heavy wooden symbols hung around their necks, signifiers of the wearer's lowly status as a member of a permanent underclass.
In India it was even common for dhimmi Hindus to have to endure the particularly nasty practice of Muslims spitting into their mouths.
The historical record is replete with examples of the abuse that the jizya represented, as Dr. Andrew Bostum notes in, "The Legacy Of Jihad, Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non Muslims," 2005.
"...The Armenian chronicle Ghevond describes this bleak situation in Armenia under Abbasid rule during the eighth century:
One saw...horrible scenes of every sort of torture; nor did [they] forget to tax the dead; the multitude of widows suffered the same cruelty...in short the whole population of the country, smitten with enormous taxes, after having paid large sums of zuze [silver coins], also had to wear a lead seal around their necks..." p 30.
Here is a discussion of the ceremonial for collection of the jizya by the thirteenth-century Shari'ite jurist an-Nawawi: "The infidel who wishes to pay his poll tax must be treated with disdain by the collector: the collector remains seated and infidel remains standing in front of him, his head bowed and back bent. The infidel must place the money on the scales, while the collector holds him by the beard, and strikes him on both cheeks." p 29