Freedom House Allegations of Extremism in American Mosques

Posed by John McAlister

Q. I would love to get your take on the “Global Jihad” article on worldnetdaily based on a Freedom House report¬† (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42603).

A. A considerable number of Saudi (Wahabi) preachers hold the views described in the article “Global Jihad” and they do promote their ideas abroad, sometimes get support from the Saudi government, and have a small but scary following outside the country. Further, many of the violent extremists who have obtained so much bad press for Muslims lately have been in part inspired by such preachers (as well as some from our other U.S. government ally Egypt).

Having said that, however, I must say that I find the exaggerated tone and spin in the article and the sloppiness of the report on which it is based appalling, especially insofar as it contradicts the fact that the number of American Muslims who buy in to this view is miniscule and some of the mosques mentioned in the report have policies completely opposed to the views the article seeks to associate with them. Even Joe McCarthy never claimed that owning a copy of Das Kapital in your library made you a Marxist!

Here are some specific comments:

Many Wahabis do believe it is forbidden to be friends with Christians and Jews, but this is not necessarily a call for “hatred” of Christians and Jews. The Qur’an demands that Muslims be tolerant of the People of the Book and makes clear that there is no reason not to be kind and just to those who do not fight against Muslims. Of course, there are some Christians and Jews who feel they have a religious obligation to fight against Muslims (perhaps former CIA man James Woolsey is amongst them).

It is sad that Freedom House would choose to attack the Wahabis for having doubts about democracy. Anyone who believes in moral absolutes (including liberty) will have doubts about a system in which people can make up laws willy-nilly. Substitute “libertarian” for “Wahabi” and get: “[Libertarian] documents promote contempt for the United States because it is ruled by legislated¬† civil law rather than by libertarian natural law. They condemn democracy as unlibertarian.” I am not denying the authoritarian nature of the Saudi system (totalitarian, however, is an overstatement, given their jealous protection of the right of privacy), simply saying that opposition to human-invented positive law is not necessarily authoritarian, let alone totalitarian.

The article suggests that the millions of Muslim immigrants to the United States are here not because they like America better than their homelands, but because they are actively seeking to destroy our country. This will be cognized as palpable nonsense by any American not too bigoted or narrow-minded to have Muslim friends and acquaintances.  The notion that naturalized Muslim Americans are religiously opposed to becoming naturalized American citizens is a self-contradiction.

American Muslims do not condemn Sufis or Shi`a. While one can find the same kind of sectarianism between American Sunnis and Shi`as as divides American Catholics and Protestants, American Muslims are very open to Sufi ideas. While it is unfortunate in the extreme that some Muslims can’t distinguish between opposing the Israeli apartheid and opposing Jews, the authors of the article demonstrate a similar lack of discernment when they lump together opposition to Israel with belief in the authenticity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Some of the same mosques which they accuse of possessing literature that condemn participation in the American political process are leading the voter registration drives among Muslims. The bottom line is that this article and the report on which it is based do not have their sights trained on the Saudi extremists who write and promote intolerance, but on the Muslim mosques that they claim have these books in their libraries (for whatever reasons). In other words their target is not intolerance, but freedom of expression. The effect of such articles and reports is not to decrease Muslim bigotry, but increase bigotry against Muslims.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

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