Backgrounder: Muslim American Society
MAS and ICNA
Posted: December 23, 2009
MAS is closely allied with the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a Muslim community organization based in Jamaica, New York. While ICNA provides various educational programs and services to local Muslim communities, it has also promoted anti-Semitism and extremism.
MAS holds its annual conventions together with ICNA, drawing thousands of participants each year. These conventions have featured known anti-Semites and provided a platform for extremist rhetoric.
At their joint convention in Rosemont, Illinois, from December 23-27, 2010, several speakers made anti-Semitic and conspiratorial remarks, portraying Jews as a privileged group with undue power. During a panel about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East sponsored by the anti-Israel group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Osama Abuirshaid, an AMP board member, said that the Jewish community is "revered in this country [the United States]" and spoke of "the Israel lobby" and its influence on the U.S. government. Abuirshaid asked, "How influential is this lobby in Washington? This establishment is as committed to Israel as it is to America."
Othman Atta, a frequent speaker at AMP events, claimed "U.S. politicians don't have any concern for people in the Middle East, besides one group of people," referring to the Jews. Atta then went on to lambaste Judaism, saying, "Theft, detention, denial of rights…this is all done in the name of the Jewish religion." In front of an audience of hundreds, Atta delved into conspiracy theory, explaining that the perceived absence of WikiLeaks cables about Israel was a result of the documents being "censored by the media in the United States." Three members of the fringe movement Neturei Karta, who regularly appear at anti-Israel and anti-Semitic events, also attended the 2010 MAS-ICNA convention.
One year earlier, at the MAS-ICNA joint convention in December 2009, religious scholars and political activists railed against Jews from both a political and theological standpoint. Rafiq Jaber, former President of the Islamic Association of Palestine,
a Hamas-affiliated anti-Semitic propaganda organization, described Jews to the audience as "the worst kind of people," who came to Jerusalem "with false pretenses."
Another speaker, Hamed Ghazali, Chairman of the MAS Council of Islamic Schools and professor at the Islamic American University in Michigan, told convention participants in Arabic that "Allah gave us the Jews" as the primary historical and religious example of those who "take the wrong path."
Sheikh Raghib Al Serjani, an author and physician from Egypt, declared in Arabic, "It is the duty for all Muslims to liberate all of Palestine from the North to the South, from Al Quds to the sea, it's a duty for all Muslims to liberate one complete full land of Palestine… It's not just about liberating Al Quds. It's all occupied!"
MAS and ICNA sought to draw participants to the December 2009 convention by advertising two known anti-Semitic extremists from abroad as keynote speakers: Zaghloul Al Najjar, an Egyptian cleric who has described Jews as "devils in human form," and Ra'ed Salah, leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, who served jail time for financing Hamas.
Although neither of the advertised speakers attended the convention, Salah was clearly praised by several individuals who did speak at the event. Omar Abu Irshaid, editor of Al Meezan online publication, and former editor of the anti-Semitic publication linked to the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), referred to Salah as "our great Muslim sheikh" and said, "Sheikh Raed is far more knowledgeable and far more experienced. I wish he was here to speak instead of me."
Anti-Semitic messages are not new to these organizations. At an MAS-ICNA strategy meeting in Chicago in June 2001, Zulfiqar Ali Shah, ICNA's president at the time, stated: "If we are unable to stop the Jews now, their next stop is Yathrib [Saudi Arabia], where the Jews used to live until their expulsion by Prophet Muhammad. That's the pinnacle of their motives," according to Islam Online, a Web-based publication connected to Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi.
MAS and ICNA have also worked with the North American branch of a radical anti-Semitic and anti-American Pakistani organization, Tanzeem-e-Islami, which operates in the U.S. under the name Islamic Organization of North America (IONA). MAS and ICNA leaders have attended IONA events. At IONA's official launching event in June 2004, Dr. Souheil Ghannouchi, MAS executive director and former president, said "I don't think there is any difference" between IONA and MAS ideology.
IONA has also distributed anti-Semitic literature, including a book that blames the Jews for spreading usury in order to advance various conspiracies against humanity. The book, The Prohibition of Riba, reads: "Shylock, and the world of Shylocks, in real life today, are in control of the world economy and are constantly carving out their pound of flesh from the dying carcass of gentile humanity. The supreme Shylocks of today are the bankers, of whom Jewish bankers take pride of place, the International Monetary Fund and the world Bank, in which Jewish influence is significant, and the governments of the western world which today control the global economy, and in which Jews wield significant influence."