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Middle East Issues





CAIR: Civil Rights or Extremism?


The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) claims to be a leading U.S. civil rights group – an Islamic version of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) or the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). It describes its mission as enhancing understanding of Islam, protecting civil liberties, and empowering American Muslims.

But unlike the NAACP and ADL, CAIR has been listed by the Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism funding trial. Unlike those groups, its alumni include former officials and staffers who have been convicted on terrorism-related charges. Unlike the NAACP or ADL, CAIR’s co-founders had ties to an international religious extremist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood has influenced many Sunnis with its anti-Western, anti-Jewish, anti-modern and anti-secular ideology. It inspired or spawned extremist off-shoots including al Qaeda and the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).

On one hand, CAIR representatives have conducted “sensitivity training sessions” for law enforcement personnel and have participated in interfaith meetings across the country. Council members have met with Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

On the other hand, CAIR co-founder and former board chairman, Omar Ahmad, once declared that the Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, “should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth” (San Ramon Valley Herald, Calif., July 4, 1998). Though five years later Ahmad denied making the statement, the newspaper stood by the accuracy of its reporter. In that talk to a local Muslim group, Ahmad also reportedly urged American Muslims to be open to U.S. society but not to assimilate to it.

CAIR largely has enjoyed a pass from major American news media. Many have accepted the council’s self-portrait and uncritically disseminated its pronouncements. This CAMERA Special Report (in Adobe Acrobat format) strongly suggests that closer examination is overdue.


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