The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), headquartered in Washington, is perhaps the best-known and most controversial Muslim organization in North America. CAIR presents itself as an advocate for Muslims' civil rights and the spokesman for American Muslims. "We are similar to a Muslim NAACP," says its communications director, Ibrahim Hooper. Its official mission—"to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding"—suggests nothing problematic.
Starting with a single office in 1994, CAIR now claims thirty-one affiliates, including a branch in Canada, with more steadily being added. In addition to its grand national headquarters in Washington, it has impressive offices in other cities; the New York office, for example, is housed in the 19-story Interchurch Center located on Manhattan's Riverside Drive.
But there is another side to CAIR that has alarmed many people in positions to know. The Department of Homeland Security refuses to deal with it. Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York) describes it as an organization "which we know has ties to terrorism." Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois) observes that CAIR is "unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect." Steven Pomerantz, the FBI's former chief of counterterrorism, notes that "CAIR, its leaders, and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups." The family of John P. O'Neill, Sr., the former FBI counterterrorism chief who perished at the World Trade Center, named CAIR in a lawsuit as having "been part of the criminal conspiracy of radical Islamic terrorism" responsible for the September 11 atrocities. Counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson calls it "a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas."
Of particular note are the American Muslims who reject CAIR's claim to speak on their behalf. The late Seifeldin Ashmawy, publisher of the New Jersey-based Voice of Peace, called CAIR the champion of "extremists whose views do not represent Islam." Jamal Hasan of the Council for Democracy and Tolerance explains that CAIR's goal is to spread "Islamic hegemony the world over by hook or by crook." Kamal Nawash, head of Free Muslims Against Terrorism, finds that CAIR and similar groups condemn terrorism on the surface while endorsing an ideology that helps foster extremism, adding that "almost all of their members are theocratic Muslims who reject secularism and want to establish Islamic states." Tashbih Sayyed of the Council for Democracy and Tolerance calls CAIR "the most accomplished fifth column" in the United States. And Stephen Schwartz of the Center on Islamic Pluralism writes that "CAIR should be considered a foreign-based subversive organization, comparable in the Islamist field to the Soviet-controlled Communist Party, USA."
CAIR, for its part, dismisses all criticism, blaming negative comments on "Muslim bashers" who "can never point to something CAIR has done in its 10-year history that is objectionable." Actually, there is much about the organization's history that is objectionable—and it is readily apparent to anyone who bothers to look. [See link at top for all footnotes]
This cartoon's main point comes from a section in the report titled "Intimidation" which states:
CAIR attempts to close down public debate about itself and Islam in several ways, starting with a string of lawsuits against public and private individuals and several publications. CAIR's Rabiah Ahmed has openly acknowledged that lawsuits are increasingly an "instrument" for it to use.
Posted by Forkum at March 12, 2006 07:37 PM