Two Democratic lawmakers in Minnesota have put forward a bill that would place anti-Semitic Islamist organizations—and specifically, their demonstrably anti-Semitic officials—in charge of a “taskforce on the consequences of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.”
Sponsored by Democratic Representatives Jay Xiong, Carlos Mariani and Aisha Gomez, H.F 2587 seeks to “analyze the impact of Islamophobia and antisemitism, recommend actions to improve the safety of Minnesota’s Muslim and Jewish communities, increase participation by the Muslim and Jewish communities in civic life, and recommend possible legislative action.”
In the wake of the New Zealand massacre by a self-proclaimed “eco-fascist,” and with rising anti-Semitism, including from Minnesota’s own U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who could object to the Minnesota legislature seeking to combat hate?
But there is one very good reason to be concerned: The bill seeks to place anti-Semitic activists from anti-Semitic organizations in charge of the taskforce. The proposed legislation specifically calls for taskforce leaders to include the executive directors of Darul Farooq Center, the Islamic Association of North America, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS).
MAS’s Minnesota branch is led by Asad Zaman. Despite his nomination to the proposed taskforce, Zaman is not shy about his views on Jews and Islamism. His Facebook account is replete with anti-Semitism, apologism for Hamas and support for convicted war criminals.
Posts promoted by Zaman include links to a neo-Nazi, Holocaust-denial website, which promotes viciously anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, as well as blogs that claim that American presidents “depend upon the votes and influence of Jews in New York who support Israel, have always been ready to give the Israelis the weapons to enable them pursue this evil. In effect, U.S. foreign policy is determined by Israel.”
Zaman’s obsession with Jews includes hundreds of posts praising fringe groups of anti-Zionist Jews as (in implicit contrast with mainstream Jewish organization) “Jews of conscience” and “integrity.”
Zaman has written: “It is a tactic of the Israeli lobby to label those whom they cannot shut up as anti-Semites. (please check out the Hasbara manual).”
Although MAS was established by the Muslim Brotherhood, Zaman is a vocal supporter of its ideological cousin, Jamaat-e-Islami—a South Asian Islamist movement responsible for the mass murder of tens of thousands of civilians during Bangaldesh’s 1971 Liberation War. Zaman praises these mass murderers, referring to its former leader, Moitur Rahman Nizami (who was executed for his part in the genocide) as a “great shaheed [martyr].”
Zaman has also shared posts mourning other Jamaat-e-islami leaders authored by Islami Chhatra Shabir, Jamaat’s student branch, which Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre named in 2014 as the third-most violent non-state armed group in the world.
In light of all his anti-Semitism and support for violent Islamist causes, the MAS-MN director’s apologism for the designated terrorist group Hamas is not particularly surprising. He writes that: “It is Israel, not Hamas, that uses human shields. And Israel has a long track record of blaming others for the very crimes it commits.” Zaman also promoted a post from Hamas’s official website mourning the execution of the Jamaati war criminal Nizami.
CAIR Minnesota is also a worrying candidate to control a taskforce against anti-Semitism. Along with its parent organization’s long history of ties to terror and the overt anti-Semitism of its officials, CAIR Minnesota also regularly invites anti-Jewish speakers to address its events. Recent examples include Hatem Bazian, who tweeted two anti-Semitic images that accuse “Ashke-Nazis” of rape, murder and organ-trafficking; as well as Hussam Ayloush, director of CAIR’s Los Angeles branch, who, in 2018, called for Israel to be “terminated” and expressed support for Hamas supporters convicted of financing terrorism.
Both CAIR and MAS will be familiar to many Americans, and certainly to law enforcement. Officials of both MAS and CAIR were named by federal prosecutors as unindicted coconspirators during the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial, which uncovered a vast support network for the designated, genocidally anti-Semitic, terror organization Hamas. In 2014, the United Arab Emirates named both CAIR and MAS as terrorist organizations.
The other two groups named in the bill also have their problems. The Islamic Association of North America (formerly known as the North American Council of Somali Imams) has backed BDS efforts against Israel and appears to be in close contact with the anti-Semitic Turkish regime.
The other, Dar Al-Farooq, is a prominent Minnesota mosque mostly serving Somali congregants. Its director, who is also nominated to lead the taskforce, is Mohamed Omar. On social media, Omar has posted videos about “apartheid Israel,” along with rants by the fringe Neturei Karta sect, claiming that Jews in Israel rape and pillage. Neturei Karta has been a strong supporter of the Iranian regime, as well as far-right activists in Europe. In 2006, one of its leading officials stated that Holocaust victims “deserved it.”
In addition, officials from the nominated organizations are all strong supporters of Rep. Ilhan Omar, and have denounced accusations that she is anti-Semitic as a “distraction.”
The taskforce will be responsible for “reviewing” Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in Minnesota. It will further “recommend outreach programs,” recommend “training for law enforcement, city and county attorney offices, public defender offices, and the courts,” sponsor public campaigns, and review “existing Minnesota law and [propose] amendments or new statutory provisions.”
While the bill also calls for Jewish members to be appointed to the taskforce, it refrains from proposing specific organizations, instead calling for “two rabbis” and “the executive director of two Jewish community organizations.” (One wonders who will be responsible for deciding which rabbis and organizations.)
It is clear that anti-Semitic Islamists in Minnesota are behind this bill. It is even clearer that Minnesota’s representatives should not be tasking anti-Semites with managing and defining the threat of anti-Semitism.
Sam Westrop is director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.