When Supremacism Uses A Religious Disguise
March 17, 2009
by Jeffrey Imm
Responsible for Equality And
Prior to World War II, what if Adolf Hitler had tried to infiltrate the
United States, not with a series of German "Bund" organizations, but
with a series of groups claiming that they were "religious"
organizations? What if American federal, state, and local government
organizations then engaged with such groups, gave them respectability,
and even offered government support for their propaganda mission for
fear of offending such "religious" organizations? During the
1960s, what if the American federal government feared to act against the
Ku Klux Klan, white supremacist organizations, and white supremacist
segregation laws for fear of offending their "religious" beliefs?
Far-fetched? In fact, supremacist ideologies using the disguise of
"religion" is one of the most serious propaganda threats to our human
rights of equality and liberty today.
All Americans are entitled to freedom of speech and freedom of
But we must recognize that supremacist organizations have been
leveraging these freedoms to gain institutional support within America
by disguising their supremacist goals with "religious" identities. If we
support the inalienable human rights of equality and liberty, our
citizens and our government agencies should denounce supremacist
organizations that promote hate, inequality, and even violence,
regardless of their use of such "religious" disguises. The solution to
unmasking such disguises is to honestly ask if such organizations
support equality and liberty.
By looking at threats to our liberties from a human rights perspective,
we can see threat patterns and avenues for public action in struggles
with supremacist ideologies - past and present - whether we are dealing
Aryan Nazi supremacism, or other supremacist ideologies. We need to
remember that our response must be a consistent responsibility to
equality and liberty in defiance of such supremacism, no matter how it
The Growing Islamic Supremacist Threat to Virginia
Virginia suburb of Washington DC has been growing as an Islamic
supremacist haven. Amidst the many hard-working Virginians who serve our
nation's defense, civilian federal government, homeland security, and
commercial businesses, Islamic supremacist groups, organizations, and
institutions have quietly expanded and gained members. Northern Virginia
has been home to a
wide series of Islamic supremacist groups and leaders that have
resisted investigations and challenge by the government and concerned
citizens. For years, Northern Virginia has long been a target of a
Islamic supremacist organizations.
Among these have included:
-- Dar Al Hijra Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia - Freedom House
has reported that
Dar Al Hijra has had publications that spread hate, demanding that
Islamic nations be given nuclear weapons "to face Israel and India," (p.
46), and demanding segregation of the sexes (p. 64). Dar Al
Hijra's previous imam, Anwar al-Aulaqi, has been
suspected of links to Al-Qaeda's 9/11 jihadists, and has been
described as an "inspiration" to terrorists,
suspected in "plotting attacks against America,"
reported as praising Palestinian suicide bombers, and posting an
essay on "Why Muslims Love Death." Dar Al Hijra's subsequent imam,
Sheikh Shaker Elsayed, has also been
reported praising Palestinian suicide bombers, stating that "Jihad
is a must for everyone, a child, a lady and a man." Per
Hijra's web site, this supporter of Jihad continues to preach to
Muslims in Northern Virginia.
-- Dar Al-Arqam Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia - also known as
the "Center for Islamic Information and Education" was a place where Ali
al-Timimi frequently lectured. Ali al-Timimi was
convicted "on charges that he encouraged followers to join the
Taliban and fight U.S. troops." It was also a focal point for the
Jihad Network" that trained to support the Islamic supremacist
Lashkar-e-Taiba group -- the same Lashkar-e-Taiba
suspected in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks and that is
suspected of designs
for attacks on the United States.
According to the FBI, "eight individuals from Dar Al-Arqam ...
either obtained jihad training from Lashkar-e-Taiba or otherwise
associated with the group in Pakistan, another from Dar Al-Arqam who
joined Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia in 2003, two specially designated global
terrorists, and an individual suspected of being an aide to Abu Musab al
Zarqawi and affiliated with Al-Qaeda of Iraq." Al-Timimi and Al-Arqam
have also been
linked to terror groups in the United Kingdom.
International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon,
Virginia - created from "seed money from the Muslim Brotherhood"... the
same Muslim Brotherhood that calls for creation of an Islamic
supremacist caliphate and whose
motto is "Jihad
is our way." IIIT has been
under investigation for financing terror organizations, and was part
Operation Green Quest investigation. This is also the same
DeLorenzo has gone on to advise on Sharia Finance boards for the
Street Journal and
Dow Jones, and who
last month advised on Sharia Finance (PDF
of presentation) in a conference in Washington DC. This same
IIIT provided a
$1.5 million grant to Virginia's George Mason University a few
months ago to expand its "Islam studies program."
-- Muslim World League in Falls Church, Virginia -
reported in 2005 that "U.S. agencies have been investigating the
Muslim World League for years because of suspicions that it knowingly or
unknowingly provided funds to Osama bin Laden."
Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in Fairfax, Virginia -
where the Freedom
House Center found "[s]everal hate-filled publications" (page 3),
publications to "show that religious freedom is un-Islamic" (page 45),
and promoting jihad (page 61).
This history should make Northern Virginia government officials and
citizenry rightly concerned about the growth of Islamic supremacism in
their area. The Washington Times has
reported that those individuals in Falls Church, Virginia that have
exercised their freedom of religion and have converted from Islam to
Christianity live in fear.
But while federal government individuals are willing to challenge
those Islamic supremacists in Northern Virginia who have clearly been
documented in committing a crime (like any other citizen would be),
there remains little willingness to challenge the anti-equality,
anti-liberty ideology of
Islamic supremacism itself, or even acknowledge that the ideology of
Islamic supremacism exists.
So it should not be surprising that supermarkets in Northern Virginia
sell pro-Jihad books, as
researched and found at the
supermarket in Falls Church, Virginia a book that calls for:
-- "It is, in short, time to identify the enemy and declare the Jihad."
-- "He who equips a fighter in the way of Allah, or looks after a
fighters family at home is as good as one who fought"
-- "Priests in their churches, unlike recluse worshipping monks, should,
of course be killed without any exception. Nuns along with Monks,
deserve killing even more"
-- "Not taking the Jews and Christians as friends, not following their
deen, not submitting to bid'a, neither its holidays (National Days,
etc), nor in habits, not entering their places of worship, nor
participating in their festivals-all this is vital in the prelude to the
attack of a new Jihad."
-- "Strike at the time least expected. It follows that one should also
strike at the place not expected. By extension, in light of the current
situation, one may strike at several centres all at the same time, thus
causing havoc in the enemy and in their response".
In 2007, Virginia Governor Kaine appointed former
American Society (MAS) president Esam Omeish to a Virginia state
commission on immigration. This is the same Muslim American
founded by the
"Jihad is our way" Muslim Brotherhood. Not surprisingly, there
were online videos available shortly thereafter of Omeish calling for
"the jihad way," which prompted his resignation. But two years
later, we have a different story. Now this same jihad-supporting
Esam Omeish is running
for office for the 35th district of the Virginia House of Delegates,
portraying himself as the all-American immigrant success story.
Esam Omeish is meeting with voters at public libraries to discuss
issues... but conveniently ignoring his background with the MB-founded
MAS or his support for Jihad - asking voters to "meet and greet with
Esam Omeish, and talk to Esam about the issues most important to you."
How about equality and liberty? How about defying Islamic
It is in this same Northern Virginia,
where Jihad books are sold in supermarkets,
where Jihad supporters
are running for public office,
where Islamic supremacist organizations donate large sums of money to
influence universities, and where
Islamic supremacists can
of worship" largely unchallenged by the majority of the citizens and
its government, that we also see a growing academy designed to
indoctrinate youth with the ideology of Islamic supremacism.
In Fairfax County, Virginia, the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) has had a
long and disreputable history,
reported by the Washington Post as an institution whose
"indoctrination begins in a first-grade text and is reinforced and
expanded each year, culminating in a 12th-grade text instructing
students that their religious obligation includes waging jihad against
the infidel to 'spread the faith.'"
This is the same Islamic Saudi Academy whose
textbooks taught jihad to children, attacked all other religions,
told its children "As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the
people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels
of the communion of Jesus." This is what the Islamic Saudi Academy
books previously read AFTER the hate and intolerance was
removed from them.
Associated Press has recently reported:
"In December 2001, two former ISA students, Mohammed El-Yacoubi and
Mohammed Osman Idris, were denied entry into Israel when authorities
there found El-Yacoubi carrying what the FBI believed was a suicide note
linked to a planned martyrdom operation in Israel. In 2005, a
former ISA valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was convicted in federal
court of joining al-Qaida while attending college in Saudi Arabia and
plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush. Last year, the
school's then-director, Abdalla al-Shabnan, was convicted of failing to
report a suspected case of child sex abuse. Last year also was
when the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released a
report saying the school's textbooks contained several troubling
passages, including one saying it is permissible for Muslims to kill
adulterers and converts from Islam and another saying 'the Jews
conspired against Islam and its people.'"
During this time, the Fairfax County Government has leased the
Islamic Saudi Academy facility to spread such hate and incite such
violence. As the
Mount Vernon Gazette has reported, "The school building at 8333
Richmond Highway, is leased from Fairfax County. That lease recently
came up for renewal and was renewed for one year with an option for two
one year extensions on a motion from Mount Vernon District Supervisor
Gerald Hyland, in whose district the school is located." Would the
Fairfax County government have offered such leases to racial supremacist
organizations? But when supremacism wears a "religious" disguise,
there is no willingness to ask this question by local officials.
On March 12, 2009, the
Islamic Saudi Academy has now claimed (once again) that it has now
truly removed all of the hate and intolerance from its textbooks.
AP reports that
Gulf Affairs in Washington Director Ali "Al-Ahmed, whose group
monitors politics and education in the Gulf, said the revised texts now
being used at ISA make some small improvements in tone. But he said it's
clear from the books that the core ideology behind them -- a puritanical
strain of Islam known as Wahhabism that is dominant within Saudi Arabia
-- remains intact. 'It shows they have no intention of real reform,'
The timing is not likely to be a surprise, since on Wednesday, March
18, the Fairfax County Planning Commission will be considering a
"special exception" to zoning laws to allow a further expansion of the
Islamic Saudi Academy. The Fairfax County government will be
holding this meeting at 8:15 PM at the Board Auditorium of the Fairfax
County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax,
Virginia 22035. Activist groups are
encouraging local citizens to attend and speak out. I will be
speaking as will others, who are opposed to the growth of Islamic
supremacism intolerance, as represented by the history of the Islamic
Saudi Academy's teaching in Fairfax County.
This expansion of intolerant Islamic supremacism is not unique to
Washington DC's suburb of Northern Virginia. In Michigan, Minnesota, New
York, New Jersey, California, and states around the country, new
Islamic supremacism are developing. Many in Virginia and
around the nation are not yet willing to act in the face of growing such
havens for intolerance and Islamic supremacism. But lessons can be
learned from dealing with other supremacist ideologies on the vital
necessity to confront supremacist groups in communities and states,
before they develop a stanglehold of fear and intolerance in an area.
Those struggling with the growing institutionalization and development
of facilities to promote Islamic supremacism in Virginia and around the
United States feel that they are dealing with a unique challenge. And in
important ways, they are correct. The large-scale tolerance of Islamic
supremacism disguised as "religious" freedom is unparalleled. But
in other ways, we have seen this challenge before in defending human
rights. Nazis and white supremacists have been using this tactic long
before 9/11 to gain respectability, influence, and acceptance. Like
Islamic supremacists, they remain a threat to equality and liberty. Like
Islamic supremacists, those responsible for equality and liberty must
defy their ideology and those who would appease them.
Our freedom of religion ensures that individuals will not be unfairly
discriminated against because of their beliefs. Such freedoms are
designed to ensure equal rights. But these equal rights - are
simply that - rights of equality, not superiority. With such equal
rights come the equal responsibilities to be accountable for
intolerance, promotion of hate, and incitement of violence, like any
Lessons Learned From Other Supremacist Threats
In Idaho, Richard Butler's Nazi Aryan Nations organization
maintained a 40 acre compound,
where 300 to 400 Nazis joined Butler in his quest for a new "Aryan
nation." In a 1999 report, the FBI said the goal of Aryan Nations
was to forcibly take five states -- Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington
and Montana -- and form an Aryan homeland. Some of the Aryan
broke into small groups that "carried out string of bank robberies,
murders and counterfeiting activities."
In a twisted move designed to gain further credibility for the Nazi
organization, Richard Butler also
created a "religious" organization for the Nazis called the "Church
of Jesus Christ Christian." This shows the danger in interpreting
our religious freedoms as providing superior, rather than equal rights.
While Adolf Hitler may not have thought of using "religious"
organizations to infiltrate America with Nazi hatred, Nazi Richard
Butler did. The "religious disguise" of a Nazi organization
claiming religious protection for hatred, intolerance, and incitement
demonstrates the folly of ignoring supremacist threats in "religious"
disguises. The fact that the Nazi Aryan Nations had relatively
small recruitment and success in its supremacist goals does not make it
any less of a lesson on why a "religious" disguise must never be
tolerated to mask supremacism - whether it is
As the people of Idaho were initially slow to respond, they paid a
price for allowing supremacist hate and intolerance to grow in Idaho.
Marshall Mend, a member of Idaho Human Relations Task Force,
said "There are still people who will not come to Idaho
because they think it's a haven for hatred." Tony Stewart, a
political science professor from North Idaho College, warns "Never,
never take the position that because there are few of them, they will
not do harm." Over time, the people of Idaho responded to this
Nazi supremacist threat. The Aryan Nation Nazis eventually
made a mistake, and when their security guards attacked a woman and her
court awarded a $6.3 million judgment against the Aryan Nations,
bankrupting them and costing them their 40 acre compound in Idaho.
The lawyer leading the lawsuit against the Aryan Nations, Norman Gissel,
stated "Other than our professions and our families, that's all we
did for 15 to 20 years was fight the Nazis."
Idaho is still recovering from the stigma of supremacism. The press
reported that "[t]he compound has been renamed Peace Park, Mend
said, but northern Idaho's image has not recovered." "'It's
difficult to quantify the amount of the impact,'
Jonathan Coe, president of the Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce. 'But I
can tell you for a fact, we lost business because of them. Some
vacationers didnít visit, businesses didn't locate here, and people
chose not to retire here."
But the people of Idaho have a
message for you on the seriousness of supremacism: "Please, please
never remain silent. Please do not confine yourselves to a
counter-rally, and please commit your life to the dignity of others."
Other racial supremacists have tried the same tactics to gain
credibility with a religious "disguise," ranging from the white
"Christian Identity" hate group, the white supremacist
"World Church of
the Creator" hate group, and absurdly even a Ku Klux Klan group that
calls itself the
of the National Knights." But the Indiana-based "Church of the
National Knights" group didn't have the people of Indiana laughing with
a five acre property designed to promote Ku Klux Klan white supremacism
and hatred. The
reported that "[r]esidents there can hear the gunshots, the shouts
and the screech of the public-address system the Klan has used at some
ceremonies. When the corn is low, several can see the cross burnings
from their backyards. Property values in this modest neighborhood are
shot. 'Our homes aren't worth a plug nickel now,' one resident said
Some may ask, what relevance such lessons have to such transnational
challenges as Islamic supremacism. The relevance is not in the
relative "legitimacy" of a "religious" disguise for supremacist hatred
and intolerance. Nor is it in the degree to which such supremacism
is widely adopted, accepted, or tolerated. The relevance is in
what supremacists have in common and what those of us responsible for
equality and liberty have in common.
Despite their differences and their different "religious" disguises,
supremacists have one thing in common -- hate. This hate is
always the same hate -- whether it is a
Neo-Nazi "church" calling for hatred against Jews, whether it is a
white supremacist "religious group" calling for hatred against blacks,
whether it is the so-called
Baptist Church" desecrating the funerals of soldiers and calling for the
death of homosexuals, whether it is the
Islam" group sadly tolerated and accepted by some traditional human
rights groups while its leaders spread
racial bigotry, and Islamic supremacism -- or whether it is
Islamic supremacists calling for
calling Jews apes and Christians pigs, and
around the world.
Hate is hate. No matter what its color, no matter what its
brand, and no matter what its "religious" disguise. Such hatred,
intolerance, and incitement to violence deserves no "religious" disguise
and "religious" protection. In every case, and every permutation,
such hatred against equality and liberty is wrong - and is an attack on
our inalienable human rights of equality and liberty.
There are plenty of important lessons to be learned in looking at these
things that supremacists have in common, regardless of whether they use
a "religious" disguise or not to justify hate and intolerance.
The Nation of
Islam's Louis Farrakhan has been proud of being compared to Adolf
Hitler, who he calls "a great man." The
Nation's later leader August Kreis has praised Al-Qaeda and has said
that "I want to instill the same jihadic feeling in our peoples' heart,
in the Aryan race." The Nazi Aryan Nations gladly
hate-mongering rants of ex-Nazi David Myatt, now
Abdul-Aziz ibn Myatt. And the list of the common campaigns of
hate among supremacists goes on and on and on.
Such campaigns of hate and division are why it is so essential to
recognize the common characteristics and goals of supremacism.
This is why it is so essential to acknowledge them as "supremacist."
This is why it is vital that we do not allow "religious"
characterizations to protect those who seek to promote hate,
intolerance, and violence. While there are many who would
employ euphemisms in describing supremacist organizations -- such as
calling racial supremacists as "nationalists," or calling Islamic
supremacists as "Islamists" (as it has currently been
re-defined by Washington policy wonks,
not as previously defined by the 9/11 Commission) -- such euphemisms
simply shield supremacist ideologies from the bright light of the truth
of equality and liberty.
This challenge is further compounded by those who believe that
supremacism that claims a "religious" origin is automatically exempted
from scrutiny, criticism, and challenge. If we accept the
inalienable human rights of equality and liberty within the
of Human Rights and the
American Declaration of Independence, we must reject such false
protections from those would turn our own freedom of conscience against
us by claiming "religious" supremacism as an untouchable platform to
promote hatred and the destruction of equality, liberty, and freedom
itself. For Americans, we fiercely defend freedom of
conscience and religion. But we also recognize that all citizens
share both equal rights and equal responsibilities. The Free
Exercise Clause of the American Constitution ensures that those claiming
exercise of their religious beliefs are not singled out for
discriminatory treatment -- not that they have any superior rights or
lesser responsibilities to the law from other citizens. We believe
in equality for all.
For those religious individuals who worship a God of love, there
should be no fear in challenging those who would leverage so-called
"religious" beliefs as a safe haven and harbor for hate.
A New Hope - Our Common Bond of Humanity
Consistency in challenging supremacist organizations truly matters.
Some traditional human rights communities have not grasped that
challenging supremacist groups is the same problem -- whether they claim
to be empowered to spread hatred, intolerance, and violence based on a
"religious" claim -- or not. That must change. We must recognize the
problem of supremacism itself as a monolithic threat to all of
humanity's equality and liberty. We must defy those who
would give supremacism any other name and allow it to fester in the
darkness of public inattention.
What supremacists believe is that they can endless draw upon the
weakest parts of humanity, on hatred, on differences, and on divisions.
Supremacists are dependent on our inhumanity to others. They
believe that the truths that we hold self-evident that all men and women
are created equal is a lie. They count on you questioning it too.
They depend on our unwillingness to seek out the true essence of the
goodness and decency in humanity. They live to exploit the
divisions among us. They count on our FEAR. They hope
to manipulate our fear over our hope in human rights. They seek to
leverage our fear to further divide us away from each other as human
beings and to get us to deny our shared human rights in equality and
liberty. They play upon on our fear to deny that those of us
who are different from each other may not deserve the same human rights.
But the fears that we have as individuals are smaller than the hope
that we can offer one another by our shared consensus in the inalienable
human rights of equality and liberty. When we say the words that
"all men and women are created equal," we tap into a force greater than
ourselves as individuals by recognizing, just as supremacism has a
common bond in hate, humanity has a common bond in the hope of equality
and liberty for all.
Those responsible for equality and liberty have no choice but to
oppose supremacism -- to do otherwise we be to deny who we are as human
beings and our common bond and destiny together.
This leads to the fundamental decision that all free people must make
- you can't hold two different standards on equality and liberty. You
either support these inalienable human rights or not. In the same way,
you can't have two different standards in defying supremacists
threatening equality and liberty - you are against them or you're not.
There are no "but not in this case" clauses in the American Declaration
of Independence's support of the inalienable human rights of equality
and liberty. There are no "exception rules" in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. Everyone deserves equal rights, not just those who are
like us, and not just people who we like. Everyone means everyone.
The inalienable human rights of equality and liberty are for all of
humanity. It is "ideological" to believe in the inalienable human
rights of equality and liberty. It is the ideology of what
humanity is all about.
The survival of our common bond of hope means setting aside our
differences to stand united against the existential threat of
supremacism. Supremacists of every kind share their common goal of
spreading hatred and exploiting fear to divide and conquer all of
humanity. The shared goal of supremacists is to enslave the human
spirit and to crush the human rights of equality and liberty. Our
responsibility for equality and liberty must be to defy supremacists and
to deny them a safe haven or protection by using a "religious" disguise
to spread hate and violence throughout society.
We have a new hope. That hope lies in a humanity that can reach
out to each other and find the good and decent part within each other.
That hope lies in our ability to remember the importance of respect and
decency towards one another. That hope lies in humanity's ability
to reject blind hate and deny those who would manipulate us with fear to
ignore the threat of supremacism.
But most of all, that hope lies in our common bond within a humanity
that defends the inalienable human rights of equality and liberty.
It is this new hope that will demand that we...
Fear No Evil. Because We Are Not Afraid.
[Postscript - see also
Sources documents for additional reading and background