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GOP Rep. Claims US Muslim Leaders ‘Potentially Complicit’ in Terrorism

Kalia Abiade • Jun 22, 2013

Speaking from the House floor last week, a Republican congressman claimed that Muslim leaders in the United States have failed to denounce violence committed in the name of Islam, and are thus, “potentially complicit in these acts” and future attacks.

Rep. Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that in the weeks since the Boston Marathon attacks, “the silence of Muslim leaders has been deafening,” which he said was “sad, but most importantly, dangerous.” Pompeo acknowledged that “not all Muslims support these actions,” but a closer look at the congressman’s ties indicates his speech was hardly sincere, and instead serves as a means to capitalize on and promote a broader anti-Muslim agenda.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS)

Pompeo is a member of the House Immigration Reform Caucus (HIRC), a nativist coalition in Congress with members who have become increasingly linked to the organized anti-Muslim movement. He has also been linked to the Koch brothers, who push anti-Muslim views and are accused of supporting efforts such as the 2008 film, Obsession.

The congressman held up examples of Muslim activists he thinks should speak for Muslims, such as Zudhi Jasser and Zainab al-Suwaij of the American Islamic Congress (AIC). Of course, AIC was recently exposed as a beneficiary of a strong network of anti-Muslim funders.

It should be no surprise that a host of anti-Muslim spokespersons have applauded Pompeo for his remarks and urged their supporters to do the same.

ACT! for America sent emails urging its members to write letters to the editor in support of his statement and confirmed that Pompeo will be speaking at ACT!’s national convention this week. Kyle Shideler of Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, praised Pompeo saying, “This was a daring, and greatly necessary speech, and hats off to Rep. Mike Pompeo.”

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller were a little less impressed, but the latter offered her praise — and guidance — nonetheless. “Pompeo didn’t get it all right, but it is a good first effort. There is plenty he got wrong, but when have we ever before seen anyone rightfully condemn complicit imams on the floor of the House? That’s a first. We’ll teach him the rest. … You can email him here — thank him for taking it on and gently explain all he got wrong. Encourage the man.”

Pompeo and his supporters have conveniently ignored a multitude of responses by prominent Muslim religious leaders as well as Muslim-led advocacy organizations immediately after the Boston attacks.

Imam William Suhaib Webb, the leader of the largest mosque in Boston, immediately took to Twitter to offer sympathy and condemn the attacks. His mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, offered up more than 40 volunteers for relief efforts and blood donations, and Webb even offered his own home for displaced Marathon participants. He told a reporter: “We’re Bostonians — we mourn with the city. We stand in support with the city, with the victims. We’re hurt, equally shocked and equally pissed off.” A little more than a week after the attacks, Webb co-authored an Op-Ed in the New York Times plainly rejecting violent extremism. He wrote: “the American Muslim community has actively and repeatedly, day in and day out, rejected such radicals on religious grounds: they do not know mercy.”

Prayers for victims and denouncements of terrorism were also conveyed by the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a coalition of mosques in New York City, the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America and dozens of other religious leaders, mosques and organizations around the country and world. MPAC even partnered with the New America Foundation to host a briefing on violent extremism and online radicalism with experts in the field.

Last week, CAIR responded to Pompeo with a letter reiterating the organizations denouncement of violent extremism. The letter also pointed out the string of denouncements from American Muslim leaders and requested a retraction and correction from the congressman. It read: “It is difficult to understand how an elected official with the resources available to any Member of Congress missed such an overwhelming amount of material.”

Atrocious acts of extremist violence must be opposed at every turn. However, it is also critical to call out political leaders who advance nativist propaganda to heighten fear, intensify anti-Muslim sentiment and bolster blatant, unjustified discrimination. It seems unlikely that Pompeo actually “missed such an overwhelming amount of material.” It is more plausible that the statements were simply set aside because they do not serve the Islamophobic agenda Pompeo is trying to advance.

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