During the holiday season this year, an Islam for Humanity conference will be held near Disney World on the campus of the Universal Heritage Foundation, a 31-acre Islamic propagation center located in Kissimmee, Florida. The three day conference will commence on December 19, 2003, which “coincidentally” marks the beginning of Hanukkah. But highlighting the holiday themes of peace and brotherhood will not be the conference's priority.
Originally listed as “Specially Invited Guests” were ex-Presidential candidate and Green Party leader, Ralph Nader, and Shaikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais, the chief cleric of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Due to negative press, neither will be showing up.
Al-Sudais was an interesting choice as a special guest, because it was only less than a month ago that a report came out exposing a speech Al-Sudais made on Saudi television calling for the murder of Jews, Christians and Americans. Al-Sudais has also said that Arabs should not seek peace with the Jews, whom he described as “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the killers of prophets, and the grandsons of monkeys and pigs.”
It’s easy to see how someone like Al-Sudais was chosen, when one looks at who is hosting the event. That honor goes to Zulfiqar Ali Shah, the ex-President of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Chairman and CEO of the Universal Heritage Foundation. Shah is quoted as saying, “If we are unable to stop the Jews now, their next stop is Yathrib (The Prophet's city of Medina), where the Jews used to live until their expulsion by Prophet Muhammad. That's the pinnacle of their motives.”
Listed as “Speakers” for the conference are many of the most radical individuals the American Islamist community has to offer.
One of the speakers set to appear at the event will be Altaf Ali, the Florida Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that is widely publicized as being an outgrowth of the Hamas front Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). Ali showed his extremist colors, when he used a joint press conference with the FBI, in March of 2003, to defend the rights of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
Another of the speakers will be an Egyptian cleric named Wagdy Ghuneim. Ghuneim, like Ali, is associated with CAIR, though not as a member. Ghuneim’s relationship to CAIR deals with a rally that took place at Brooklyn College, on May 24, 1998. The rally, entitled ‘Palestine – 50 Years of Occupation,’ was advertised as an IAP event with co-sponsors that were reported (by highly respectable sources) to have included the American Muslim Council (AMC), the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), and CAIR.
At the rally, Ghuneim spouted violent and inflammatory rhetoric. He attempted to persuade the crowd to support jihad. He stated, “Allah says he who equips the warrior of jihad is like the one who makes jihad himself.” Ghuneim also let his feelings about Jews be known, when he led the audience in song with the lyrics: “No to the Jews, descendants of the apes.” (Steven Emerson, American Jihad, 2002)
Not wanting to appear to have promoted events that are deemed anti-Semitic (or anti-Jewish, rather – CAIR believes anti-Semitism includes hatred against Arabs, as well as Jews), CAIR denies any involvement in this rally.
On August 19, 2003, after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) repeated the [anti-Semitic rally] charge against CAIR, Altaf Ali stated that the ADL was “peddling scurrilous smears based on distortions, fabrications and guilt by association. If we thought an invited speaker did indeed hold anti-Semitic views, that person would quickly be disinvited.”
Yet Ali is going to be speaking at the same function with Ghuneim. In fact, Ali described Ghuneim, Al-Sudais and all the other Islam for Humanity speakers as “highly respected” people and defended them by stating that he “never heard any of these individuals say anything hateful.”
Nihad Awad, the national Executive Director of CAIR has also denied the charge against his organization. Awad stated, “CAIR did not sponsor the gathering in New York. If our name was listed as a sponsor, it was done without our permission or consent,” and he proceeded to blame terrorism expert, Steven Emerson, for starting the claim.
But he too has spoken at a function with Wadgy Ghuneim. Moreover, it just took place this past May (May 23–26, 2003). It was a convention put on by the Masjid Annur Islamic Center in Sacramento, California, entitled ‘ISLAM: The Way of Life.’
While the leadership of CAIR jumps at the chance to disavow themselves from any involvement with the Brooklyn rally that featured Wagdy Ghuneim encouraging violence and railing away at Jews, they obviously have no problem participating at functions with him. This certainly is a problem in itself for CAIR. If they are telling the truth – that they really did have nothing to do with this rally – then they are hypocrites. And if they are not – if what they are saying is only meant to cover up their own support of anti-Semitism – then they are just plain liars.
Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate. You can visit the group’s website, at www.americansagainsthate.com. And you can view all of Joe’s archived articles, at www.joe4rep.com.