There was yet another bust in Lodi, California, of two Muslim religious leaders, father and son Hamid and Umer Hayat. They are alleged to be part of an al-Qaida terrorist cell. Such radical clerics come to the US through ‘religious visas’ that are much easier to obtain than regular visas. This is another story that does not look good for Muslim Americans.
Hundreds of mosques in the US are run by radicals and terrorist sympathizers who came from the most oppressive and radical regimes in the Muslim world. They still harbor affection for terror training camps in the caves of Pakistan and Afghanistan. They bring with them to America the same hate speech and incitement towards non-Muslims, thus creating a subversive sub-culture that is contrary to American values of tolerance and respect of other religions and races.
Not all Muslims or Muslim countries are the same. Most moderate Muslims choose to blend with American society and do not want to be associated with radical clerics or mosques. They regard radical clerics imported from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as a joke imposed on American mosques by a wealthy Saudi government. When I moved to America in 1978, I thought I would be treated to new kind of mosques befitting America’s democracy and freedoms. But to my surprise, I saw mosques more akin to the dark ages. Many were even more radical than those in moderate Arab countries. Moderate Muslims who escaped radicalism in the old country had to face the same hate speech and anti-Semitism by angry close-minded and uneducated preachers. They are a laughing stock among the Arab educated classes. The same preachers who brainwashed our children in the Arab world are attempting to do the same to our American children. Many moderates solved the problem by stopping going to mosques all together. A prominent, well respected American Islamic studies teacher advised me that he stopped going to mosques in the US because "they are breeding grounds for hate and intolerance."
The likes of Hamid Hayat in America, have intimidated moderate Muslim by their ability to call for fatwas or death threats, to those who are out of line. Fear of revenge has also intimidated the Christian Arab community who has suffered for centuries in the hands of the deputies of radical Islam. No wonder Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, were silent after 9/11.
It is in the best interest of Muslim Americans to steer their faith away from any association with terrorism. Moderate Muslims need to reach out to other religions and build interfaith dialogue based on mutual respect with the Christian and Jewish communities. However, this is very difficult to accomplish when many mosques in America are being run by such radical Pakistani and Saudi cave-men preachers.
There is a funny ad on TV of cave men or Vikings who came to modern day America to find work. The Muslim preacher scene in America is not much different; it is hard to believe, but true. These imported preachers have no proper education in teaching religion in a democracy without the aid of hate speech, violence and subversion. They have no idea on how different religions should behave towards each other. Moderate Muslims are fearful of showing respect or support to other religious groups lest they be called ‘traitors’; and we all know what happens to traitors in the Muslim world.
Such preachers of hate, gifts of the Saudi government, have given their loyalty to those who pay their salaries while they operate ice cream trucks as camouflage. Saudi Arabia still teaches protocols of the elders of Zion and that Jews use Arab blood to bake their cookies. Such subversive and primitive education is a shame for Saudi Arabia; but what is worse is that we allow the same preachers to come to America to poison the minds of American Muslim kids. After 9/11 this should not be allowed to happen.
Islam has been in America for several generations and should be able to produce its own American preachers. American Muslims have been thriving in the US for decades and should be able to afford paying the salaries of their religious leaders. By constantly depending on Saudi Arabia and Pakistan’s generosity, they are gambling with the type of Muslim leadership in their mosques. Having radicals in US mosques such as the Hayats was not the wisest decision of Muslim Americans after 9/11. The likes of the father/son just arrested or Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who plotted the first World Trade Center bombing, should not be teachers of American Muslim kids or spiritual leaders of descent Muslims anywhere.
Muslim Americans should take responsibility for their choice of religious leaders. Every effort should be made to ensure better choices of leadership in Muslim places of worship since bad choices by foreign governments are hurting the reputation of the Muslim community in America. It is hard to believe that we still have trouble in American mosques even after 9/11. Have American Muslims learned anything from 9/11? There is gross recklessness and negligence by Muslims who still bring in such fanatic, below standard and suspicious characters to run their mosques and represent them. What qualifications and education does a religious Muslim leader such as Mr. Hayat have that led him to drive an ice cream truck to earn a living in America? Is that the kind of man Muslims in America want to inspire their children?
There should be no more excuses for terrorist affiliations in American mosques. America is fed up and we have to shape up; we have used and abused America’s generosity. Muslims should apply only the highest standards of integrity and education in hiring Muslim leaders. American Muslims should discourage the politicization of Islam and turning mosques into silly calls for changing America; if anything needs change it is where we came from. As Muslims, we need to understand where the role of religion begins and where it ends.
Since Muslim Americans have unknowingly or knowingly donated large sums of money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the past, they must be financially able to afford the salaries of their preachers and the building of their mosques. They should end their dependence on Saudi cash with all the suspicious links attached. They should say stop the importation of fanatic, radical and below standard Saudi and Pakistani preacher who are hurting their image. They also need preachers who are more sensitive and in tune to the value system of American society they chose to call home, values such as respect of freedom of speech, compassion and tolerance.
For this to happen, two things must be accomplished. First, the US government should stop giving ‘religious visas’ to foreign Muslim preachers from Radical Muslim countries especially those with shady backgrounds and affiliations. Second, Muslim leadership in America should immediately form a committee to investigate the Lodi incident and find who is responsible for bringing such people to represent them. They should also investigate all mosques in the US and weed out the bad apples. No more excuses; the buck stops with the Muslim American community.