Sixteen likely candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 have endorsed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization identified by the Justice Department as an “entity” of the Muslim Brotherhood linked to pro-Hamas operations in the U.S.
CAIR and other Islamist groups use quotes from supporters, many of which presumably are unaware of the group’s background, to present itself as an authoritative leader of the Muslim-American community.
The statements are essential for building influence in politics, government, law enforcement, media and culture. They are also important for fundraising and convincing Muslim-Americans to follow CAIR’s lead.
In a 2011 poll, only about 12 percent of Muslim-Americans choose CAIR as the group that most represents their interests, but high-profile political access gives the impression that CAIR is the gatekeeper to the community.
The following are the 16 likely Democratic presidential candidates who have endorsed CAIR. Such an endorsement contradicts their self-professed liberal and progressive values:
1.California Senator Kamala Harris
In a letter to CAIR on October 20, 2018, Senator Harris wrote:
“[P]lease accept my gratitude and admiration for your tireless work to promote peace, justice and mutual understanding. For nearly a quarter century, CAIR has worked diligently to dismantle Islamophobic rhetoric, mobilize the American Muslim community, and encourage civic engagement.
“The council has strived to improve understanding about Islam and move toward a future in which we welcome people of goodwill from all faiths and nationalities into our neighborhoods and our schools, as well as our hearts and minds. In the face of intolerant and exclusionary policies, CAIR has steadfastly defended the constitutional rights of American Muslims who aspire to build better lives for their families and contribute to our communities and our great nation. Today, as we continue to promote tolerance and eliminate hate in our society, CAIR’s work remains as important as it was the day of its founding in 1994.
“Once again, thank you for your commitment to protecting civil liberties and making the promise of America real for all Americans. Best wishes for a memorable celebration.”
2.New Jersey Senator Cory Booker
In a letter to CAIR on October 20, 2018, Senator Booker wrote:
“Since its inception, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has been a committed advocate for the American Muslim community and sought to support the freedom of religion and the freedom of expression, both of which are cherished American values established in our most sacred documents. I applaud your work and programming in the fight against discrimination of all forms …
“… Your focus to educate and build bridges among people are a testament to the truth of America: that we are a more powerful, more secure and more just nation when we celebrate and embrace our diversity. As you reflect on and celebrate all that you have accomplished, I wish you a joyous and memorable evening.”
Senator Booker also chose a radical cleric, Ahmed Shedeed, as his guest to the State of the Union in 2016. Shedeed and the mosque he is president of, the Islamic Center of Jersey City, have a long history of extremism and ties to terrorism.
In December 2017, the imam of Shedeed’s mosque gave two sermons advocating for anti-Semitism, theocracy and violent jihad. Booker then wrote a letter to Shedeed urging him to take a stand against the messages and rid his mosque of radical preaching. Shedeed refused to fire his imam, but said he’d be “retrained.”
3.New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
In October 2015, Senator Gillibrand said:
“I am grateful for organizations like CAIR that are dedicated to defending civil liberty for all New Yorkers … our devotion to civil rights strengthens our commitment to democracy throughout New York State and the Muslim Community.”
4.Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar
In October 2016, Senator Klobuchar said:
“It is my privilege to congratulate the Council on American-Islamic Relations on 22 years of building coalitions, creating spaces for dialogue, and elevating the understanding of Islam.”
5.Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown
In October 2016, Senator Brown said:
“CAIR is an important and influential organization throughout the country. For two decades CAIR has brought together people of all faiths, along with member of the community, to encourage compassion and understanding between all Americans.”
6.Former Attorney General Eric Holder
In 2009, Holder violated his own Justice Department’s ban on using CAIR as a liaison partner, which was put in place in order “to ensure that the FBI is not supporting individuals who support extremist or terrorist ideologies.” He spoke for a coalition that included the Michigan chapter of CAIR, which has a history of disturbing conduct.
His Justice Department is also accused of dropping prosecutions of influential Islamist leaders, including a founder of CAIR. In 2010, Holder helped the Muslim Advocates group fundraise by speaking at their annual dinner. Muslim Advocates is a chief ally of CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups, including fighting for the Holy Land Foundation, a Brotherhood front whose officials were found guilty of financing the Hamas terrorist group.
7.Billionaire Tom Steyer
In 2017, Steyer donated to CAIR as one of eight organizations who were providing assistance to illegal immigrants and opposing the Trump Administration’s policies.
8.California Rep. Eric Swalwell
In October 2016, Swalwell said,
“I salute CAIR for empowering American Muslims nationwide in political and social activism for more than two decades.”
9.Maryland Rep. John Delaney (declared candidate)
In September 2014, Delaney said:
“CAIR’s twenty years of bringing together communities and defending civil liberties is commendable, and the work you do for the state of Maryland is greatly appreciated.”
10.Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan
In October 2016, Ryan said:
“I salute the council for empowering American Muslims by encouraging social and political activism at the local, state and national levels. Democracy is not a spectator sport; it requires the active participation of informed citizens. I commend CAIR for its efforts to support the principles of civic engagement upon which America was founded.”
11.Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey
On March 9, 2016, Casey said in a letter to CAIR’s Pennsylvania branch to celebrate its 10th anniversary:
“The work of CAIR to advance the well-being of Muslim-Americans and fight against rising discrimination and prejudice in our society stands as a testament to the bravery, work ethic and ideals of everyone involved. Please accept my congratulations and best wishes for the continued success of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.”
12.Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley
In 2014, O’Malley honored CAIR’s Maryland chapter co-founder with a governor’s citation. In March 2013, several representatives of O’Malley’s government including the attorney general attended a fundraiser for CAIR’s Maryland branch.
O’Malley’s government also endorsed the construction of a $100 million mega-mosque backed by the Islamist government of Turkey in Maryland. Erdogan spoke at the construction site and the event was attended by leaders of two major Islamist groups in the U.S. linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
13.Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana
The Indiana chapter of CAIR proudly showcases an endorsement from Mayor Buttigieg:
“In our diverse country, your focus on actions with measurable positive outcomes is of the utmost importance.”
14.Colorado Senator Michael Bennet
On October 20, 2018, Senator Bennet helped CAIR fundraise by writing a letter for its banquet. He said:
“Since its founding, the organization has actively served the community with integrity to protect the constitutional rights of American Muslims. In these challenging times, CAIR’s commitment to justice and civil rights is critical to protect communities from xenophobia and hate. Together, we will fight for equality to ensure the arc of history bends towards justice. Thank you for your exemplary and vital advocacy.”
15.Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy
In August 2014, Senator Murphy said:
“Our communities are stronger because of our faith and our diversity, and I salute the council for empowering American Muslims to participate locally and nationally in political and social activism. By protecting and defending the constitutional rights of American Muslims, you support the rights of all Americans.”
16.Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton
On September 12, 2018, Rep. Moulton said:
“The advocacy work CAIR does is essential for protecting the constitutional and civil rights of American Muslims. Our nation can only thrive if the rights of every American are ensured, and the legal work you do is invaluable in pursuing that goal…
“… Perhaps most importantly, I want to emphasize how much the nation benefits [from] CAIR’s commitment in giving American Muslims a voice in the public sphere, as well as fighting against hate in our communities. Your public campaigns against the Islamaphobia Network and partnerships with other communities that also face discrimination and animosity are imperative for justice and mutual understanding in the United States. You should know how much these endeavors are appreciated, not just by American Muslims, but by all Americans who seek to see progress and equality in our nation.”
Other noteworthy supporters of CAIR include the terrorism-sponsoring Islamist governments of Turkey, Qatar and Iran. CAIR’s list of supporters includes endorsements from the embassies of Turkey and Qatar in 2014. And in 2008, at its annual banquet, CAIR thanked the “Interests Section of Iran,” as well as the embassies of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar and Jordan for their support.
Of course, exclusion from this list does not mean that the other Democratic presidential aspirants have a clean record when it comes to embracing Islamists.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has participated in events at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, resulting in Americans for Peace and Tolerance asking her to cancel her involvement with the center due to its history of radicalism. Warren said she attended because one of her aides, Hamza Abdelgany, attends the mosque and asked her to come.
At the same time, three likely Democratic candidates have drawn the ire of CAIR and its Islamist allies:
1.Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg bravely defended the NYPD when it came under fire for its intelligence-gathering practices. Bloomberg became a major opponent of CAIR and its interfaith coalition. Though widely maligned and misrepresented, the NYPD’s strategy was justified and vindicated in court.
2.Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has also stood out by repeatedly criticizing the Obama Administration in regards to the jihadist threat. She was particularly critical of the administration’s refusal to use language like “radical Islam” and its suggestions that Islamist terrorism is caused by poverty, unemployment and lack of education.
“They are not fueled by materialistic motivation, it’s actually a theological, this radical Islamic ideology,” she said.
3.Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick
Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has also been a foe of CAIR and the Islamist lobby.
In April 2013, his government invited the imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center to an interfaith prayer service. The mosque and its parent organization have extensive ties to Islamist extremism, especially the Muslim Brotherhood.
When attention was brought to the decision, Patrick didn’t counterattack by slandering the critics as “Islamophobes.” Instead, Patrick rescinded the invitation, even though courting the Islamist group was in his political interest. He replaced the imam with an official from the American-Islamic Congress, a rival of CAIR and its allies.
CAIR, undoubtedly aware of the danger it faces if an anti-Islamist competitor rises to the forefront, went to war against the American Islamic Congress embraced by Patrick. CAIR accused its Muslim rival of being a part of “America’s Islamophobia Network.”
There are an unprecedented 39 Democrats testing the waters for a presidential run in 2020. It is probable that at least 20 will enter the primary race.
As the campaign goes on, it will become increasingly difficult to enter the bubble that surrounds the candidates. It is vital that these candidates be approached as soon as possible by concerned citizens, especially those who are Democrats that understand that CAIR and the pro-Islamist lobby are not a true allies of liberals or the progressive cause.