YouTube video of full event: “Taking on the Islamist Establishment”
M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., is the President & Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) and the author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’ s Fight to Save His Faith”. A first generation American Muslim, Jasser’s parents fled the oppressive Ba’ath regime of Syria in the mid-1960’s for American freedom. A devout Muslim, he and his family have strong ties to the American Muslim community having helped lead mosques in Wisconsin, Arkansas, Virginia and Arizona. Dr. Jasser was presented with the 2007 Director’s Community Leadership Award by the Phoenix office of the FBI and was recognized as a “Defender of the Home Front” at the annual Keeper of the Flame Dinner of the Center for Security Policy in 2008.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser began his talk by noting that we often look at Muslims and Islam through the lens of acts of terror. Drawing on his work as a physician, Dr. Jasser stated that we cannot just continue to treat the symptoms of terrorism (i.e. the violent acts of terror), but we must begin to treat the disease (i.e. the root causes of extremism, the violent ideology of Islamism). Dr. Jasser spoke about his childhood and growing up in the Midwest, the son of Syrian immigrants. He said he felt like he could more of a Muslim in this country than he could in any “so-called Muslim country”.
A majority of his talk focused on the “Islamist Establishment”: those who lead the Muslim community and think Muslims should collectivize under one idea. He stressed that the main way to take down the Islamist Establishment (which he calls the “cancer of Islam”) is to advocate for the separation of mosque and state. He offered three things that need to end in order to achieve this: the concept of the ummah as the state, the Islamic statecraft, and the blasphemy and apostasy laws.
In terms of foreign policy, he called the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) today’s “neo-caliphate” and said it is time for the U.S. to take the “ideological offensive” against them. The Middle East, he argued, does not have to be a binary choice between theocracy and dictatorship, but to move forward, Muslims need to “stand up and fight [their] own fight and lead [their] own reform.”
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