Opinion

Herman Cain’s Muslim comments are misguided

Photo of Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser
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      Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser

      M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. is the President and Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). A devout Muslim, Dr. Jasser founded AIFD in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States as an effort to provide an American Muslim voice advocating for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, and the separation of mosque and state. He is leading the fight to shake the hold that the Muslim Brotherhood and their Network of American Islamist organizations and Mosques have on organized Islam in America.

      A former Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, Dr. Jasser served 11 years as a medical officer. His tours of duty included Medical Department Head aboard the U.S.S. El Paso which deployed to Somalia during Operation Restore Hope; Chief Resident at Bethesda Naval Hospital; and Staff Internist for the Office of the Attending Physician to the United States Congress. He is a recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal.

      Dr. Jasser is a nationally recognized expert in the contest of ideas against political Islam and American Islamist organizations. He has spoken at hundreds of national and international events including colleges and universities, places of worship, government venues and many other public functions. On October 1, 2009, Dr. Jasser briefed members of Congress on the threat of Political Islam. He regularly briefs members of the House and Senate congressional anti-terror caucuses. In 2007 and 2008, Dr. Jasser lectured on Islam to deploying officers at the Joint Forces staff college. In 2007, Dr. Jasser was part of a select group that briefed Admiral Mike Mullen on the “Contest of Ideas with the Muslim World.” 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.

      Dr. Jasser is one of the moderate, anti-Islamist Muslims featured in the controversial PBS film, Islam v Islamists produced by ABG Films, Inc. in 2007. This film was initially banned from distribution on PBS stations as originally intended in the Crossroads program, but was then aired in a limited distribution to some affiliates. Dr. Jasser was also recently featured in The Third Jihad, produced by PublicScope Films. Dr. Jasser narrates this documentary about the threat of radical Islamism to the West.

      Dr. Jasser is a respected physician currently in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona specializing in internal medicine and nuclear cardiology. He is the recent Past-President of the Arizona Medical Association.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain continues to display a gross misunderstanding of the ideological threat posed to our nation by Islamists. I am very disappointed that any candidate for president of the United States would say, especially after being given multiple opportunities for clarification, that he would “be uncomfortable hiring a Muslim in his administration.” One cannot help but question how those comments square with his understanding of the very United States Constitution that he seeks to protect. He somehow wants me, as an American Muslim, to be comforted by his explanation that he would still appoint Muslims but they would first have to meet some sort of constitutional litmus test. This is a line of thinking that directly conflicts with the constitutional prohibition that states, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Article 6, Section 3).

Make no mistake, the threat posed by radical Islam — domestically and internationally — has never been greater. As an American Muslim who has dedicated my life to defending the Constitution and founded an American Muslim organization to do just that against the threat of Islamism, I know that for our political leaders and policymakers to be visibly confused about the strategy necessary to counter the insidious ideology of Islamism (political Islam) is a major liability to our nation’s security. We surrender our strongest messaging as leaders of the free world if we approach Muslims as guilty of being Islamists until proven otherwise.

If Mr. Cain had simply said he would not hire an Islamist into his administration, just as our government was justifiably wary of hiring Communists during the Cold War, then that would have been perfectly understandable and appropriate from a national security perspective. But all Muslims are not Islamists and comments like Mr. Cain’s that intimate that our nation will consider my co-religionists to all be Islamists do not help the fight against Islamism. At Chairman Peter King’s Homeland Security Committee’s hearings on the “Extent of Radicalization in American Muslim Communities,” I testified that Islamist terrorism is only a symptom of a greater underlying threat from the Islamist ideology. But the threat emanates from a theo-political ideology, not the faith of Islam. The battle that needs to be waged is within the “House of Islam,” not against it. We need leaders who understand the complexities of this conflict and have the courage to define and take sides on the issue. How would a president who is perceived as distrusting Muslims from the get-go ever be able to functionally engage with the courageous Muslim reformers who are taking on political Islam and its power structure from a position of love for our nation and our faith?

If Mr. Cain and others in government and media need help telling the difference between Muslims who practice the faith of Islam (those who are part of the solution) and Muslims who are Islamists (those who are part of the problem), there are many Muslims who are more than willing to help him and others with that education. Our American Islamic Leadership Coalition was formed to begin that necessary public process.

The day we view all Muslims as the problem is the day we surrender the foundational freedoms that my family and most Muslim families came to the United States to enjoy. Islamists will win the war of ideas and we will lose if Muslims no longer see the U.S. as the “shining city on a hill.”

  • Alyn

    With all due respect to Dr. Jasser who I believe is basicly an honorable person, I think he is indulging  in wishful thinking with respect to Islam.
    The violence and racism promoted in the Quran  makes it a very poor candidate for reform.
    To reform Islam would require creating a whole new religion. And the fact that most muslims may be non violent is really irrelevant. Most Nazi supporters did not run concentration camps, most communist supporters were not involved in trying to take over  Europe, but it did not make then any less of a threat just because they were not active in the extreme.
    So long as people who call themselves muslim support what is in their book, they are part of the problem.

  • Rumpus6

    Unfortunately, this falls into the puzzle category of “always tells the truth/always lies.” Therefore some additional investigation seems prudent given the Koran’s admonishment that to lie to the infidel in order to advance the cause is perfectly legitimate. To ignore this reality in order to avoid offense seems patently ignorant.

  • Callie369

    RAYCHEETAH:
    RAYCHEETAH

    I was quite surprised and very disappointed to read of Mr. Cain’s declaration that he would require ‘loyalty proof’ from Muslims to serve in his administration

    The No Religious Test Clause of the United States Constitution is found in Article VI, paragraph 3………….

    To be absolutly correct, MUSLIM isn’t a religion, ISLAM is the religion.

  • Callie369

    The problem Mr. Jasser, is that we don’t know who the good muslims might be because they find it quite acceptable to lie. Given the right circumstances, I’m not sure there would BE a good muslim!

    The U.S. should quit accepting people from muslim contries. That would solve PART of the problem.

  • Todd Dunning

    Dr. Jasser, Americans never had a tradition of hating Muslims as you know. I have several good Muslim friends and am glad they are Americans.

    And when I hang out with my Persian-American friends I find it impossible to understand that people of the same culture could what they do to other human beings every day.

    In the few political discussions we’ve had there have been noticeable themes:

    1. That muslims are picked on by this or that culture
    2. That there are challenges to move Islam forward and modernize
    3. No mention of violence or concerns of violence

    This is contrast with the daily observations I’ve had since 9/11, of a culture/religion suddenly bent on the most grotesque, bloodthirsty and medieval attacks seemingly on any innocent who crosses their path. Regardless of sect.

    Every day we can read of at least one, if not multiple horrific bloodbaths committed in the name of Islam. I doubt that in my lifetime other religions could possibly come close to holding a candle to what Islamists have done to human beings in the last decade.

    Not the Shinto, the Amish or the Greek Orthodox. Islam.

    I view you like my Persian friends – as possibly oblivious, in denial, or most likely of all – too terrified and horrified to speak out.

    Were I a Muslim American, I too would find it safer to speak out about alleged prejudice among my fellow Americans, than to speak out against Islamic violence. You have my understanding.

  • captaingrumpy

    So called “moderate” Muslims are not worth a ferrets hole unless they speak against the atrocities that the radical sect do. Why would you listen to a man who pretends all is rosy when others are getting carved up. What a drip.

  • Tex Expatriate

    I disagree, Dr. Jasser. I don’t appreciate your whining, either. You belong to an evil, tribal, and virulent religion which has as its aim ruling the earth. Until you “milder” adherents of this vile religion reform it, you’ll get no respect from me. I wouldn’t hire a Muslim either. Since there’s no way to distinguish between you and the terrorists, and since you don’t do anything to make the destinction clear between you and them(like separate from the religion), I’d happily escort you out of America.

  • firejack007

    Well, sorry but do something other than destroy or mess things up like Muslims have been doing for centuries. All they’ve ever done is attack and claim other land as their own since the days of Spartans. Get on the right side of the fight instead of always being the problem. Iraq just now starting a little of that. (Iraqi’s Elite Special Forces) If you find someone like that then I would have them on my team.