Muslims discovered the Americas long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, the head of a D.C.-based jihad-linked Islamic lobbying group told a Saudi TV station Dec. 27.
“There are historical accounts according to which the Muslims preceded Columbus, who is said to have discovered the U.S.,” claimed Nihad Awad, the co-founder of the Council on American Islamic Relations.
“Some documents and accounts indicate that Muslim seafarers were the first to reach the U.S., [so] the bottom line is that Islam played a part in the establishment and development of the U.S.,” Awad told the Saudi interviewer, in an interview in a New York studio.
CAIR did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for an explanation of Awad’s comments, which were recorded by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Awad’s group bills itself as a “civil rights” group, but five of its former employees have been jailed or deported for terror offenses, and FBI officials refuse to meet Awad because of his ties to jihadi groups, such as Hamas.
Awad’s claim was made during an interview in which he argued that Muslims can settle in the U.S. without violating Islam’s myriad Sharia rules about religion, diet, speech, friendships, work and political loyalty.
“Islam flourishes in an atmosphere of freedom, and [it] spreads freedom, justice, and equality,” he claimed. “Every day I live as an American-Muslim citizen, I rediscover the firm bonds between the humane system that the U.S. created for its people, and the values advocated by Islam,” he claimed.
However, Islam’s Sharia laws curb religious freedom, speech, and political activism, and also subordinate non-Muslims and women to orthodox Muslim men. Sharia is enforced in Saudi Arabia, Iran, much of Afghanistan and increasingly in Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia and Libya, all of which were recently governed by secular laws.
Awad’s claim is part of a broader campaign by Islamist groups to encourage Muslims to settle in the United States and Europe. From 610 to 632, Islam’s founder, Mohammad, reputedly urged his followers to spread Islam by both conquest and emigration.
In the same TV interview, Awad told his viewers that he had talked with U.S. government officials about a convicted jihadi, Aafia Siddiqui, who is considered a heroine by ardent Islamists.
“I personally intervened in this case, without talking about it in the media,” he said. “I can reassure the brothers and sisters who called this show that I have personally dealt with this case on a high level in the U.S., and even in diplomatic circles,” he claimed.
Siddiqui is a Pakistan-born, U.S.-educated scientist who was arrested in Afghanistan in 2008, and then tried to shoot a U.S. guard. In 2010, she was sentenced to 86 years in jail for two counts of attempted murder.
Siddiqui is one of the relatively few female jihadis in jail. Many of the female terrorists have carried suicide bombs to targets, sometime under severe pressure from jihadis. During her trial in 2010, Siddiqui asked that Jewish lawyers and jurors be excluded.
“In the coming weeks, we will dedicate more attention to her. We will follow the case, and see what we can do,” Awad told the viewers.
Also, Awad told his interviewer that he and his Islamist allies had provided half of the United States’ public libraries with books showing their description of Islam.
“After 9/11, we saw great interest among the American public in becoming better acquainted with Islam by studying and reading about it,” he said. “Very few books on Islam were available in the public libraries …. [and] most of these books were misleading or anti-Islamic.”
“We decided to publish several books on Islam … [and] decided to send them free-of-charge to the American public libraries. … We managed to provide this collection, free-of-charge, to half of the [16,200 U.S.] libraries.”
Awad’s statement that Muslims discovered the Americas is one of many unsupported claims of Muslim accomplishment prior to the European capture of Egypt in 1798.
The claims say that Muslims were the first to fly and to invent the compass, as well as the first to develop technologies that were fundamental to computers, cameras and the Industrial Revolution.
In 2009, President Barack Obama repeated the claim that Muslims invented the compass in his “New Beginning” speech in Cairo, Egypt.
“It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed,” he claimed.
Many of these claims are also being touted in the United States by a traveling exhibit, titled “1001 Inventions: Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization.”
“Scholars of many faiths built on the ancient knowledge of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, and others, making breakthroughs that paved the way for the Renaissance,” says introductory text to the “1001 inventions” show.
In fact, individual Muslims developed many tools and ideas, but Islamic imams and Muslim rulers nearly always subordinated secular learning to religious orthodoxy.
For example, only in 1985 did Saudi Arabia’s chief cleric, Abdulaziz ibn Baz, withdraw his Islamic argument that the Sun orbited around the earth. He changed his view only after a Saudi prince was flown on a U.S. space shuttle.
In contrast, Christian popes and kings funded European scholars — including the famous astronomer Galileo Galilei — and universities for several hundred years, and eventually birthed the theory and practice of science.