Hamas-Linked Group CAIR Shuts Down Film on University of Michigan Campus; Calls Documentary on Abuse of Muslim Women ‘Islamophobic’ (VIDEO)
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, is a nationally recognized non-profit whose charter calls for it to stand up against anti-Muslim discrimination. But after blocking public college students from screening a documentary featuring Muslim women and doctors speaking about women’s rights in the Muslim world, attention has been drawn to CAIR’s history of suspect allegiences.
In an interview with The Algemeiner, Brooke Goldstein, a New York-based human rights lawyer who heads the Lawfare Project condemned the group.
Goldstein has appeared on Fox News twice in the past week as the network’s producers tried to find answers to questions from viewers who couldn’t understand why a “Muslim rights” group worked so hard to ban the otherwise well-received documentary, ‘Honor Diaries,’ from being shown at the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus.
The movie, which featured Muslim female doctor Qanta Ahmed, focused on the rights of woman, and how those rights are being abrogated in the Muslim World through female genital mutilation, or FGM, forcing girls to become child brides and through the many deaths from honor killings.
In terms of numbers, the documentary said 125 million girls have been victims of FGM, 60 million girls under the age of 18 have been forced into marriages, usually, with much older men, and at least 5,000 women have died in “honor killings,” after being accused by men of infidelity or other mortal sins. The documentary profiles dozens of those women, Muslim academics and doctors, providing a very accurate portrait of how women in the Muslim world are suffering.
Goldstein said the move to block the movie being shown was potentially in violation of the students’ First Amendment Constitutional rights to free speech.
Although the full details of the situation have yet to emerge, “in a government funded university, if the school is forcing these students to not show a movie, or silencing them from exercising their rights, that could be unlawful,” Goldstein said.
“What CAIR is doing, and have done so, time and time, again, is to stifle and punish anyone who exercises their constitutional right to free speech on issues of national security and public concerns.”
“They do so by crying Islamophobia,” she said. But Goldstein said it was more accurate to describe their approach as actually being anti-Muslim.
“How could they be against a film that advocates for protection of human rights of Muslim women?” Goldstein asks.”Instead of focusing on an issue that is important to millions of Muslim woman, what CAIR is doing is a vilification campaign against the movie and its producers.”
The film was produced by the Clarion Project, which is largely funded by Jews, but, Goldstein pointed out that it has Muslim board members and benefits from the input of many respected academics. “The film is about Muslim women suffering in the Muslim world, it has nothing to do with Jews.”
The Jewish angle came to the fore as Fox News attempted to get a statement from CAIR. Rather than answering the television network directly, the group put forward a Muslim blogger, who then went on a screed about how the “Jewish” production company’s involvement negated whatever was in the film.
For more details on CAIR, Goldstein pointed to the Discover the Networks website, a project of Front Page Magazine, which has amassed a tremendous amount of information about the legal travails of the group.
CAIR formally describes itself as a “non-profit, grassroots membership organization … established to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America,” to protect Muslims from hate crimes and discrimination, and to present “an Islamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public.”
However, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which actually legally changed its name last year to the more innocuous Washington Trust Foundation, Inc., has a long history of ties to Hamas, recognized internationally as a terrorist group, according to Discover the Networks.
CAIR’s founders had intimate ties with Hamas, and according to U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick (R – North Carolina), co-founder of the House Anti-Terrorism Caucus: “Groups like CAIR have a proven record of senior officials being indicted and either imprisoned or deported from the United States.”
CAIR was co-founded in 1994 by Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad, both of whom had close ties to the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which was established by senior Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook and functioned as Hamas’ public relations and recruitment arm in the United States, Discover the Networks said.
“Awad and Ahmad previously had served, respectively, as IAP’s Public Relations Director and President. Thus it can be said that CAIR was an outgrowth of IAP,” the website said.
In 1994, CAIR opened its headquarters in Washington, DC, with the help of a $5,000 donation from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, HLF, a self-described charity founded by Marzook. In May 1996, CAIR coordinated a press conference to protest the decision of the U.S. government to extradite Marzook for his connection to terrorist acts performed by Hamas. The group said the extradition was “anti-Islamic” and “anti-American.” When HLF was closed by the U.S. government in December 2001 for collecting money “to support the Hamas terror organization,” CAIR decried it as “unjust” and “disturbing.”
In terms of funding, Discover the Networks noted how some of CAIR’s largest, anonymous donors were Middle Eastern countries and other government funded organizations.”
According to the report, Among those that gave unreported donations to CAIR during one particular five-year period were: the government of Qatar (which gave $405,000 during those years); the Saudi-based Kingdom Holding Company ($199,980); the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, or UAE ($219,563); and such additional UAE-based entities as the National Bank of Fujairah ($100,000), the Red Crescent Society ($99,985), and Bin Hammodah Properties ($44,985).
As for foreign lobbying activity, the watchdog group said that as of September 2013, “CAIR had met and coordinated with foreign principals on at least 35 occasions and engaged in more than 100 political influence operations on behalf of foreign principals in the United States.”
Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz said, “CAIR should be considered a foreign-based subversive organization, comparable in the Islamist field to the Soviet-controlled Communist Party USA, and the Cuban-controlled front groups that infiltrated ‘Latin American solidarity’ organizations in the U.S. during the 1980s. It has organized numerous community branches and has had immense success in gaining position as an ‘official’ representative of Islam in the U.S.”
Meanwhile, its directors were continually running afoul of U.S. law.
In September 2003, CAIR’s former Community Affairs Director, Bassem Khafagi, pled guilty to three federal counts of bank and visa fraud and agreed to be deported to Egypt. Federal investigators said that a group Khafagi founded, the Islamic Assembly of North America, funneled money to activities supporting terrorism and had published material advocating suicide attacks against the United States. Khafagi’s illegal activities took place while he was employed by CAIR.
In July 2004, Ghassan Elashi, a founding board member of CAIR’s Texas chapter, was convicted along with his four brothers of having illegally shipped computers from their Dallas-area business, InfoCom Corporation, to Libya and Syria, two designated state sponsors of terrorism. He was also was charged with having provided $12.4 million to Hamas while he was running HLF.
In April 2005, Elashi and two of his brothers were convicted of knowingly doing business with Hamas operative Marzook, who was Elashi’s brother-in-law. Elashi’s illegal activities also took place while he was employed by CAIR, whose Dallas-Fort Worth chapter didn’t address the content of the charges, but condemned his indictment as “a war on Islam and Muslims.”
CAIR co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Omar Ahmad was also named, in the same 2007 Holy Land Foundation trial, as an unindicted co-conspirator with HLF. Prosecutors described Ahmad as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood‘s “Palestine Committee” in America, according to information compiled by Discover the Networks.
Before CAIR returned to the spotlight in March with its pressure on University of Michigan students, it had last been in the news in October 2013, when its Philadelphia office hired a controversial Jewish filmaker, Jacob Bender, as its new executive director.
Goldstein said she was not surprised when it was revealed that the Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation, of Saudi Arabia, was the top donor to Bender’s anti-Israel documentary, ‘Out of Cordoba’. Another large donor of the film was the International Institute of Islamic Thought, as well as Alavi Foundation, an Iranian group that had its Manhattan office tower seized by the U.S. government last September, in what prosecutors described as the “country’s largest-ever terrorism-related forfeiture.” The government argued that the foundation was engaged in money laundering for the government of Iran, which was profiting from the U.S. asset via offshore holding companies.
“The legal cases against CAIR have been very strong,” Goldstein said. “It’s not because of ‘Islamophobia,’ but their actual deeds — acting as PR office for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, taking tremendous sums from foreign governments, and its executives breaking specific laws — has shown the group’s true face.”
Goldstein is now hoping that the increased scrutiny on the Council on American-Islamic Relations, aka the Washington Trust Foundation, Inc., will alert more Americans to the group’s actions which apparently show it to be harming the interests of Muslim women, while insisting it speaks on behalf of the human rights of Muslims.
Watch Brooke Goldstein on Fox News below: