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Jewish World Review
July 24, 2007
/ 9 Menachem-Av, 5766
We routinely speak of failed governments and failed societies overseas. So what are we doing about failed Muslim communities here?
Youssef M. Ibrahim
Among the key judgments of the recently released National Intelligence Estimate was a conclusion that "a growing number of radical, self-generating cells in Western countries indicate that the radical and violent segment of the West's Muslim population is expanding, including in the United States."
The report stressed that the sort of Islam taking root in Muslim communities of America and Europe is a "radical" and "especially Salafi" type of Islam.
"Salafi" is a synonym for Saudi or Wahhabist Islam, the extremely unforgiving religious ideology spread for the last 40 years with unique determination by the religious wings of the Saudi royal government, using billions of the country's oil dollars and relying on Western acquiescence.
This raises a troubling question: If you know the carrier Saudi Arabia and the disease jihadist Islam spread with Saudi funding through mosques staffed with Wahhabist imams in America and Europe why blithely allow it to continue?
Yet continue it surely does. Like clockwork, every month, Saudi dollars flow in to build and staff more mosques, from one end of Europe to the other and in every American city. Because Muslim communities in America do not advertise having them, it is difficult to get precise statistics, but Saudi-trained imams originally from Egypt or Pakistan are streaming into America using visas that identify them as "religious guides."
Recently, I stumbled up to a minivan filled with six such new arrivals in front of the Beacon Theater on 75th Street all of whom were staring at women in short skirts like children let loose in a candy shop. I spoke to them and discovered that they had just arrived from Al Azhar University School of Theology in Cairo, for years now largely a Saudi-controlled Wahhabist seminary, and they were headed to multiple mosques after being sponsored by several Muslim communities in New Jersey and New York.
They spoke no English but, as one told me, there was no need for that. "We preach in Arabic," to Arabs, he said.
It is not insignificant that President Sarkozy of France, whose 60 million citizens include some 5 million Muslims, has decreed that the only imams now permitted to staff French mosques must have been trained in France and be fluent in French.
Over the past year, France has quietly suspended scores of imams who do not meet these criteria. Many are being sent back home to Morocco or Egypt.
America should get a National Intelligence Estimate that tells us how many of the imams coming into this country have an "elemental knowledge" of America's Constitution, its Bill of Rights, and its essential values, such as freedom of speech and the rights of women.
American troops are trying to root out Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan's tribal areas and in Baghdad, but the American government ignores that Al Qaeda is also a state of mind that could just as easily gain traction among American Muslims inside the Saudi-built and -staffed mosques in our cities and suburbs.
The question isn't when the chickens are coming home to roost: They already have, in the multiple failed attempts at terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001, the most recent a group of Albanian-American Muslims in New Jersey plotting to attack Fort Dix who met, well, in a mosque. Any new National Intelligence Estimate needs to go into who is funding our mosques, who is staffing them, and who is supplying them with bigoted Arabic or Urdu radical Islamic literature.
A former director of the CIA, James Woolsey, recently wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal that showed how many of the books along with the hate speech that end up in these mosques are distributed by Saudi pseudo-cultural and Islamic centers in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere around the nation.
In one of his typically misguided moves, President Bush has given legitimacy to such places, going so far as to visit a Saudi Islamic Center in Washington, where he delivered a speech as part of his socalled "Muslim Initiative" last month. In full view of the world's television cameras, a Saudi preacher in full jihadist uniform untrimmed beard, cutoff robes, and sandals greeted the president to the ululations of jihadists everywhere.
Saudi Islam is not what we want to promote in America. There are many Muslim modernists in America to whom the president could have gone.
We routinely speak of failed governments and failed societies overseas. So what are we doing about "failed" Muslim communities here? The best housekeeping starts at home.
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Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former New York Times Middle East Correspondent and Wall Street Journal Energy Editor for 25 years, is a freelance writer based in New York City and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and a contributing editor of the NY Sun.
© 2007, Youssef M. Ibrahim