Didn’t you just know that from the moment President Obama announced he’d be visiting a mosque to promote more tolerance, that Fox News would pull out its best dog whistles and exploit the visit to whip up more Islamophobia and intolerance?
In his introduction, host Bill Hemmer said, “Critics taking issue with the choice of this mosque, accusing it of having extremist ties because of a former imam who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Right, a former imam. As it turns out, that former imam left the mosque in 2003, according to Fox News, though nobody mentioned that here. Nor did anybody seem to care who the current imam is.
Maybe that’s because Jasser was too busy suggesting President Obama is a radical, Muslim-terrorism enabler and Hemmer was too busy eating it up.
JASSER: Why didn’t he visit a Sikh temple, why didn’t he visit a synagogue? I mean, he’s simply using the — and I say “using” because many of us American Muslims, especially those of us in the Muslim reform movement, are asking, is this the bigotry of low expectations? Why visit a mosque that’s heaped in Salafism, heaped in an ideology that is really incompatible with western identity? They have gender apartheid in the mosque. They’ve given a sermon just a couple of years ago from Yaseen Shaikh who called homosexuals “deviants” and have a mental disorder. This is not—even if you take the president’s liberal values, he’s basically using Muslims as a prop who disagree with his own liberal values. It’s bizarre.
By the way, President Obama visited a synagogue in May. But Hemmer did not point that out. Instead, he said, “So, it’s interesting. You question his judgment.” He helped validate Jasser’s message by asking where Jasser would recommend Obama go, what place he could hold up as “moderates” who “do not sympathize” with radicals.
Not too many, Jasser now had the opportunity to say. “Certainly, most of the mosques in America are driven by the North American Islamic Trust, connected to the Muslim Brotherhood network,” he began. “But there are many that don’t practice gender apartheid, there are many that are heaped in more modern interpretations, where you have a mixture of men and women. So they exist. Are they a majority? No.”
Funny, I never hear anyone on Fox complaining about the gender “apartheid” of Orthodox Judaism.
Jasser continued by suggesting that Obama had deliberately chosen this mosque that Jasser kept hinting – without offering any kind of real evidence - was some kind of Islamic terrorism incubator.
JASSER: Our Muslim reform movement could have helped him [Obama] find those if he was interested in actually leading us into reform that would help de-radicalize but unfortunately, he talks about counter-radicalism, he talks about having a forum but the reality is, just like in foreign policy, when we cozy up to Saudi Arabia and Iran, domestically, he’s cozying up to those who actually may preach against violence but they’re preaching ideology that’s on a conveyor belt towards radicalism which is Islamist.
This was nothing less than a blatant attempt to stir up bigoted hate against Obama. For one thing, foreign policy had nothing to do with his visit to an American mosque. That is, unless you want to blow the “secret Muslim” dog whistle. For another, Jasser’s suggestion that radical Muslims are the majority of American Muslims is false and covers up the far greater danger of right-wing extremism. Also, if you want to talk about preaching radical ideology, that looks a lot like what Fox was doing here.
Jasser went on to hint that Obama is promoting terrorism.
JASSER: The San Bernardino shooting was done by Muslims that went to a similar type of mosque and then we say, “Oh, my God, how did they become violent?” Well, he’s feeding into saying that these Muslims represent us and by gosh, they do not represent Muslims that are reformists.
Instead of challenging Jasser's inflammatory rhetoric, Hemmer closed by saying, “We’ll see what comes of this.”
Watch the hate mongering below, from the February 3 America’s Newsroom.
Correction: this post originally suggested that Jasser is a Fox News contributor. He is not.
BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published September 17, 2001
WASHINGTON (AP) President Bush visited a mosque and bought coffee for a cafeteria full of aides yesterday as he appealed to Americans to get back to everyday business and not turn against their Muslim neighbors.