GOP’s Favorite Muslim Activist Under Fire From Muslim Groups

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser testifies at one of Rep. Peter King's hearings on Muslim radicalization. Pete Marovich/ZUMA Press

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Sixty-four American Muslim groups have signed a letter criticizing the appointment of American Islamic Forum for Democracy founder Dr. Zuhdi Jasser—whose conservative leanings have made him a favorite of Republican Congressmen, conservative philanthropists and National Review columnists—to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The letter reads:

The USCIRF promotes the freedom of religion and belief, and it seeks to combat religious extremism, intolerance, and repression throughout the world. In contrast with these laudable goals, Dr. Jasser believes, ‘. . .operationally, Islam is not peaceful.’ His consistent support for measures that threaten and diminish religious freedoms within the United States demonstrates his deplorable lack of understanding of and commitment to religious freedom and undermines the USCIRF’s express purpose.

Jasser himself identifies as a devout Muslim who is leading a necessary internal reformation of Islam. His Muslim critics see his behavior—opposing the Islamic community center near Ground Zero, testifying in support of Rep. Peter King’s domestic radicalization hearings focused on Muslims, supporting the NYPD’s surveillance of local Muslim communities, associating with anti-Muslim figures like Frank Gaffney and, as Mother Jones recently reported, taking money from right-wing sources—as legitimizing anti-Muslim narratives. Furthermore, much of Jasser’s politics—he refers to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria,” much as the way a right-wing Israel hawk would—are substantially to the right of the average American Muslim. That, after all, is why Republicans like him. 

The Commission is tasked with studying religious freedom in foreign countries and offering “policy recommendations” to Congress and the president. Nevertheless, the commission itself has something of a controversial history. The Washington Post reported last year that the commission has “long been accused of focusing too much on the persecution of Christians and not enough on smaller religious groups,” and two years ago was sued for discrimination by one of its Muslim policy analysts. Still, the appointment elevates Jasser to an official position with the US government, and perhaps Republicans are grooming him for even bigger things.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate