Christian Leader to Speak at Infamous Islamist Conference
AMP’s conference last year featured at least 13 Islamist speakers. Reverend Donald Wagner, who is former leader of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU) and on the organizations’s advisory board member, joined them. It’s easy to see why the Islamists were so favorable towards him based on his evangelical group’s background.
EMEU was formed in opposition to Christian Zionism. It is a listed “friend” of the Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism, a website that has an article authored by Wagner that says Christian Zionism is based in a “prediction of a bloody Battle of Armageddon in the Middle East.”
In other words, in his view, pro-Israel Christians aren’t so different from former Iranian President Ahmadinejad. EMEU’s recommended reading list includes Norman Finkelstein’s The Holocaust Industry. Last November, EMEU held an anti-Israel "24-Hour Middle East Leadership Briefing" at the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College.
Wagner is again a confirmed speaker for AMP’s annual conference, to be held this year on November 28-30 at the Crowne Plaza O’Hare in Illinois. The conference theme is, “A Blessed Land A Noble Cause.” Apparently, the “noble cause” is that of Islamism.
More speakers will be added, but many Islamists from last year are returning. The headliner is Rashid Khalidi, who said in June 2002 that attacks on Israeli soldiers is “resistance.” His wife was an English editor for the PLO when it was considered a terrorist organization by the U.S.
AMP’s event also features another major interfaith ally: Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. The coalition includes AMP and over 70 members in good standing.
The coalition includes Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East; the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Israel-Palestine Network; the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries; United Methodist Women; United Methodists’ Holy Land Task Force; the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace and many others. It also has a “faith-based wing” called the Interfaith Boycott Coalition that joined the campaign against SodaStream because it’s located in an Israeli settlement.
Another speaker is Rafeeq Jaber, a co-founder of the Council on American Islamic-Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity) and regional director for the Muslim Legal Fund of America.
He also was the national president of the pro-Hamas Islamic Association for Palestine, a Brotherhood front, and was the president of the board of directors of the Mosque Foundation, an Illinois mosque with significant links to Hamas and the Brotherhood. Jaber’s bio states that he is a founder “of a post-9/11 Muslim Christian dialogue group.”
Sheikh Jamal Said, the Mosque Foundation Imam since 1981, is another speaker. Said is personally designated an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land trial and was named by federal prosecutors as a member of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee. In 2000, he urged attendees at a Brotherhood/Hamas-linked event to “pay for the family of a martyr.” In 2009, he said, “We need to raise our children to know the martyrs of Gaza.”
AMP chairman Hatem Bazian will address the audience. He is also one of the Islamist co-founders of Zaytuna College. He teaches students that U.S. policy is driven by an “Islamophobic production industry” created by the military-industrial complex to provoke wars on Muslims. In 2004, he called for an intifada in America to “change fundamentally the political dynamics here” modeled after the “uprising” against U.S. troops in Iraq.
The audience will hear from AMP board member Osama Abu Irshaid. He used to be an editor for the Islamic Association for Palestine, a pro-Hamas Muslim Brotherhood front. He believes Hamas’ firing of rockets into Israel is a form of “legitimate resistance.”
The bio of speaker Safaa Zarzour states he is from the Zakat Foundation and he is also a former Secretary-General of the Islamic Society of North America, a major U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity. He remains Program Chair of the ISNA Education Forum. Zarzour is also the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Brotherhood-linked Universal School and a Board Member of the ISNA-created Council of Islamic Schools of North America.
Like many other Islamists, his bio states he is “active in interfaith circles.” Specifically, he is on the Board of Advisors of the Bernadine Center at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He’s also involved in academia as a member of the Board of Advisors of the St. Xavier School of Education.
Returning this year is Sheikh Abdelfattah Morou, a self-identified Islamist that is one of the founders of the Al-Nahda Party in Tunisia, essentially the Muslim Brotherhood branch in that North African country. Like the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Nahda was elected into power and is now the subject of popular scorn. In Tunisia, Morou would probably be ridiculed. In Illinois at AMP’s conference, he is welcomed.
Sheikh Amin Al-Ali is the imam of the Islamic Community Center of Illinois. The mosque website’s Islamic library recommends a horde of texts by Islamists like Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna; Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi and Abul Ala Maududi, founder of Jamaat-e-Islami. Their preaching is specifically recommended for teaching on Islam in general, the Quran, Islamic law, the role of women in Islam, contemporary issues and the “Islamic Movement and Training.”
Another mosque leader at the AMP event will be Othman Atta of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. He opposed the designations of Hamas and Hezbollah as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. While he stands against attacks on Israeli “innocent civilians,” he says Palestinians have a right to “resist their occupiers.”
According to an FBI document from 2001, members of his mosque raised money for the Holy Land Foundation, which was later shut down for being a Hamas/Brotherhood front.
Of course, what would an Islamist conference be without a conspiratorial teaching about its critics being part of a bigoted Islamophobia Network? That’s where Max Blumenthal comes in.
This is the company that the leadership of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding keeps. This was covered last year, so Reverend Wagner cannot claim ignorance. He has made a conscious decision to ally with Islamists.
This article was sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Democracy.