ICNA asks its convention goers for their skin color preference.
Tamim Chowdhury, the former National Executive Director of the radical Muslim group Emerge USA, left his organization this past March, but he hasn’t wasted any time leveling accusations at another extremist group he worked alongside with Emerge, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). His claim is that ICNA is spreading racism. Given ICNA’s own radical and bigoted associations, the charge appears very plausible.
ICNA is the American affiliate of South Asian Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). JI’s militant wing, Hizbul Mujahideen, owned the Pakistani compound where Osama bin Laden was killed. ICNA, itself, has been linked to terrorist financing and has used the web to promote different terrorist groups, including Hamas, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Taliban. ICNA conducts annual functions along with the Muslim American Society (MAS), which, in November 2014, was designated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government a terrorist organization.
The 41st ICNA-MAS Convention took place in Baltimore, Maryland, this past May 28th through the 30th. During the convention, a controversy arose which garnered a written apology from ICNA’s National President Naeem Baig. One of the sessions from the event dealt with helping convention goers find potential mates. On the questionnaire for the session, one was asked to provide his/her skin color preference. The racial component to this session drew a number of complaints.
Baig’s apology reads as follows: “It has come to our attention that one of the questions of the matrimonial session questionnaire was about ‘skin complexion preference.’ This is not at all a reflection of ICNA’s values and principles. We believe in the guidance of the Quran from Allah SWT that we have all been created from a male and female and been made into nations and tribes for the purpose of knowing one another and that the best among us are those who are pious and righteous. We ask you for your forgiveness and we will make sure that this mistake will never happen again.”
Baig’s words were little consolation to one prominent Muslim leader, the former National Executive Director of Emerge USA, Tamim Chowdhury.
Emerge USA is a radical Muslim group which tries to mask its sinister intentions by claiming to be a political advocacy organization. The main individual behind Emerge is Khurrum Wahid, a South Florida attorney who has built his name on representing high profile terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda and financiers of the Taliban. The group holds events at mosques tied to terrorism, including Tampa’s al-Qassam Mosque, which was founded by Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami al-Arian, and Pembroke Pines’ Darul Uloom, which has served a number of al-Qaeda operatives and which is headed by an anti-gay imam, Maulana Shafayat Mohamed.
Chowdhury stepped down from his position in Emerge in March. However, his words still carry weight in the Islamist community.
About Baig’s statement, Chowdhury wrote, “For the record, I felt ICNA’s apology was weak and avoided taking full responsibility. Admit to how you allowed racism to enter into your institution and what you plan to do about it. Anyone can quote scripture.”
He continues, “The lack of transparency tells me that the culture of whatever prompted this incident is alive and well… The letter was a pacifier – it doesn’t tell me that they care to reprimand or correct anyone/anything…”
Chowdhury is clearly saying that there is a racist culture within ICNA. And he is certainly familiar with the group, as he has had involvement with ICNA.
In August 2015, Chowdhury, as Executive Director of Emerge, partnered at a ‘Back to School Giveaway’ headlined by ICNA Relief, ICNA’s main charitable apparatus.
In August 2006, ICNA Relief was the top donor and partner to Pakistani charity Al Khidmat Foundation (AKF), at the same time AKF took a delegation to Damascus, Syria to hand deliver nearly $100,000 to Hamas global leader Khaled Mashal at his residence. Mashal thanked the group and said Hamas would continue to wage “jihad” (war) on the “Zionist yoke” (Israel). ICNA Relief continues to work directly with AKF overseas, and the current President of AKF is former ICNA Secretary General Abdus Shakoor.
Leading the ‘Back to School’ event with Chowdhury and featured in a video for the event with Chowdhury was the Secretary of both ICNA Florida and ICNA Relief Florida, Abdul Rauf Khan.
Khan is a prime example of ICNA racism, as he promotes extreme bigotry, himself. Khan has used his Facebook page to post videos dedicated to Nation of Islam leader and anti-Jewish bigot Louis Farrakhan and Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood. He has been photographed wearing Muslim Brotherhood garb, himself. Khan also posted a link on his Facebook site to an anti-Semitic video labeling comedian talk show host Bill Maher, “Zionist Jew Bill Maher.”
At least one of this year’s ICNA-MAS conference speakers, Islamic lecturer Yasir Qadhi, as well, had a bout with bigotry. In 2001, during one of his Islamic tafsirs (explanations), Qadhi delivered a viciously anti-Semitic rant. He stated, “As for 80 to 90 percent of the Jews in our times, they are Ashkenazis, i.e. Khazars, i.e. Russians… Look at them – white, crooked nose, blonde hairs… These are not a Semitic people… They don’t look like Semites, and they are not Semites.” Qadhi then told his audience to read more about it in a book called Hoax of the Holocaust. He called it “a very good book.” Qadhi later claimed he apologized for the comments.
Tamim Chowdhury wants ICNA to end its culture of hate, which he says is “alive and well.” Given that racism and bigotry is rampant in Islamist circles, not surprisingly this trend may not abate anytime soon. Expunging this hatred from such groups would essentially eliminate their reason to be.
The only real way to assure an end to the hate coming from ICNA and the like is to shut the groups down in their entirety.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.