In December 2020, Imane Sadrati, then-wife of Muslim leader Hassan Shibly, created a GoFundMe page claiming Shibly had emotionally and physically abused her. The accusations were taken seriously, so much so that Shibly was forced to resign from his long-held position as Executive Director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Recently, Shibly declared that, in the midst of their divorce mediation, Sadrati apologized to him, but he did not elaborate. After all that has been said by Sadrati and others, could Sadrati have possibly relinquished her victim status, or is this just a ploy from Shibly to clear his bad name?
The accusations made by Sadrati were severe. As stated by Sadrati on her then-GoFundMe page, “[W]hen I was 9 months pregnant with my first born, my marriage became volatile and abusive. What I assumed was ‘just a disagreement’ turned into screams. What would have been annoying remarks suddenly became violent blows… My husband hurt me mentally, emotionally and physically behind closed doors and openly in front of my children… I need your support to put an end to domestic violence in my home!”
Apart from the alleged abuse, Shibly has a significant history of Muslim extremism. As mentioned, he was a part of CAIR, a group with foundational and financial ties to Hamas. Shibly has described Hezbollah as “basically a resistance movement” and “absolutely not a terrorist organization.” Only recently, in May 2021, Shibly posted a viciously anti-Semitic video on Instagram, telling Israeli Jews to “go back to Europe.” And in October 2021, he spoke at a rally calling for female al-Qaeda operative Aafia Siddiqui to be freed from prison.
At the time of his resignation, Shibly was arguably the most prominent representative of CAIR. His efforts to regain the American citizenship of ISIS bride Hoda Muthana and his work in trying to convince the courts about what he considered to be the unconstitutionality of the federal ‘terrorism watch list’ – a list that he, himself, spent years on – brought Shibly much exposure in the media and made him a key draw at CAIR fundraisers around the US. And not only did he lose his job, but Shibly claims that, for a while, he had also lost his house, car and kids.
This past August, Shibly, along with popular Muslim lecturer Yasir Qadhi, appeared on ‘Sultans & Sneakers,’ a Chicago-based podcast hosted by Mahin Islam. On the show, Shibly brought up his and Sadrati’s divorce, said he was the wronged party, and mentioned a supposed apology made by Sadrati. He stated, “I went through a very difficult situation, in terms of my divorce… People who know what happened and the injustice that was done to me, they would know that amicable terms was impossible, unless Allah opens her heart and allows me to forgive as well.”
He continued, “I wasn’t expecting this, but yesterday, we were in the mediation, and her lawyers and my lawyers were all in a separate room, and the mediator is like, ‘This isn’t getting anywhere with the lawyers, it’s going to be an impasse,’ so she says, ‘Why don’t you two just talk to each other…’ so we talked to each other for the first time in two years and, Subhanallah, she even got to the point of apologizing for what happened…”
Shibly never said what specifically Sadrati apologized for. No details. Zero explanation. Without further information someone could wind up with the impression that she had apologized for having lied about the abuse, what Shibly had accused her of doing (“false claims,” “false allegations”), following the release of her GoFundMe page.
However, it was not just the GoFundMe page that was driving the abuse narrative. If it were, Shibly’s words would seem more plausible. Indeed, on a 911 call to police, which occurred days prior to the publishing of the GoFundMe page, Sadrati accused Shibly of threatening to kill her and confided that he had been “beating” her “for 12 years.” According to court documents, during one purported incident, Shibly “twisted Sadrati’s arm, slapped her and shoved her against a wall.”
And it was not only Sadrati making abuse allegations against Shibly. Laila Abdelaziz, CAIR-Florida’s former Legislative & Government Affairs Director, told NPR, in a scathing April 2021 piece against Shibly, that she resigned, in part, due to Shibly’s sexual harassment of her. She had served under him for nearly two years.
According to NPR, Shibly’s CAIR departure “emboldened a slew of women to come forward with their own accusations of emotional abuse and sexual misconduct by him…” The news group said it had “interviewed a half-dozen Shibly accusers and reviewed internal CAIR documents, social media posts and email exchanges” that “portray Shibly as a man who used his position to seduce women and bully critics with impunity.” One woman, who said she engaged in a “secret marriage” with Shibly behind his wife’s back, claimed Shibly cut her hair off for posting a photo of herself online without a headscarf and told her she was forbidden to refuse sex from him.
Another former CAIR colleague of Shibly’s, Samantha Bowden, who held the position of CAIR-Florida Communications Director, ‘loudly’ posted the following on her Facebook page: “HASSAN SHIBLY IS A PERVERT, ABUSER, AND MANIPULATOR, AND I STAND AS A WITNESS TO ALL OF THIS BEHAVIOR… HE’S A MONSTER & NEEDS TO BE ISOLATED FROM PUBLIC ACCESS TO PEOPLE.”
In January 2021, Facing Abuse in Community Environments (FACE), a Muslim advocacy organization for abused women, launched a “formal investigation” of Shibly. The group, which was founded and is headed by a former CAIR official, itself – Alia Salem – said it had “received multiple allegations against” Shibly.
All of this would suggest that Imane Sadrati’s claims about Hassan Shibly were credible and Shibly’s declaration that she apologized to him, without providing necessary context for such a statement, was a deceptive stunt, on Shibly’s part, to clear his sullied reputation. This is further the case, when considering the radical Islamic background of the group he built his name on, CAIR, and his own fanatical behavior within and outside CAIR.
An attempt by this author to contact Imane Sadrati for this report was unsuccessful.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.