“To illustrate the danger of the first approach of evil habit, the Arabs have a proverb, ‘Beware of the camel’s nose,’” wrote 19th century British author, Lydia Sigourney.
Why? Because once the camel gets its nose inside the tent, his body will soon follow. And once the camel gets inside the tent, the former occupants face a choice: leave the tent, or lie down in the camel’s bed.
The Republican primary victory of Imad Afif “David” Ramadan in the 87th legislative district in Virginia on Aug. 23 reminds me of this Arab proverb – not because Ramadan is the camel’s nose. If anything, he is the camel’s tail.
Imad Ramadan is just the latest of a series of Muslim protégés discovered and promoted by Republican activist Grover Norquist, the man whose vicious personal attacks on conservative Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma over ethanol subsidies earlier this year (Norquist favored the corporate hand-outs; Coburn opposed them) prompted Coburn’s chief of staff to respond that Norquist has become the “chief cleric of sharia tax law.”
What’s wrong with Muslims running for public office or assuming prominent positions in the conservative movement? Nothing at all – as long as they are clear about the primacy of the U.S. Constitution over Koranic (or Sharia) law.
Where does Imad Afif “David” Ramadan stand on this crucial question? The answer is – well, unclear. And that’s when the camel begins to spit.
In his campaign literature, Ramadan touts his respect for the U.S. Constitution, his love of America, and his “story” as an immigrant from Lebanon living the American dream.
But nowhere does he mention why he really left Lebanon, or why he came to America. Nor does he tell us anything about what it was like to grow up as a Shiite Muslim in Beirut in the midst of a sectarian civil war, when the Islamic Republic of Iran dominated the Shiite community through a large variety of proxy organizations, from the Hezbollah and Islamic Amal militias to local health clinics and schools.
In fact, while he mentions “God” several times in a just-released campaign video, he doesn’t mention Islam – not once. He doesn’t mention why he legally changed his name in 2002 from “Imad Afif” to “David,” nor why he signed an online petition in 2008 demanding the right to vote as a Lebanese citizen in Lebanon’s elections, despite having become a naturalized American.
He says merely that his parents “gave everything they had” so he could leave a Lebanon at war and come to America to “get an education.” Since coming here, he says, he has prospered, and brought his father and four brothers to the U.S. as well. And that’s it.
In more than thirty years of experience in the Muslim world, I have seen many different flavors of Islam. I invited a dissident Iranian Shiite Muslim ayatollah to join the board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, because of his outspoken opposition to Islamic rule (Sharia) in his home country.
In the United States and in Europe, I have met and befriended countless exiles who fled Islamic fascism in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran. They all have one thing in common: their very vocal denunciation of Islamic rule. They were leaving something – something despotic – and they wanted everybody to know it. That’s what is missing from Imad Afif “David” Ramadan’s story.
AT CPAC this year, Grover Norquist told a George Soros publication that Islam “is completely consistent with the U.S. Constitution and a free and open society,” a statement that reveals either a profound lack of understanding of Islamic law, or a conscious effort at deception.
Like the Soros-funded study, “Fear, Inc.,” from the Center for America Progress, Grover labels anyone who disagrees with his views as “Islamophobic.” Republicans need to “knock that stuff down and just make it clear that there’s no place for that in the party of Reagan,” he insisted in the same interview.
Imad Afif “David” Ramadan has not said even that much about Sharia law, at least not in English or in public. So how do you identify an Islamist – that is, someone who believes in the Koranic precept that Islam must dominate the world through voluntary submission or by force – especially if he goes out of his way to appear non-aggressive?
The answer is actually pretty simple. You listen to see if he denounces Islamic dictatorship – the rule of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the rule of the Shiite clerics in Iran, the rule of Hamas in Gaza or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or the rule of the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia.
In answering a similar question about another Grover Norquist protégé, Suhail Khan, at CPAC earlier this year, David Horowitz recalled his own experience as a former leftist who had grown up as a red diaper baby.
“When an honest person has been a member of a destructive movement and leaves it, he will feel compelled to repudiate it publicly and to warn others of the dangers it poses. This is a sure test as to whether someone has left the Muslim Brotherhood or not,” Horowitz said.
Absent such a repudiation, one has to comb through Imad Ramadan’s past and behavior. And there, the camel starts kicking and snorting.
Just last year, Ramadan joined Suhail Khan and other Grover Norquist protégés in writing a letter to “Republican colleagues” in support of the Ground Zero mosque.
In the letter, they said they were “proud of our Arab American and Muslim American contributions to the Republican Party,” but were “deeply concerned by the rhetoric of some leading members of our party surrounding the construction of the Muslim Community Center in downtown Manhattan.”
They went on to urge the party to take “a leadership role -- just like President Bush did after 9-11 -- by making a clear distinction between Islam, one of the great three monotheistic faiths along with Judaism and Christianity, versus the terrorists who committed the atrocities on 9-11 and who are not only the true enemies of America but of Islam.”
(Of course, Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda have always claimed to represent the “real” Islam and cite immutable Koranic texts to justify their murderous acts, and very few Muslim leaders have ever dared to dispute these claims because the Koran is not subject to interpretation.)
The Ground Zero mosque letter was distributed by Grover’s Americans for Tax Reform to its email list of coalition partners, and was cited the same day it was released on a prominent blog hosted by the New York Times.
And yet, once conservative activists in Virginia brought up the subject at campaign events, Ramadan went into denial mode, going so far as to issue a “fact sheet” reminiscent of the scurrilous campaign propaganda of Barack Obama in 2008.
“Claim: David Ramadan is a proponent of the Mosque to be built on ground zero in New York City.
”FACT: False. David Ramadan is not a proponent and has never advocated the building of the Mosque in New York. “
There is a term for this type of obfuscation, a term that I first learned about from the dissident Shiite Ayatollah who taught me about Islam: taqqiyah. When speaking to the infidel, it is permitted for the good Muslim to lie.
(This fact sheet has conveniently disappeared from Ramadan’s campaign website and can be found here, posted by a supporter.)
Another curious fact that Imad Ramadan has tried to deny was his early marriage as a 24-year-old immigrant in the United States to the daughter of a Shiite general in the Lebanese intelligence service, Ghanda Abdul Rahman Zoghbi.
How do you get to marry the daughter of a Shiite general in the Lebanese intelligence service, which has long been dominated by Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah? Certainly not by being a secular Muslim - also known as an “apostate” by Muslim believers - who embraces the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution over Sharia law.
Kent Clizbe, a former CIA operations officer who has converted to Islam to marry a Muslim woman (as Norquist has done), came away troubled from his own encounter with Imad Ramadan in August.
“Mr. Ramadan is hiding something. I don’t know what it is. But he is unwilling to share very important details of his life. In my experience, those who practice [obfuscation] include: PC-Progressives, criminals, intelligence agents, little children who’ve done something wrong, or others who have something to hide,” Clizbe wrote.
This camel’s nose has been under the tent for some time, and you can see it by the dung he has left on the ground.
After declaring bankruptcy as a 24-year-old graduate student in 1994, shortly before his marriage to the daughter of a Lebanese intelligence officer, Ramadan disappears even from his own campaign biography for nearly seven years. During this time, as a bankrupt student, he claims to have attended no fewer than four graduate schools, in Switzerland, the UK, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.
“When Imad re-surfaced in 2001, the bankrupt Shia student now cultivated an image of ‘international businessman.’ He began lavishing funds on the Republican Party, Republican candidates and conservative causes. Public records reveal massive donations,” Clizbe writes.
If nothing else, Imad Ramadan had an eye for whose favors he should curry, and has given nearly $100,000 in political donations to prominent Republicans since 2008, even though he claimed at a recent court hearing that his personal real estate holdings were “underwater.”
A $20,000 donation to Virginia governor Bob McDonnell appears to have bought him an endorsement and a seat on the Board of Visitors of George Mason University, where he claims he sidled up to former Attorney General Ed Meese. (The Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force appealed to Meese unsuccessfully to withdraw his support.) Ramadan also appears to have steered an additional $50,000 to McDonnell from Ramadan’s business partner at Curves International, a women’s fitness center chain Ramadan claims to represent in Indian and the Middle East.
Other donations to local and national Republican leaders bought him further endorsements in his recent campaign, including from Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-7th, VA).
State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli endorsed Ramadan on the very day he went to court last week to defend against a lawsuit claiming he did not legally reside in the 87th district and sent a lawyer from his office to quash a subpoena from Ramadan’s opponents that would have made public the results of an investigation by the Commonwealth Attorney regarding Ramadan’s legal residence.
Cuccinelli, a darling of conservatives, has taken close to $20,000 from businesses run by prominent Muslim activists tied to the SAFA Group and other alleged Muslim Brotherhood affiliates targeted by the FBI’s Greenquest investigation after the 9/11 attacks. A few examples are here, here, here, and here.
So this is one camel who has made his bed and been spreading his manure around the entire Republican establishment in Virginia for some time.
Will there be implications of this come the general election and beyond? Stay tuned.