Joe Kaufman is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative. He was the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
Martin Luther King, Jr. was unquestionably the greatest civil rights leader of our time. Last month, Tampa, Florida honored his legacy with a parade through the city. Part of this legacy was King’s unabashed support of the Jewish state. Ironically, one of the groups permitted to join the parade was the Islamic Community of Tampa (ICT), a mosque that has its roots in anti-Israel terror. ICT’s participation in this event is an extreme example of how US Islamists have been working hard to co-opt King’s legacy. The organizers must be taken to task for allowing such a desecration and not properly vetting those involved. It should never happen again.
On January 17th, the City of Tampa hosted its 2022 MLK Parade, after being on hiatus for a while as a result of Covid. Hundreds of onlookers were treated to dancers, floats and bands, and just like in most parades, local groups were able to participate. One of these groups, the United Muslim Delegation, had within it a number of well-known radical Muslim institutions, including the Hamas-linked CAIR, the South Asian terror-associated Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and ICT, a.k.a. Masjid Al-Qassam, which was/is founded and directed by members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
Al-Qassam was created in 1985 by Sami al-Arian, then-North American leader of PIJ, and incorporated in 1992. The mosque was named after Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, the man who was the inspiration for the founding of PIJ. Today, al-Arian resides in Turkey, where he was deported in February 2015. The current Director of the mosque is al-Arian’s former PIJ colleague, Hatem Fariz. As a result of the 2005 federal trial against them and others, both Fariz and al-Arian were convicted of providing material support to PIJ.
According to the indictment, al-Arian and Fariz “conspired… to commit offenses against the United States… by making and receiving contributions of funds, goods, and services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
On all the materials made for their “United Muslim” parade group, such as fliers, t-shirts and banners, ICT is listed and positioned on top and first. In fact, the parade goers from all of the delegation sponsors were told that, on the morning of the event, they were to meet at ICT for a caravan heading to the parade and park in the lot of ICT’s children’s school, the American Youth Academy (AYA). Furthermore, a number of the other key participants of the delegation have major ties to ICT, themselves.
One of the organizers for the United Muslim Delegation was Hassan Sultan, the President and founder of The Muslim Connection (TMC), which was one of the sponsors of the delegation. For nearly a decade, Sultan has given khutbahs (sermons) at ICT and has worked closely with ICT’s director, Hatem Fariz, and imam, Ahmad Sharaf. Sultan, as well, has been a contact for ICT, and his group, TMC, coordinates events with ITC. In September 2013, TMC advertised a ‘FAST-A-THON’ featuring future CAIR leader and convicted sex predator Ahmad Saleem, which is still up on TMC’s Facebook page.
One parade participant was Zaid Abdelrahim, a former educator at ICT and AYA, who in August 2016, was honored by the two with a ‘Most Inspirational Teacher’ award. In December 2017, he posted on Facebook the following offensive message: “If Hitler killed six million Jews who were European Jews, then give the Jews a piece of Germany NOT of Palestine.” In April 2019, he posted a video of anti-Semite Rick Wiles spewing the libel about Jews owning the media. Wiles asked, “Who planted into our minds, here in America, that we should hate and kill Muslims?… [A]fter 9/11… we were saturated with media propaganda. Who owns the media in this country?”
Another co-sponsor of the Muslim delegation for the parade was the Florida chapter of CAIR, an organization that has had many dealings with ICT and its leadership. At a 2017 CAIR-Florida media brunch, CAIR-Florida’s former Executive Director, Hassan Shibly, declared that CAIR depends on ICT for “programs, fundraising” and more. He stated, “Really, we couldn’t do the work without the tremendous support we get from the mosque.”
The delegation leader of the parade was Jarvis Karim El-Amin, the Vice Chairman of Masjid an-Nasr, which will be sponsoring a talk this month by ‘Unindicted Co-Conspirator’ of the ’93 World Trade Center bombing, Siraj Wahhaj. El-Amin spends much time preoccupied with matters of race, like him telling people to only support “black-owned businesses” or posting jokes on social media on how the legal system “destroys colors.” In November 2021, he posted what appears to be an anti-Semitic cartoon on Facebook labeling Masons (and Jews) “criminals.” The illustration was published by James K. Warner, ex-National Secretary of the American Nazi Party (ANP).
The Palestinian terror-linked ICT and the rest of the delegation’s interest in MLK is, no doubt, a way for them to co-opt King’s legacy and attempt to rewrite history. King was a good friend to the Jewish community and to Israel. In March 1968, days prior to his death, he said, “[W]e must stand with all our might to protect [Israel’s] right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”
While King was alive, many Muslims who cared about black civil rights, gravitated more towards militants like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael (a.k.a. Kwame Ture). King was viewed as too restrained. Khalid Griggs, the Vice President of ICNA, also one of the Muslim parade delegation sponsors, stated about his early views of King, “[T]here was something about the philosophy that Dr. King was promoting and that was a non-violent civil disobedience that, at that particular moment, did not resonate with me… I was being influenced by others… For some reason, myself and others felt that Dr. King was lacking in courage… that Dr. King was a coward.”
In truth, the groups that make up the Muslim delegation would more likely wish to destroy or in the very least distort King’s legacy, trying to make it resemble something that is more towards their own fanatical beliefs, than to keep King’s real and unaltered memory alive. King’s views are antithetical to their violent bigotry, yet they cynically exploit his idealism in order to attain a facade of legitimacy. The organizers of the parade should realize that they – and MLK – are being used by extremist groups with a radical agenda and must, therefore, prohibit these groups from joining this parade or any other community event that will take place any time in the future.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.