Torturing the Truth at Duke Divinity

April 28, 2011
Should we automatically accept — at face value — Duke University’s first Muslim chaplain, Abdullah Antepli, as part of an emerging loyal, moderate American Islam, simply because he insists that we do so?

Perhaps not, when all his words and associations are taken into account.  He seems eager to join hands with others — Muslim, Christian, and secular — who express animosity toward this country and Western societies in general.  And at one recent event, he attacked the citizens of his adopted country for their failure to blindly assume Muslim immigrants mean them well.

“Being a Muslim in the United States is another form of torture, a psychological torture, an emotional torture, and it’s just getting worse,” he declared at the “Toward a Moral Consensus against Torture” conference at Duke University on March 25-26.  The conference attracted approximately 100 left-wing academics, theologians, and members of the local activist community for some old-fashioned America-bashing.

Antepli revealed that this so-called “torture” is not the result of overt acts directed at him, but comes from his perception that many Americans are antagonistic to Muslims and expect Muslims “to prove our loyalty to this land.”  Such demands to “prove that we belong” stem from a “great level of arrogance,” he added.

Antepli’s condemnation of America did not stop there.  He claimed that our government’s use of torture (if that is what we have indeed been doing) is merely a “symptom of a larger pathological issue.”  American society, he contended, has been suffering from a “psychological, spiritual, moral disease.”

No mention was made about how Islamic societies compare in this regard.  If America is a “sick” society — and Islamic societies are healthy — then why are Muslims flocking to our shores in large numbers?

Ingrid Mattson

Antepli was joined at the torture conference by keynote speaker Ingrid Mattson.  She is the director and dominant figure in Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary, where Antepli received his master’s degree (and where he continues to be a doctoral candidate).  Given the small size of the faculty in that program, her prominence, and their common interests, it is hard to imagine that she had no influence on him.

If so, what an influence she would be, for she has gained national notoriety as a defender of some of Islam’s unsavory aspects. She was recently dubbed by the New York Times as “perhaps the most noticed figure among American Muslim women.”  She is the former president of the Islamic Society of North America, which was named by the U.S. Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in a case involving a charity that funneled money to Hamas.  Many sources say the ISNA is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, the wellspring of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Al Qaeda.

At Duke, Mattson focused on the immorality of U.S. interrogation techniques.  Many of her charges rested on fallacies.  For instance, she equated unauthorized crimes committed by a few rogue soldiers in Afghanistan who killed and mutilated civilians for sport — for which they will be severely punished by the U.S. military — with government-approved interrogation that leaves no permanent damage. 

Such inaccuracies seem to be deliberate subterfuge: since the U.S. interrogation techniques do not stir revulsion by themselves, she tied the gruesome acts of a few soldiers who illegally went beyond the pale of civilized warfare to sophisticated, by-the-book interrogation efforts. 

Yet, her comments were standard fare at “Toward a Moral Consensus against Torture.”  Participation in such events raises flags about where loyalties lie for everybody, not just Muslims.  Speakers cited a predictable litany of supposed abuses committed by the U.S. in the War on Terror and elsewhere.

This was hardly the first time Antepli approvingly shared the podium with questionable company at Duke.  Two years ago, he was one of the main contributors to an Israel-bashing “teach-in,” at which he appeared to be complicit with two of his fellow speakers who denied the legitimacy of Israel’s existence and justified terrorist acts aimed at Israel.

If Antepli truly is a loyal American, perhaps he should forgo associations with the radical left and with academics such as Mattson who are strongly identified with radical Islam.  Otherwise, as a man of faith, he should be able to forgive us our suspicions.

Jay Schalin is Senior Writer at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.  He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.
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Ingrid Mattson: No Longer Leading ISNA, but Still Advancing Radical Islam

February 20, 2011

Ingrid Mattson, a professor of Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations at Hartford Seminary, recently ended a term as the first female and first Muslim convert to serve as president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). But she promises to continue her career as a promoter of radical Islam.
As an example of her ideological commitment, Mattson is advertised as a prominent participant in a conference to be held at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis/St. Paul on February 24/26, 2011. The conference program is breathtaking in its triumphalist view of Islam and its relations with the world. Titled “Shared Cultural Spaces” and benefiting from a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) — paid for by federal tax revenue — the Minnesota conference program announces very little that is “shared” by Islam and other cultures, but rather is replete with uncritical glorification of Islamic history.
Thus, Nabil Matar, a professor of English at Minnesota, commented, “At a time when other parts of the world were in their ‘dark ages,’ in Islamic civilizations there were artists, scientists, writers and architects who created a world of imagination, openness (as they included Christians and Jews as well) and brilliance. The conference will show how Islamic cultural imagination continues to enrich contemporary life.” While such a claim is problematical in its exclusion of all non-Muslim intellectual achievements during the “dark ages,” it is absurd in its supposition that the Islamic imagination retains a leading role in global culture.
Mattson is included as a participant in the Minnesota conference based on her work in “Islamic law and ethics, as well as gender and leadership issues in contemporary Muslim communities.” These topics appear as euphemisms for discussion of Sharia law and the status of women in Islam, the two issues in Muslim societies which are especially controversial for non-Muslims. Such matters are outstanding in their relevance for the future of Islam, and a debate about them involving Muslim leaders like Mattson is profoundly necessary.
But will Mattson, at an event sponsored by the federal NEH, address Sharia and the status of women in a candid way? Will she illuminate the drive to expand Sharia as common law in the Muslim and non-Muslim lands, or the protests of Muslim women and enlightened Muslim men against female subjection and victimization by such practices as so-called “honor” murder and female genital mutilation (FGM)? While such atrocious patterns in the treatment of women do not originate in Islam, they have been assimilated into its sociology in many parts of the world.
One may hope for Mattson to suddenly adopt a challenging attitude to retrograde legal and gender standards among Muslims, but judging from her long-established activities, such an expectation would surely bring disappointment.
Regarding Sharia, on January 29, Mattson journeyed to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where local voters statewide attempted to vote in a ban on “considering or using” Islamic Sharia law or “international law” in state courts. While the Oklahoma measure has been blocked by a federal court order, Mattson intended to “explain” Sharia at the 24th annual Knippa Interfaith/Ecumenical Lecture Series at Grace Lutheran Church.
Many moderate Muslims around the world believe that Sharia, or religious law, is limited in its applicability to intimate religious matters that do not impinge on or otherwise affect others, such as diet, male circumcision, forms of prayer and other rituals, fasting, fixing of charity payments, and burial. But in her discussion of Sharia in an interview with the Tulsa World, prior to her lecture, Mattson defined Sharia according to the sweeping definition put forward by Islamists: “Shariah means the sacred law, a whole set of approaches to living your life in a way that brings you closer to God.” She went on to include “business and medical ethics” as Sharia concerns. Indeed, questioned about Sharia and homosexuality, Mattson commented gratuitously, “A bigger area of concern for many Muslims is financial law.” She then condemned financial practices barred by Islamic law, such as the reselling of debt, as “schemes that got us into this recession.” This intimation that Sharia-based finance offers a positive alternative in the aftermath of the global recession is a dangerously demagogic aspect of her rhetoric and an extension to recent Islamist efforts to expand the influence of Sharia-based economics.
When asked about Sharia and personal religious choice, such as conversion by Muslims to other faiths, Mattson demonstrated her talent for untruthful improvisation by claiming, “Usually, Muslim scholars say it is sinful, but legal, to convert.” Unfortunately, “waiving” of Islamic legal prohibitions against conversion of born Muslims to differing religions is visible only in limited areas, mainly in the West. Mattson’s inventive assertion that Muslim scholars “usually” treat conversion out of Islam as a violation of Muslim religious belief but nevertheless permissible is a wholesale invention. The exact opposite is true: the great majority of Muslim scholars and believers continue to treat departure from the religion or adoption of another faith as an offense meriting death. Considering the frequency with which allegations of apostasy through conversion result in violent incidents across the Islamic lands, and the attention given to them in global media, Mattson’s insouciance on this issue is repugnant.
Mattson is nothing if not diverse. She is described as an American Muslim when speaking to such U.S. periodicals as the New York Times, and, having been born in Kitchener, Ontario, she is identified as a Canadian Muslim in such north-of-the-border media as the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, published in the broad prairie province of Saskatchewan.
Although her specific citizenship may be unknown, when she appeared as a Muslim representative at the inauguration of Barack Obama, Mattson presumably acted as an American. Regardless of her citizenship, Mattson is consistent on one important issue: the variety of Islam she has embraced which, as represented by ISNA, is fundamentalist and radical, oriented toward Saudi Wahhabism, Pakistani jihadism, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
ISNA itself avers on its official website that, “the Department of Justice named ISNA on a list of ‘unindicted co-conspirators’ in the federal terrorism prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.” The Holy Land Foundation (HLF) case ended in 2008 with the conviction of five HLF officials on 108 charges of supporting a foreign terrorist organization, i.e. Hamas, as well as financial and tax violations.
Like Mattson, ISNA has equivocal origins, about which it has grown coy. Its website no longer features the organization’s foundation and history in a prominent place. Nevertheless, a look at ISNA’s Facebook page reveals information appearing on Wikipedia, identifying ISNA as created in 1982 and based in the Muslim Students’ Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA), which was founded in 1963. By that account, “ISNA regards the MSA’s 1963 convention as its first one.” According to Washington Post reporter John Mintz, Egyptian-born, Qatar-based Yusuf al-Qaradawi, perhaps the most famous fundamentalist preacher in Islamic lands, described in a 1995 speech delivered in Ohio how supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood proposed to Islamize the U.S. through the activities of MSA and ISNA. (Al-Qaradawi is now banned from entering the U.S. and Britain.)
Mattson’s radical record includes endorsement of the “Islamic reformation” image projected by the adherents of Saudi Wahhabism (even though Wahhabism is the theological inspiration for al-Qaeda), false claims that Wahhabi clerics have uniformly denounced terrorism, and denial that terrorist cells operate in the U.S. In the immediate aftermath of the atrocities of September 11, 2001, Mattson joined in efforts by academia and media to distance Islam from terrorism. As described by Washington Times religion writer Larry Witham in reportage published on September 24, 2001, Mattson hurried to articulate the claim that armed jihad refers only to “defensive” combat. It is appalling that a leading academic on Islam, with credibility in the White House and other exalted venues, should have supported this deliberate falsification of Islamic history; armed jihad to spread Islam is a well-established concept in Muslim theology.
Mattson’s views have not changed in the years since 9/11. With the recent end of her term as ISNA president, Mattson remains devoted to putting out the flames of discontent over radical Islam wherever opposition to its ambitions may appear. These efforts demonstrate Mattson’s determination to build on the fame she gained while leading ISNA to advance radical Islam with a North American face.

Stephen Schwartz is executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism. He was institutional historian of the National Endowment for the Arts in 2004-06. He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

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Today, ISNA is privileged by the Obama administration; its president, Ingrid Mattson, appeared at the Obama inauguration, and was invited to the White House iftar, or Ramadan fast-breaking meal. She was accompanied to the iftar by Imam Yahya Hendy, the Islamic chaplain at Georgetown University. Hendy, it turns out, knew Nidal Hasan when the latter served at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where Hendy also officiates as a chaplain.


Leave a Comment » | Ingrid Mattson, Islam Vs. Feminism, Islamic feminism, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), ISNA, Jihad on US campuses, Minnesota, Nabil Matar | Permalink
Posted by Noah Simon

Hamas-linked group has deep ties to White House h/t @KristeeKelley

March 2, 2010

ISNA President
Ingrid Mattson

A radical Muslim group that was an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to raise money for Hamas has an extensive relationship with the Obama administration

Last week, President Obama’s top adviser on counter-terrorism, John Brennan, came under fire for controversial remarks he made in a speech to Muslim law students at New York University. The event was sponsored by the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA.

The delegation discussed a request for an executive order ending “torture.”

ISNA is known for its enforcement of Saudi-style Islam in mosques throughout the U.S. It was named by the Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in its case against the Holy Land Foundation in Texas, which was found guilty in 2008 of raising money for the Hamas terrorist organization. Last year, Holy Land founders were given life sentences for “funneling $12 million to Hamas.

The Obama White House has deep ties to ISNA.

The relationship began even before Obama took office. One week before last year’s presidential inauguration, Sayyid Syeed, national director of the ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, was part of a delegation that met with the directors of Obama’s transition team.

Straight from the mouths of the real people: Get “Schmoozing with Terrorists: From Hollywood to the Holy Land Jihadists Reveal their Global Plans – to a Jew!”

ISNA President Ingrid Mattson represented American Muslims at Obama’s inauguration, where she offered a prayer during the televised event.

Mattson also represented ISNA at Obama’s Ramadan dinner at the White House.

Last June, Obama’s top aide, Valerie Jarrett, invited Mattson to work on the White House Council on Women and Girls, which Jarrett leads.

In July, the Justice Department sponsored an information booth at an ISNA bazaar in Washington, D.C. Also that month, Jarrett addressed ISNA’s 46th annual convention. According to the White House, Jarrett attended as part of Obama’s outreach to Muslims.

ISNA was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document – “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” – as one of the Brotherhood’s likeminded “organizations of our friends” who shared the common goal of destroying America and turning it into a Muslim nation, according to Discover the Networks.

Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz describes ISNA as “one of the chief conduits through which the radical Saudi form of Islam passes into the United States.”

According to terrorism expert Steven Emerson, ISNA “is a radical group hiding under a false veneer of moderation” that publishes a bi-monthly magazine, Islamic Horizons, that “often champions militant Islamist doctrine.” The group also “convenes annual conferences where Islamist militants have been given a platform to incite violence and promote hatred,” states Emerson. Emerson cites an ISNA conference in which al-Qaida supporter and PLO official Yusuf Al Qaradhawi was invited to speak.

Emerson further reports that in September 2002, a full year after 9/11, “speakers at ISNA’s annual conference still refused to acknowledge Bin Laden’s role in the terrorist attacks.”

Also, ISNA has held fundraisers for terrorists, notes Discover the Networks. After Hamas leader Mousa Marzook was arrested and eventually deported in 1997, ISNA raised money for his defense. The group also has condemned the U.S. government’s post-9/11 seizure of Hamas’ and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s financial assets.

Leave a Comment » | Ingrid Mattson, ISNA | Permalink
Posted by Noah Simon