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Dalia Mogahed

She describes her role in the Obama administration as a communicator to the president and other public officials of “what it is Muslims want.”

But Muslims such as Steven Schwartz, a prominent American convert to Islam and ardent critic of Muslim fundamentalism, contend Dalia Mogahed, a scheduled speaker at the annual fundraiser Saturday in Washington for the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations, certainly doesn’t speak for them.

A senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, Mogahed was appointed to President Obama’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The Egyptian-born, hijab-clad adviser drew attention earlier this month when she defended Shariah, or Islamic law, on a British television show hosted by a member of an extremist Muslim group, insisting the majority of women around the world associate Shariah with “gender justice.”

Schwartz, executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, states in a column for the Weekly Standard that according to Mogahed’s view, Muslims are “either fundamentalist or confused.”

“Their attitudes toward Islamic law are divided, in her terms, only between supposedly wanting Shariah to be the sole source of governance and seeing it as one source of legislation among various canons,” he writes. “But, for her, even this distinction is less important than proclaiming the satisfaction of Muslim women with Shariah.”

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As late as Oct. 15, CAIR’s promotion of its 15th annual banquet listed Mogahed as a keynote speaker along with a controversial imam, Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing investigation who has been recorded calling for the violent replacement of the U.S. government with a Saudi-style Islamic system.

But, by Friday, days after the release of “Muslim Mafia” – a book citing internal documents obtained in an undercover operation that establish CAIR functions as a political front group for the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood
Mogahed’s name was replaced with civil-rights activist Jesse Jackson’s. Mogahed’s assistant says, however, he hasn’t been informed of any changes.

Schwartz says Mogahed shares the “outlook of Islamists in Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and other countries threatened by fundamentalist tyranny, in which religious governance is posed as the sole alternative to secular dictatorship.”

Pointing to her views expressed to a church leader writing in Christian Century magazine, Schwartz says that “while Muslims around the world are increasingly turning toward civil society, Dalia Mogahed offers the retrograde fantasy of Shariah as liberating, even as comparable with the principles of the Declaration of Independence.”

Schwartz says Mogahed’s defense of Islamic law in the British TV interview as feminist was objectionable because Shariah “is most often employed to oppress women, not to free them from the blandishments of the sinful West.”


Dalia Mogahed

“The Mogahed approach discounts the widespread, moderate Muslim view that Shariah, like other canons of religious law, should apply only to standards for diet, forms of prayer and other strictly individual or personal options,” contends Schwartz.

“Such an individual,” he concludes, “is inappropriate as an adviser to the president and can do great harm by providing an American seal of approval to extreme Shariah ideology.

“We should not be surprised to find that leftists are not the only people with an extreme ideology present in the Obama team,” says Schwartz.

Mogahed earned a master’s in business at the University of Pittsburgh and worked for Procter & Gamble before teaming with prominent Georgetown professor John L. Esposito on a study called “Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think.”

Schwartz calls the subtitle of the study, based on Gallup polling, “wildly overreaching.”

Mogahed says she is “simply a researcher” capable of offering “accurately, and in a representative way, the actual views of Muslims.”

In an interview with Islam Online in April, Mogahed said she didn’t consider herself an adviser on Islam. Her role in the Obama administration, she explained, is “to convey the facts about what Muslims think and feel.”

“I see my role as offering the voices of the silenced majority of Muslims in America and around the world to the council so that our deliberations are informed by their ideas and wisdom,” she said. “I believe that I was chosen because the administration cares about what Muslims think and wants to listen.”

‘Nonviolent destruction’

Her British TV interview earlier this month was for a London-based discussion program hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir party, the London Telegraph reported.


Hizb ut Tahrir logo

Hizb ut Tahrir has declared it wants to help foster the nonviolent destruction of Western democracy and the creation of a global Islamic state under Shariah.

Mogahed, appearing alongside Hizb ut Tahrir’s national women’s officer, Nazreen Nawaz, watched as two members of the radical group made repeated attacks on secular “man-made law” and the West’s “lethal cocktail of liberty and capitalism,” the Telegraph reported.

The Hizb ut Tahrir members called for Shariah to be “the source of legislation” and said women should not be “permitted to hold a position of leadership in government.”

Schwartz noted Mogahed didn’t object to anything the Hizb ut Tahrir members said.

“While television debate between sharply-opposed individuals has become a dominant form of public communication all over the world, Dalia Mogahed made no effort, in her encounter with an extremist advocate, to establish any distance between their views,” he writes in his Weekly Standard column.

Mogahed’s assistant, Jason Bough, told WND that, as far as he knew, Mogahed was still scheduled to speak at the CAIR banquet Saturday. He said he had no idea why her name had been replaced with Jackson’s in CAIR’s promotion of the event.


Imam Siraj Wahhaj

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper did not reply to WND’s request for clarification and comment.

As WND reported, a nonprofit activist group that “alerts Americans about the threat of radical Islam” launched a campaign earlier this week to urge the Marriott Crystal Gateway hotel in Arlington, Va., to cancel its hosting of the CAIR banquet.

Former Republican Rep. Paul Findley of Illinois, a supporter of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, also will speak, according to CAIR. In the wake of Sept. 11, Findley blamed the attacks on America’s support for Israel. He released a book shortly before Sept. 11, “Silent No More,” that sought to improve the image of Islam in the U.S. He charged President Bush “overreacted” to the Sept. 11 attacks, and he claimed Americans had been “misled by the American media, which is controlled by the Jewish lobby.”

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