Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Texas Gov. Rick Perry
Even while presidential hopeful Rick Perry is scrambling to defend his illegal immigration stances, new critics have arisen to accuse the Texas governor of being soft on another national security concern: the threat of radical Islam in the U.S.
These and other critics point primarily to Perry’s closeness with the Aga Khan, a prominent Shiite imam who claims a direct lineage to the Prophet Mohammed and leads a sect of Ismailism within Islam.
Over the last decade, in addition to attending Ismaili events – Perry laid the first ceremonial brick for a $6.5-million Ismaili worship and community center near Plano, Texas, in 2005 – Perry signed a pair of now controversial agreements partnering Texas educators with Muslim scholars.
At the signing ceremony for the bill that created the project, Perry said: “I have supported this program from the very beginning, because we must bridge the gap of understanding between East and West if we ever hope to experience a future of peace and prosperity.”
Perry was further quoted at the official Ismaili website as saying that “traditional Western education speaks little of the influence of Muslim scientists, scholars, throughout history, and for that matter the cultural treasures that stand today in testament to their wisdom.”
But his critics have blasted the program – and the curriculum used to instruct the Texas high school teachers – as a “whitewashing” of Islam’s violent history and rhetoric, pushing a pro-Muslim agenda into public schools that undermines due vigilance against the jihadist threat.
“Perry … extends his taxpayer-funded compassion not only to illegal aliens but also to Muslim groups seeking to whitewash the violent history of that religion,” Tancredo writes in his Daily Caller criticism. “Perry endorsed and facilitated the adoption in Texas public schools of a pro-Muslim curriculum unit developed by Muslim clerics in Pakistan.”
Tancredo also quotes Robert Spencer, head of Jihad Watch, who examined the program and concluded, “The curriculum is a complete whitewash, and it’s got the endorsement of Perry. It’s not going to give you any idea why people are waging jihad against the West – it’s only going to make you think that the real problem is ‘Islamophobia.’”
“Why is this even being taught in the public schools?” Geller comments. “There is no intense, extensive Jewish curriculum or Hindu curriculum or Christian curriculum. Further, these religions are not slaughtering Americans and non-believers in the hundreds of thousands, so why color it pretty?”
Geller also wrote a column for WND in which she further criticizes Perry for his connection to the Aga Khan and tax-reform activist Grover Norquist, both of whom, Geller claims, have connections to terrorist front organizations in the U.S. and abroad.
“Of course, a candidate should make nice with Muslims who oppose jihad,” Geller writes of Perry. “But introducing the Islamic whitewash into our public schools and universities is the most dangerous thing you can do. It is not my intention to damn all Muslims, but we need a president who will call out the Islamic supremacist groups on stealth jihad.”
Asked about the governor’s links to the Aga Khan, Perry spokesperson Catherine Frazier told Salon that Perry “has a good relationship with the Muslim community in Texas.” Asked about Perry’s views on Shariah, Frazier wrote in an e-mail: “Gov. Perry took an oath to uphold the U.S. and Texas constitutions, and the principles enumerated in those documents are what guide his leadership.”
WND sought Perry’s campaign for additional comment, but received no reply.