Despite the continuing Muslim genocide of Christians in the Middle East and Africa, American Catholic leaders continue not only to turn a blind eye to jihad terror and the persecution of their fellow Christians, but are actively aiding and abetting the forces that are persecuting them. Last month, the entire student body of St. Petersburg Catholic High School in St. Petersburg, Florida, was called together to hear a deceptive presentation on "Islamophobia" from the notorious Ahmed Bedier, who openly supports the jihad terror group Hezbollah and has worked for the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Bedier's address was ostensibly about fighting the supposedly rising level of "Islamophobia"; he also offered what he presented as a primer on Islamic culture. In it, he blamed the U.S. for ISIS, claiming that the bloodthirsty caliphate arose because we bombed innocent civilians in Iraq. He also called out Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, white people, Jews, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Ben Carson – all as examples of Muslim-haters – while proselytizing for Islam.
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Bedier compared a Jewish podiatrist with Osama bin Laden, claiming that this podiatrist had weapons in his house and was planning to attack an Islamic center. He didn't address the disparity between this one alleged attacker and bin Laden's worldwide terror network. He dismissed the jihad terror group ISIS, which controls a territory larger than Great Britain and has attracted 30,000 foreign jihadis to its ranks, as "a few people." He blamed the rise of ISIS on Syria's Assad, claiming that when people demonstrated for freedom, Assad bombed the protesters and insisted that we are overstating the threat of Islamic terror groups, especially ISIS. We are spending too much on security and war, he said, and declared that we should be spending that money on alleviating poverty.
The real problem, said Bedier, is anti-Muslim bigotry. "Islamophobia," he said, is all over TV, and no one is challenging it. He said that "Islamophobia" is just like anti-Semitism and the same thing will happen: We'll have a Holocaust. He didn't mention that FBI statistics show that anti-Semitic attacks are much more common than attacks on innocent Muslims. Nor did he address the Islamic texts and teachings jihadis use to justify violence.
Bedier also falsified history, claiming falsely that "Muslims were here even before America was founded." He said that "some of Columbus' navigators were Muslims – because he was from Portugal, and Portugal and Spain were controlled by and were led by Muslims for over 700 years until the Inquisitions happened. You can read more about that." And if you do, you'll discover that no Muslims accompanied Columbus. And to be completely accurate, it must be noted that Muslims did in fact play a role in early America – America fought its first and second foreign wars against the Barbary Pirates, who were Muslim jihad raiders, as memorialized in the Marine Hymn, "to the shores of Tripoli." The first mosque wasn't established in the U.S. until 1915, and relatively few mosques were founded before the 1960s, when the great hijrah to the West began in earnest.
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Bedier's lies didn't stop there. He said that when the Muslims ruled Spain from the 700s until the 1490s, they allowed the Jews and Christians to worship freely: "The society could continue to be a Catholic society. Now compare that to what happened when the Europeans came to America." He said that in contrast to how good the Muslims in Spain were to the Jews and Christians, it took a couple of hundred years for the Europeans to exterminate the Native Americans and eliminate them from their lands. He said: "Now they are limited to casinos." This is nonsense. In reality, Jews and Christians could only live in peace in Muslim Spain if they submitted to Muslim hegemony, paid the jizya tax, and accepted the humiliating and discriminatory regulations that ensured their second-class status.
Bedier asked the 350 assembled students if they thought it would be fair to be called terrorists because of what Timothy McVeigh did, falsely connecting McVeigh with Catholicism and Christianity, which of course is erroneous since McVeigh was not a Christian at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing. And besides, no one is calling all Muslims terrorists anyway. He also showed the students pictures of Ahmed the Clock Boy in handcuffs, telling the kids how the incident of his fake clock/bomb and arrest showed anti-Muslim bigotry. He claimed that three Muslims had been murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, by an "Islamophobe," when actually the killer was a deranged man who was enraged over a parking dispute.
"Islamophobia" is not limited just to Trump and Carson, Bedier said. It also comes from the media. He challenged what he claimed were false media portrayals of Islam: Shariah, he said, is basically a code of ethics. He didn't mention that it's a code of ethics that calls for stoning for adultery, amputation of the hand for theft, the denial of equal rights to women and non-Muslims, and restrictions on speech. He claimed that there was no compulsion in Islam and that women were not forced to cover their heads. Tell that to Aqsa Parvez, who was murdered by her father and brother for refusing to wear the hijab – and the innumerable other girls and women who have been similarly victimized. By contrast to this supposed freedom from compulsion in Islam, he claimed that "secularism is a religion in Europe" and that Europe imposes its secularism on people of faith.
When he was asked if Muslim women have to walk a certain distance behind men, Bedier answered: "This is some of the stereotypes. If the women do happen walk behind the man, it's not a protocol thing, it's just the men are silly and they walk ahead. I see a lot of white guys walking ahead and their girls way behind. It doesn't mean that he read that is a protocol somewhere or he's following his teachings, he's just being a guy. So it's their male chauvinism. Yes, it exists worldwide. It's not because of the faith; it's because men are not being gentlemen." This was ridiculous: He was relying on the ignorance of his audience, counting on them not to know how Islam institutionalizes the subjugation of women.
Bedier claimed that the only difference between Muslims and Christians is the status of Jesus. "Jesus is a part of our faith," he said. "Muslims believe in Jesus, son of Mary" and that Jesus was born of a virgin. "We don't believe it because it's popular," he said, "we believe it because it is written in the Quran." He said that the Quran was the only sacred book (other than the New Testament) that confirms that Mary is from G-d – that Mary is the mother of Jesus, that there was a virgin birth, and that Jesus is from G-d.
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In a dig at Jews and Judaism, Bedier said: "As much as Ted Cruz and others would like to talk about Judeo-Christian values, you realize the Jewish faith did not accept Jesus Christ as the messiah, right? You understand that? If the Jewish people accepted Jesus as the Messiah then they would be Christian, correct? So for us, we accept Jesus and the message of Jesus; the difference is that we don't view Jesus as divine or part divine, meaning we don't believe Jesus is one with G-d in the Holy Trinity."
Bedier said that Muhammad was the founder of Islam, but that in the Quran G-d talks about Jesus five times more than he talks about Muhammad. "We believe that Mary is highly regarded. We have an actual chapter in the Quran called Mary. My daughter is named Miriam after Mary. Mary is very loved in the Quran by Muslims; we just don't see her as divine or that she somehow delivered G-d's Son. We highly respect Jesus. We follow his teachings and we believe Jesus will return before the end of times. We don't believe Muhammad is going to return at the end of times, we believe that Jesus will actually return before the end of times and will unite the believers together."
This was open proselytizing for Islam, especially in light of the fact that the students had certainly not studied Islam's critique of Christianity or been given any ways to counter it.
In sum, his presentation (unsurprisingly) was pure propaganda and completely one-sided, and nothing short of a disgrace. No one should be surprised by that. Bedier has a long history of extremely controversial associations. According to Discover the Networks, as far back as 2002, Bedier was the outreach director for the Islamic Society of Pinellas County, "a mosque whose website features material calling for violence against Jews. Moreover, he has cultivated relationships with organizations and individuals connected to anti-Israel terrorist groups overseas, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and Hezbollah. In February 2003, Bedier began working as communications director for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). This was subsequent to CAIR's involvement in the funding of Hamas, which had taken place prior to December 2001, at which time Hamas' American financing wing, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), was shut down by the U.S. government. Also in February 2003, the Tampa-based terrorist and former University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian was taken into custody by the FBI – indicted for his leadership role within Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Bedier became Al-Arian's 'unofficial spokesman,' holding press conferences where he voiced concern about the government's treatment of the professor, and allowing his radio program to be used as a propaganda vehicle for al-Arian's family and his PIJ colleagues."
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On his radio show, Bedier has given considerable airtime to guests who praised the jihad terror group Hezbollah.
Bedier's association with CAIR is significant. It is a matter of public record that CAIR is "an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case – so named by the Justice Department. CAIR operatives have repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups. Several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes related to jihad terror.
It is disgraceful that a Catholic school would host such an event, but not surprising. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) recently launched a "National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue," partnering with pro-Shariah groups linked to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood: the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). The pope insists that the Quran teaches peace. St. Petersburg High School is just following along.
Still, its leaders should have more discernment and moral courage. The principal of St. Petersburg High School is Father Richard Rosen; his phone number is (727) 344-4065. Politely contact him and ask him why he allowed someone with so many ties to terror as Bedier to address the school. I called, but Rosen would not take my call. I was referred to Sister Marie Daniel, the school's marketing director, who confirmed that Bedier's presentation did happen and said she would try to have someone get back to me. No one did, of course.
If Rosen had had the courage to take my call, I would have asked him these questions:
1. When you invited Bedier, were you aware of his connections with CAIR, and of CAIR's connections to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood – established by the Department of Justice?
2. When you invited him, were you aware of his work as a spokesman for Sami Al-Arian, an admitted leader of the terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad?
3. When you invited him, were you aware that he has featured supporters of the terror group Hezbollah on his radio show?
4. If you were not aware of those connections when you invited him, would you invite him again now that you know of them?
5. What were your impressions about what Bedier said? Do you endorse his message – particularly his claim that "Islamophobia" is a legitimate problem, rather than a term invented to intimidate people into thinking it wrong to oppose jihad terror?
6. Do you plan to bring in a spokesman to discuss the reality of the global jihad threat or the Muslim persecution of Christians? If not, why not?
I hope Rosen will answer these questions. His students, and their parents, deserve answers, rather than Islamic proselytizing followed by stonewalling.