ANN ARBOR On March 10th, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser spoke at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on the subject of “Understanding Islamism: The Ideology Fueling Terrorism.” Jasser’s lecture was sponsored by the pro-Israel campus group, StandWithUs and drew approximately 50 attendees.
Throughout the lecture, Jasser described his struggle against Islamism as a lifelong struggle and he denounced Islamism and terrorism as though they were the same thing, without putting them in their proper context.
After pointing out the upcoming anniversary of 3/11 when terrorists blew up 200 train passengers in Madrid he listed the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, the Achille Lauro incident, the 2002 Bali bombing, the 7/7 attack in London and the recent killing of eight Israeli Yeshiva students.
Nowhere did he mention that 3/11 was done to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq, nor did he recall the events surrounding the Iran hostage situation to prevent the U.S. from putting the hated and dictatorial Shah back into power. Instead, he said these terrorist acts are “fueled” by political Islam, the goals of which are global and totalitarian, and specifically “to cause Western nations to implode from within, to keep them from influencing Eastern nations.”
Jasser spoke of the conflict between the West and Islamism as an ideological struggle between freedom and tyranny, as defined by the clause in the American Constitution about separation between church and state.
“America is about an ideology of escaping religious intolerance,” he said. “The separation clause is a contradiction to Islamism,” to which Jasser advocated an ideological counter-jihad.
Jasser is of Syrian origin and talked about his male relatives’ struggles against the various regimes in Damascus, without going into detail as to their ideological substance or the groups that they belonged to. Throughout the lecture, he presented an “us vs. them” paradigm and clearly identified with the United States and the West when he referred to American troops as “our sons and daughters.”
Despite describing himself as a devout Muslim, Jasser’s ideas were clearly influenced by the likes of Daniel Pipes. He quoted Bernard Lewis and praised former President Ronald Reagan for fighting communism, despite Reagan’s support for Latin American dictatorships and death squad regimes that were part of that effort.
He also described the occupation of Iraq as “liberation,” advocated the Muslim world’s recognition of Israel and condemned groups like CAIR for pushing Muslim collectivism in politics.
He also insisted there was a relationship between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda, an oft-refuted assertion that none-the-less served as a pretext for the war. The assertion was again refuted by a Pentagon report slated for release but held back from the media.
The report was based on “600,000 official Iraqi documents seized by U.S. forces after the invasion” and “thousands of hours of interrogations of former top officials in Saddam’s government who are now in U.S. custody,” according to ABC news.
Yet Dr. Jasser complained that, “I speak more often to non-Muslim communities than Muslim communities because the Islamist groups control discourse and don’t want debate,” he said. He also made references to global anti-Semitism among Arabs and Muslims, despite the contradiction that Arabs are Semites too.
Jasser’s pro-American views are deeply rooted, having spent 11 years as a Navy officer and describing himself in an article he wrote for the National Review as a conservative. In addition to NR, he writes an Islamic affairs column for the daily Arizona Republic and has contributed to the Washington Times and Beliefnet. He is a contributing editor for FamilySecurityMatters.org as well as having founded a group in 2000 called Children Of Abraham.
According to the StandWithUs press release, “Dr. Jasser has also been an advisor on Islamic affairs to the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands. He initially participated in the Diversity Dialogues conference of November 2006 between American Muslims and Dutch Muslims. He then returned in December 2007 to continue the dialogue with Dutch leadership on ideological strategies in countering the threat of political Islam to the West while engaging anti-Islamist Muslims.”