CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad speaks at a press conference in Washington, D.C. (Video screenshot)

A lobby group that was suppressing freedom of speech long before the “cancel culture” was coined has been stopped in its tracks, at least in one case, by a federal court.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan M. Brnovich dismissed a lawsuit by the Council on American-Islamic Relations aimed at censoring discussion at Arizona’s Scottsdale Community College of links between Islamic doctrine and terrorism.

It was an important victory not only against the “lawfare” waged by radical Islamic groups such as CAIR but also for academic freedom, wrote Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, on Thursday.

He said the fact that CAIR is taken seriously as a Muslim “human rights” or “civil rights” group by such media outlets as the New York Times and the Washington Post as well as the ACLU and many Democratic lawmakers “is a slap in the face to authentic human rights groups.” CAIR, Emerson noted, was created in 1994 as part of a Muslim Brotherhood-run Hamas support network and was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas money laundering trials of the Holy Land Foundation. It has a long record of supporting and rationalizing Islamic terrorism.

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In the lawsuit, which was dismissed Aug. 18, CAIR sought an injunction to prevent the college and Professor Nicholas Damask from using course materials deemed to “have the primary effect of disapproving of Islam.”

Emerson said the description of Damask’s course materials isn’t accurate, but “it is not illegal in the United States to disapprove of Islam or any other religion.”

Nevertheless, SCC student Mohamed Sabra complained of three questions on Damask’s exams.

The offending questions and answers were:

Q. Who do terrorists strive to emulate? A. Mohammed

Q. Where is terrorism encouraged in Islamic doctrine and law? A. The Medina verses [i.e., the portion of the Qur’an traditionally understood as having been revealed later in Muhammad’s prophetic career]

Q. Terrorism is _______ in Islam. A. justified within the context of jihad.

Sabra’s lawsuit asserted “the only objectively reasonable construction of Damask’s actions is that his primary message is the disapproval of Islam. Damask’s module quiz forced Sabra to agree to his radical interpretation of Islam. When Sabra did not, he was penalized by getting the questions wrong and impacted his grade.”

Emerson pointed out, however, the fact that Islamic terrorists refer to their understanding of Islamic teachings to justify their actions is widely known.

“Nowhere does Damask assert that this is the only possible understanding of Islamic teachings, or that all Muslims believe the same things,” Emerson argued.

He charged that the lawsuit “was an attempt to stigmatize any discussion of how terrorists use Islamic texts, and to foreclose upon any possibility of understanding their perspectives, motives and goals.”

The judge concluded Damask’s course didn’t prevent Sabra from exercising his religion. It merely exposed Sabra to “attitudes and outlooks at odds” with his own understanding of Islam, which is not a violation of the First Amendment.

The lawsuit also objected to Damask’s use of terrorism and Middle East expert Walid Phares’s book, “Future Jihad.”

The lawsuit labels Phares an “Islamophobe.”

“Within this mandatory reading assignment,” the lawsuit states, “Phares explains that jihad is not a ‘spiritual phenomenon that would be and was abused by extremist ideologies,’ but rather a call for physical action. Damask failed to articulate that other more acceptable, and in fact ‘mainstream’ views of jihad have nothing to do with violence, but instead he improperly urged students to accept his personal opinions.”

Phares, however, pointed out that “the [Muslim] Brotherhood scholars read terrorism differently than the U.S. The Brotherhood and CAIR [are] trying to impose a vision of their own on all Muslims in America.”

The judge, Brnovich, found that CAIR and Sabra wrongly claimed the students were forced to adopt Phares’s view of Islam. The assignment “merely asks students to identify the opinion of Walid Phares regarding Islam, not to adopt his position on Islam,” the judge wrote.

Numerous Islamic scholars and leaders, including Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al Banna, Osama bin Laden mentor Abdallah Azzam and 13th century scholar Ibn Taymiyya, have insisted that there is only one meaning to jihad – “fighting” to impose Islam.

According to al Banna: “In [Muslim] Tradition, there is a clear indication of the obligation to fight the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), and of the fact that Allah doubles the reward of those who fight them. Jihad is not against polytheists alone, but against all who do not embrace Islam.”

Al Banna said it “has become an individual obligation, which there is no evading, on every Muslim to prepare his equipment, to make up his mind to engage in jihad, and to get ready for it until the opportunity is ripe and God decrees a matter which is sure to be accomplished.”

‘Redress the image of Islam’

Emerson noted the case marks the latest in a long line of CAIR efforts to remove material it considers derogatory against Islam.

CAIR entered a formal partnership in 2010 to “redress the image of Islam and Muslims in textbooks” with the 57-nation global Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The OIC condemns connecting Islamic doctrine and terrorism in the minds of Westerners.

“Education and engagement are key to challenging the growing phenomenon of Islamophobia,” CAIR co-founder and Executive Director Nihad Awad said at the 2010 OIC conference.

But the SCC lawsuit, Emerson said, “demonstrates the baseless foundations of these Islamophobia claims: apparently Awad and his cohorts see any material they find objectionable as ‘Islamophobic’ and demand their removal from curricula.”


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