On April 9, 2016, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) hosted a “Striving for Justice” conference in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis cleric Yasir Qadhi, resident scholar at the Memphis Islamic Center, Dean of Academic Affairs of AlMaghrib Institute and an “expert” with the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA), along with Linda Sarsour, director of the Arab American Association of New York, were featured speakers.
ISNA is a named unindicted co-conspirator in the federal 2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, the largest successful terrorism financing prosecution in the U.S. which resulted in five officials of the HLF being convicted for illegally funneling millions of dollars to HAMAS, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization.
In 2009, ISNA went to court asking to have their HLF unindicted co-conspirator status removed. However, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals federal judge Solis ruled that ISNA’s unindicted co-conspirator would stand since the government had “ample evidence” tying ISNA to HAMAS:
[t]he Government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT with HLF [Holy Land Foundation], the Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas
At the time, Obama’s political Department of Justice appointees blocked prosecutions of the HLF unindicted co-conspirators including ISNA.
Yasir Qadhi was trained at Saudi Arabia’s University of Medinah which is associated with the fundamentalist Salafi branch of Sunni Islam. He speaks both nationally and internationally and is involved in AMJA’s imam training conferences. He self-identifies as Salafi which is described by liberal media as the fundamentalist movement known as Salafiya, an ultraconservative version of Islam, puritanical and revivalist in nature. “They seek to reclaim Islam’s lost glory by purging the faith of modern influences. They model their lives after the world’s first Muslims, starting with the Prophet Muhammad” which Qadhi says “much of which is general to Islam.”
AlMaghrib Institute whose instructors include others like Qadhi were educated in Saudi Arabia, claims to “teach you Islam in a way that was fun, social, quality, spiritual, and oh yeah, academic?” Unfortunately, not all of the Institute’s students like the Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab take away the same message.
Qadhi has a prolific presence in youtube videos that include statements like, “we are loyal to our countries insofar as it does not conflict with our religion of Islam,” “we believe homosexuality is a sin,” and this from his video Manifestations of Kufr (Disbelief):
[i]t is not my right to legislate or your right to legislate. No Supreme Court, no system of government, no democracy where they vote. Can you believe it, a group of people coming together and voting and the majority vote will be the law of the land? What gives you the right to prohibit something or allow something?
The Memphis conference’s other presenter, Linda Sarsour, an Obama “Champion of Change” and CAIR “American Muslim of the Year,” is well known for her overt hatred of Israel and all things Jewish. Born in New York to Palestinian immigrants from the West Bank, she self-identifies as a Palestinian-American and uses every opportunity including using the Ferguson “intifada” to piggyback alleged oppression of Palestinians by the Israel government. She is a vocal promoter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and a prolific tweeter of anti-Israel messages such as “Nothing is creepier than Zionism. Challenge racism.”
Zionism is the movement for the Jewish people to reestablish their biblical homeland in Israel.
According to Sarsour, she is “deeply involved in the BLM [Black Lives Matter] movement” and is an advisory board member of Dream Defenders, another America- and-Israel-as-oppressors group that interfaces with BLM.
Sarsour, who was involved in organizing the women’s march on Washignton, D.C. has gone so far as to try and link her anti-Israel hatred to the feminist movement, saying that “Zionists can’t be feminists.” She has been heavily criticized for this by liberals as well as human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali who called Sarsour a “fake feminist.”
In 2011, Sarsour tweet-attacked Hirsi Ali and ACT for America’s Brigitte Gabriel for their criticism of radical Islam, saying: “I wish I could take their vaginas away – they don’t deserve to be women.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a survivor of FGM and founder of the AHA Foundation which is devoted to ending violence against women in the form of FGM, honor violence and forced marriage.
Sarsour is no stranger to Tennessee or the state’s Islamist activists including Remziya Suleyman who was the first to bring CAIR to Tennessee in protest of the 2011 anti-terrorism material support legislation. The Muslim organization that Suleyman helped launch is now being led by former Houston-CAIR director, Paul Iesa Galloway. Last February, Sarsour spoke at the American Muslims Advisory Council (now renamed the American Muslim Advocacy Center) in Knoxville.
The TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition featured a picture of Sarsour on the their 2016 “National Immigrant Integration Conference” promotional flyer.