On Friday, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) hosted a discussion on how to approach ISIS and the Middle East.
The panel, titled “When Did World War 3 Begin? Part B: Threats Abroad,” featured four experts in their field. One panelist, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, offered seemingly surprising insight on Islam around the world and the responsibility he places on each and every Muslim.
Dr. Jasser is the founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) and serves as a commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
He began his thoughts with a bit of background on himself and the most “American” thing we have to offer. Jasser told the crowd:
“I’m the son of Syrian refugees who escaped Syria in the mid sixties. There’s nothing more American than fighting theocracy. That’s how our country was founded.”
He claimed that Muslims who value America, and Muslims that value theocratic rule, are both the “firefighters” and the “arsonists.” With an Islamic world in chaos, the “only adult” in the room is America.
While Islam is made up of a diverse population of various religious sectors, he had a message for his fellow Muslims worldwide:
“It’s time we started taking sides within the House of Islam. We could get rid of ISIS tomorrow or next year and in a couple of years there’ll be another radical islamic group that comes around.”
President Donald Trump’s executive order received nationwide backlash.
Jasser not only denounced the claim it was a “Muslim ban,” but said he would add “Saudi Arabia and Pakistan,” and any government that “fuels the ideas that are un-American.”
While he agreed that it’s important to help other countries fight ISIS, he also doesn’t believe American Muslims are off the hook. He told panel attendees:
“It’s important that we don’t give American Muslims a pass … We need to engage Muslims in America that feel an urgency, that care about the legacy of whether our children and grandchildren are going to be radicalized by this global Jihad.”
Then, he gave American Muslims a choice. He claimed they can either leave behind an Islam that’s at home with American ideas of constitutionalism and freedom” or an Islam in line with theocratic rule.
When it comes to battling ISIS, the war isn’t something that can solely take place overseas. He told the panel:
“That’s a battle that needs to be fought on the front lines, on American media and university platforms.”
Jasser encouraged the entire Muslim community to not be deceived that “ISIS came out of thin air.” He called the ideology of Pakistan, Iran and other Islamic States the “oxygen” that fuels ISIS.
Then he called out a popular criticism of conservatives:
“We need to stop using that term, ‘Islamophobia.’ Islam is a diverse group of ideas that doesn’t have rights. Muslims have rights. We need to fight bigotry that exists against Muslims, but don’t use the term ‘Islamophobia,’ because they’re trying to shut us all up from criticizing Islamic state ideology.”
Jasser also applauded his fellow panelist when he said, “where women thrive around the world, terrorism cannot.” Jasser agreed that educational reform for women in Islamic countries must be a key component in winning a war against ISIS.