Muslim reformists denounce extremism; offer a path of contemporary values

Mrs. Raheel Raza shows Valor Award she was
presented by the Simon Wiesenthal Center
During past September 11th's, we have expressed disappointment at officials' reticence for commemorations to address the west's need to actively resist the Islamist movement to conquer and convert the world under a Caliphate. Many of the mosques in North America are influenced by Wahabist ideology from Saudi Arabia. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser organized the Muslim Reform Movement a few years ago to challenge crypto-Islamist groups, such as when he debated Salam al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Afairs Council (covered by DemoCast video here).

Mrs. Raheel Raza, president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, based in Canada, was honored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Spring 2018. The SWC, which operates Los Angeles' Museum of Tolerance, presented Mrs. Raza an Award for Valor for her work in promoting  harmonius coexistence among people of all faith traditions and advancing progressive issues among Muslims.

In this DemoCast exclusive interview from that occasion Mrs. Raza 
discusses the history of the Muslim reform movement in North America and the issue of overcoming the taboo on criticizing Islamic-inspired supremacism, bigotry, and hostility against non-Muslims. 

Mrs. Raheel Raza video:

Mr. Sohail Raza is Raheel's partner in life as well as treasurer of the Muslims Facing Tomorrow organization. In this video interview, he addresses issues of Pakistani officials abetting Al-Qaeda - including the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who also slaughtered Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, Daniel Pearl, son of Artificial Intelligence expert UCLA Professor Judea Pearl.

Mr Sohail Raza video:

Transcript: Question: Mr Raza, which country do you come from originally?

Answer: I come from Pakistan. I lived my youth and studied there and in 1978, I left Pakistan fearing the rise of extremism which came about during the reign of General Zia-ul-Haq. He imported the extremist message from Saudi at that time into Pakistan and women started covering up, alcohol was banned and other forms of extreme Islamic ideology crept in.

Q: Most Americans are not aware that the son of UCLA Professor Judea Pearl, Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal journalist who went looking for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Pakistan. Were they helped, was al-Qaeda helped by the ISI?

al-Qaeda's Osama bin Laden had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in FL
plan airplane attacks on NYC and D.C. (photo: CBS News)
A: Absolutely yes, and that is the sad part. The mullah, the clerics, the mullah and military alliance. The ISI is also disunited in a certain way that the official version means maybe something different, but there are splinter groups that definitely help terrorist organizations because they used them in Afghanistan and they used them in Kashmir. So it is to their advantage to keep them happy and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was one of them- and Danny Pearl did an excellent job in investigating. Actually he went with a friend of mine, Ms. Asra Nomani, also from The Wall Street Journal, a Pakistani (actually a Mumbai-born Muslim), and they did a terrific investigation into Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and eventually it ended up in not very pleasant circumstances.

Reporter Daniel, mother Ruth, and UCLA Prof. Judea Pearl
(Photo: A.C.M.'s 2011 A.M. Turing Award Album)
Q: Why in your view did they behead Daniel Pearl?

A: The first reason is because he was a Jew - and the supposed animosity between Judaism and Islam which does not exist - even in the Quran it does not exist - and the sooner the two work together the better it is will be for the peace in the world - that is the one reason because he was Jewish because he was American and they wanted to make a statement - and they did.

Q: You started off claiming that they killed him because he was a Jew but the Quran preaches otherwise but what's the wider held belief towards Jews in the Muslim world?

A: The wider held belief is that of total ignorance. A person who's spouting hate against Jews in Israel- I can bet you anything he doesn't even know where in the map Israelis or what is the history of the Jews. It comes through total ignorance this animosity and it plays into the hands of Muslim politicians whether in the Arab world or in Pakistan or Malaysia or Indonesia. It plays into the hands because that is the supposed enemy - and it is very easy to build a hysteria and a mob against Israel or the Jews.

Q: So President Trump has declared that he's cutting support to Pakistan. Hasn’t Pakistan been one of the primary benefactors of American foreign aid over the past 20 years?

A: Yes, and one of the better words to describe Pakistan would be a “frenemy”- a friendly enemy. So Pakistan has always played a double game- it has taken aid from the United States of America to build its military. But on the other hand, it is also in the game of appeasing terrorists or terrorist organizations to play its own politics vis a vis India and Afghanistan and Iran to a certain extent.

Q: Who is Dr. A.Q. Khan?
Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan admitted selling nuclear secrets to rogue
states; legitimates global Islamism and attacks on America

Answer: A.Q Khan is the father of the nuclear program in Pakistan. He stole nuclear secrets from the Netherlands and went about to Pakistan to develop a nuclear bomb. And a lot of people don't know that when we talk about North Korea and we talk about the nuclear program in Iran, it is A.Q. Khan that has sold nuclear secrets to both North Korea and Iran.

Q: Hasn’t it been referred to as the “Islamic bomb” that originated in Pakistan - where did he spread it within the Muslim world?

A: Well he wanted to spread it more into Libya, into Saudi Arabia but he was stopped and brought in to check. Now he is considerably restrained but the damage has already been done.

 Q: Israel just revealed that they were responsible for destroying the Syrian nuclear reactor. If they hadn't and that reactor in Syria had fallen into ISIS' hands or nuclear materials, what would the prospects for nuclear terrorism have been?

A: Yes, when you talk about ISIS you are talking about a totally mad and evil existence of a group of people so your imagination, my imagination, or the viewers’ imagination can be as drastic as possible as to what would have happened if this scenario would have materialized. It would have been complete chaos because you must understand that organizations like Isis revere death. Whereas we the people who have some sanity, revere life and that's the difference. So they would have had no qualms into dropping an atomic device on civilian population on children women, etc., so it would have been a complete disaster - a doomsday scenario.

Q: How prevalent is the jihadist - and by that I mean a political global Islamist mentality - how prevalent is that within Pakistanis and other area or subcontinent Muslims within the West today?
Sohail Raza speaks candidly about Islamism

A: Well I personally, although it has grown substantially, this ideology has taken 40 years to gain strength. It's a result of a turf war between Iran and Saudi Arabia and it has come in to the west by immigrant population from various countries. But my personal view is that we have reached the pivotal point. We have reached the height of jihadist mentality. I think the general Muslim population is sick of it now - they want the children to get a decent education, for them to learn decent earn a decent livelihood, and all these idiots that emerged in Miami and San Bernardino and New York etc, are being looked down upon rather than looked up to as heroes- they are villains and the Muslim population is realizing it and the sooner they realize the reverse can start happening.

Q: I can recognize what you're saying is true about about violent jihadism, but how about political Islamism? Is that still a force within the West, and I say the UK for instance and the US and Canada?

A: Yes, Dr. Daniel Pipes said it beautifully he said it's our duty now to save the United States, Canada, and Australia. He seems to think that Europe is already a gone conclusion. Yes, the jihadist mentality reigns over there. It is deep-rooted, it is very harmful to living with other ethnicities, co-workers, neighbors. It's a dangerous trend and that's the nonviolent extremism and that has to be brought into check by the government. It's incumbent on them to take a serious note of this and this is a deep-rooted ideology which is exported by the Muslim Brotherhood which, in collaboration with the regime in Iran, is exporting this ideology into the West. So, on the one hand people are getting sick of it, on the other hand it's creeping in at a faster pace than the governments can take a check of it.

Q: What sort of activism do you do in your family?

A: In my family, we have a policy of the 3 E’s: Expose, educate, and then empower people to eradicate this problem. So we set up forums, we set up exhibitions to expose this. And we've been to the governments in Canada, we've been in the United States. My wife, Raheel Raza, is instrumental in educating the police departments, Defense Departments, and the government at large- to advise them that you have to do something not about the violent extremism, but the non-violent extremism as well.

Q: What kind of personal threats do you face from the Islamist establishment?

A: Well first of all they try to negate our message by saying ‘they are not even Muslims’ and when they fail to to achieve that and then they resort to more direct threats. But if you are scared of these threats and pack it up, then you've lost if you even. If you're even intimidated by these threats you've already lost. So that is not something we even consider.

Q: Are you in competition essentially with … to the authorities with Islamist or pro-Islamist advocacy groups?

A: Yes of course. Organizations like C.A.I.R. the Council for American Islamic Relations is the problem and we want to make it very clear they are not part of this is the solution. They claim to represent Muslims but they represent only the wrong kind of Muslims. And they are the villains in this day and age in the United States. And they have a sister concern in Canada which is just as worrisome.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser launched the Muslim
Reform Movement as an alternative to
the Council for American-Islamic Relations
and Muslim Public-Affairs Committee 

Q: How do you feel about the monitoring of mosques in the West?

A: The monitoring of mosques?

Q: Because currently the FBI doesn't do that. For a long time they haven't done that. Is it time to monitor what's going on in the mosques?

A: I have no problem with that if the mosques have something to hide then they will try and stop you from monitoring them. If the mosques are really a place of worship… that they are only there for spiritual reasons to worship God, then what is there to hide? If there's no political messaging out there then why be scared of anybody monitoring them? I would welcome- the mosque that I go to - if people come and watch what is happening there. Because I myself raise alarm bells if the message is not spiritual but political.

Q: So how does it work now our Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes to North America. He comes to the White House and claims while we're reforming our society. Women are getting to drive and we're letting them go to school, but what what kind of influence do they still have over mosques throughout the West?

A: Yes in Saudi Arabia, the the political system is divided into two. The Wahhabis look after the religious aspect of Saudi Arabia and the Saud family looks after the political reign of things. So the two are sometimes on a collision course. Prince Salman is brave enough to challenge that notion and I wish him all the success. Because of countries like Saudi Arabia are saying openly that hey this is not the kind of Islam that should be followed. That means what we've been saying for 20 years since 20 years is true because he is acknowledging the fact and I wish him luck and I fear for his safety. Because Saudi is not a very (lack of better words) peaceful society where it comes to disturbing the hornet's nest of religiosity. So I wish him all the luck and if he is successful, then the rest of the Islamic world will follow suit.

Q: But what about their interests in spreading Wahabist influence throughout the West via the mosques?

A: That is a very good question and that is what has been happening and if he can put a stop to that then we are getting near we are nearing to a solution. But if it's just words say and he is not really doesn't want it, doesn't intent on keeping that or challenging the Wahhabis, then we have a problem. But I think if he's I think he's serious enough, that once he challenges the Wahhabi establishment himself, it'll tone down.

Q: How can people follow your work? If they'd like to keep in touch and see, look and learn from you?

A: We have a website www.muslimsfacingtomorrow. You can always give go there leave your comments and follow what we are doing. 

Thank you. And just one word of caution. That once the Wahhabi message is brought under control, we still have to worry about Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood and I think Western governments should declare the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist entity - that will put more pressure on Iran to and lack of other words - behave.

Q: Would you support the U.S. making a preemptive strike, or Israel making a preemptive strike against Iran's potential nuclear weapons.

A: It's very difficult to answer that because a strike was made in Iraq. Iraq is a completely different country. Iran has its own infrastructure and it will be rather difficult to make such a strike. 

But I think what needs to be done is for Western governments to encourage putting down this murderous regime in Iran by empowering people of Iran as what they were doing a few months ago then it died down is to come up and face the challenges and get rid of this regime.

See also: Seventeen years after Sept. 11, Al Qaeda may be stronger than ever  by NABIH BULOS in Los Angeles Times, Sept. 10, 2018
In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, the United States set out to destroy Al Qaeda. President George W. Bush vowed to “starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest.” 
Seventeen years later, Al Qaeda may be stronger than ever. Far from vanquishing the extremist group and its associated “franchises,” critics say, U.S. policies in the Mideast appear to have encouraged its spread.
What U.S. officials didn’t grasp, said Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence Group, in a recent phone interview, is that Al Qaeda is more than a group of individuals. “It’s an idea, and an idea cannot be destroyed using sophisticated weapons and killing leaders and bombing training camps,” she said.
The group has amassed the largest fighting force in its existence. Estimates say it may have more than 20,000 militants in Syria and Yemen alone. It boasts affiliates across North Africa, the Levant and parts of Asia, and it remains strong around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
It has also changed tactics. Instead of the headline-grabbing terrorist attacks, brutal public executions and slick propaganda used by Islamic State (Al Qaeda’s onetime affiliate and now rival), Al Qaeda now practices a softer approach, embedding itself and gaining the support of Sunni Muslims inside war-torn countries.
Read more:
See also: September 11 plotters remain in legal limbo, frustrating victims' families  by Greg Norman on Fox News

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