Michigan's Rashida Tlaib Joins Radical Cast at Muslim Conference

Tlaib was featured guest alongside terrorist defenders and anti-gay extremists

Rashida Tlaib / Rashida Tlaib for Congress
September 6, 2018

Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib was featured at the Islamic Society of North America's annual conference alongside numerous radical figures, including individuals who have defended terrorist groups, openly called for violence against Israel, and pushed for extreme punishments for homosexuals.

Tlaib will almost certainly be heading to Congress in November as the Democratic candidate in a race without a Republican opponent. She has also expressed radical views on Israel since her primary win, saying she would "absolutely" vote against aid to Israel once in Congress. Tlaib supports the BDS movement to wage economic warfare against Israel and opposes a two-state solution—stances that lost her the endorsement of even liberal J Street, a group highly critical of Israel.

Tlaib was scheduled to appear in multiple sessions of the Islamic Society of North America's annual conference this past weekend, according to a "tentative" agenda posted by the group, which has been revealed to be part of a network of groups launched by the Muslim Brotherhood to advance its mission in the United States.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has worked to separate itself from the Muslim Brotherhood, stating on its website that it is not currently controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood and further that it "rejects all acts of terrorism, including those perpetrated by Hamas, Hizbullah and any other group that claims Islam as their inspiration."

Tlaib was one of the speakers for a Saturday luncheon where she was scheduled to be joined by Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King and activist journalist Mehdi Hassan, who just this Wednesday defended calling the creating of Israel "racist" and went on to accuse Israel of "ethnic cleansing."

The Democratic candidate also appears to have been part of a Saturday evening session titled, "Unapologetically Muslim," with a panel that also included anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour, who warned Muslims during the panel against "humanizing" Israelis, according to audio published Tuesday by the Algemeiner.

Neither Tlaib's campaign nor ISNA responded to requests for more information on the extent of her participation in the conference and for audio of her speeches during the event.

ISNA came under fire ahead of the conference for disinviting one speaker, Wajahat Ali, an anti-Islamophobia activist whose invitation was rescinded because he "talked to Zionists," he explained in the Atlantic.

The group has also in recent years rescinded invites to Muslims for Progressive Values and the Human Rights Campaign, which both advocate for LGBT rights and were told by ISNA organizers they "don't fit in."

The decisions are not surprising given the extremist speakers on the agenda for this year's conference, which include Omar Suleiman, an imam who has warned against accepting homosexuality, calling it a "disease" that will "destroy our children."

Those types of views on homosexuality are common throughout the ISNA guest list. Muzammil Siddiqi, a former ISNA president who was at this year's conference, has told the San Francisco Chronicle he "supported laws in countries where homosexuality is punishable by death."

Imam Shamsi Ali, described on ISNA's site as a "moderate," recently described homosexuality as an "unbearable plague."

Tlaib on her campaign website says she's "an unwavering ally of the LGBTQ community."

The extreme views at the conference stretch beyond the issue of homosexuality.

Hatem Bazian, who heads radical anti-Israel group American Muslims for Palestine, gave a presentation on "Palestine" with Sarsour. She is perhaps best known for her 2004 call, which can be viewed below, for a violent "intifada" in the United States.

Zahra Billoo, an executive at Council on American-Islamic Relations, who frequently defends terrorist group Hamas and refers to Israel as an "apartheid state," appears throughout the agenda.

Khalid Griggs, who spoke on the "impact of public Islamophobia" with Billoo, in 2014 called al Qaeda the "presumed perpetrators" of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, complaining that the United States used the attacks to wage war on "legitimate resistance fighters" in the Middle East.

Griggs also launched a petition calling on the Obama administration to pardon Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, better known as former Black Panther H. Rap Brown, who is serving a life-sentence as a convicted cop-killer.

Also associated with the convicted cop killer and on the conference agenda is Suhaib Webb, a Boston imam who held a fundraiser for Brown's criminal defense fund with infamous 9/11 terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki, leading to him being disinvited from an event by former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick (D.).

Yasir Qadhi, who appears frequently throughout the agenda, argued in 2001 that "Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews" and advised his followers to read a "very good book" called Hoax of the Holocaust. He maintained the comments were false in 2008, blaming them on a website he didn't know was run by a "leading Holocaust-denial organization."

Tlaib's campaign did not respond to inquiries into whether it raised any objections to the candidate speaking with other invited guests. Tlaib did not hide her participation in the conference, sharing a post from an attendee saying she received a "well-deserved standing ovation" at the event.

Kyle Shideler, an expert on radical Islam currently working with the Middle East Forum, said the slate of speakers at this year's ISNA conference is indicative of its ongoing radical shift.

"The speakers attending this year's ISNA Convention once again remind us that despite their claims to the contrary, ISNA has not strayed far from it's roots as a Muslim Brotherhood group," Shideler said, adding that he views it as a mistake for Tlaib to attend. "The notion that any politician would treat ISNA's annual convention, populated by such speakers, as an acceptable place to meet and greet remains deeply troubling."

Wajahat Ali wrote in his Atlantic piece that ISNA was "making a long-term mistake for a short-term fix" by giving in to activists who wanted a more radical slate of speakers.