The Muslim American Society (MAS) claims it is disturbed by a video, exposed last week by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, showing school children lip-syncing a pro-jihad song calling for Israel’s elimination and the torture of its people.
The videos showed school children singing along and gesturing in a light choreography with a “Birds of Paradise” song that says, “The blood of the martyrs is calling us,” and urges revolution “until we liberate our lands … and we crush the traitor.”
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) subsequently found a separate part of the program that featured young girls reading a script:
“We will chop off their heads, and we will liberate the sorrowful and exalted Al-Aqsa Mosque. We will lead the army of Allah fulfilling His promise, and we will subject them to eternal torture.”
The videos from the event have been removed from Facebook.
“Birds of Paradise” produces popular, professional videos targeting children with pro-jihad messages.
In a statement, MAS distanced itself from the video and the “Ummah Day” event. It was organized by “a separate entity renting space from MAS Philadelphia” and said that the person responsible has been fired.
We’ll have to take their word for it, since no names are provided. It’s unclear how the program was done by “a separate entity.” The school is called “MAS Leaders Academy,” and the promotional image for the April 17 twice includes MAS’ name.
The notion that the kind of rhetoric in the kids’ program is shocking and beyond the pale to MAS is even more difficult to believe. MAS leaders and conferences repeatedly have issued praise for martyrdom and violence against Israel.
Muslim Brotherhood members admit that MAS was formed as the Brotherhood’s arm in the United States. An extensive 2004 Chicago Tribune story chronicled the group’s history and a debate among the Brothers whether to be open about the connection or keep it a secret.
In 2012, Abdurahman Alamoudi – one of the most prominent Muslim Brotherhood members in the United States – told federal investigators that “Everyone knows that MAS is the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The Muslim Brotherhood is a 90-year-old Egyptian movement that ultimately seeks a global Islamic state. It opposes Israel’s very existence, creating Hamas in the 1980s specifically to wage a terrorist war that continues today. Brotherhood leaders continue to call for more bloodshed targeting Israelis.
MAS officials and speakers at the group’s events do the same.
In 2000, MAS officials made a series of pro-jihad statements, one of which would later cost the group’s president a gubernatorial appointment to a Virginia immigration policy board.
Esam Omeish congratulated Palestinians during an October 2000 rally in Washington “for their bravery, for their giving up their lives for the sake of Allah and for the sake of Al-Aqsa …They are spearing the effort to free the land of Filastin, all of Palestine, for the Muslims and for all the believing people in Allah.”
At a similar rally two months later, Omeish praised “our Brothers and Sisters in [Palestine] that you have learned the way, that you have known that the Jihad way is the way to liberate your land.”
The 2002 MAS conference, which it organizes annually with the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), featured two speakers who advocated attacks on Israelis. Shaker Elsayed, who remains an imam at northern Virginia’s Dar a-Hijrah mosque, was the MAS secretary-general when he told the conference to dismiss those who criticize suicide bombings. The second Palestinian intifada was still raging at this point, featuring dozens of bloody suicide attacks which killed more than 1,000 Israelis.
“Our answer to this issue is simple,” Elsayed said, “the Islamic scholars said whenever there is an attack on an Islamic state or occupation, or the honor of the Muslims has been violated, the Jihad is a must for everyone, a child, a lady and a man. They have to make jihad with every tool that they can get in their hand. Anything that they can get in their hand and if they don’t have anything in their hand then they can fight with their hand without weapons.”
At the same conference, speaker Laura Drake cast Israelis as whiners because “they are being hit back, that they are getting burned once in a while, that the settlers are being set aflame. Let them burn, I say let them burn. The Palestinian people have a right to resist this evil by any means necessary.”
More recently, MAS-ICNA promised not to invite Egyptian Islamist Ragheb Elsergany to future events after his 2009 conference remarks included his call “for all Muslims to liberate all of Palestine from the North to the South, from Al Quds to the sea, it’s a duty for all Muslims to liberate one complete full land of Palestine. It’s not just about liberating Al Quds. It’s all occupied!”
MAS and ICNA issued a statement asserting their opposition to “any statements that reflect hatred of the Jewish people, or any other religious or ethnic community, or that call for the destruction of Israel. If any such unfortunate statements were made by any speakers at our conference in Chicago, we deeply regret them and affirm that such individuals will not be invited to future conferences.”
But Elsergany was back at the 2011 conference, where he preached liberation “of all the lands usurped from the Muslims. If God wills, it is coming.”
The thread running through all of these examples – from Omeish’s 2000 speeches to the Philadelphia “Ummah Day” program with schoolchildren – is a call for jihad to eliminate Israel. It keeps happening no matter how many times MAS claims the rhetoric does not reflect the beliefs of a movement created by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
Its statement Saturday expressed a “deep commitment to values of peace, justice, freedom and sanctity of life are clear. As a faith-based organization committed to building a just and virtuous society, we stand strong in our condemnation of hate and violence anywhere, even in the lyrics of a song.”
Given the record, that’s simply not credible.
This column was originally published at The Investigative Project on Terrorism.
The views expressed in CCNS member articles are not necessarily the views or positions of the entire CCNS. They are the views of the authors, who are members of the CCNS.