A delegation from Turkey’s parliament came to Washington last week, in order to make the case for extraditing Fethullah Gülen — an opposition figure living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.
The Turkish government alleges that Gülen was behind July’s failed coup attempt; President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan describes his extradition as a “priority.” Gülen denies any role in the coup and US officials have said that the Turkish evidence presented so far is not persuasive.
According to a Turkish press account, the delegation’s second meeting was with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and its executive director, Nihad Awad.
CAIR is a tax-exempt charity that presents itself as an American Civil Liberties Union-like organization that is devoted to protecting American Muslims from discrimination in housing, employment, and other civil rights.
The visit from Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) delegation, however, shows CAIR’s significant emphasis on influencing American foreign policy. Yet CAIR is not a registered lobbying organization, and isn’t registered as a foreign agent. Federal law requires registration by people or groups “before performing any activities for the foreign principal.”
CAIR routinely inserts itself into political debates on behalf of foreign entities, including its aggressive campaign aimed at criticizing Israel during the 2009 and 2014 Gaza wars, while staying silent about Hamas and Palestinian terrorism. CAIR’s Detroit director told a rally that being “defenders of the Palestinian struggle” was part of CAIR’s mission.
Awad was interviewed by Turkey’s Anadolu news agency after last week’s meeting, which he said was important in expressing “the support of the Muslim community for democracy and the rule of law in Turkey,” an IPT translation of his remarks shows.
“We believe in the need for more Turkish visitors and delegations to come to the United States to talk about their experiences and explain their views,” Awad said, “because there is a view against them and a pathological fear of Turkey here. The Turkish government must be aware of the need to employ more efforts to explain what is happening (in) Turkey to American public opinion.”
There’s something pathological at play here, but it isn’t some imaginary fear of Turkey. This is CAIR, an Islamist group created as part of a Muslim Brotherhood network in America, officially rushing to the aid of Turkey’s Islamist and increasingly authoritarian government — a government that itself has been increasingly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
In his comments, Awad publicly acknowledges what he advised an official Turkish government delegation to do in order to get its desired political outcome.
We previously reported on the immediate support American-Islamists organized for Erdoğan’s AKP Party immediately after the failed coup. While Erdoğan’s dedicated followers inside CAIR may be comfortable with his crackdown on dissent, a recent New York Times editorial hints many US policy leaders are not.
They believe “that Mr. Erdogan’s roundup of coup plotters looks like an attempt to silence any opposition, that Turkey has behaved outrageously in failing to stop conspiracy theories depicting the United States as a co-conspirator in the coup attempt, that Turkey has produced little evidence to warrant Mr. Gulen’s extradition and that Mr. Erdogan’s autocratic behavior is making him an unreliable ally.”
He has proven unreliable in the fight against ISIS, too. He failed to stop the flow of foreign fighters using Turkey as a way-station to join ISIS, and he places his fight against pro-Western Kurds above the global threat posed by ISIS.
Erdoğan’s post-coup attempt arrest record, along with his media crackdown and allegations of torture, speak for themselves — if that’s what Awad thinks is part of America’s “pathological fear of Turkey.”
What it has to do with CAIR’s charitable mission is much murkier.
*Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) where this article first appeared.
**Editor’s note: Hizmet Movement Blog reaffirms its non-endorsement policy of the various viewpoints expressed throughout the articles that are solely shared for the convenience of the readers.
Published on The Algemeiner, 11 September 2016, Sunday