#hatefulimams: Challenging Hate and Alienation in Mosque Spaces
Six U.S. imams have openly promoted Jew-hate in mosques between July 2017 through early 2018. The sermons calling for a final apocalypse against the Jews were triggered by minor security conflicts between Palestinian militants and Israeli security forces on Temple Mount. American Muslim Jew-hatred mirrors rising conflict in the Holy Land — and those tensions will only continue to escalate.
In addition to Islamic supremacism, which affects Muslims as well as Jews, rising neo-Nazi hate fuels the counter-narrative which dehumanizes the Jewish people. While white nationalist supremacists equally hate Muslim Americans, the normalization of extremism and hatred toward the Jewish people cloaks hate imams in the U.S. and abroad. In 2018, a major theme on Holocaust Memorial Day was the alarming rate at which Holocaust history was forgotten or minimized — while just weeks later swastikas burned on American soil and flew across Gaza.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can challenge alienation in mosque spaces. In the summer of 2017, I partnered with a Jewish colleague in Israel in response to Davis, California hate imam Ammar Shahin. At 2am Pacific time, we started drafting a petition to have him removed. We gained over 5,000 signatures and the support of Congressman Brad Sherman. With no resources to devote to this issue, we had to move on, unable to invest the additional time required to force this to become at least a statewide issue. Local and national media outlets failed to cover the story, but weeks later I woke up Saturday morning to the white nationalist hate rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where chants included “Jews will not replace us.” Within hours, it became a national story ripping America at the seams. Their message was no different than the message of hate against Jews in mosque pulpits — in fact, it was milder by comparison.
I believed this could — and needed to — become a campaign. If we could get a significant number of petition signatures, enlist the support of a prominent elected official, organically build a team, and have deep conversations with allies on tangible solutions, then what could I achieve if I was meaningfully supported? I spent a few more months proving I could do this, and I did.
- I published articles and email campaigns.
- I did media interviews and spoke in the documentary film Never Again is Now.
- I was part of organizing an interfaith event in Davis, California.
- I launched a Patreon podcast and recruited a team member to help with guest line-ups.
- I developed messaging and branding around this campaign.
- I began pitching and researching an in-depth article on this issue for policy makers for The Hill.
- I was part of a two-person interfaith team to conceive and develop a unique interfaith festival.
Our community of allies includes:
- Elliot Friedland, Writer and Dialogue Coordinator with Clarion
- Rab’ia Keeble, Founder, Women’s Mosque in Berkeley, California
- Shirin Taber, Middle East Women’s Leadership Network
- Souleiman Ghali, Founder, Islamic Center of San Francisco
- Shaykh Uthman Khan, Academic Dean, Critical Loyalty
- Soraya Deen, Muslim Women Speakers
- Evelyn Markus, Psychologist and Documentary Filmmaker
- Raphael Gluck, Research and Analyst on Online Islamic Extremism
- The Muslim Reform Movement
- Salam Shalom, Los Angeles Chapter
- The Mago Circle, Lead by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang, Ph.D. in Religion/Feminist Studies
And now I am asking for YOUR support to help me continue.
My goal is to secure $30,000 for a ten month campaign.
With financial backing through a budget of $3,000 monthly over a ten month period, I can devote more time and resources to this campaign. This campaign has now reached a point where requires a consistent level of attention and commitment. Without sufficient support, there will not be a single Muslim person laser-focused on this issue who can deliver tangible results.
Pledges made by a community or organization to enable the campaign for one month ($3,000) will have the opportunity to be announced as public sponsors of this campaign. *All donations will be tax deductible.
SCOPE OF WORK MADE POSSIBLE WITH SPONSORSHIP
- Empowerment to respond in real-time global anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred incidences with videos and op-eds.
- Develop podcasts focused specifically on hate imams.
- Weekly guests are already lined up through the next two months.
- Strategic development of YouTube video series.
- Launch weekly issue-specific email campaigns to subscriber list of over 2000 and growing
- Facilitate and accept speaking engagements and collaborative events on the issues.
- Activate focused Muslim dialogue on hate imams through social engagement, podcasts, in person meetings.
- Pitch and secure media opportunities: radio, print, television.
- Offer training and support with talking points to others as needed.
- Organize and launch Toke for Tolerance, a sub-campaign for first radically honest interfaith festival co-organized with a Jewish writer and activist.
- Toke for Tolerance has already secured participating from leading North American activists, writers, and counter-extremism experts. (Agenda available upon request.)
- Continue to grow the Community of Allies.
- Cultivate partnership opportunities with leading figures and organizations invested in a shared mission.
ABOUT SHIREEN QUDOSI
Shireen Qudosi is a writer and speaker across themes of faith, identity and belonging. She specializes in spotlighting issues critical to the American Muslim community, along with discovering pathways to move forward. Her work has been featured in The Federalist, On Being, Women in the World, The Hill, and more. Her keynote writings also include an in-depth assessment on the coined phrase “War on Terror” through the lens of WWII and a two-hour exclusive interview with radical Imam Abu Taubah, who was linked to Orlando shooter Omar Mateen.
In 2016, she testified before the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on radical Islam, offering powerful testimony that tied the current crisis to Islam’s origin story. “Original Islam” is a theme that runs through the veins of her work, and is central to the book project Shireen is also pursuing.
In 2017, Shireen launched a successful petition and campaign against Davis “hate imam” Ammar Shahin, leading to the founding of a Muslim coalition and campaign to tackle alienation in houses of worship. Shireen’s experience has given her insight in forecasting where the conversation among the world’s leading secular and religious Islamic leaders is heading. As a daughter of Pakistani and Afghan immigrants, raised across three continents, she has a unique perspective of the issues facing the U.S. and global Muslim community. A Sufi Muslim who has carefully navigated the theological landscape with evolving nuance and empathy, Shireen was named one of the top ten North American Muslim Reformers by journalist Christine Williams. She’s a single mom to a highly artistic son on the Autism Spectrum, an issue she’s equally passionate about.
* Shireen Qudosi has initiated a non-profit tax-exempt status for her work. All deductions will be tax deductible.
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