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Salon’s Justin Elliott Rattles the Cage, Poking the Anti-Muslim Beast Inside the Republican Circus Tent

16 August 2011 Loonwatch.com No Comment Email This Post Email This Post

Prince Karim Al Husseini Aga Khan

Prince Karim Al Husseini Aga Khan

Salon’s Justin Elliott Rattles the Cage, Poking the Anti-Muslim Beast Inside the Republican Circus Tent

GOP presidential hopefuls have been falling all over themselves to please anti-Muslim elements within the party, each trying to outdo the other in this regard.  From Herman Cain of “Muslims must take a special loyalty oath” fame to Michele Bachmann who signed an “anti-Sharia pledge,” it’s a close call who’s truly in the lead.

To gain his street cred on Anti-Muslim Street, Texas Governor Rick Perry started “palling around” with anti-Muslim influentials.  All was going as planned, until Salon’s Justin Elliott entered the scene.  For those of you who haven’t been following Elliott’s excellent work, he’s become a very quiet yet forceful and consistent voice against anti-Muslim hatred.

Elliott decided to throw a wrench into the Perry presidential machine after he dug up an interesting tidbit about the governor: Perry has had very cordial relations with the Aga Khan, an influential Muslim spiritual leader.  Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be blamed for not knowing who the Aga Khan is.   To make a long story short, the Aga Khan refers to Karim al-Husseini, who is the 49th Imam (leader) of the Shia Ismaili sect of Islam.

Lest you begin to imagine a bearded mullah or angry ayatollah, be advised: the Aga Khan would fit in more with Donald Trump than Ayatollah Khomeini.  I’ve reproduced his picture above: notice the expensive suit and tie; the guy is as GQ Muslim as you can get.  The Aga Khan is a billionaire, lives in Europe, and jet-sets around the world.  He married a British fashion model, and in spite of the Islamic prohibition on gambling, owns some of the finest thoroughbred race horses in the world.

If you’ve been disabused of the notion that the Aga Khan is some Islamic fundamentalist, be rest assured too that he’s quite a pacifist as well.  The Evangelical Academy of Tutzing in Germany awarded him the Tolerance Prize, just one of the many awards he’s been given.  The Aga Khan heads notable humanitarian efforts throughout the world.

From a theological perspective, you should know that the Shia Ismailis (the sect to which the Aga Khan belongs to) are considered by many elements within the Islamic orthodoxy to be heterodox (even “heretical” by some).  They are to Islam what Mormons are to Christianity.  They don’t pray five times a day, they don’t fast during Ramadan, etc.  Far from calling to jihad and the imposition of “dhimmitude,” the Shia Ismailis are usually on the receiving end of religious discrimination and sometimes even persecution.  So if there were Muslims who “counter-jihadists” could tolerate these would be it!

But Justin Elliott predicted that the Islamophobes wouldn’t care: any Muslim is unacceptable.  You know how there was a saying that the only good Indian is a dead Indian (or, alternatively, the only good nigger is a dead nigger)?  Well, Islamophobes adhere to the following axiom: the only moderate”Muslim” is an ex-Muslim. So to them, the Aga Khan is not acceptable: the Aga Khan hasn’t publicly repudiated and renounced Islam.  He certainly hasn’t written a book about what’s wrong with Islam, so he must be a stealth-jihadist!

Less than a week ago, Elliott posted an article entitled “Rick Perry: the pro-Sharia Candidate.” It was certainly tongue-in-cheek, almost spoofing right-wing nut jobs.  Bellowed Elliott:

Rick Perry has made a name for himself in the last few weeks by palling around with some radical evangelical Christian figures who are openly hostile to Islam, and have even, in one notable case, called for a ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S. Perry also raised eyebrows in his decidedly unecumenical exhortation for all Americans to pray to Jesus Christ.

But it turns out that the Texas governor has had surprisingly warm, constructive relations with at least one group of Muslims over the years.

Perry is a friend of the Aga Khan, the religious leader of the Ismailis, a sect of Shia Islam…

Elliott also dug up the fact that Perry cooperated with the Aga Khan in a couple educational projects.  In high school world history, for example, students learn about various world cultures, including Islamic civilizations.  Perry and the Aga Khan worked together improving the standard of teaching in this regard, and Perry himself said: “I have supported this program from the very beginning, because we must bridge the gap of understanding between East and West if we ever hope to experience a future of peace and prosperity.”

Here’s where Justin Elliott decided to rattle the cage (to make a political point but also for sh**s and giggles) and poke the anti-Muslim beast in the Republican circus tent.  Elliott quipped:

It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that right-wing bomb-throwers will use this as a line of attack against Perry.

Elliott predicted that his article would create a political maelstrom for Perry.  And he was right. As if on cue, the mindless drones and brainless sharia-zapping zombies of the Islamophobic cyber-world marched in lockstep, honing their taqiyya-radars on Rick Perry and setting their jihad-phazers to kill mode.

Just a few short days after his piece, Elliott published a follow-up article, documenting the hyper-exaggerated response from the anti-Muslim right-wing.  Humorously, one prominent “anti-Sharia” figure quoted in Elliott’s article defiantly said (emphasis added):

This story tells us more about Salon, Politico and other left-of-center media outlets than about Perry. Rather than engage on the substantive issues as regards to Islamism and the extent of the threat of groups with political motivations and histories of terrorist links, Elliott and Smith refuse to take their opponents seriously, thinking they’re ‘poking the cage’ of a Republican base too unsophisticated to know the difference between the Ismaili sect and, say, the Muslim Brotherhood.

What’s humorous is that in fact Elliott’s “poking the cage” worked “like clockwork.”  Elliott effectively became a puppet-master, adequately demonstrating to us how easy it is to stir up a fake anti-Muslim controversy.  Just yell any variation of MuslimSharia, and stealth jihad loud enough, link them to your opponent, and voila!, the anti-Muslim cyber-world will inject into the issue a life of its own, amplifying it a hundred-fold.

Justin Elliott has successfully made fools out of the right-wing anti-Muslim nutters, who took the bait.  I want to laugh, but perhaps I’m too scared to.  This is a well-oiled machine, an echo chamber of anti-Muslim madness, a Frankenstein that even the creators cannot contain.

Here is Elliott’s article:

Shariah foes seize on Perry’s ties to Muslims

By: Justin Elliott

It looks like my story last week about Rick Perry’s cordial relations with a group of Muslims has, as expected, generated alarm within the anti-Shariah wing of the Republican Party.

My piece explored Perry’s long-standing friendship with the Aga Khan, the wealthy, globe-trotting leader of the Ismaili Muslim sect, which has a small but significant population in Texas. Perry and the Aga Khan have launched two joint projects, including a program to educate Texas schoolchildren about Islamic culture and history. I noted that this relationship set Perry apart from those members of the GOP field who consistently demonize Islam, and that some anti-Shariah/anti-Muslim activists might be skeptical of his ties to the Aga Khan.

Like clockwork, two anti-Shariah figures have now penned columns attacking Perry on exactly these grounds. But one anti-Shariah group, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, has dissented and says it has no problem with Perry’s relationship with the Ismailis. The group’s spokesman, Dave Reaboi, emailed Commentary’s Alana Goodman:

Politico’s Ben Smith amplified a Salon report about Perry’s relationship with Aga Khan of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam. As Salon’s in-house apologist for Islamism and crusader against conservatives, Justin Elliott clearly believed such a story, breathlessly told, would cause a great deal of friction between the Texas governor and the GOP base—who are rightfully concerned about the anti-Constitutional aspects of Shariah law in our own country, and are watching as Shariah is the rallying-cry of jihadists around the globe. That said, Perry’s relationship to Khan and the Ismaili’s, I predict, will not cause much of a stir. The Islamailis are a persecuted Shia minority in Saudia Arabia; indeed, Perry’s meeting with Khan could not have won him many friends there. Rather than reaching out– as both presidents Bush and Obama mistakenly did—to problematic organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood’s expressly political agenda, Perry’s choice to engage with a more ‘progressive’ group is a good sign.

And:

This story tells us more about Salon, Politico and other left-of-center media outlets than about Perry. Rather than engage on the substantive issues as regards to Islamism and the extent of the threat of groups with political motivations and histories of terrorist links, Elliott and Smith refuse to take their opponents seriously, thinking they’re ‘poking the cage’ of a Republican base too unsophisticated to know the difference between the Ismaili sect and, say, the Muslim Brotherhood.

As it turns out, Reaboi’s predictions — that Perry’s associations “will not cause much of a stir” and that anti-Shariah activists are too sophisticated to demonize the Ismailis — have already been proven wrong.

The blogger and activist Pamela Geller wrote a column for the American Thinker today declaring that “Rick Perry must not be President. Have we not had enough of this systemic sedition?”

But Perry has been sucked into the propaganda vortex, and is now wielding his enormous power to influence changes in the schoolrooms and in the curricula to reflect a sharia compliant version of Islam.  He is a friend of the Aga Khan, the multimillionaire head of the Ismailis, a Shi’ite sect of Islam that today proclaims its nonviolence but in ages past was the sect that gave rise to the Assassins.

Commentary’s Goodman suggests that, compared to Gaffney’s think tank, Geller is a fringe figure in the anti-Shariah movement. In fact, Geller is one of the primary ideological and organizational leaders of the movement: she devotes numerous posts to the issue on her influential blog; she regularly gives speeches on Shariah and discusses it on TV; and she founded a group, Stop Islamization of America, that names stopping Shariah as one of its primary goals.

And it gets better: Both Geller and Gaffney are apparently on the eight-member steering committee of a coalition called the “Sharia Awareness Action Network.”

Another sponsor of that coalition is WorldNetDaily, which yesterday published an attack on Perry by Joel Richardson, author of “The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth About the Real Nature of the Beast” (WND Books). He argues that Perry has been fooled by the Aga Khan, who is part of the relentless Islamic quest to conquer “the West”:

It should also be mentioned that one of the doctrines espoused by Ismaili Muslims is the doctrine of Taqiyya. In simple terms, the doctrine of Taqiyya allows Muslims to purposefully hide or lie about their true religious beliefs to “unbelievers” or even Muslims of different sects. Of course, it is doubtful that the children of Texas will learn anything of Taqiyya in their Perry-sponsored education concerning Islam.

Of course, while lying in the name of religion may seem like a foreign concept to most, it is the principle of “the ends justify the means” that underscores many aspects of the Islamic approach to win the West.

One can only hope that such is not the principle driving Gov. Perry’s campaign for the presidency.

None of this is particularly surprising. As I noted in my original piece, the Muslim education program previously generated a bit of controversy in a state board of education campaign in Texas. (“I think Islamic curriculum is about the furthest thing that we need to be introducing into Texas classrooms,” said the Republican candidate in that race.)

To be clear, I have absolutely no problem with the Aga Khan-Perry partnership, and the effort to educate Texas schoolchildren about Muslim culture and history is to all appearances a positive and constructive thing. I think Perry’s relationship with the Ismailis in Texas makes for an interesting and relevant contrast to the Santorums and Cains of the GOP field.

But here’s the bottom line: My prediction that anti-Shariah activists would be troubled by Perry’s associations was borne out in the space of just a few days.

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