A Soft Jihad Grows in Brooklyn
by A. Spero
In Brooklyn, New York, a public school named the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) has opened. Its primary purpose — demonstrated by its advisory board, its apparent curriculum and the lining of school walls with pictures of Arab figures and heroes, is to teach Arabic and Muslim language and culture and to inculcate the children with radical Islamic ideology.
One of the school’s more notorious public supporters is convicted cop-killer and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. The school’s advisory board includes several imams, one of whom has displayed the Muslim Brotherhood slogan on his mosque’s website: “Jihad is our way, and death in the way of Allah is our promised end.”
A spokesperson for the school speaks not of the duties of American citizenship but the aspiration towards “global” citizenship. Perhaps that is why this public school, unlike P.S. 132, calls itself an “international academy.”
Many New Yorkers are appalled that taxpayer money is being used to finance a public school whose purpose will likely advance the Islamic religion and Islamist ethnic identity. Three local parents, two of whom are teachers, started a grassroots effort called Stop the Madrassa to question this inchoate madrassa disguised as a neutral public school.
Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes has written extensively about KGIA and other such schools now spreading across the country. On the opening day of school, Sept. 4, 2007, civil rights, religious and community leaders held a press conference on the steps of New York’s City Hall demanding answers from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein. From out of town came Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, and attorney Brian Rooney of the Thomas More Law Center. That day, Citizens for American Values in Public Education was born, created to fight the problem of Islamization in schools across the country.
Immediately a request was made of the Department of Education, under the Freedom of Information Act, as to the curriculum, teachers, lesson plans and textbooks of the school. This is not unusual given that schools — for reasons of transparency and accreditation – must pre-publicize educational content prior to the school year. Indeed, many are wondering about the use of public money for an institution, such as this, with religious overtones. The response to these legitimate concerns is that those that are asking these questions must be “racists.”
For example, Mumia Abu-Jamal asserts: “Racist and right-wing groups and media outlets have demonized the school…” Councilmember Leticia James talks of “anti-Arab racism …” The New York Collective of Radical Educators, in its statement supporting KGIA, called on “New York City to continue to be a voice in the struggle against anti-Arab/anti-Islamic prejudice…” Even Brooklyn’s Borough President, Democrat Marty Markowitz, labeled inquiry into the school “disgraceful, xenophobic, and racist.”
The intent of calling “racist” those who question the school’s goals and legitimacy is, no doubt, to silence critics of the school’s agenda. This attempt to silence Americans is very similar to CAIR’s lawsuit that was brought by Muslim organizations against citizens on an airplane who alerted flight attendants of the fear they felt witnessing highly erratic conduct by six belligerent and provocative imams on a plane.
What should be every American’s right to self-defense, or the right to inform appropriate authorities of possible harm or danger, has now been characterized by a number of Muslim organizations as “criminal” and, somehow, a “violation of civil rights“ worthy of civil suit. Fortunately, House Republican Steve Pearce introduced the Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act of 2007, protecting citizens from lawsuits when simply informing authorities of possible danger.
It appears that yet another strategy for silencing critics of radical Islam is emerging. It is alleging that critics of suspicious Muslim activities are guilty of “stalking,” “harassing,” or “assaulting.” This new mode of attack is, it seems, being hatched here in Brooklyn. Dhabah Almontaser, the school’s former principal, recently claimed that those non-Muslim community members who were critical of her stewardship at the school “stalked me wherever I went and verbally assaulted me with vicious anti-Arab and anti-Muslim comments.”
With her lawyer standing at her side at the press conference in which she made this claim, she sent a veiled threat of legal action against those who have criticized her. As usual, those merely critical of policies are being defamed as “anti-Muslim” and “viciously anti-Arab.” The fact is that, according to Citizens for American Values in Pubic Education and Stop the Madrassa, no one has followed Almontaser on the street or ever threatened her and there has been no personal harassment or stalking.
Ms. Almontaser knows this. Nonetheless, her hope, and the hope of her attorneys, is that concerned citizens in New York and elsewhere in the country will become intimidated by threats of prolonged and expensive lawsuits if they question alarming Muslim activity.
Almontaser resigned after a firestorm erupted regarding her support for some T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Intifada NYC” that were distributed by AWAAM, one of the organizations affiliated with her. When asked to separate herself from such obvious incitement to violence, she told the New York Post that the slogan merely referred to a “shaking off” and was a chance for young girls to express that they are “shaking off oppression.” What “oppression,” she did not say. The Post reports that the co-founders of AWAAM, the distributors of the T-shirt are “active in the more militant pro-Palestinian group, al-Awda, whose main U.S. office is in California,” and that AWAAM is an active supporter of Hezbollah and Hamas.
In an interview with Amnesty International in Europe in January 2002, Almontaser stated that “I have realized that U.S. foreign policy is racist; in the ‘war against terror’ people of color are the target.” Such attitudes about our country raise legitimate concerns as to whether such a person should be a school principal of children for which the tax system is paying.
Most Americans, except for die-hard liberals and leftists, are prepared to fight the terrorism that we call the “hard jihad.” The left, though, seems unwilling to fight the “soft jihad” assaulting our culture and way of life. Many Americans who in the past were proud of that unique American penchant for being outspoken and truthful are now being cowed into silence by being called a racist when they are trying to protect themselves and the institutions they admire and love from deliberate damage and obliteration.
Those New Yorkers opposed to this school and those alarmed that such schools may spread across the country are not backing down and apparently will not be intimidated by legal threats. Citizens for American Values president Stuart Kaufman states, “We will not be silenced through threats of lawsuits or being falsely called names such as ‘racists’ and ‘haters’ and ‘bigots’ or other efforts to silence American citizens exercising their right to freedom of speech.”
In addition to the cop-killer, radical imams, and anti-Americans associated with
the school, Stop the Madrassa is also up against the usual multiculturalists who are pushing Islamic schools — though they themselves are not Muslims — as a further means to radically transform our culture and diminish the concept of Americanism historically taught in our public schools. The liberal left is a witting collaborator in the soft jihad that has already arrived on our shores and is moving westward, one that wishes to incrementally carve out Islamic principalities, and brazen influence, in our midst.
Mr. Spero is a radio talk show host, and president of Caucus for America. He can be reached at