After reports exposing the Congressional Muslim Staff Association (CMSA) had hosted numerous Muslim terrorists including jihad-preaching Terror-cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who Led Prayer Services for the group, their website suddenly went dark and the group seemed to disappear. Read Congressional Muslim Staffers website disappears after outed hosting terrorists on Capitol Hill.
Now, after a few years in hiding, with the pro-Muslim winds in their favor, the group is trying to make a comeback, via Congressional Muslim Staff Association: Group Works to Rebuild.
For the Muslim staffers and government employees gathered for a traditional dinner known as an iftar, the night was also a chance to connect with members of Congress and network with other D.C. professionals. “To have this iftar dinner and to do it here in the Capitol, where you belong, where we all belong, was a very smart thing to start,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., told the crowd.
Although 200 participants was no small number for the July 10 celebration, the iftar in 2009 drew an estimated 1,000 people to the Hill, thanks in part to an active Congressional Muslim Staff Association. The group was formed in 2006 and regularly held networking events and briefings on the Muslim community.
A few years later, in the 113th Congress, the CMSA did not even list itself as an official association — due to a turnover in leadership, lack of participation and what some regarded as a backlash against Muslim staffers. While the organization is taking steps to re-register as an official association, it is definitely in rebuilding mode.
Jameel Johnson addresses a July 11 prayer session in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
“From an outsider’s perspective, there is that perception Muslims aren’t accepted,” Omair Mirza, a 26-year-old staff assistant and legislative correspondent told CQ Roll Call. On Capitol Hill, the Islamic faith is “not an issue,” he said.
“[T]hat may be surprising to a lot of people on the outside, but people over here are very accepting. They’re very open to your background,” said Mirza, who works for Rep. André Carson of Indiana. (Carson is one of two Muslims in Congress; his fellow Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota was the first Muslim to serve.)
Carson said in an interview that even lawmakers who have made provocative statements about Islam in the media have been welcoming of his faith.
“I have found that a lot of people who have made some inflammatory remarks … have been pretty affable and pretty gregarious and warm,” Carson told CQ Roll Call.
The Democrat described an unlikely bond with New York Republican Rep. Peter T. King, who held contentious congressional hearings on Muslim radicalization in the U.S. in 2011 as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. Carson described King as “a decent person outside of the rhetoric” and someone with a “great sense of humor.”
The hearings were fueled in part by a book, “Muslim Mafia,” which claimed radical Muslims were infiltrating Congress and also cited a number of staffers by name.
Jihad Saleh Williams, who previously worked for Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, D-N.Y., was named in the book. Years later, Williams is still emotional when recalling how members of Congress defended the staffers.
“They wrote a letter saying that it was not right and it was shameful that actual members of Congress promoted, in a Capitol briefing, this book … [They said] Muslims can serve their country like everyone else,” Williams said. He paused as his eyes filled with tears. “It’s just good to know you have people like that.”
But for the behind-the-scenes Hill staffers, being thrust into the limelight was a jarring experience.
“As a staffer, you don’t want the attention at all because it’s about your boss and their constituents,” said one Muslim staffer who asked not to be named.
The mood contributed to the decline of the CMSA, originally formed by staffers who saw a need for a better understanding of Islam. “We felt that our goal was to help educate members of Congress and our fellow staffers on what Islam actually is and what it is not,” said Jameel Johnson, a former chief of staff for Meeks and one of the founders of the CMSA.
But by 2010 and 2011, “something that was educational and informational turned out to be toxic,” according to one CMSA leader.
The leader said the negative rhetoric and accusations of terrorism caused many CMSA members to pull back from participating. “It just scared a lot of people,” he said.
“When the Democrats lost the majority, we lost a lot of good staffers and we lost a lot of momentum,” said Assad Akhter, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J.
Back in 2010 (see below), Akhter wouldn’t say who he worked for. It was likely the Hamas-friendly, Jew-hating Bill Pascrell.
Akhter is a former CMSA president, one of the group’s founding members and a current senior leader of the group. He also noted that since 2010, the number of Muslim staffers in GOP offices has become “almost nonexistent.”
“It disappoints me that I don’t see GOP offices with Muslim staffers,” Akhter said. “I do think that the tone on that side and the rhetoric on that side has made it less likely for Muslim staffers to apply to those offices and be hired by those offices.”
However, Suhail Khan, a former congressional staffer and member of the George W. Bush administration, said that while heated rhetoric can alienate Muslims, they should know, “This does not in any way represent the conservative movement or the Republican Party.”
More on Muslim infiltrator Suhail Khan here.
Khan said he is encouraged by fewer contentious statements from his fellow Republicans over the past few years, particularly from potential presidential contenders who have a “much more inclusive message.”
He was the only Muslim staffer when he first arrived on Capitol Hill in 1995. As more Muslims came to the Hill, they began to gather each Friday for Jummah prayer. When even more staffers and D.C. professionals joined them, they realized they needed a consistent location.
So, in 1998, Khan approached then-Speaker Newt Gingrich about securing a space for the group to pray.
“I went to the speaker and he was just — the conversation was an amazing one,” Khan said. The Georgia Republican helped Khan land a large room on the House side of the Capitol and told him, “As long as I’m speaker, I guarantee that you’ll have this space.”
The weekly prayer continues today in an open room in the House basement. Dozens of Hill staffers and D.C. professionals enter the room each Friday afternoon, take off their shoes and pray on white cloths, facing Mecca (in the direction of the Supreme Court).
“In America, we have Jummah prayer under the Capitol Dome,” Ellison said at a Ramadan event in June. “There are a lot of Muslim-majority countries where you can’t do that.”
Khan said the weekly prayer proves “the Capitol is not just a symbol of democracy and religious liberty but is in fact a living, breathing example.”
CMSA leaders on July 18 wrote to the House Administration Committee to signal their intention to re-register as an official staff association for the remainder of this Congress. One leader said a number of younger staffers have approached him with interest in leadership roles.
Those young staffers may want to rebuild the CMSA, but it’s not to have their religious identity define their work on the Hill.
“I’m not a Muslim staffer on the Hill,” said Mirza. “I’m a staffer who happens to be Muslim.”
Taqiyya. If it wasn’t about them being Muslims, then why the need for a “Muslim” staff association in Congress? Why not just work for a party affiliation or particular politician? And why is Khan so distressed there are no GOP Muslim staffers if it wasn’t about Islam?
It’s all about Islam. Defending it. Spreading it. Making politicians immune to it and ensuring they think twice about challenging or critiquing it and calling referring to sharia and jihad as it should be.
As we told you in 2010, Muslims use religion as advantage to creep into Congress:
Assad R. Akhter, president of the Muslim staff association and legislative director for a member of Congress who he also asked to remain unnamed, said Muslims can use questions about their religion to their advantage.
“Because there is a spotlight on Muslims and because people want to know more and have concerns, people take an interest,” said Akhter, 29. “We take that as an opportunity.”
Furthermore, CMSA’s website linked to the most infamous Muslim front group in the U.S.: CAIR. And the man pictured above addressing the group back in July has been involved in inviting terror-linked individuals to speak on Capitol Hill in the past. All noted in our 2009 post, Capitol Hill becomes mosque for Friday Islamic prayers.
They Congressional Muslim Staff Association 2.0 may no longer be led by a guy named Jihad but clearly they haven’t broken ties with their old terror-friendly leaders and mentors and as the saying goes, only the names have changed.
As Obama continues to import tens of thousands of Muslims from around the world, watch this group closely.
And challenge your elected leaders who employ members of this group.
Some Muslims Attending Capitol Hill Prayer Group Have Terror Ties, Probe Reveals
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