Being a Muslim has nothing at all to do with my own political identity. I come from a Muslim background in Iraq, but I am fiercely secular. Not only do I refuse to follow Islamic religious law, but I believe it has no place in this country.
There are some people, however, who feel differently. I encountered them in the Middle East when I was growing up, and I fought them when I was working in the Middle East as a journalist for three decades. And now I’m fighting them here. They go by different names in different places, but we know them as the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Ikhwan.
When, in 2016, Sen. Cruz proposed a bill to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, I cheered. The Brotherhood isn’t only the most dangerous engine of Islamist radicalization in the world—it’s also responsible for murders, assassinations and terror attacks against Muslims and deadly pogroms against Christians and Jews.
The Brotherhood was founded in 1928, as a direct response to the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate. Since that time, its members have primarily been concerned with restoring the Islam of the Caliphate. On a very basic level, that means government following the dictates of Islamic Law, or Shariah.
During the formation of the Brotherhood in the first few decades of the last century, its leading figures were concerned with how to apply the Islamic system of government to a modern, technocratic state. In the East, they looked to the competing systems of government fighting each other in the West—you had liberal democracy, but you also had fascism and communism. These radical intellectuals wanted to borrow from each system and put it through an Islamic lens.
They understood that the Ottoman Caliphate was not successful; it had been beaten by Western powers after 600 years. While they hated the freedom of the West, they also acknowledged that the Muslim world lagged behind the West—and the Islamists decided it was because their own governments and monarchies were decadent and un-Islamic. The Ottomans, they believed, did not take Islam or Shariah seriously enough.
So the systems of government they came up with would be more centered on Islamic law. They stole elements of fascism and communism as examples for how to build a modern state: big, imposing bureaucracies that keep their people in line through fear and total control. This appealed to them. They also looked to the Soviet Union and saw how it was possible to have an ideological state, where political enemies were punished in the service of that ideology.
We call these people Islamists.
While the Brotherhood was founded and branched off from Egypt, similar movements started elsewhere in the Muslim world with the same goals. For example, for the first decades of its existence, Islamists looked to change governments in the Middle East. They were involved in coups and assassinations throughout the region, but they were only successful in getting themselves banned in many countries. Egypt expelled or imprisoned them under Nasser.
Mass immigration brought millions of Muslims from the Middle East into countries in the West, especially Europe and the United States. Slowly, communities of Muslims started to build institutions. Unfortunately, the people who were most interested in building these institutions were associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
They created hundreds of organizations of every kind. They knew that new immigrants in a new country like to be reminded of home. People don’t want to lose their link with the culture of their parents. There is a natural desire for families to want to involve themselves and their kids in cultural events and clubs. If you were a typical Muslim who wasn’t an Islamist—or who didn’t want to be exposed to Muslim Brotherhood propaganda—you had two choices: you could go to your local ISNA or ICNA convention and be around other Muslims for a weekend, or you stayed home.
With this immigration into the West came the next big shift in Islamist thinking in the 1960s and after. The Brotherhood began to concentrate on what it called “Muslim Minority Affairs”—how to keep American Muslims separate, and to prevent them from joining the common American culture. In areas where Shariah would conflict with the Constitution or the laws of the United States, the Brotherhood wanted American Muslims to prefer Shariah. That was their mission, and it still is.
Another shift in Islamist thinking came even more recently, and people like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are very much a part it. This new generation takes the racial arguments of the Woke Left, of Social Justice Warriors, and uses them to keep the Muslim community angry, radicalized and separate from the rest of America.
The Left has a long history of trying to do this with African Americans, and with every possible group. They want to keep these communities full of rage, despising America, its history and its form of government. It is a cynical, evil project—and it’s a massive threat to the social and political cohesion of the United States.
I’m sometimes asked, “How can I tell who is an Islamist?” It’s a difficult question, because most Islamist candidates and politicians in America won’t talk about Shariah—they understand that they’ll never be able to get non-Muslim support from the Left that they need. So they keep their mouths shut, and they focus on what they have in common with the Left: their belief that the United States, its people and government and Founding Principles are evil, unjust and need radical change.
But as far as political candidates go, it’s fairly simple to tell who’s who: are they endorsed by CAIR? Do they promote a narrative of grievance against the society? Do they believe America is unjust and racist? These are good clues.
For its entire history, the Muslim Brotherhood has argued that attacks on itself are actually attacks on Islam. You see this when opponents are called “Islamophobes.” For the Left and the media, many just don’t know better. And many others see the “most authentic” Muslims as the Muslims who hate America the most. This is something that fits into their ideology.
Islamists in this country would have nothing if not for the Left. They are exactly as powerful in their communities and in the wider American political environment as the Left allows them to be. Islamists can count on the Left in media to constantly tell Muslims that America is an unjust, horrible, evil country. The propaganda coming from mainstream media is overwhelming. The Islamists have to do very little when they have this kind of help. And we see it here in Minnesota’s left-wing media outlets, constantly covering for and amplifying Ilhan Omar’s dangerous politics.
More Muslims in America need to speak up against the Islamists in their midst—and to media outlets which will listen. We have a media that is partisan, and very left-wing. I’ve given up trying to get a fair shake from the mainstream media, which is hopelessly corrupt.
Fans of Ilhan Omar on the Left and in the mainstream media have no idea who they’re getting into bed with, but they’re making their choice. Unfortunately, they’re all on the same page when it comes to trying to break down this society through identity politics.
However, that’s not the complete picture. The outpouring of support for my candidacy I’ve seen from conservatives across the country has been amazing. People who love America respond positively when you authentically love America, no matter your background. Americans who are opposed to Islamists are my allies; I have always been with you.
If I am lucky enough to earn your support in November, I promise that my very first action in Congress will be to co-sponsor new Muslim Brotherhood terrorist designation legislation. I will be more than happy to sign my name to that bill.
—Dalia al-Aqidi is a Republican Candidate for Congress (MN-5)