As a statewide, grassroots Jewish advocacy group, we are committed to promoting the well-being and security of the Jewish people and society at-large. To that effect, last month we sent a letter to the Carmel Zoning Board recommending that it address whether the proposed Al Salam mosque is affiliated with or receiving funding from sources that advocate support for anti-Semitism or terrorism and determine what its position is on Islamic versus U.S. law.
We did this in light of evidence from government testimony and studies indicating that a large proportion of U.S. mosques advocate supremacist religious views that are antithetical to American values and societal harmony. Since Jews are frequently the first target of sharia supremacists, we feel a special responsibility to raise these sensitive questions. The fact that in the past two months alone four different mosques across the U.S. have been caught preaching violence against Jews demonstrates that our concerns are not theoretical. Our questions seem all the more pertinent in light of a local newspaper article noting that Rafiq Mahdi, an official of the Islamic Circle of North America, gave an invited sermon to Al Salam on Jan. 5.
Mahdi, a former member of the racist Nation of Islam, has a problematic history. In the 2000s, he led a mosque that included two members convicted on terror-related charges. His friend (and the mosque’s previous leader) was fingered by the FBI as a major fundraiser for Hamas. Hamas is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group dedicated to the murder of Jews and destruction of America. Mahdi has espoused views consistent with sharia supremacism, defended the Taliban, questioned Bin-Laden’s involvement in 9/11, advocated for an Islamic caliphate and defended Hamas. ICNA and its “charity” ICNA Relief, Mahdi’s most recent affiliations, support sharia supremacism and are linked to foreign jihadist groups. According to the Anti-Defamation League, their activities are “nothing more than a cover for the dissemination of hateful anti-American and anti-Israel views and anti-Semitism.”
Though Al Salam’s invitation to Mahdi is clearly troubling, it is difficult to know if the Al Salam Foundation shares Mahdi’s worldview. Its website doesn’t help clarify the issue. While we have and continue to robustly support freedom of religion, we also understand that proper vetting of the Al Salam mosque is appropriate for the well-being of the entire Carmel community. We therefore sincerely hope the Carmel Zoning Board thoroughly addresses the questions we raised.
Elliot Bartky, president
Allon Friedman, vice president
Jewish American Affairs Committee of Indiana