Hiring a Muslim for any job is risky enough, but hiring one for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is pure insanity. Not to mention, the fastest way to get a lawsuit filed against you after you decide to fire the Muslim upon realizing there is no such thing as religious freedom in Islam. OOPS!
Boston Review The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom which has spent more than a decade advocating the rights of millions of religious minorities from Sudan to Iran is being sued for religious discrimination. Muslim critics argue, “this is not religious freedom…this is a toxic combination of Christian supremacy and flagrant bias against Islam.”
In 2009 Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, an American lawyer from Arkansas, fluent in Urdu and Hindi with a master’s degree in international development, accepted a USCIRF position as a South Asia policy analyst. The Commission hired her to conduct research on South Asia’s human rights and religious freedoms. According to the complaint, four weeks after she’d been offered the job, and after she had already left her previous job at the Muslim Public Affairs Council MPA), the offer was rescinded. Instead, she was given a temporary 90-day position in July 2009.
While at MPAC, Ghori-Ahmad was a frequent critic of the U.S. government’s efforts at outreach with the American-Muslim community, foreign policy, and counter-terrorism programs. In one such exchange, at the Center for American Progress on April 2, 2009 during a panel titled Challenges Facing Muslim Americans in a post 9-11 Nation, Ghori-Ahmad said:
“I think the language that’s being used is extremely problematic. These hearings are called: ‘Violent Islamic Radicalization,’ ‘Violent Islamist Jihadization.’ You are pushing people away from dialogue and discussion by language like that, because you’re equating violence and terrorism with our religion. Just like other religions, there are bad people carrying out acts of violence in the name of their religion…we don’t ascribe to those beliefs, but immediately are linked.” These statements fit in neatly with MPAC’s well-documented argument that U.S. actions aimed at Muslim Americans are part of a broader “war against Islam.”
The suit alleges that the Commission withdrew its job offer because Ghori-Ahmad is Muslim. Once on the job, according to the suit, her supervisor told her that Commissioner Nina Shea “would be upset that USCIRF had hired her because she was Muslim and had been affiliated with a radical Muslim organization,” and then “suggested ways that Ms. Ghori-Ahmad could limit the negative impression her beliefs and background would create with members of the Commission.”
The suit claims that the supervisor recommended that she push back her start date to avoid certain commissioners and “call in sick” on days when certain commissioners might be in the office, to avoid running into them. This supervisor also allegedly told her to “downplay her religious affiliation,” and “emphasize that she was a mainstream and moderate Muslim” who “didn’t even cover her hair.”
Legal briefs also claim: “Internal USCIRF email and discussions make clear that Ms. Ghori-Ahmad’s national origin and religion drove USCIRF’s ultimate decision to rescind its job offer. For example, Shea wrote that hiring a Muslim like Ms. Ghori-Ahmad to analyze religious freedom in Pakistan would be like ‘hiring an IRA activist to research the U.K. twenty years ago.’”
In an open letter to the Washington Post in June 2012, Ms. Shea claimed that she did not use the words “hiring a Muslim.” She countered that “the first 13 words of this quote—as is clear in the legal complaint—are not mine . . . What is especially problematic are the words ‘hiring a Muslim,’ which imply that I am a religious bigot . . . I voiced opposition to Ms. Ghori-Ahmad because of the bias evident in some of her writings.”
The suit describes Shea as “a long-time vocal critic of Islam as a religion, majority-Muslim countries, and Muslims generally.” She vehemently opposed the Cordoba House/Ground Zero Victory Mosque project, as did the USCIRF’s prominent former commissioner Leonard Leo. She is a prominent advocate for Christians persecuted by Muslims who stated in a 2001 interview, “I believe that religious freedom is universal . . . but at the same time I find that religious freedom is only fully understood in this country.”
For Shea and her Muslim sympathizers, since religious freedom can only be understood by Americans with non-Islamic beliefs, it can only be extended to Americans with those same beliefs. Even American Muslims who present themselves as moderates should have their motives questioned and their records examined.
According to the suit, Ms. Shea wrote in an email that Ms. Ghori-Ahmad’s profession of tolerance could be dismissed as a sham because it would have been “really stupid” for her to have revealed what Shea believed must be her real views. Islam, in Shea’s mind, equals intolerance, and she was personally committed to exposing this alleged Muslim hypocrisy abroad.
In this view, “religious freedom” is anything but a pluralist mission to make the world safe for different ways to be religious; it means, rather, a mission to protect American majority religious interests from perceived threats from
minority religions. (NO, the only threat is from Islam)