by Ahnaf Kalam
TAMPA, FLORIDA — A double feature of Islamist hostility is set to take place on Aug. 26–27, 2022 as part of an “Islamic Family and Youth Conference” organized by the Islamic Community of Tampa. The imams scheduled to speak at the event are Uthman Ibn Farooq of the California-based One Message Foundation, and Imam Karim Abuzaid, founder of the Colorado Muslims Community Center and the Salahudin Future Academy based in New Jersey. Both imams have a long and well-documented history of espousing Islamist extremism in the form of antisemitism, hostility toward homosexuals, and general anti-Western sentiment.
Examples of Imam Karim Abuzaid preaching violent extremism dating back to 2011 can be found on his YouTube channel which has more than 50,000 followers. While acknowledging that Westerners no longer view adultery as a punishable crime, Abuzaid argues that in a properly governed Muslim society, fornicators would be flogged and adulterers stoned in public and that children should be invited to watch the gruesome acts. He also promotes the segregation of sexes so that men will not be tempted to engage in acts of adultery. The segregation of sexes has played a significant role in hindering the ability of women to obtain education in Muslim-majority environments, even in the West.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Abuzaid took to YouTube to warn his followers of the true origins of the Coronavirus outbreak, which he believes is a divine punishment on the West for engaging in homosexuality and adultery. Later, he advised congregants at a sermon against voting for then-Colorado Gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis simply because of his sexual orientation.
Abuzaid is perhaps even more vicious and hateful against Jews than he is toward homosexuals. In 2009, he said “This [killing] is the solution for the Jews. Only killing them is the solution and exterminating them from the face of the earth in accordance to Hitler’s philosophy …”
During the fighting between Hamas and Israel in 2014, the Imam declared that “Al-Quds, when the filth [abomination] of the Jews is being washed with purified water, it is being washed from ritual impurity of the Jews.”
SUPPORT FOR TALIBAN
In August 2021, immediately following America’s withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan, Abuzaid expressed his support for the Taliban’s imposition of sharia in the country.
“Now the laws of Taliban, the laws of Sharia, of Islam, that’s what they want to implement in their country, and that’s all they know, says that women should wear the hijab, what is wrong with that?” he asked. “What is wrong with that? Why don’t you place this equal to Macron forcing women not to wear their hijabs under the notion [of] keeping the customs and laws and the principles of the Republic […] why not accept the Taliban as conquering rulers?”
Abuzaid’s counterpart at the Tampa event, Sheikh Uthman Ibn Farooq, made headlines in early 2022 after he was reportedly stabbed while proselytizing on the streets of San Diego. Farooq posted a video of his alleged attacker shouting “Islamophobic” slurs at Farooq and calling him a terrorist. Video of the incident shows the suspect drawing a knife, but it does not show Farooq being attacked by the knife-wielding man.
While Farooq is not a violent terrorist, he has no qualms with espousing the same hardline rhetoric known to radicalize otherwise moderate Muslims towards extremism.
On his YouTube channel, where he broadcasts his man-on-the-street style dawah videos to his audience of nearly 280,000 subscribers, Farooq puts his beliefs on display for the public.
Just like his counterpart Karim Abuzaid, Farooq has expressed his opposition to homosexuality and those who support it, which he spells out in a YouTube video titled “Danger of Supporting LGBT.”
DEATH SENTENCE FOR HOMOSEXUALS
In one video recorded in San Diego, CA, Farooq is seen discussing the similarities between Christianity and Islam with regard to homosexuality with a passerby – particularly emphasizing verses in the Old Testament saying that the punishment for homosexuality is death, and suggesting that the Quran’s prescription for homosexuality is a return to that true and un-tempered command found in the Old Testament. While discussing scripture with an interested passerby, he reads a verse from the Old Testament: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death,” Farooq then asks a what the punishment for homosexuality is today. “Isn’t [the Old Testament] still the word of God?” he asks.
In another video where Farooq is not in his usual environment behind a table somewhere outdoors, but instead, preaching to a congregation at a mosque, he likens homosexuality to bestiality while warning listeners not to engage in it, and further, not to support the people who do.
“If somebody naturally has such tendencies, that’s understandable and they need to work through that, whether it’s through counseling or through making duaa, […] but to act on them is no different if somebody has feelings towards bestiality or other types of perversions,” he warns his thousands of subscribers.
“CULTURE SHOCK” FOR LACK OF TURBANS
In April 2022, Farooq posted a video in which he “breaks his silence” on Afghanistan. In the video, he makes no mention of the Afghan women who are now subject to suffering under the repressive and extreme policies of the Taliban. Instead, he merely encourages viewers to donate money to the poor and hungry people in Afghanistan.
Farooq’s indifference to the role the Taliban plays in the suffering in Afghanistan is evident in another video discussing the resettlement of refugees from that country. In the video, Farooq suggests that one of the greatest humanitarian crises they will face is the “culture shock” in America, claiming that the lack of turbans and abayas will cause refugees “emotional distress” – making absolutely no mention of the Taliban’s atrocities in Afghanistan. Instead, he asks his viewers to donate, not money or food or toiletries, but chadors and abayas to be sent to resettled Afghan refugees. For Farooq, food and survival may be important, but apparently not quite as important as it is for women to remain covered.
It is entirely fitting that such a radical event should be held at a venue like the Islamic Center, which has a long and pronounced history of promoting Islamism to Floridians. ICT, also called Masjid al-Qassam (a term referring to an armed Islamic military branch), was founded by Mr. Mazen Abdel Abdulkarim Al Najjar.
Born in Gaza in 1957, Al Najjar moved to the United States in 1981 where he founded the World Islamic Study Enterprise (WISE) and the Islamic Concern Project (ICP), two think tanks that would later be described by the FBI and the Department of Justice as front organizations used to finance Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and several other terrorist organizations in the Middle East. The DOJ also said in a statement that: “Al-Najjar’s Tampa-based I.C.P. was responsible for petitioning for other known terrorists to obtain visas to enter the United States.” Al Najjar was deported in 2002.
Karim Abuzaid and Uthman Ibn Farooq, through their extensive online reach and YouTube presence, have become revered as celebrities in certain Muslim circles. Consequently, Floridians should exercise caution and scrutiny as to who these figures really are. They need to pay close attention to what these imams will be preaching to Muslim families in their state behind the closed doors of a terror-linked religious center.
Ahnaf Kalam is a writer for Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.