CAIR, the Council for American-Islamic Relations, is an Islamic pressure group masquerading as a Muslim civil rights organization. The Hamas massacre in Israel has brought it back in the news on the taxpayer-supported PBS NewsHour on Monday – not for its previously documented links to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, but to be coddled.
No, the PBS producers and host Amna Nawaz somehow thought it was a good idea to book the executive director of CAIR, a group linked to Hamas, to condemn the murder of a Palestinian-American boy in Illinois, and suggest Israel was dangerously inflaming rhetoric by comparing the rapes and murders and kidnappings committed by Hamas to the 9/11 attacks.
Nawaz teed up Mitchell, who tried to blame the attack on Republicans and more specifically Florida Governor Ron DeSantis:
Nawaz, who is Muslim and has used her journalistic position to fret over alleged anti-Muslim feeling in America post 9/11, actually suggested that Israel calling the Hamas massacre of Jewish civilians their 9/11 moment could lead to violent attacks in America:
By contrast, an Islamic terror attack in Brussels that killed two people was relegated to the NewsHour news roundup and not granted its own full story.
7:24:13 pm (ET)
Amna Nawaz: The brutal murder of a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy named Wadea Al-Fayoume on Saturday has left a community grieving and fearful about growing anti-Islamic sentiment during the Israel-Hamas war.
His father spoke shortly before his son’s funeral today.
Oday Al-Fayoume, Father of Wadea Al-Fayoume (through interpreter): I am here because I’m the kid’s father, not because I’m political or religious or anything. I am the father of a child whose rights were violated. I hope this wakes us all up.
Amna Nawaz: I’m joined by Edward Ahmed Mitchell. He’s a civil rights attorney and national deputy executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Edward, welcome.
So, Wadea buried today. He just turned 6 years old a few weeks ago. Tell us about this boy. Tell us about his family. What should we know?
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, Council on American-Islamic Relations: This young boy like any other young boy. He loved sports. He loved drawing. He loved his family.
He was a young man with a promising future that was stolen from him in an act of anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim hate. I wish I could say that our organization was surprised by this, but we’re not. We have seen a week of horrific anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian rhetoric, and it has culminated in the loss of this young boy’s life.
Amna Nawaz: Tell me about his community. They live about 40 miles outside of Chicago in Plainfield.
What are you hearing from folks there?
Edward Ahmed Mitchell: I think everyone is shocked and stunned.
Obviously, they have been horrified to see the violence happening overseas impacting Israelis and Palestinians, and others, but for it to come home and impact them directly was not something they expected. So I think everyone’s rallying around the family, trying to support them, and also sending a message that this is the danger of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hysteria.
And we cannot let this happen again. No one else should have to go through what this young boy’s family is going through right now.
Amna Nawaz: Because it’s been reported, Edward, this little boy was stabbed 26 times, his mother 12 times. She survived. We should say she’s in hospital recovering. The sheriff’s office there said that the man charged was their landlord, a 71-year-old man named Joseph Czuba, and targeted them because they are Muslim.
The Justice Department says it’s now opening a federal hate crimes investigation. What’s your reaction to that? Is that welcome news?
Edward Ahmed Mitchell: The FBI is doing the right thing.
This absolutely does appear to be a hate crime. The landlord, interestingly enough, was previously friendly to the family, even helped build a tree house for the boy. But then, over the past week, he became furious about what he was seeing in the news. He went to the apartment, started an argument with the mother, said that Muslims needed to die and tried to kill her.
And when she managed to get away, he killed her son instead. This is clearly a hate crime, and the FBI should act accordingly.
Amna Nawaz: You know, we have seen statements now from President and first lady Biden, from Vice President Harris, second gentleman Emhoff condemning the attack, saying hate has no place in America.
We have also seen a number of statements, largely from Republicans, including a candidate for president Ron DeSantis, saying the U.S. should be rejecting all Palestinian refugees at this time.
What kind of impact do those statements have on the general public?
Edward Ahmed Mitchell: Look, I would say the American Muslim community has been extremely disappointed with the statements we have heard not only from people on the political right, but also the political left.
There has been a week of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian rhetoric. It almost seems like we’re back to the years after 9/11. We have seen just the complete ignoring the Palestinian suffering. We have seen hysteria whipped out about the supposed threat of Muslims and Palestinians in our country.
And that has consequences. So I’m happy to see President Biden and others condemning this sort of violence and sort of hate, but they need to speak up for all human life, all Palestinian lives, and say that this is always unacceptable.
And we should not have to welcome refugees from Gaza. We should be protecting the people of Gaza, so they can stay there in their homes, and not be forced out of their homes due to the Israeli government’s bombing campaign.
But to the extent some refugees do come here, certainly, they should be welcomed.
Amna Nawaz: Edward, as you know, there’s been a generation of Muslim Americans, of Arab Americans who know how fast and how dangerously anti-Islamic and anti-Arab rhetoric can take hold and spark violence. We saw that after 9/11 here in the United States.
Israel has now called this attack by Hamas their 9/11. Have you seen anything else that leads you to believe there could be more attacks of this kind that killed this little 6-year-old boy?
Edward Ahmed Mitchell: If the anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim rhetoric and hysteria that we saw over the past week continues for weeks to come, I am concerned about what would happen.
But I do want to emphasize one thing. The American Muslim community is not going back to the years of the post-9/11 America, where we were subject to discrimination and bigotry, Islamophobia was out of control. We’re not going back to that. We are a strong community, a confident community, and no one is going to bully us into being silent about the suffering of the Palestinian people are bully us into not going to our mosques or not praying or living our lives.
We are going to carry on, God willing. We would just encourage our neighbors to speak up for the safety of all people. And we encourage our political leaders especially to do that.
Amna Nawaz: In the 30 seconds or so we have left, for folks out there who are fearful as a result of this attack, what’s your message to them?
Edward Ahmed Mitchell:
Be safe, be vigilant, be cautious, but carry on. Be an activist, be a worshiper of God, do what you would normally do, but just be careful.
And we should be doing that all the time, given all the threats that exist here and around the world. But we cannot let anti-Palestinian or anti-Muslim extremism scare us away from doing what is right and living our lives.
Amna Nawaz: That is Edward Ahmed Mitchell, national deputy executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Edward, thank you so much for your time.
Edward Ahmed Mitchell: Thank you.