The global campaign to vilify and silence a prominent human rights activist who fled Bangladesh in 2019 has spread to the United States. Two Bangladeshi Islamists, one from New York and the other from New Jersey, vilified Asad Noor during 15-minute rant filmed outside an Islamist gathering in Philadelphia last weekend.
In a video posted on YouTube on August 21, 2023, the two Islamists boasted about Noor’s inability to prevent Bangladeshi hate preacher Mizanur Rahman Azhari from speaking at a conference organized by the Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA). MUNA is the U.S.-based affiliate of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh. In 2013, one of its former leaders, Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, who currently lives in England, was sentenced to death by a Bangladesh tribunal for his alleged role leading a death squad that abducted and murdered 18 people during the country’s 1971 Liberation War.
The invective directed at Noor and others by Islamists on the streets of Philadelphia comes weeks after Islamists in Bangladesh, England, and France have called for his death on Facebook. In early August, an imam in Bangladesh posted a fake video of Noor being chased by a crowd intent on lynching him.
Noor is the target of vilification because he has warned Western audiences about Azhari’s Islamist leanings, which include hostility toward homosexuals and Jews and contempt for notions of free speech. These warnings have prompted Bangladeshi Muslims living in Western countries to vilify Noor as an apostate and enemy of Islam. Noor has also documented the death threats another imam, Anayetullah Abbasi, has leveled against him.
During last weekend’s tirade, the New Jersey-based M. Rahman Masum, whose YouTube channel has 68,000 followers, boasted of the freedom he enjoys as a result of living in the United States, which he declared “is the greatest country in the world because of how tolerant it is! This isn’t Nazi Germany.”
Moments later, Masum warned Noor and another human rights activist, UK-based Mufassil Islam, that if they visited America, they would be expelled from the country for the blasphemous things they have said about Islam.
“When you get here in the morning, we will have you deported by the evening, Inshallah,” Masum said. “And we promise you, no matter where you are, whether you’re in Germany or any other country anyone who says anything against Islam or Muslims, you are the biggest hate preachers of all! And you are haters of Islam, and you are propagandists. If you’re so powerful, come to America, get here in the morning, and we’ll kick you out by the evening!”
Masum also reported that Azhari gave a conciliatory talk at the MUNA conference, telling the thousands who gathered to hear him how much he respected American democracy. “And as a Muslim and a Muslim scholar, Azhari knows that he must follow the laws of the country he is in!” Masum declared.
The people who criticize Azhari and attack the Muslim faith, “come from bad families and they are the fruits of failed marriages,” Masum said. “You will see that they are psychologically disturbed. And if they’re not, they are liars and propagandists against the one religion of 1.6 billion Muslims. Every day, they spread propaganda against our religion! America would never even do this. Stop watching them, and their views will never be known by anyone.”
Masum added that one day, Azhari will eventually settle in the United States where he will be asked fight “on the side of Muslims and fight against the enemies of Islam. So that insects like you cannot continue to do these things!”
In response to the invective, Noor said that while he is surprised that Azhari was allowed into the U.S. to speak at the MUNA convention, he was not all surprised that the imam spoke in conciliatory terms during his talk.
“Of course, he won’t say anything against the US, or the Jews, or the Americans,” Noor said. “He is not a fool.”
Speaking alongside Masum, Brooklyn-based Nayeb Ali, a bus driver in New York City whose Facebook page has 63,000 followers, said that an overflow crowd of 5,000 attendees listened to Azhari’s talk at the MUNA conference.
“Many people had to watch the live streams from outside because they could not fit inside the auditorium,” Ali said. “And they also had to shut down these escalators and elevators because of those devils and their propaganda.”
MUNA officials have not responded to a query about the rant that took place during its conference. Ali, who posted the video attacking Noor on his YouTube channel, has not responded to inquiries sent to him through his Facebook page.
Noor told FWI that the invective directed at him outside the MUNA convention is “what happens when a hate speaker gets a chance to speak in any of the civilized western countries. The followers get an invisible license of spreading violence more prominently and precisely.”
Dexter Van Zile is managing editor of Focus on Western Islamism.