Thursday, February 22, 2024

Boston’s First Muslim City Councilor Cavorts with Extremists at Islamist Gala

NewsBoston’s First Muslim City Councilor Cavorts with Extremists at Islamist Gala
Boston City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson at a Council meeting in October, 2023. (Photo Dexter Van Zile)

Tania Fernandes Anderson, a “progressive” Boston City Councilor who described the October 7 massacre, rape and kidnapping of 1,200 Israeli civilians as a “military operation,” shared the podium with two radical imams at a fundraising gala held on the 100th day after the massacre. The gala took place at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, a mosque with extensive ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, on Saturday, January 13, 2023. It was held on behalf of the Praise Allah Mosque led by Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, a well-known extremist with a long history of promoting Islamist radicalism and anti-Americanism.

Siraj Wahhaj, an Islamist imam who allowed Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” who masterminded the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, to speak at his New York City mosque before the attack, also played a prominent role at the Boston gala, which was attended by several dozen supporters.

Faaruuq and Anderson portrayed Israel as the villain the Middle East, using Judaism as an ideology to legitimize the theft of land in the Middle East. During his opening remarks, Faaruuq said Muslims have an obligation to be the best people of all of humanity and to not “be like people who use divine writ” to assert the right commit murder to drive people out of their land. Later, Faaruuq declared, “We have nothing against Jews. There’s a difference between Jews and Zionists. We have to make a clear distinction about that because the religion of the Jews is Islam — under the leadership of Moses, peace be upon him. And Moses would never have allowed the kind of things that some people who do in his name or in the name of Jehovah.”

We have nothing against Jews. There’s a difference between Jews and Zionists.

Abdullah Faaruuq

Late last year, Faaruuq declared that Israelis are not Jews but are Zionists whose “souls are so tainted by the evils of greed and wanting to control people that they don’t care anything about God or their fellow man.” In 2010, Faaruuq called upon his supporters to “grab onto this rope, grab onto the typewriter, grab onto the shovel, grab onto the gun and the sword” in defense of their cause. Faaruuq is also well known for his praise of and advocacy for Aafia Siddiqui, a U.S. trained neuroscientist who, after attacking U.S. military and law enforcement personnel in Afghanistan in 2008, was convicted of multiple counts of attempted murder and is currently serving an 86-year prison sentence for her crimes.

Before Siddiqui’s 2010 conviction, Faaruuq downplayed the threat she posed to U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, telling interviewers from National Public Radio in New York City, “The government, I think has little to fear from a girl about five foot one and about 90 pounds.” In July 2023, Faaruuq told Focus on Western Islamism (FWI) that Siddiqui is ” about five foot one, 105 pounds. They had half a dozen military men with guns … and they couldn’t control a little girl.”

Imam Abdullah Faaruuq of the Mosque for Praising Allah in Roxbury, Mass. (Photo Dexter Van Zile.)

Despite his truculent politics, Faaruuq was an affable host. “Enjoying yourself?” he asked of the reporter from FWI who had written critically of him in the past. “I’m having a wonderful time,” was the response. Later, Faaruuq approached the reporter with a box used to collect offerings from the crowd.

“Donation?” he asked.

“No sir,” was the response.

“I didn’t think so,” he said.

During her talk, City Councilor Anderson echoed Faaruuq’s messaging about the alleged misdeeds of Israel and the United States, accusing the Jewish state of committing genocide against the Palestinians and using Judaism as justification for its actions. “The Israeli power elite has weaponized Judaism as part of their settler colonial project of the Israeli state that we condemn, not Judaism,” she said. Anderson also condemned the United States for supporting Israel in its war with Hamas. “If you know someone who is on a murderous rampage and you keep buying the person’s weapons, you are as responsible for the results as they are,” she said, adding that this is what the U.S. is doing in its support for Israel. “The nickname ‘genocide Joe,’ sadly, has not been given to the president without cause.”

The program for the event included a call to boycott companies related to Israel’s military.

The city councilor also called for the creation of an alliance to fight for the rights of Muslims and combat anti-black racism and Islamophobia in American society. Building this alliance, Anderson said, would require celebrating differences between people. “We must seek not to judge because … we are all valuable.” This coalition will include Christians, atheists, gays, lesbians, and people from all races and classes and immigration status, she said.

Anderson made her call to enlist the help of gays and lesbians in the fight to protect Muslim rights as Imam Wahhaj sat just a few feet away. Wahhaj, who leads Taqwa Mosque in New York City, has condemned homosexuality in hostile terms in a now-notorious sermon in which he called upon his followers to “hate” homosexuals, reminding them that the Islamic punishment for homosexuality is death. Similarly, Imam Faaruuq, who was also close by, condemned America for its recognition of same-sex marriage in 2022.

Faaruuq’s opposition to same-sex marriage and well-documented support for Aafia Siddiqui, has not stopped Anderson from aligning herself with his leadership. Late last year, she authored a City Council resolution (which passed without objection) praising Faaruuq for the leadership he provides to Muslims in the Boston area. When asked via email about Faaruuq’s anti-Americanism, his support for Aafia Siddiqui, and opposition to gay marriage, Anderson told FWI that, “In addressing Imam Faaruuq’s statements about the United States and his views on various social issues, it is important to recognize the diversity of opinions within any community.”

Siraj Wahhaj receiving an award from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2022. (YouTube screenshot)

The event ended with Wahhaj, the imam from New York City, soliciting donations from attendees to cover the cost of a planned renovation project unveiled at the event. In addition to more than doubling the amount of worship space to allow for 300 people to pray at Praise Allah Mosque, the renovated facility would include an expansion of the pre-existing food pantry at the site and create 38 low-income affordable housing units on the property. The project is publicized under the name “New Madinah” — a reference to the city in Saudi Arabia where Muhammad achieved political power in 622.

To encourage partygoers to dig deep for the cause, Wahhaj, who prior to the event, affably shook this reporter’s hand (before Faaruuq briefed him on his background), told his listeners about a recent visit to England where he participated in a fundraiser for the United Kingdom Islamic Foundation that raised approximately $232,000. According to Stand for Peace, a counter-extremist organization, “The Islamic Foundation is Britain’s leading publisher of books written by Abdul Ala Mawdudi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, a violent Islamist movement responsible for acts of genocide during Bangladesh’s 1971 War of Independence.” Stand for Peace states that in his book Islamic Law and Constitution, “Mawdudi wrote that his ideal state would bear ‘a kind of resemblance to the fascist and communist states.’”

In a world that makes sense, Anderson’s open affiliation of and praise for divisive extremism would result in her censure by the Boston City Council and maybe even a push for her removal from the body. But not in Boston.

Dexter Van Zile, the Middle East Forum’s Violin Family Research Fellow, serves as Managing Editor of Focus on Western Islamism.

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