GOP Governor Embraces Radical Muslim Cleric Who Somehow Makes Westboro Baptist Look Acceptable

GOP Governor Embraces Radical Muslim Cleric Who Somehow Makes Westboro Baptist Look Acceptable

How Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Imam Yasir Fahmy became strange bedfellows, sidelining the latter's anti-gay and anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Ilya Feoktistov
By

“When God talks about the types of relationships that a person is allowed to have,” thundered the American preacher from his pulpit last year, “and he says that it is the marriage between a man and the woman in holy matrimony, in accordance with the Bible, then that is the truth…God makes it very clear – there is only one path: his path.”

On February 1, 2019, the Republican governor of this preacher’s state visited his house of worship and embraced the popular clergyman, telling the hundreds of gathered congregants: “He asked me to come visit with you, and I said I would be honored and pleased to do that.”

Obama is the son of adultery…Sort of common, unfortunately in our country,” is the type of political commentary one might hear from the pulpit at this preacher’s house of worship on any given day. But this did not happen in Trump country. The Republican governor, who told the preacher that his sermons are filled with “such beauty and such power about faith and love and community,” is Charlie Baker of Massachusetts. He says he fully supports gay marriage and transgender issues.

When It’s Okay to Be Anti-Gay

As the reader might have guessed by now, there is only one kind of preacher who can hold such views about traditional marriage between a man and a woman and still be acclaimed by the left-wing Massachusetts establishment. The preacher is Imam Yasir Fahmy of the ill-famed Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC). I replaced “Allah” with “God” and “Quran” with “Bible” in the quote above.

“Behind fornication,” yelled Fahmy into the ISBCC’s mic during Friday prayers on February 9, 2018. “Behind the, the willingness or the allowance to allow my sexual exploits to be unrestricted, that I — that I please myself sexually in any way that I want, in any, you know, manifestation of that — behind all of that is a very big injustice.”

According to Fahmy, sexual liberty is one of the “three pillars of evil that corrode the very essence of society.” “Don’t indulge in those vices,” he told the 1,500 or so Bostonians who come every Friday to hear him preach, before comparing those who have sex outside of a traditional marriage to people who engage in “stealing, cheating, killing, murdering, pillaging, raping,” with all being “rooted in us indulging our base desires.”

Baker, it is clear, would never embrace a Christian fundamentalist who preached that way, though he would be hard pressed to find one so intolerant outside of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Anti-Semitism on Blast? Why Not!

Indeed, Baker’s new imam friend also frequently whips up Jew-hatred at the ISBCC. For instance, in the summer of 2017, after three Muslim men snuck out of the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex occupying the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and murdered two Israeli police officers, Israel was forced to close the mosque for Friday prayers as police searched for additional weapons and crime evidence inside. Deadly riots ensued as anti-Semitic imams in the Palestinian territories and the world over took advantage of the crisis to dust off their sermons about how the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque was in danger from the unholy Jews.

According to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL’s) report on the 2017 Temple Mount crisis: “Widespread conspiracy theories about nefarious efforts by Jews plotting to remove Muslims from the site continue to reverberate throughout Arab and Muslim world.” Fahmy decided to invoke this “Al-Aqsa libel” conspiracy theory in his July 21, 2017 sermon, which he called “Every Muslim Should Care About Masjid [Mosque] al-Aqsa.”

“Brothers and sisters,” began Imam Fahmy (some redundant Arabic not quoted):

many of us have been watching the news in the past week, observing what is happening in al-Masjid al-Aqṣā…That for the first time in so many years, for the Friday prayer that we’re praying right now not happen, for the Masjid al-Aqṣā to be closed down, is abomination to Islām and Muslimīn…So when the believer sees what is happening to those sacred spaces that, the boots of soldiers are crawling or walking on those spaces, it breaks the soul of the believer…The greatest of oppressors and wrongdoers are [those] who prevent the house of Allāh, to have Allāh’s name remembered there.


Half a year later, when President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Fahmy was at it again, saying that recognizing thousands of years of Jewish religious and political history in Jerusalem is just a “senseless proclamation that mean[s] nothing.” He warned that the entire world will have to answer to God if “we collectively as human beings, don’t wake up to the desecration that is happening in those lands.” Then he repeated the lies, half-lies, and fabrications that have stoked Jew-hatred among historically-moderate Muslims everywhere:

Brothers and sisters, when we think about Palestine, when we think about the Holy Land, we have to think about Allāh…[The Palestinians] are being restricted by air, land, and sea to not have access to their homes…To not have electricity except for an hour or two a day. To have contaminated water because of sewage. Children who are starving in lands — over a million children who are food-deprived…There is no good Christian, there is no good Jew, there is no good Muslim who will see the type of oppression and injustice that is happening in that land and say, ‘The prophets would be okay with that.’…That means we can’t be silent, we can’t be apathetic because if we are, then we are silent Satans.


In all of the Fahmy sermons attacking Israel, there is one word that the imam never uses: “Israel.” He religiously avoids naming the country, following the fashion of those in the Muslim world who want to see it destroyed.

Prior to coming to the ISBCC, Fahmy studied as a scholar in residence at the Islamic Center of Passaic County in New Jersey under imam and convicted Hamas member Mohammad Qatanani. Fahmy’s mentor lied on his immigration forms about his Hamas membership, and the U.S. government has been trying to deport him for years.

Why Did Baker Visit This Mosque, Anyway?

Now the kicker: It was a gay Jewish leader, together with the New England branch of the ADL, who put Baker up to visiting the ISBCC and embracing its homophobic, anti-Semitic, Hamas-connected imam. Jeremy Burton, the openly homosexual executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC), and Robert Trestan, the executive director of the ADL’s New England branch, let Fahmy come speak at the JCRC and ADL’s memorial service to the victims of last year’s Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting. Baker was invited, and claims Fahmy’s emotional speech there against anti-Semitism moved him to visit and embrace Fahmy at the ISBCC.

Trestan says it was not him who invited Fahmy, which shifts the blame onto the JCRC’s Burton. Indeed, Burton rushed to embrace Fahmy in the wake of President Trump’s victory. As The Boston Globe reported on March 23, 2017: “In Boston and across the country, a winter of persecution has brought a new warmth and vitality to Muslim-Jewish relationships.” The Globe quoted Burton: “In this moment of crisis for both communities…there’s been a clear sense that we need to be able to stand together where we can.”

Exactly a week after Burton stood with Fahmy at the ISBCC, Fahmy welcomed Tariq Ramadan, the notoriously anti-Semitic French Islamist, to the same stage. Ten months after that, Ramadan was arrested by French authorities for raping two Muslim women. One claims she suffered “blows to the face and body, forced sodomy, rape with an object, and being dragged by the hair to the bathtub and urinated on.” So much for Fahmy’s warnings against “pleas[ing] myself sexually in any way that I want.” And so much for Burton’s feminism.

It has lately become clear that, the left’s claims to oppose sexual repression, anti-Semitism, and violence, only apply to Christians and Jews, not Muslims. Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi. Burton once wrote: “Do not forget the LGBTQ youth who are being raised in Haredi [Orthodox Jewish] homes right now. I was one of them.” And, elsewhere: “The first time I contemplated suicide was at a charedi [Orthodox Jewish] middle school in Manhattan…Because this community, the community I grew up in, fosters a culture of conformity, one where the message to youth is that ‘there is only one way to live, and it is our way’…I feel ashamed to ignore the charedim.”

Hypocrisy Abounds

For someone who righteously claims to “actually give a damn about LGBTQ equality,” Burton certainly has very little shame about ignoring the plight of gay Muslims in Fahmy’s mosque, who are compared by him to rapists and murderers in front of the gathered Muslim community. With such obvious contempt for moral principle, there is always the question: Are such people fools or knaves?

Under a “fools” analysis, leftist Jews are simply paralyzed by their foolish decision to take such a hard left turn after President Trump’s election that they are now being pushed backwards on Jewish civil rights, swept by the tide of anti-Semitism surging on the left, and powerless against the gravitas of the rising stars of the Democratic Party. In 2019, they’ve lost the moral high ground on anti-Semitism to their political adversaries; and to continue to fight anti-Semitism, they must fight their own.

Boston’s left-wing Jewish leaders have invested decades of Jewish support, resources, and energy into leading and inspiring every one of the leftist “social justice” causes. Social justice, more than Judaism, is their religion. But all this work is now catastrophically backfiring. Last year, when Burton tried to get Massachusetts to pass an anti-boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) law, he was defeated by the same left-wing groups liberal Jews have been supporting for decades.

“This time they are fighting for the right to discriminate against Israelis,” Burton complained about his allies. “Massachusetts’ civic leaders, and JCRC’s network alongside them, have boldly led the nation in rejecting bias and bigotry in so many areas in recent years – standing up for the transgender community, for women, for the disabled, and for immigrants. Now they have a responsibility to reject this kind of discrimination as well.”

Surprising none but Burton, Massachusetts’ civic leaders rejected his pleas instead. Is Burton really that naïve? This brings us to the “knaves” explanation. It could very well be that Trestan and Burton, together with many leftist Jewish leaders like them, care very little about anti-Semitism or the plight of gay Muslims compared to how much they care about being people of the left, people on “the right side of history.”

Under the “knaves” analysis, leftist Jewish leaders have long ago put their other religion – utopian universalism – and their party, which promotes it, over their own people’s interests. The future of the Democratic Party, however, as is increasingly becoming clear with Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is not looking good for the Jews. If Republicans like Baker continue to get their advice on Jewish issues from the likes of Burton and the ADL, it will be the future of the Republican Party as well.

Ilya Feoktistov is the executive director of Americans for Peace and Tolerance.

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