A Project of the Council on American-Islamic Relations

ISLAMOPHOBIC ORGANIZATIONS: American Islamic Forum for Democracy

American Islamic Forum for Democracy

Type of Organization: Politics, Education

The American Islamic Forum for Democracy is a right-wing think tank founded in 2003, dedicated to “openly countering the common belief that the Muslim faith is inextricably rooted to the concept of the Islamic State (Islamism),” although it is allied with many Anti-Muslim hate groups. The organization’s work centers around the construction of informational programs and events, intended to counter political Islam. AIFD was founded by Zuhdi Jasser, an influential individual widely cited on the subject of Islamic radicalism.

The AIFD states that their mission is to battle “Islamo-fascism.” Despite identifying as a Muslim, Jasser has associated himself with a number of anti-Muslim organizations. For instance, he serves as an advisory board member for the anti-Muslim group Clarion Project. As a result, several right-wing media outlets and organizations have labeled him as a ‘moderate’ Muslim. The anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy lauded him as a “Defender of the Home Front” in October 2007.

Jasser is a proponent of aggressive counter-terrorism policies against the Muslim community, publicly defending the New York Police Department’s Muslim surveillance program. He has also testified before Congress regarding the lack of Muslim cooperation with law enforcement. In 2010, Jasser wrote a New York Post op-ed in which he expressed vehement opposition to Park51, contending that “the center is trying to change the narrative of 9/11—to diminish what happened at Ground Zero. That can only weaken us against the very real threat of Islamist radicalization.” He has also claimed that a majority of mosques in the United States are “led by imams who are Islamists — who believe that in Muslim-majority countries the state should be identified as an Islamic state.”

In 2018, Jasser wrote on the AIFD website that he hoped the Trump administration would work to  “effectuate solutions against radical Islamism and the conveyor belt of global political Islam.”

In 2014, the AIFD received $45,000 from the Abstraction Fund, a group known to support far-right anti-Muslim hate groups such as the Center for Security Policy and Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism. In the past, the AIFD has also received funding from known anti-Muslim groups such as the Middle East Forum and the Alan and Hope Winters foundation.

Frequently, Jasser writes for nationally syndicated publications such as the New York Post, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Times. He also often appears on national television channels such as Fox News, CNN, CBS, and MSNBC.

During his three years (2013-16) as commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Jasser engaged with many political actors, accruing significant political credibility and sway as he has testified to a number of congressional committees. At committee meetings, he has spoken on topics ranging from “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community” to the situation for religious minorities in Syria.

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