On radio Tuesday, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, joined Glenn to discuss what is being done to confront radical Islamism. As a Muslim himself, Jasser offered a very unique perspective on the situation.
"Muslims aren't making it clear that we're not Islamists. And we've been painfully silent," Jasser said, adding, "We need to have that room to differentiate between Muslims who are against theocracy and Muslims who are Islamists that are part of the problem.
When Glenn asked the most pressing question of how to tell the difference, Jasser left no room for confusion in his response.
The difference is: Those who have allegiance to the Islamic State (be it all 56 majority Islamic states that are identity, and with it comes jihad and a dedication to being a citizen of that Islamic State, to fight for it).
Or you believe in the secular state, the separation of mosque and state or church and state, as our establishment clause calls for and, ultimately, you are a warrior against theocracy, against Islamism and for liberty.
Later in the conversation, Glenn shifted to presidential politics, asking if there is a candidate that Jasser thinks "gets it." Here is what he said:
Well, I can tell you, we graded the candidates in the first two debates. And Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio were at the top of that. Ted Cruz was high up in there in being able to articulate that there's a problem with a faction of political movements of Islamists, and there's a position for America -- a role for America to play in the world. And we graded them very high compared to the other candidates.
Listen to the segment or read the full transcript below.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
GLENN: Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Good friend of the program. Great American. I believe he was a captain in the Navy. Zuhdi, correct me if I'm wrong.
ZUHDI: No. Lieutenant commander.
GLENN: Lieutenant commander.
ZUHDI: Great to be with you, Glenn.
GLENN: Great to talk to you. Zuhdi, you're really, truly one of the good guys and a guy that I always look to as one of the first real heroes of my lifetime standing up and doing the dangerous things when it really counts. I mean, I think, after September 11th, the world changed. And people began -- regular people began to risk their lives. And you have done this now for 15 years. You were doing it before. But you were ringing the bell and trying to get, you know, the rest of the world to stand and up see the difference between a Muslim and an Islamist.
Zuhdi, I want to play some audio here and get your reaction as a Muslim.
There is this debate going on on whether a Muslim should be president of the United States. And I think Ben Carson is answering this inartfully, but I think if I understand him right, I think I agree with him. And I want to see -- I kind of want to do a bigot check here on me. Not on him. On me. And make sure that I'm seeing things the proper way. Here's what he said to Jake Tapper.
JAKE: I think one of the things, you are a member of a church that there's a lot of misinformation about, the Seventh Day Adventist church. You're an African-American. You know what it's like for people to make false assumptions about you, and you seem to be doing the same thing with Muslims.
BEN: In which way am I making a false assumption about them?
JAKE: You're assuming that Muslim Americans put their religion ahead of the country.
BEN: I'm assuming that if you accept all the tenets of Islam, that you'll have a very difficult time abiding under the Constitution of the United States.
VOICE: This interview is over.
GLENN: Okay. Stop there.
So here's the thing, Zuhdi, and I don't know whether this -- whether Sharia law would be classified as a tenet of Islam. I know it's a tenet of Islamists. Would you agree with him there or not?
ZUHDI: Well, I certainly -- you know, listen, as you said, the reason I'm doing all this work is our community has been so silent that, you know, it's no wonder most Americans that are doubly as fearful of Islam today as they were after 9/11. Because Muslims aren't making it clear that we're not Islamists. And we've been painfully silent.
Now, having said that, if you want Muslims to be in that time in history that Christianity was -- as our Founding Fathers were, where they were not Christianists, they were devout Christians that rejected theocracy. If we're going to make that stand, which I think is the most important stand in the world today, is this battle within the house of Islam. Then we need to have that room to differentiate between Muslims who are against theocracy and Muslims who are Islamists that are part of the problem.
And, by the way, it's not just about being president. It's about security clearances. It's about every position in government, whether you take that oath as the president, or oath as a military office, or oath in Homeland Security. If you're an Islamist, you should not be getting those clearances. But if you're a Muslim, who is anti-theocratic, you are not only an essential patriot, you're probably one of the most important ideologues on the planet today in order to defeat this threat.
GLENN: So here's the problem, Zuhdi. And we're seeing this overseas. We're seeing this with the people who are coming out of the Middle East, the, quote, refugees out of the Middle East. You don't know how to tell the difference between an Islamist who is lying to you and just saying that they're a Muslim and a Muslim, who is actually -- because a Muslim, as I define a Muslim, compared to an Islamist -- and correct me if I'm wrong, Zuhdi, but I write about it in my book, that a Muslim by definition in today's world is a reformer of Islam and an Islamist is somebody who believes in all of the tenets of the Koran and the Hadith with Sharia law as it's understood in the Middle East. So how do you know what the difference is?
ZUHDI: Well, the difference is, those who have allegiance to the Islamic State, be it all 56 majority Islamic states that are identity. And with it comes jihad and a dedication to being a citizen of that Islamic State, to fight for it. Or you believe in the secular state, the separation of mosque and state or church and state, as our establishment clause calls for and, ultimately, you are a warrior against theocracy, against Islamism and for liberty.
So those people coming here, they're coming here because they're part of a jihad. They're our enemy. If they're coming here seeking freedom like my family did, then they're not only allies -- and that's why we have to be careful. There's ISIS already in all 50 states. But yet the refugees coming here for the most part and see that narrative that the West stands for their only solace against the two evils of political Islam or Islamism and secular HEP atocracy of Assad and other dictators of the Middle East -- so we can't change who we are, what our Statue of Liberty stands for. Yes, we should vet the refugees. But if we say we're not going to take anyone, remember, most of the jihadists that attacked us, are -- might be kids of immigrants. But they certainly aren't new refugees for the most part. I'm not saying there aren't any threats there, but we can't change who we are, because otherwise we become the Russias and the Saudi Arabias of the world and take nobody.
GLENN: But here's the thing. I have gone off -- and I know this is a controversial stance. But I don't know -- I'm not qualified myself to do this. And we're having the United Nations do all of our vetting for the refugees, which I think is a tremendous mistake. But I look at the refugee status and say, "Look, Saudi Arabia and everybody else, they have plenty of room for refugees who are Muslim, and they're more qualified to figure out which one is which. Good guys and bad guys. We're not. We won't even admit that there are bad guys in that mix." So we've got to take care of the Christians who cannot be taken care of in the Middle East. They're not going to find a friendly home -- you know, you're not going to bring your Bible into Saudi Arabia. They have to get out of there.
Meanwhile, all of the Islamic nations in the Middle East are not taking refugees. They're expecting -- they're expecting the West to take all of them. How, Zuhdi, would we possibly know -- what's a litmus test that you would think would even work on who the good guys and the bad guys are?
ZUHDI: Well, remember, our country has fought so many wars. In the Vietnam War, World War II, we took in refugees, and we had ways to tell who were the Vietnamese that were with us and who were fighting against us. And yet we didn't say, "Well, no refugees because there may be some communists in those that we take in." Yes, there is a problem, yes, with an administration that won't even say the word "Islamist" as the president caters to the blasphemy laws of all Islamic states and doesn't even identify Islamism as a threat. We'll have major difficulties. But in the Cold War, we were mastering the fact that Soviet War Theory, Communist war Theory was our enemy.
GLENN: Yeah, but we admitted it at that point.
I mean, Zuhdi, honestly, if I'm president of the United States, I go and I find people like you and say, "Okay. Help us weed the good guys from the bad guys." But that's not what our administration is doing. That's not what the last administration was doing. They refused to even look at it as if Islamists even exist.
ZUHDI: That's why we have to thread this needle, where if we have leaders -- I'm getting whiplash where now we've had six and a half years of an administration that caters to the Islamist. And now we're finally having courageous candidates that are identifying that there's a problem in the house of Islam, but we need to thread the needle and say, "You know, it's not a battle between Islam and Christians or Islam and Christianity or the West. It's a battle between liberty versus the theocrats. And we have to bond with those Muslims." We have a coalition of reformers that you know many of. Including Kad Ahmed and Assir Nomani and Zani BelHEP. And so many who could help our administration vet the jihadist versus the non-jihadist. And yet we can't even set foot in the White House because he wants to have a coalition to fight al-Qaeda. It's like having a coalition against drug violence and inviting the meth distributors into the White House to help you fight drug violence. It just doesn't make any sense.
GLENN: You're exactly right. So yesterday at the United Nations, the president spoke. And then Rouhani spoke. And then Putin spoke. I don't know. Did you see any of the speeches?
ZUHDI: I did. Yes.
GLENN: Did any of those make sense to you?
ZUHDI: They make sense if you have a new unraveling of the world order, where the Islamists are filling in a vacuum where you had an opportunity in Arab wakening that could have seen the ushering in of a change where Islam is going through that time in history, that the West went through between the 15th and 18th century. But now what makes sense is, we've aggregated that to the Russias and the Irans of the world. We're handing Iran $150 billion to help Assad.
I don't know what's happening with the meeting between Putin and Obama. But the bottom line is, a genocide against the Sunnis in Syria is turning against genocide against minorities. And we're seeing ISIS fill that vacuum. And now Iran is going to homogenize the Middle East. The world order is unraveling. The refugees are one symptom of it. And if we don't take sides within the house of Islam and get candidates that can articulate that Islamism is the problem and we're going to take the side of liberty and not alienate a core of the world's population, but yet realize that we have friends within this revolution happening.
GLENN: Have you had any candidate on either side reach out to you and talk to you about the Islamic world?
ZUHDI: We have had a few candidate conversations. And I think you can tell some of them that are able to be articulate on this issue and those that aren't. But I -- I want to be careful.
GLENN: Have you seen anyone -- yeah. I don't want to put you -- you feel free to say no. Because I don't want to put you in a spot because you need all the allies you can get.
GLENN: Is there a candidate that you see that you say, this guy gets it. Even if he doesn't get anything else, he gets this -- or she.
ZUHDI: Well, I can tell you, we graded the candidates in the first two debates. And Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio were at the top of that. Ted Cruz was high up in there in being able to articulate that there's a problem with a faction of political movements of Islamists, and there's a position for America -- a role for America to play in the world. And we graded them very high compared to the other candidates.
GLENN: Zuhdi, what can we do to help you? I'm starting to just be much more action-oriented. I'm tired of just talking about things. And I'm looking to support the people that are out on the front lines. What can somebody do that is listening to you and is like, I want to help. I want to be part of the solution. What can people do? How can they help you?
ZUHDI: When we have these conversations, to realize a think tank like the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and our coalition, the American Islamic Leadership Coalition, should be playing an active role publicly in media, in government, in universities.
Yale just had a center bought by another Wahhabi petro-dollar HEP Saudi who spent $10 million for a center on Sharia. Georgetown has one. Harvard does. I mean, if you wonder where the moderate voices of Islam are, we're being drowned out by the petro HEP Islamists that are spending millions to make sure that we don't have a voice. And, you know, we need to be at the table. And then you'll realize that there's a diversity within the house of Islam, and we're not all -- and this is why candidates are confused. Because the moderate voices are shut out by the institutions that are making us less and less relevant. And your listeners and Americans can make sure we have a seat at the table. No different than the Founding Fathers did in that battle against against theocracy.
GLENN: Zuhdi, always good to talk to you, my friend. Stay safe. God bless you.
ZUHDI: Thank you. God bless.
GLENN: You can find Zuhdi. His website is AIFdemocracy.org. That's AIFdemocracy.org. Truly one of the good guys. And a guy who risks his life every day to stand up against Islamists as a Muslim himself.