Al-Hibri appears to transmute the rhetoric of Islamism into sweet music to progressive ears, and her associations only reinforce that image. She served on the advisory board of Alamoudi’s American Muslim Council, defended it in print against accusations of extremism and made joint appearances with Alamoudi even after his statements in support of terrorism.
In 1995 she even testified at a congressional hearing against the Comprehensive Anti-Terrorism Act’s ability to cut off funds to terrorist groups, because, “it gives the President the ability to designate, with no effective recourse, certain groups as terrorist”. The America Muslim Council, whose national advisory board Al-Hibri sat on, had reason to fear that portion of the act. Some years later the AMC would be caught encouraging donations to the Holy Land Foundation and the Global Relief Foundation, both charities affiliated with terrorists.
In the early days of 2001, Al-Hibri traveled to the Afghan border and criticized the Western press for “sensationalizing” Taliban atrocities and using them “as an opportunity to attack Islam”. After the attacks of September 11, she cautioned against bombing Al-Qaeda and Taliban targets during Ramadan. And that same year she defended Wahhabism as part of Islam’s “religious diversity” and its “marketplace of ideas”.
Al-Hibri appeared at an ISNA panel two months ago to call on Obama to stand up for Muslims against their American critics. And her insistence that no Muslim country practices true Sharia law appears to echo a familiar Islamist slogan. When the Archbishop of Canterbury endorsed bringing Sharia to the UK, Al-Hibri gave an approving quote. Last year at the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, she called for a “a council of scholars” to serve as a central authority on Islam for the United States.
Azizah Al-Hibri’s feminist credentials rest heavily on Karamah, an organization of Muslim women lawyers, primarily funded by her brother Ibrahim El-Hibri and nephew Fuad El-Hibri’s “El-Hibri Charitable Foundation”. The El-Hibri clan are a curious footnote in the War on Terror. Ibrahim El-Hibri had made a fortune doing business with Saudi Arabia. His company dominates the manufacture of the anthrax vaccine and suspicions have been raised by the Wall Street Journal about leaks from their company into the hands of terrorists. Regardless of all that, there is something ironic in Azizah Al-Hibri’s feminist organization being funded by her brother’s charitable trust with a board of trustees that includes two male members of the family, but not her.
Another donor to Karamah was Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of the famously progressive Saudi royal family. A kingdom well known for promoting feminism and women’s rights, which no doubt in between banning women from driving cars and distributing such feminist tracts as “Women Who Deserve To Go To Hell” funds organizations that empower women. Rather than organizations that put a faux feminist face on the Islamic repression of women.
Yet the oddest moment in Al-Hibri’s career of promoting Islamic law in the United States may have come when before Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, she actually wrote an article discussing how a sitting President of the United States might be tried under Islamic law.
“Had the President been testifying in an Islamic court, he would not have been placed in this terrible predicament in the first instance,” Al-Hibri wrote. As an added bonus, to Bill, she added that under Islamic law, it would be his accusers “would be punished for committing the crime of qathf”. In a further reminder of the Islamic commitment to freedom of speech; “Others who violated his privacy and broadcast his behavior are guilty and, if not repentant, are punishable.” We can only guess if this involved stoning Matt Drudge.
Al-Hibri went on to point out that four witnesses to the crime were lacking. The same law that makes it so easy for gang rapists to accuse their victim of adultery, while leaving her helpless to defend against the charges. Then she wrote, “Coming from a religious background, the President may have understood the religious significance of penetration and hence avoided it.” Clearly Bill Clinton wasn’t just the nation’s first Black president. He was also its first Muslim president.
At no point in this surreal article did Al-Hibri acknowledge that adultery is a crime punishable by death or vicious corporal punishment in much of the Muslim world. Instead she used a congressional investigation into presidential malfeasance to misrepresent Islamic law, which lashes or stones adulterers to death, as a more liberal code.
What can such a woman offer to the cause of international religious freedom? Only Obama and Bill know.
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