“To illustrate the danger of the first approach of evil habit, the Arabs have a proverb, ‘Beware of the camel’s nose,’” wrote 19th century British author, Lydia Sigourney.
Why? Because once the camel gets its nose inside the tent, his body will soon follow. And once the camel gets inside the tent, the former occupants face a choice: leave the tent, or lie down in the camel’s bed.
The Republican primary victory of Imad Afif “David” Ramadan in the 87th legislative district in Virginia on Aug. 23 reminds me of this Arab proverb – not because Ramadan is the camel’s nose. If anything, he is the camel’s tail.
Imad Ramadan is just the latest of a series of Muslim protégés discovered and promoted by Republican activist Grover Norquist, the man whose vicious personal attacks on conservative Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma over ethanol subsidies earlier this year (Norquist favored the corporate hand-outs; Coburn opposed them) prompted Coburn’s chief of staff to respond that Norquist has become the “chief cleric of sharia tax law.”
What’s wrong with Muslims running for public office or assuming prominent positions in the conservative movement? Nothing at all – as long as they are clear about the primacy of the U.S. Constitution over Koranic (or Sharia) law.
Where does Imad Afif “David” Ramadan stand on this crucial question? The answer is – well, unclear. And that’s when the camel begins to spit.
In his campaign literature, Ramadan touts his respect for the U.S. Constitution, his love of America, and his “story” as an immigrant from Lebanon living the American dream.
But nowhere does he mention why he really left Lebanon, or why he came to America. Nor does he tell us anything about what it was like to grow up as a Shiite Muslim in Beirut in the midst of a sectarian civil war, when the Islamic Republic of Iran dominated the Shiite community through a large variety of proxy organizations, from the Hezbollah and Islamic Amal militias to local health clinics and schools.
In fact, while he mentions “God” several times in a just-released campaign video, he doesn’t mention Islam – not once. He doesn’t mention why he legally changed his name in 2002 from “Imad Afif” to “David,” nor why he signed an online petition in 2008 demanding the right to vote as a Lebanese citizen in Lebanon’s elections, despite having become a naturalized American.
He says merely that his parents “gave everything they had” so he could leave a Lebanon at war and come to America to “get an education.” Since coming here, he says, he has prospered, and brought his father and four brothers to the U.S. as well. And that’s it.
In more than thirty years of experience in the Muslim world, I have seen many different flavors of Islam. I invited a dissident Iranian Shiite Muslim ayatollah to join the board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, because of his outspoken opposition to Islamic rule (Sharia) in his home country.
In the United States and in Europe, I have met and befriended countless exiles who fled Islamic fascism in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran. They all have one thing in common: their very vocal denunciation of Islamic rule. They were leaving something – something despotic – and they wanted everybody to know it. That’s what is missing from Imad Afif “David” Ramadan’s story.
AT CPAC this year, Grover Norquist told a George Soros publication that Islam “is completely consistent with the U.S. Constitution and a free and open society,” a statement that reveals either a profound lack of understanding of Islamic law, or a conscious effort at deception.
Like the Soros-funded study, “Fear, Inc.,” from the Center for America Progress, Grover labels anyone who disagrees with his views as “Islamophobic.” Republicans need to “knock that stuff down and just make it clear that there’s no place for that in the party of Reagan,” he insisted in the same interview.
Imad Afif “David” Ramadan has not said even that much about Sharia law, at least not in English or in public. So how do you identify an Islamist – that is, someone who believes in the Koranic precept that Islam must dominate the world through voluntary submission or by force – especially if he goes out of his way to appear non-aggressive?
The answer is actually pretty simple. You listen to see if he denounces Islamic dictatorship – the rule of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the rule of the Shiite clerics in Iran, the rule of Hamas in Gaza or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or the rule of the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia.
In answering a similar question about another Grover Norquist protégé, Suhail Khan, at CPAC earlier this year, David Horowitz recalled his own experience as a former leftist who had grown up as a red diaper baby.
“When an honest person has been a member of a destructive movement and leaves it, he will feel compelled to repudiate it publicly and to warn others of the dangers it poses. This is a sure test as to whether someone has left the Muslim Brotherhood or not,” Horowitz said.
Absent such a repudiation, one has to comb through Imad Ramadan’s past and behavior. And there, the camel starts kicking and snorting.
Just last year, Ramadan joined Suhail Khan and other Grover Norquist protégés in writing a letter to “Republican colleagues” in support of the Ground Zero mosque.
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