Politico recently ran an article titled, “America Is Running Out of Muslim Clerics. That’s Dangerous.” It claims that there is a shortage of imams (Muslim prayer leaders) in the United States. As a result many mosques are having trouble finding clergy to lead prayers and provide religious guidance.
Abu Marwan, the president of a San Diego mosque believes “that’s a bad thing.” He’s very concerned that young people without a “good imam” can “end up somewhere very bad.” The very bad place being a mosque run by a radical jihadist.
To remedy the imam shortage, American mosques would typically recruit abroad. But, according to Politico, President Trump’s immigration policies are scaring off qualified imams. However, this contention isn’t supported by any objective evidence.
Instead readers are given nebulous references to “… stories of foreign imams who managed to get visas, but never made it out of the U.S. airport in which they landed. No sooner did they step foot on American soil than they were sent back home by federal authorities citing unspecified ‘security reasons.’” Notice that “security reasons” is set off in scare quotes – as if there are no genuine security concerns associated with immigration, just veiled excuses for xenophobia.
The implication is that most Americans are “Islamophobic” and we have elected a bigot as our president. Nevertheless, Politico seems to have argued itself in a circle: If there is a risk that an imam shortage will drive Muslims to radical congregations, then there is also a risk that extremist imams could exploit our immigration system in order to access moderate congregations and attempt to radicalize some of their members. And those security reasons that Politico sneers at may be all to real:
- Omar Abdel-Rahman (aka: “The Blind Sheikh) was an Egyptian cleric who made his way into the United States by claiming political asylum on the basis of religious persecution. He later obtained a religious worker green card – and masterminded the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
- The Holy Land Foundation (HLF) was the largest Muslim charity in the United States, until its leaders were indicted for providing financial support to the Palestinian terror group Hamas. HLF is suspected of having filed more than 200 bogus religious worker visa applications for jihadists associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
- Muhammad Khalil ran a mosque out of the basement of a Brooklyn greeting card store. He told federal agents he had sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden. He also filed hundreds of fake religious worker visas for individuals with questionable backgrounds.
If Politico were really worried about U.S. Muslims being led astray by radical clerics, it certainly wouldn’t be recommending that American mosques start recruiting abroad. It seems pretty obvious that average American Muslims have a lot more to fear from the likes of the Blind Sheikh and Muhammad Khalil, than they do from President Trump.