Washington DC: The Indian American Muslim Council has responded to a ludicrous attack from the Middle East Forum (MEF), a widely discredited Islamophobic organization, recently published online by Sunday Guardian Live.
The response is in the form of a letter to the publication ridiculing the attack against IAMC and its coalition partners, comprising of prominent human rights defenders in the US and India. The Sunday Guardian Live article, written by Benjamin Baird of the MEF makes baseless allegations about IAMC having links with “violent and extremist” entities, which includes individuals such as India’s Vice President Dr. Hamid Ansari as well as prominent writer and social activist Harsh Mander, who is a featured speaker at Amnesty International.
IAMC is known as an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos.
The advocacy group issued a press statement and stated, the pathetic attacks published in this barely known online publication, is astounding for their sheer absurdity. However, they also demonstrate the desperation of Hindu nationalist front organizations in the US to besmirch IAMC, even at the expense of collaborating with racist and xenophobic organizations like MEF that have no credibility. They are a continuation of the attacks initiated by MEF in an “opinion” piece published by Newsweek in December.
What is the Middle East Forum?
Middle East Forum has earned well-deserved notoriety as a well-funded racist group with a track record of xenophobia, bigotry, racism and hate-mongering. It has been called out by the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as the Center for American Progress, and is widely acknowledged as a rabid Islamophobic organization that revels in peddling hate and disinformation.
Multiple female employees at MEF have accused Daniel Pipes, MEF’s President, of having protected his second-in-command, himself accused of serial sex offenses in at least four cases of sexual harassment in the US. MEF is now embroiled in multiple sexual assault, sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuits by several female employees.
Additional details about MEF and its reputation for having “spent the better part of three decades vilifying Muslims,” can be found in the open letter.
Why are they attacking IAMC?
Hindu nationalist front organizations in the US have entered into a collaboration with MEF, in order to blunt the impact of IAMC and other organizations advocating for the defense of human rights and religious freedom in India.
In December 2020, Newsweek published a piece by Sam Westrop, who works for the MEF, alleging IAMC to be an “anti-Hindu, Islamist organization” with alleged links to an extremist organization in India. This is the same Sam Westrop who was ordered by a British court in 2017, to pay damages of £140,000 for falsely claiming in an article that a Tunisian Muslim man was a “convicted terrorist.”
Notably, after IAMC tweeted its second letter to Newsweek expressing displeasure with Westrop’s canard, the editor-at-large of Newsweek Naveed Jamali, wrote on Twitter that “people like Sam Westrop or the Middle Eastern Forum shouldn’t be given a platform.”
The piece published in Sunday Guardian Live is written by another MEF employee Benjamin Baird. Baird builds on Westrop’s distortions to craft an image of IAMC with the goal of undermining our advocacy for peace, pluralism and justice. Far from hurting IAMC, the piece is a classic example of cyber-lynch mobs that Hindu nationalist front organizations are now unleashing in the US, imitating the physical lynch mobs that countless Muslims and Dalits have fallen victim to in India.
One of the leading Hindu nationalist organizations in the US that is visibly collaborating with MEF to attack US groups working for human rights in India is the Hindu American Foundation (HAF).
IAMC President Ahsan Khan termed (published in Clarion India ) the continuous attacks by Hindu nationalist front organizations as a larger part of the “smear campaign” to spread vile and dangerous propaganda against Muslim organizations in America.
“Them going to this extent to attack IAMC actually energizes us even more, as it implies that our advocacy is hurting their efforts at ‘contextualizing’ the persecution of minorities in India and at mainstreaming Islamophobia in the US,” Khan said.
IAMC urged everyone interested in the details of the absurd attack to read the open letter to Sunday Guardian Live. These details provide a window into the minds of the bigoted individuals who are behind these attacks and for whom facts do not matter.