[House Hearing, 115 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
ADVANCING HUMAN RIGHTS TO COMBAT EXTREMISM
SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA, GLOBAL HEALTH,
GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS, AND
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTEENTH CONGRESS
DECEMBER 6, 2017
Serial No. 115-92
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida BRAD SHERMAN, California
DANA ROHRABACHER, California GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
TED POE, Texas KAREN BASS, California
DARRELL E. ISSA, California WILLIAM R. KEATING, Massachusetts
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania DAVID N. CICILLINE, Rhode Island
MO BROOKS, Alabama AMI BERA, California
PAUL COOK, California LOIS FRANKEL, Florida
SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania TULSI GABBARD, Hawaii
RON DeSANTIS, Florida JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina ROBIN L. KELLY, Illinois
TED S. YOHO, Florida BRENDAN F. BOYLE, Pennsylvania
ADAM KINZINGER, Illinois DINA TITUS, Nevada
LEE M. ZELDIN, New York NORMA J. TORRES, California
DANIEL M. DONOVAN, Jr., New York BRADLEY SCOTT SCHNEIDER, Illinois
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., THOMAS R. SUOZZI, New York
Wisconsin ADRIANO ESPAILLAT, New York
ANN WAGNER, Missouri TED LIEU, California
BRIAN J. MAST, Florida
FRANCIS ROONEY, Florida
BRIAN K. FITZPATRICK, Pennsylvania
THOMAS A. GARRETT, Jr., Virginia
JOHN R. CURTIS, UtahAs of
12:44 pm 11/29/17 deg.
Amy Porter, Chief of Staff Thomas Sheehy, Staff Director
Jason Steinbaum, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey, Chairman
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina KAREN BASS, California
DANIEL M. DONOVAN, Jr., New York AMI BERA, California
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
Wisconsin THOMAS R. SUOZZI, New York
THOMAS A. GARRETT, Jr., Virginia
C O N T E N T S
Thomas Farr, Ph.D., president, Religious Freedom Institute,
director, Religious Freedom Research Project, Georgetown
John Lenczowski, Ph.D., founder and president, The Institute of
World Politics................................................. 14
Sayyid Syeed, Ph.D., senior advisor, Office of Interfaith and
Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America.......... 36
Mr. Neil Hicks, director, Human Rights Promotion, Human Rights
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Thomas Farr, Ph.D.: Prepared statement........................... 9
John Lenczowski, Ph.D.: Prepared statement....................... 16
Sayyid Syeed, Ph.D.: Prepared statement.......................... 39
Mr. Neil Hicks: Prepared statement............................... 46
Hearing notice................................................... 88
Hearing minutes.................................................. 89
The Honorable Christopher H. Smith, a Representative in Congress
from the State of New Jersey, and chairman, Subcommittee on
Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International
Organizations: Material submitted for the record............... 90
The Honorable Thomas A. Garrett, Jr., a Representative in
Congress from the Commonwealth of Virginia: Material submitted
for the record................................................. 94
ADVANCING HUMAN RIGHTS TO COMBAT EXTREMISM
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2017
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health,
Global Human Rights, and International Organizations,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:03 a.m., in
room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Christopher H.
Smith (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. Smith. The committee will come to order. And good
afternoon to everybody, or good morning, I should say.
Today's hearing will explore ways to combat violent
extremism by advancing fundamental human rights--in particular,
the freedom of religion. Advancing freedom of religion both as
an end in and of itself and as a means to achieve peace,
stability, and human flourishing should be a core objective of
U.S. foreign policy.
Religious liberty is opposed, however, by extremists who
seek to impose their vision of an ideal society upon us all.
Oftentimes a ``choice'' they give to those who seek to adhere
to the beliefs they were raised in boils down to: Convert or
die. This clash manifests itself in numerous parts of the world
in varying degrees of intensity but is particularly acute in
certain Muslim-dominated regions where groups such as ISIS, al-
Nusra, Boko Haram, and Al Shabaab seek to bring all under their
To personalize this, let me tell you about a victim of Boko
Haram that I have gotten to know and greatly admire. On one
trip to Nigeria, in an IDP camp in Jos, I met with Habila
Adamu. Dragged from his home by Boko Haram terrorists, he was
ordered to renounce his faith. Four Boko Haram terrorists threw
him to the ground, and one literally put an AK-47 to his face
and said, ``Are you ready to die as a Christian?'' With amazing
courage, Habila answered, ``Yes, I am ready to die as a
He was asked a second time if he was ready to die, and he
said yes. This time, despite the pleas of his wife, who was
crying profusely, the terrorist pulled the trigger. A bullet
ripped through Habila's face. He crumpled to the ground and was
left for dead. By some miracle, he survived.
I asked Habila to come to DC to tell his story at a
congressional hearing that I chaired. Habila told our
committee, ``I am alive because God wants you to have this
message. Knowing Christ is so much deeper than merely knowing
Boko Haram's story of hate and intolerance.'' He closed his
testimony, ``Do everything you can to end this ruthless
religious persecution, but know Christ first.''
I would point out that on that trip I also met with the
Archbishop Kaigama, whose churches have been firebombed in Jos,
but also with the Imam and his top clerics. They were equally
appalled, both the Christians and the Muslim moderate
leadership, appalled at what Boko Haram was doing. I remember
the Imam saying, ``We don't know who they are. They are not
us.'' It couldn't have been clearer that he saw that this was a
cruel manifestation of extremism under the name falsely of
It should be stressed that extremist groups such as Boko
Haram coerce and oppress not only members of other faiths but
also, in particular, members of the Muslim faith--and, again,
that is what I have heard all over the world, and you have
heard it, I am sure, too--whose interpretation of Islam differs
from that of the extremists. They also target converts whose
consciences have led them to choose a different path.
To combat these extremists, the ideological battlefield is
just as important as a territorial one. By emphasizing human
rights principles, we counter extremist messaging, support
moderate voices, and promote the popular aspirations of people
around the world who simply want to live in peace and freedom.
Last year, an important weapon in the fight against
extremism was passed by the Congress and signed into law, the
Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act. This law
provides tools and resources to our State Department to
integrate religious freedom into all of our diplomacy in order
to counter, in part, terrorism but also to promote religious
In building upon this landmark International Religious
Freedom Act that was passed in 1998, authored by Frank Wolf,
this law addresses the changed circumstances in the world since
1998 by designating nonstate extremist groups, such as Boko
Haram and ISIS, as violent nonstate actors, making it easier to
ostracize and apply financial sanctions against their members,
thereby helping starve extremists of resources.
The law strengthens the ability to investigate and monitor
religious persecution by creating a designated persons list of
violators while also setting up a database of those detained,
imprisoned, and tortured for their faith so that the victims
are not forgotten but, rather, can be more readily advocated
Indeed, the Frank Wolf Act elevates the Ambassador-at-Large
for International Religious Freedom, and we are all waiting
with bated breath for when Governor Brownback assumes that
chair. Governor Brownback has been designated; it is pending in
the Senate. Our hope is that the Senate will move quickly to
put him into that important strategic position to begin doing
what will be an extraordinarily good job.
Finally, the act requires our foreign service officers to
undergo training in religious liberty so that they are able to
integrate this important tool into their daily work. And that
would also include our Ambassadors and our top leadership in
Before we move on to my colleague's remarks, I would like
to thank especially Congressman Francis Rooney, the former
United States Ambassador to the Holy See, for suggesting that
we have this hearing and for helping to make this a reality. He
has written a tremendous book, and I recommend it to all of you
that you read it. I don't know if we can endorse books from the
Ms. Bass. Go right ahead.
Mr. Smith. But I want to thank him for this strategic
vision that he has and, again, for making this hearing a
I would like to yield to my good friend and colleague,
Karen Bass, the ranking member of our committee.
Ms. Bass. Mr. Chair, once again, thank you for holding this
And I appreciated everything you said about the legislation
that was passed. And I am glad to know that there is somebody
that is designated, and we hope the Senate moves. But all of us
are concerned these days that the legislation be fully
implemented. And so you mentioned foreign service officers and
all of that. And I am deeply concerned at the departures that I
hear of so many people leaving the State Department. And so I
think we have to keep that in mind as well. We want the person
designated, but we also want to be able to have foreign service
officers so that they could actually implement this on the
So I want to thank the witnesses for being here today and
especially Mr. Hicks, who I know traveled from New York to
testify before us.
And Mr. Smith has already highlighted the importance of
religious freedom when countering violent extremism. And we all
know that the title of this hearing is ``Advancing Human Rights
to Combat Extremism.'' And so, with this in mind, I want to
focus my comments on talking about the root causes and push for
factors for why people might turn to or engage in violent
extremism in the first place.
So we know, of course, that some are driven by ideology.
But, overwhelmingly, as we look around the world, people
without opportunities in formal, legal economies, we know, will
resort to informal, illegal economies. We know that is even
true here in the United States, but I have been not really
surprised, but to hear some young people, especially young
people on the continent of Africa, who say that, in order to
eat, they realized that they needed to have a gun. So, in other
words, participating in extremism was also a way of providing
for themselves and their family. I find that particularly
tragic. And I also find that, as we go about looking to address
violent extremism, we have to think about what drives people to
become extremists in the first place.
So the Institute for Security Studies, which is a think
tank based in South Africa, conducted a study in 2014 where
they interviewed 88 people who joined Al Shabaab, the terrorist
group operating in Somalia and other parts of East Africa. When
asked to indicate what finally pushed them to join Al Shabaab,
40 percent of the interviewees referred to economic reasons
specifically or in combination with other circumstances.
The study also noted that education can counter
radicalization because better-educated people tend to
participate in more formal economic and political sectors. Lack
of education, of course, also adversely affects employment
So poverty and unemployment have to be considered when we
think about combating extremism. Push factors or enabling
circumstances also include poor governance, lack of civil
liberties, political exclusion, perceived mistreatment or
discrimination that can include mass arrests, police or
military crackdowns, ethnic profiling, or extrajudicial
The bottom line is, if people feel they are discriminated
against and there aren't dispute-resolution mechanisms
available, they may resort to violence because they have no
hope. Respectful religious freedom is an important component of
countering violent extremism, but when governments suppress
peaceful dissent, do not allow freedom of press, and prevent
the legitimate activities of nonviolent civil society
organizations, they are not countering extremism; they are
What I am trying to do here is highlight that the denial of
rights and freedoms, whether economic, social, or political,
contribute to the problem of violent extremism. Therefore, a
holistic and comprehensive strategy for combating violent
extremism should promote the rule of law; human rights,
including freedom of association, expression, and assembly;
ending repression of civil society and opposition groups, among
others; and, of course, creating economic opportunity.
So I want to conclude where I began by looking at some of
the changes that we see taking place within the State
Department. And I know tomorrow we are going to have a full
committee hearing on combating violent extremism on the
continent of Africa. So what I am concerned as we move forward
with the new administration, we know that there is a focus on
security, but I think part of our role here in this
subcommittee, as well as in the full committee, is that we have
to push on the other factors. Because we know that trying to
address this strictly from a security perspective or militarily
is not going to be enough. So the full function and staffing
and programs of the State Department are also going to be very
And, with that, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. Smith. I would like to now yield to Ambassador Rooney.
And, again, thank you for suggesting this hearing.
Mr. Rooney. Well, Chairman Smith, thank you so very much
for holding this hearing and for all you have done. Your life
is a testimony and a witness to Christian values, religious
values, religious freedom, and protecting human dignity. And
you are a great example for all of us.
I thought I might mention a couple of things about soft-
power diplomacy since we have some real-world experts down
there, and they have touched on it.
I would like to thank all of you for being here.
The Holy See is a penultimate soft-power diplomatic force
in the world. It goes back to Stalin's quote about how many
tanks does the Pope have. Well, it is actually a Pope that
brought them down. And the Christian Democrat formation in 1953
was largely organized by the Holy See to keep the Communists
out of Italy--no one knows about that--or Norman Cousins'
incipient detente shuttle diplomacy with John Kennedy and
Khrushchev in the fall of 1962, which people as luminary as
Henry Kissinger have said was the very beginning of detente.
So now the penultimate soft-power application was Pope
Benedict's speech at Regensburg, where he spoke out more
clearly and aggressively than any other politician could about
the evils of Islamist extremism and the destruction of religion
when it is used for war. And he called out for a
reinterpretation, if you will, of Islam to come into consensus
with the modern world. And he made it clear that Muslim voices
are really the most important ones in this debate, because we
need them to help to bring their religion into the modern world
and end the stimulus of radicalization.
And since that time, Ambassador Charles Freeman, former
Ambassador of Saudi Arabia, the Jordan Minister of Religion,
and even the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia have said you can't
fight an idea. Just like what the Congresswoman said, we have
to fight with soft power and ideological war.
We have seen the impact of the radical Wahhabi madrassas in
sub-Saharan Africa. Pope Benedict spoke with President Bush and
Mrs. Bush and I about that back in 2005. And now we see some
incipient indications of problems in Malaysia and Indonesia. So
I think we have a very timely topic here, a very important one.
And I would like to thank Congressman Smith again for bringing
light to it and thank Dr. Lenczowski and Tom and Sayyid for
Thank you very much.
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
My good friend from New York, Mr. Suozzi.
Mr. Suozzi. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to thank
you again for your good work and the ranking member's work on
this committee and what you bring to light to the people of
And I want to thank our witnesses for being here today. And
I am just interested in listening to what they have to say, and
I will maybe some ask some questions later.
Mr. Smith. The distinguished gentleman from New York, Mr.
Mr. Donovan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I will yield my
time so that we have more time for the witnesses to speak.
Thank you, sir.
Mr. Smith. Chairman Rohrabacher?
Mr. Rohrabacher. I, too, will yield my time.
Mr. Smith. Okay.
And, Mr. Garrett, the gentleman from Virginia.
Mr. Garrett. Mr. Chairman, I will yield my time and reserve
for down the road. Thank you.
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
I want to welcome our distinguished panel.
Beginning first, Dr. Thomas Farr, president of the
Religious Freedom Institute, a nonprofit organization committed
to achieving religious liberty for everyone. He also directs
the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University's
Berkley Center. He is associate professor of the practice of
religion and world affairs at Georgetown's Edmund A. Walsh
School of Foreign Service and also teaches at the National
Dr. Farr served for 28 years in the United States Army and
the U.S. Foreign Service. In 1999, Dr. Farr became the first
Director of the State Department's Office of International
Religious Freedom, responsible for establishing America's new
IRFA policy. He held this position until 2003.
Dr. Farr currently trains American diplomats at the Foreign
Service Institute and is also a consultant to the U.S. Catholic
Bishops Conference. This is not the first time Dr. Farr has
testified before Congress, nor is it the first time he
testified before this committee. He is truly an expert. And he,
too, has written a tremendous book that I would recommend to
everyone, as well, on religious freedom.
We will then hear from Dr. John Lenczowski, who is founder
and president of the Institute of World Politics, an
independent graduate school of national security and
international affairs in Washington.
From 1981 to 1983, Dr. Lenczowski served in the State
Department in the Bureau of European Affairs and as Special
Adviser to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Larry
Eagleburger. From 1983 to 1987, he was director of European and
Soviet affairs at the National Security Council. In that
capacity, he served as principal Soviet affairs adviser to
President Ronald Reagan.
He has been associated with several academic and research
institutions in Washington, including Georgetown University,
the University of Maryland, the American Enterprise Institute,
the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Council for Inter-
American Security, and the International Freedom Foundation.
Then, we will hear from Dr. Sayyid Syeed, who is the
national director of the Islamic Society of North America,
heading up its Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances in
Washington, DC. He served for 12 years, 1994 to 2006, as
secretary general of the Indiana-based national umbrella
organization, which has more than 300 affiliates all over the
U.S. and Canada.
Dr. Syeed was born in Kashmir and migrated to the United
States in the mid-1970s. From 1980 to 1983, he served as
president of the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and
Canada and pioneered its transformation into the modern-day
Islamic Society of North America.
He has been actively involved in fostering understanding
among world religions and has participated in interfaith
dialogues from local to international levels in the United
States and Canada. A frequent speaker at interfaith dialogues,
he has served as a member of the board of trustees of the
Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions. In 2000, he
was invited to dialogue in the Vatican by the late Pope John
Paul II and, in 2008, led the American Muslim leadership
delegation to meet with Pope Benedict in Washington.
Then we will hear from Neil Hicks from Human Rights First.
He advises Human Rights First programs on a wide variety of
international human rights issues and serves as a resource to
the organization in identifying opportunities to advance human
rights around the world. Mr. Hicks also writes and conducts
advocacy on issues relating to human rights around the world.
He also writes and conducts advocacy on issues relating to
human rights promotion in the Muslim world and the impact of
counterterrorism measures on human rights.
Before joining Human Rights First, he worked as a
researcher for the Middle East department of Amnesty
International in London, where he worked between 1985 and 1991.
He has also served as human rights project officer for Birzeit
University in the West Bank. He has authored many reports and
scholarly articles, including, ``The Public Disorder of
Blasphemy Laws: A Comparative Perspective.'' And we welcome him
to the subcommittee as well.
Dr. Farr, please proceed.
STATEMENT OF THOMAS FARR, PH.D., PRESIDENT, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
INSTITUTE, DIRECTOR, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESEARCH PROJECT,
Mr. Farr. Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, Ambassador
Rooney, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for holding
this important hearing.
My message today has three parts: First, U.S. religious
freedom diplomacy can improve our Nation's ability to combat
Islamist terrorism. More religious freedom abroad can help
prevent the spread of terrorism around the world and protect
Americans here at home. Second, our religious freedom diplomacy
can protect other fundamental U.S. interests by enhancing
political, economic, and strategic stability. Third, religious
freedom diplomacy that employs evidence-based self-interest
arguments can reduce religious persecution more effectively
than do our current diplomatic methods.
Unfortunately, the President's nominee to head U.S.
religious freedom policy is not yet at work. I urge the Senate
to confirm Governor Sam Brownback immediately. We need him on
During the past two decades, global religious persecution
has increased dramatically, and protections for religious
freedom have been in sharp decline. Millions suffer
persecution. Tens of millions lack religious freedom. Religion-
related terrorism threatens much of the world, including the
United States. But our religious freedom diplomacy has not been
understood or used as a counterterrorism weapon. It should be.
Twenty years of working on this issue have convinced me
that a simple proposition is both true and useful, and that is
that religious freedom is necessary. It is necessary for the
flourishing of every individual and every society. It is
necessary to reduce the presence of violent religious
Social scientists at the Religious Freedom Institute, where
I work, have amply documented that societies lacking religious
freedom are far more likely to incubate, suffer domestically,
and export internationally religion-related terrorism, and
societies that protect religious freedom generally do not
incubate and export religion-related violence and terrorism.
So how does this work? How does religious freedom undermine
violent religious extremism? First, by protecting anti-
extremist Muslim voices who advocate for a tolerant, nonviolent
interpretation of Islam. Second, by protecting the rights of
non-Muslim communities not only to exist as tolerated
minorities but to contribute to their societies as equal
Unfortunately, current U.S. counterterrorism policy ignores
these connections. That policy consists almost exclusively of
the employment of military force, law enforcement, and
intelligence. While each is obviously necessary, none is
sufficient to defeat Islamist terrorism.
This form of terrorism is not simply a military force; it
is not simply a cadre of militants whose military defeat,
capture, or death will end the threat. It is an ideology, a set
of lethal ideas derived from Islam that have proven their
capacity to motivate men and women to kill, to torture, and to
We need an all-of-government religious freedom policy that
not only protects the persecuted but, at the same time,
advances U.S. national security by employing programs and
policies that directly target the self-interest of stakeholders
in societies where terrorism flourishes.
Let me end with an example of Iraq. Since 2014, the United
States Government has allocated nearly $1.7 billion in
humanitarian aid to Iraq, but most of that aid has not reached
the Christian and other minorities designated as victims of
ISIS genocide. These people are unlikely to return to their
homes without our help.
For the United States, this presents both a moral and a
national security imperative. Religious pluralism is a
necessary condition for long-term stability in Iraq. If
minorities do not return and stay, Iraq will likely become a
perpetual Sunni-Shia battleground where terrorism flourishes.
The current administration has pledged to channel aid to
these minorities, but financial aid is only the first step. The
U.S. should mount a sustained campaign to convince Iraqi
stakeholders that they will never live in peace and security
without the pluralism that non-Muslim minorities bring.
With our help, Iraq must provide security, economic
development, and religious freedom to those minorities. It must
also provide religious freedom to Muslims who will defend
tolerant, nonviolent forms of Islam.
We will prevail against Islamist extremism only when we
expand our national security strategy to include the
advancement of religious freedom both to protect the persecuted
abroad and the American people at home.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Farr follows:]
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Mr. Smith. Dr. Farr, thank you so very much for your
STATEMENT OF JOHN LENCZOWSKI, PH.D., FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, THE
INSTITUTE OF WORLD POLITICS
Mr. Lenczowski. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Ranking
Minority Member, Ambassador Rooney, and members of the
subcommittee. I am honored to be able to discuss how to defeat
the ideology of radical Islamism, with a particular focus on
The U.S. has spent trillions fighting Islamist terrorism as
if it is a military problem, as Dr. Farr has just said, with
little reference to what inspires it in the first place. I have
a metaphor for this. Our wars are akin to trying to eradicate
mosquitoes in your backyard by inviting all your friends over
for a garden party, arming them with shotguns, and shooting
mosquitoes all afternoon. You will get a few. The problem is
that the garden has a puddle where the recruitment of new
mosquitoes is going on and we are doing very little about it.
This is a problem of politics, propaganda, ideology,
culture, economic opportunity, and extremist politicized
religious doctrines. To solve this problem necessitates
fighting a war of ideas, and the problem is that we have
virtually no ideological warriors in this war.
We have a Cold War precedent, where we worked to undermine
the Marxist-Leninist core of the Soviet system. Among other
things, this war required anathematizing Communist human rights
violations and offering the peoples of the Soviet empire a
positive alternative: Human rights, freedom, democracy, and
hope for a better life. These efforts centered around giving
people the courage to demand political change and the respect
of their human rights.
Today, we must also use similar means to target the
ideological core of radical Islamism. This ideology differs
from politically moderate Islam insofar as it seeks to
turbocharge the Islamization process by conducting ``jihad of
the sword'' and ``resettlement jihad''--the migration to non-
Muslim lands, establishing separatist enclaves that run
according to sharia, and culminating in political-demographic
This ideology, which incorporates Marxist-Leninist
strategy, has been key to the recruitment of new jihadists,
both terrorists and resettlement jihadists. It depends on
generating hatred against the infidel, principally through a
moral attack against colonialism, Zionism, U.S. hegemony, and
the West's moral degradation.
Defeating it requires an ideological counterattack based on
superior moral precepts. Such an effort has two components,
both of which focus on human rights.
The first involves telling the truth about radical
Islamism. This means ending self-censorship about jihadism and
conducting an information campaign exposing jihadist ideology,
the weaponization of religious doctrines, the denial of human
rights under sharia, and the crimes and human rights violations
of Islamist regimes.
The second component involves offering a positive
alternative, including the promotion of human rights. First, it
is necessary to promote the dignity of the human person as the
creation of God. It is as a result of this dignity that man
possesses inalienable rights in the first place that come not
from other men but, as our Founders said, from a creator.
Perhaps the most effective human rights campaign today in
this ideological war has been conducted by a private nonprofit
group called Good of All and its academic centers on three
continents. They promote the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights as an ``idea virus'' to prevent the radicalization of
``digital natives''--the younger generation who have grown up
with social media. The idea is to present an idealistic vision
that rejects violence and the human rights violations that have
attended radical Islamist movements and regimes.
Central to this effort is the appeal to Muslim women, whose
rights are systematically violated wherever radical Islamism
prevails. Many of these women have participated in the
organization's campaign to produce YouTube videos that have
exposed the dark side of sharia--the stoning of women, acid
attacks, honor killings, and wife beating.
There are also efforts within the Islamic world to fight
radical jihadism. In Indonesia, there is a long history of
challenging the radical secular political goals of jihadism by
offering a vision of Islam that is pluralist and tolerant. For
example, Indonesia's former President, Abdurrahman Wahid,
argued that there is no such thing as a genuine secular Islamic
state. The true Islamic state, he said, is when an entire
people have achieved holiness.
A new assemblage of 41 Muslim nations, the Islamic Military
Counter-Terrorism Coalition, stresses the importance of
fighting terrorism in the domains of ideology and
communications, in addition to counterterrorism finance and the
military, by promoting moderation, tolerance, compassion,
diversity, and the value of human life. It remains to be seen
how effective this effort proves to be.
The U.S. Government is intellectually, culturally, and
organizationally unprepared to combat both elements of the
radical jihadist threat and to fight a true war of ideas. There
is no agency of the U.S. Government charged with ideological
warfare. What must be done is to create a new U.S. public
diplomacy agency that will become a force in U.S. foreign
policy that will concentrate on relations with and influence
over people and not just governments. A renewed concentration
on public diplomacy and strategic influence will go a long way
toward giving America a capability to secure our country while
minimizing the need to use force to do so.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lenczowski follows:]
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Smith. Doctor, thank you very much for those very
STATEMENT OF SAYYID SYEED, PH.D., SENIOR ADVISOR, OFFICE OF
INTERFAITH AND COMMUNITY ALLIANCES, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF NORTH
Mr. Syeed. Thank you.
Distinguished leaders, greetings of peace, and, in Arabic,
assalamu alaykum. Thank you for inviting me to this hearing, a
valuable opportunity to present my understanding, experience,
and vision about the role of Islam in promoting peaceful
societies and our ability to counter the violent extremism not
only in Muslim societies, among Muslims, but for people of all
faiths and no faith.
The past October marked the 19th anniversary of the
landmark International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which
upholds religious freedom as a core American value and a
universal human right. The law calls for the U.S. Government to
stand ``for liberty and with the persecuted, to use and
implement appropriate tools in the United States foreign policy
apparatus . . . to promote respect for religious freedom by all
governments and all peoples.''
This institutional landmark act is very important not just
for us as Americans but for us as humanity. Nearly two decades
after the law's passage, freedom of religion or belief is
unfortunately an unrealized ideal in too many parts of the
world. The essence of Islam can be summarized as ``those who
protect and promote religious freedom.'' I will elaborate on
this further in my speech as I give you a brief background of
myself and of the American Muslims.
The Muslim community is as diverse as America itself, as
humanity itself. We have members from all colors and
ethnicities, from all schools of thought. Our success to bring
them together and build institutions in large numbers--several
thousand Islamic centers, several hundred full-time Islamic
schools, and hundreds of Sunday schools--is a historical
achievement by itself. The evolution of this community over
half a century has strengthened my vision and that of my
colleagues in democratic and pluralist institutions as most
congenial for Islam as a faith and for Muslims believing in a
peaceful message of Islam.
Our vision of Islam was developed from the historical
vision of the Prophet of Islam when he migrated from his
hometown, Mecca, to Medina, where he recognized and respected
the diversity of the population in terms of their faith and
In his hometown, he was dealing with one tribe, the
Quraysh, his own kith and kin, who persecuted him and his
followers and did not allow him to teach and preach his
religion. In contrast, he chose to move to a city where he
invited representatives of different tribes--Aws, Khazraj,
immigrants from Mecca, and several different Jewish tribes--
and, jointly, with all of them, drafted a constitution of
Medina state where all the participating entities were given
freedom to practice their religion and collectively be
responsible for the welfare, safety, and security of the new
This Medina constitution has served as a reminder for us as
a forerunner of the United States Constitution giving us
individual rights and freedom of religion. While developing our
Muslim community, we had to educate our members that the only
way we could develop our congregations and communities was to
incorporate our organizations and adopt constitutions. This
helped our members to become religiously conscious of the
rights and duties, rules and regulations that govern our
Islamic Centers, our umbrella organization with which these
centers were affiliated.
This provided a rich experience in mutual respect, power
sharing, membership of men and women in administering our
institutions. Eventually, we have by now Muslim women not only
serving on the boards of Islamic organizations but heading
The Medina model of the Prophet, after his passing away and
after the four successors became irrelevant because of the
dynastic rule of monarchy for all the subsequent centuries.
Today, Muslim countries that are independent and are members of
the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) because they are
Muslim-majority countries are ruled by either monarchs or
dictators. The American Muslim community is the only Muslim
community in the world that has lived in a democracy with a
constitutional commitment to freedom of religion, highlighting
the essence of Islam and promotion of human rights.
There have been times when hatred against Islam has
resulted in dangerous acts of violence and intolerance. But it
is in those times, those moments of challenge that we have
experienced the highest level of support from other faith
groups denouncing hate against Muslims in the name of religion.
When the pastor in Florida threatened to burn the Koran as
a means of intensifying hate against Muslims and Islam, the
major religious organizations in America--National Council of
Churches, Catholic Conference of Bishops, Union of Reform
Judaism, American Baptist Church, and others--came forward to
denounce the pastor's hateful rhetoric and expressed their
support to me, representing the largest and oldest Islamic
And they held a press conference in Washington, DC, and
established a campaign called, ``Shoulder to Shoulder: Standing
with American Muslims Against Anti-Muslim Sentiment, Upholding
American Values.'' This campaign is steered and funded by more
than 30 Christian and Jewish national organizations here to
The Koranic verse, ``There is no compulsion in religion,''
has been our guiding light. We have people coming into Islam
and going out of Islam. We are proud to say that we have a
large number of leaders of the American Muslim community who
were not born Muslims. We are aware of Muslims who have, of
their free will, chosen to give up their religion. We find
nothing in the Koran or in the example of the Prophet that
would have commanded us not to allow such a free will to be
treated with respect to the choice of religion or no religion.
It has been painful at times for us to see some hatemongers
producing cartoons and false allegations against our prophet.
While it is our duty to promote a better understanding about
our prophet's life and contributions, we cannot fight hate with
hate. Again, we find in the life of the Prophet instances where
he was directly insulted but he prayed for the misguided for
peace and guidance. However, we should not allow extremists to
take actions in the name of Islam as a means of retaliation.
We have built robust partnerships with people of other
faiths and celebrated theological developments that we
appreciate as Muslims. The Nostra Aetate from the Second
Vatican opened the doors for Catholics to remove the stigma
against Jews as the ones responsible for the crucifixion and
for welcoming Abrahamic roots of Judaism and Islam. We
celebrated the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate in 2015 with
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as a welcome reform
We celebrated this year the 500th anniversary of Martin
Luther's desire to understand Islam and engage with it and his
commissioning the translation of the Koran for the first time
in Christian history.
We have worked with various denominations of Judaism to
have a better understanding between Jewish and Muslim
communities under our joint project called Children of Abraham.
These achievements in the understanding of our faith in a
pluralist society have tremendous implications for the Muslim
world. The books, the electronic materials are of utmost
importance for giving hope and confidence to our new
generations around the globe.
Our American Constitution provides us the opportunity for
life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness--the three key elements
of human rights. American Muslims have thrived due to the
liberties that every American citizen in this great country can
Now is a time when we need to work together as Americans.
The best of America is represented as ``love thy neighbor,''
and, as neighbors, I am always heartened to see organizations
like Islamic Relief working directly with government and
interfaith organizations alike to solve the problems and bring
relief. The work of LDS Charities, United Methodist Church,
Catholic Relief Services, and many more, in partnership with
Islamic Relief USA, rebuild our Nation's communities and give
hope to them.
When we work together across all faiths, America is
stronger. Organizations like Guidance Residential, which
provides American Muslims the opportunity to be compliant with
their sharia requirement to buy their homes without interest--
and it is amazing that 97 percent of the people who are
benefiting from Guidance Residential are not Muslims.
American Muslims flourish when America flourishes, and
America excels when all of its citizens excel. For us to make
America great, we have to reach out to all Americans of all
faiths, all ethnicities, all backgrounds with respect and
dignity, opening up opportunities and prosperity for all.
Thank you for your time and this opportunity to be here
with you today.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Syeed follows:]
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Smith. Dr. Syeed, thank you very much for your
testimony and leadership.
I would like to now yield the floor to Mr. Hicks.
STATEMENT OF MR. NEIL HICKS, DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS PROMOTION,
HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST
Mr. Hicks. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, and other members of
the subcommittee, thank you for convening this hearing to call
attention to what we at Human Rights First view as the
imperative need to include human rights promotion as an
indispensable element of effective policy aimed at countering
and preventing violent extremism.
Counterterrorism measures that are not rooted in respect
for human rights risk being counterproductive. The recent
histories of numerous countries, Egypt being one important
example, point to the dangers inherent in counterterrorism
responses that are overly focused on military force,
repression, and denial of human rights. These approaches fuel
grievances, which create escalating cycles of violence between
state security forces and violent extremists that become hard
Human Rights First is concerned that the Trump
administration has exhibited a marked preference for close
cooperation with authoritarian leaders in the struggle against
terrorism and violent extremism instead of emphasizing the need
for U.S. partners to end violations and extend human rights
protections as an integral part of shared efforts to prevent
extremism and combat terrorism.
The clearest example of this approach may be seen in
President Trump's speech at the Arab Islamic American Summit in
Riyadh on May the 21st of this year. Trump spoke of a new
chapter and of new approaches, but there is nothing new about a
U.S. approach to the Middle East rooted in alliances with
By aligning the United States uncritically with a Saudi-led
authoritarian regional order, President Trump may hope that he
is turning the clock back to a more stable time. But the
protracted collapse and inherent instability of the Arab
authoritarian order has been one of the root causes of both the
spread of terrorism over the last 20 years and of the region's
many unresolved conflicts, which have provided hospitable
territory and recruitment opportunities for violent extremist
One of the few specific policy proposals in the Riyadh
speech was a call on all nations of conscience to isolate Iran.
President Trump is right to point to destabilizing activities
of the regime in Tehran, but a one-sided position in the
regional conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has
taken on an increasingly inflammatory sectarian tone in recent
years thanks to the policies of both sides, will only escalate
violence and instability.
In Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seized power in July 2013 on
a promise of restoring order and defeating extremism and
terrorism, but his methods have made things far worse. Violence
has risen, claiming civilian and military casualties on an
The virulent anti-Sufi propaganda of ISIS was a clear
contributory factor in the recent mosque attack in Sinai. This
sectarian hate speech is propagated by the religious
establishment in Saudi Arabia and put into bloody practice by
ISIS. After this latest atrocity, President Trump should be
urgently in touch with his friends in Riyadh to end the
incitement to violence against Sufis in Saudi religious
A secondary way the U.S. Government can exert influence is
through its military and intelligence cooperation on
counterterrorism issues with countries like Egypt. The Congress
has been raising concerns that President Sisi's
counterterrorism approach is exacerbating the problem, but much
more needs to be done.
The Senate version of the 2018 appropriations bill includes
some strong and specific language imposing human rights
conditions on military assistance but specifically exempts
funds appropriated for counterterrorism from these conditions.
The Egyptian Government claims success in its fight against
terrorism because it is killing terrorists and denying ISIS
control of territory. But killing and destruction are not
deterring Egypt's terrorists. Sisi's government is badly in
need of a new plan, and the U.S. Government should be
forthright in urging Cairo to look beyond a failed security-
Absence of state control over territory has been a factor
in the development of violent extremism in Syria and Iraq. The
devastating conflict in Syria and Iraq has been fueled by
sectarian incitement exacerbating divisions between Shia and
Sunni Muslims. The proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia has
heightened the sectarian character of the conflict and thereby
made sectarianism a primary driver of violent extremism in many
parts of the region.
The Tunisian context provides a point of contrast. Avoiding
falling into the declining spiral of a destructive binary
struggle between authoritarianism and violent extremism is
something that binds Tunisians together despite abiding
political differences, a weak economy, and a fragile internal
Tunisia is not paradise. Its discontented youth have
provided thousands of foreign fighters to ISIS and Syria. In
part, this is a product of the lingering harm inflicted by
decades of authoritarian rule, notably the weakening of
traditional religious power centers, tainted by close
association with state authorities. Corruption, youth
unemployment, and lack of opportunity fuel grievances,
especially among educated youth, who have ready access to the
internet and social media.
Tunisia's democratic transition has particular importance
to the struggle against violent extremism on a regional and
global level. It offers an alternative way that breaks out of
the vicious circle of perpetual conflict between
authoritarianism and extremism.
To succeed, Tunisia will need the sustained support of the
international community. It will also need to continue to
implement and practice the maxim that fighting terrorism is not
just something that the state does for its people, it is
something that people are motivated to do for themselves, in
partnership with the state and the security forces, but also
through strong, independent civil society organizations.
The United States can do much more to confront violators
and, perhaps even more importantly, to reinforce the link
between human rights and security. Too many governments
continue to view human rights as an obstacle to security-
related efforts. It is, therefore, incumbent on the United
States to explain why the exact opposite is true.
There are positive human rights objectives to be advanced
that should be at the center of bilateral relationships with
partners in the multilateral struggle against terrorism.
Closing space for civil society in peaceful political
activities facilitates the expansion of violent extremism and
terrorism. Conversely, respecting fundamental freedoms,
especially the freedom of assembly and association, is one of
the most important defense mechanisms against violent
Respect for religious freedom is an essential part of
countering violent extremism, as Dr. Farr explained. A
comprehensive strategy must address the religious and
ideological narratives that lure the vulnerable and
disenfranchised segments of society to violent extremism.
To be effective as counterweights to extremist discourse,
religious institutions must be, and be seen to be, independent
of political control, and governments must ensure that diverse
religious views are not only tolerated but encouraged.
One of the primary root causes that must be addressed more
vigorously is the proliferation of armed conflicts and of
ungoverned spaces that provide opportunity to violent extremist
The United States, because of its unique reach and
influence, has an inescapable responsibility to lead and
energize multilateral efforts through the United Nations and
other multilateral institutions to end these devastating
conflicts. The absence of effective conflict-resolution
mechanisms on both national and international levels is one of
the greatest challenges to the implementation of a
comprehensive countering-violent-extremism strategy.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hicks follows:]
[GRAPHICS NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Smith. Mr. Hicks, thank you for your testimony and your
I would like to begin the questioning with Dr. Farr.
First, let me thank you. When you testified in September
2014 on the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act,
which was making its way through Congress, you made a number of
recommendations, and they were, largely, many of them,
incorporated into the bill, including the training of foreign
service officers. So I want to thank you for those
On Monday, I met again with Chaldean Catholic Bishop Bashar
Warda, who I first met last year in Erbil. He has led the
effort to help Christians and the Yazidis with critical
humanitarian aid, including food, clothing, shelter, medicine,
and spiritual help, because a lot of people were, as he said,
unbelievably broken by ISIS, as they lost loved ones and,
themselves, were tortured and the women often sexually abused.
We did not have, as I think everyone knows now, any U.S.
foreign aid going to assist the Christians and the Yazidis. I
went to an IDP camp with 6,000 people without a dime of U.S.
support. That is in the process of changing.
But we introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 390, the
Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability
Act. It passed the House last June. I would say, for the
record, I am gravely disappointed that the Senate has one hold
on it, and it has been released from committee but it still has
not made its way to the floor. President Trump has said he will
sign it. So it is a concern.
But I bring this up because, on Monday, Bishop Warda not
only stressed urgency. It is winter. People are cold. They can
get sick. They need humanitarian assistance. If it wasn't for
the Knights of Columbus and others that forked over $40
million, we would have had mass casualties and large numbers of
deaths, particularly for children and the fragile elderly.
But he made the point that you made, Dr. Farr, and you said
religious pluralism is a necessary condition for long-term
stability in Iraq. We have heard that before. I heard it from
Ceric, the former Grand Mufti of Bosnia, when I was in
Sarajevo. And he said that Christians and the Muslims and the
Jews need to work together, and we do. In come the radicals,
and they change everything. There is the tipping point toward
death and destruction. And he spoke out, I think, very boldly.
He was concerned about the Wahhabis coming in and was very
clear and open about it, which I found extremely refreshing and
I heard the same thing when Bishop Angaelos testified here
and talked about what the Coptic Christians do in Egypt. Not
only should they live and thrive because they have a right, a
universally recognized right, a great, historic faith
tradition, but they also help the moderate Muslims in Egypt.
And you have made that same point again. I would ask, if you
could elaborate on that.
And I would also ask my second question to Dr. Lenczowski.
In your testimony, you spoke of the similarities between
Marxism-Leninism and radical forms of Islamic thought. I am a
great fan and I have read all the books by Solzhenitsyn, and I
remember he talked about Marxism-Leninism being militant
atheism. It is a hatred of God, certainly as we see God. And
Solzhenitsyn made that famous statement when he said, why did
it all happen? All the mass killings, the attacks on Jews and
everyone else--Christians, the Orthodox Church. And he says,
because we have forgotten God.
And you have made the connection between these extremists.
If you could elaborate on that, I think that would be very
helpful for the committee.
And, finally, Dr. Syeed, you talked about no compulsion in
religion. These are such wonderful words. There should be a
right to believe or not to believe. When we did the Frank Wolf
bill, the opening part of that was that it is a right. You can
believe or not believe; it is up to you.
How do you convince other Muslims that there should be no
compulsion in religion?
Mr. Farr. Thank you, Mr. Smith.
Just to restate, briefly, the question, and that is the
importance of pluralism as stabilizing. If history teaches us
anything on this issue, it is that, when any government or any
state is completely dominated by one religion--and, of course,
the history of Christianity and Catholicism helps us make this
point. When the Church and the State are in cahoots in such a
way that minorities are excluded, bad things happen to
everybody, not just the minorities but the state and the
majority religion. It is there. Our Founders understood it.
This ought not to be rocket science for us today.
And yet we do not approach--``we'' being the United States
Government--do not approach this problem of Islamist extremism
with this very simple, powerful, historical premise in mind
that we, ourselves, as Americans, ought--it ought to be part of
our DNA that if we do not--if we simply treat this as a
humanitarian matter and spend money to return people to their
homes but we don't provide them the opportunity to be
integrated into these societies as minorities with equal
rights, then we will not have served anybody.
So this is why I put the emphasis on going to the
stakeholders in Iraq in the example I gave, the Muslim
stakeholders, to make a self-interest argument to them. It is
not self-evident to them. They have not learned the lesson of
Western history, if you will.
But this isn't about criticizing Islam or anybody else. It
is about making a very practical point: You will never live in
peace and security if you don't get this issue of pluralism
right, and we can help.
Mr. Lenczowski. Thank you, Congressman. You have asked a
very interesting question about the relationship between
Marxism, Leninism, and radical Islamism.
There are two basic dimensions of this. One is the rather
explicit discussion of Marxist-Leninist strategy by Sayyid al-
Qutb, who is one of the principal ideologues of radical
Islamism, and who was an admirer of Communist tactics and
Communist revolutionary practice. So that is one dimension of
the radical Islamist agenda which has very much to do with the
exercise and manipulation of power.
Perhaps the more interesting question has very much to do
with theological and philosophical matters. As you said,
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said that the problem is the rejection
of God, both by communism and by secular elites in the West who
have forgotten the fundamental foundations that ultimately are
the origins of our entire Western concept of human rights.
What is going on in Islam, first of all, with radical
Islamists, is that they will take the Islamic doctrine that
Allah is pure will and that Allah wills everything. He wills
every minute, every second of every day. And that means he
wills the cholera epidemic in Calcutta; he wills the rape of
the 13-year-old girl.
And so, if he wills everything, then the terrorist can come
along and say, well, if I want to kill 60 people in the
marketplace in Baghdad and succeed in doing so, then Allah must
have willed it. All of a sudden, the terrorist's will is
equated with Allah's will. He becomes his own God in his
As Whittaker Chambers reminds us about communism, it goes
back to the Garden of Eden, where the serpent tells Adam and
Eve: Ye shall be as Gods. You can reject what the man upstairs
is telling you to do and establish your own moral standards.
So this now gets into another very interesting question
about Islam, which is the fact that there is no Islamic pope.
There is no theological authority who can say that this is what
the correct doctrine is. The religion is very much up for
grabs, and people from many different sectors of the religion
can claim authenticity based on citing their own selective
passages from the Koran.
The Koran says, as Dr. Syeed says, that there is no
compulsion in religion, but the Koran says other things about
cutting the throats of infidels and that this can be done when
people are at war with Islam. Well, this gets into the question
of, well, is it true that infidels are at war with Islam?
There is a relativism in this which is very akin to the
running of Marxist ideology, where you can determine what the
proper doctrine is according to circumstances. In Lenin's
famous speech to the youth leagues in 1920, he said: There is
no such thing as objective moral standards. That is a bourgeois
prejudice. The real moral standards are: Whatever is good is
that which helps the revolution and whatever is evil is that
which hinders the revolution. And so, blowing up a busload of
innocent schoolchildren: Is that good or evil? Well, it all
depends upon whether it helps the revolution. You can draw
circumstances where it could do one or the other.
And so what you have here, when there is this kind of
relativism within Islam, is that people can come along and say
that the end justifies the means, which is what the Islamists
do, and that is uncannily similar to the problem of Marxist-
Mr. Syeed. Congressman, allow me to make a comment also.
Mr. Smith. Push your button there.
Mr. Syeed. Oh, I am sorry.
Allow me to make a comment and bring a different comment on
He mentioned Sayyid Qutb of Egypt, who is being used and
whose writings are being interpreted by the extremists. Sayyid
Qutb came to America in the 1950s on a fellowship to Colorado.
He stayed here for a year. There were no Muslims there. There
was no Islamic center there. His language was very limited. He
could not establish connections and communication and
understand what is the strength of America, what I have been
Today, in Colorado, the same city where he came, we have
more than a dozen Islamic centers. We have a vibrant Muslim
community in Colorado. So you can imagine the difference and
the distance of the experience.
Two years ago, we had a guest from Lebanon, Sheikh Abu
Zayd. He was invited here to address the annual--this prayer
breakfast that we have here in Washington. So he addressed
there. Then I invited him to the Congress here on Friday. I am
sure that you know that we have Friday prayer congregation in
the Congress. So I knew about his orientation and understanding
as a scholar, a highly respected scholar, so I asked him to
come and give his sermon here. So he was amazed, he couldn't
believe it, that there is Friday prayer being held in the
Congress. And then he went from city to city addressing various
Muslim communities, growing prosperous, and he went back to
Sayyid Qutb had written a book called, ``America As I Saw
It.'' And you can imagine what he had seen 60 years ago--very
bleak for him, in terms of Islamic presence in America. And
here you have Abu Zayd going and writing a book exactly with
the same name, ``America That I Have Seen.'' It is amazing how
he feels so reassured that this is a country where Islam is
flourishing and Muslims are dealing with their neighbors in a
very positive and constructive way.
So what I am trying to say is that there are certain very
clear declarations which make Islam what Islam is. One of them
is ``la ikraha fiddin.'' This is in the second chapter of the
Koran, a very clear enunciation of the fundamental value of
Now, we never saw any deviation from it during the life of
the Prophet. Rather, he benefited. He actually utilized his
relationship with other faiths. When his people were being
persecuted in Mecca, he told them the only people who can
understand what I am trying to do here, to bring Islam, faith
in one God and relationship with Jesus and Moses and so on, the
only people who can help you from getting some help out of this
torture and so on is a Christian country in our neighborhood--
that is, in Ethiopia at that time. And, actually, a delegation
of his followers, these Muslims, he went there and they came
there. He gave them asylum. This was the relationship between
Islam and Christianity.
But you are aware that during the medieval times the
relationship was changed into a confrontational relationship.
We had the Crusades for several, several hundred years. So,
therefore, perceptions were changed. So that is why, during
that period, if somebody abandoned Islam and joined something
else, it was not just a change of heart, it was not just change
of faith, it was changing alliance, becoming your enemy, and,
therefore, it would not be tolerated. So the same verse was not
in operation because it did not say ``la ikraha fiddin''--
``din'' is ``religion''--so they are thinking that it is
actually a political affiliation. So the result is, in every
Muslim country, it is part of our legal system there that a
change of religion cannot be tolerated.
But for the first time during the last 50 years in this
country, we have created these communities and neighborhoods.
We have experienced how it is critical for us to benefit from
the freedom of religion. And we have not seen anywhere in the
scripture against that.
I have been giving this example. I mean, how do we teach
Muslims? It is very straightforward that we help them to
understand the context and the Koranic--unqualified Koranic
statement. So I wanted to give one example, if you think time
Ms. Bass. No, it doesn't.
Mr. Smith. Briefly. I do have a meeting with Mitch
McConnell that I have been trying for a month to get on H.R.
390, which is the bill that we are trying to get out of the
Senate. But we will then yield to Ms. Bass, and Dan Donovan
will take over in the chair.
Ms. Bass. Thank you, Mr. Chair. And good luck over there in
I wanted to ask a couple of points of clarification.
Dr. Farr, when you were talking about religious freedom--
and I agree with you. Of course, we need to have religious
freedom. But I think about, in some of the places that we have
been talking about today we can have all the religious freedom
in the world, but if people don't have food, if people don't
have a way to survive, then they are going to go with whatever
group, organization, religion is going to provide them a way to
And I think about religious pluralism, and I also think we
are talking about Islam, but you can have the same tendencies
on the other side too--so the idea that there might be some
people that believe that Muslims shouldn't be allowed in
Congress or that you should not take the oath of office with
the Koran. And there have been sentiments like that here.
And so I just wanted to know if you would speak to that for
a few minutes. And then I also wanted to talk about a few other
Mr. Farr. Well, thank you, Ms. Bass.
I agree with you in your earlier comments about the
holistic approach. I think it is important that you have all of
these considerations in a U.S. policy trying to undermine
extremism. But it is my view that religious freedom has been
the missing part of that policy, which has been the burden of
what I have been trying to say. We have been pouring money into
many societies for many years, with the intent of helping
economic development, with the intent of helping civil society.
All of these things I support. I think they are good. But
religious freedom, as an aspect of this, I think, has been
With respect to our need to--if I can rephrase slightly
what you said--in our own country, to model religious freedom,
I couldn't agree more. It is very important that, as we have
done historically, never perfectly, but we have all agreed to
the aspiration given to us by our Founders in the First
Amendment that everyone in America has religious freedom,
everyone has a voice. And I think that this is under siege,
personally, from both sides----
Ms. Bass. Right.
Mr. Farr [continuing]. Of the aisle. I think we have a big
problem in our country about religious freedom. And as I say in
my testimony, it is very difficult to sell a product in which
you no longer believe or which you are confused about.
So I think I am agreeing with you, Ms. Bass. I think this
is very, very important that we talk about all of these things,
them and us.
Ms. Bass. Exactly. And I worry about the individual in the
Senate that we might confirm and then not give him the tools to
actually do his job.
And I also worry about the vilification of Islam, that we
collapse sometimes the distortion of Islam that has taken place
with the religion itself.
And so some of your comments about--and I am sorry, I don't
want to mispronounce your name--about Marxism-Leninism and
ideology and all, I wanted you to expand on a little bit.
Because you are making a comparison, I believe--and please
correct me if I'm wrong--between Marxism-Leninism and radical
Islam. And Marxism-Leninism, in terms of how you organize a
society, the economic foundations of Marxism-Leninism, I just
don't understand that comparison at all.
Mr. Lenczowski. The point that I was making has not so much
to do with economic matters at all. Marxism-Leninism is a
theory of knowledge, it is a theory of history, it is a theory
Ms. Bass. Right.
Mr. Lenczowski [continuing]. And all of that stuff. It is
many, many things. But at the heart of it is a fundamental
Ms. Bass. Right.
Mr. Lenczowski [continuing]. Which means the rejection of
God, the rejection of any spiritual matters----
Ms. Bass. Right.
Mr. Lenczowski [continuing]. And the rejection, therefore,
of objective moral standards--a transcendent, objective,
universal moral order that either inheres in nature or comes
from God. Objective moral standards of right and wrong can only
come from those two places.
And the Marxism-Leninism----
Ms. Bass. Can only come from what places?
Mr. Lenczowski. Objective standards of right and wrong can
only come either by inhering in nature somehow or they can be
given to us by God, by some higher moral intelligence that
infuses them into the human heart. Either way, this is what the
philosophers call the natural law.
Ms. Bass. Uh-huh.
Mr. Lenczowski. C.S. Lewis called it the law of decent
Ms. Bass. So if one under Marxism-Leninism does not
subscribe to God, how does that relate to Islam----
Mr. Lenczowski. It relates to Islam----
Ms. Bass [continuing]. That does believe in God?
Mr. Lenczowski [continuing]. Because, first of all, under
Marxism-Leninism, people choose what is right and wrong
according to circumstances. In my little example of blowing up
that school bus of children, if you blow it up and the result
is that the people of the society reacts with sort of a police
state reaction, huge new security measures, all kinds of people
could become alienated from a police state environment and
develop a revolutionary consciousness against the state. This
will be good for the Marxist revolution.
Ms. Bass. We fight wars----
Mr. Lenczowski. So that is one----
Ms. Bass. We fight wars----
Mr. Lenczowski. Sure. But that is----
Ms. Bass [continuing]. To get rid of an ideology.
Mr. Lenczowski. That is one example.
But, alternatively, blowing up that school bus may awaken
the sleeping giant of a complacent society to be more vigilant
against revolutionary forces that blew up that bus. And so,
people do terrorist acts as the ``propaganda of the deed.''
Ms. Bass. Right.
Mr. Lenczowski. It is to promote their political agenda.
And so the radical Islamists perform these ``propaganda acts of
the deed'' because they believe that it is morally correct----
Ms. Bass. So----
Mr. Lenczowski [continuing]. Which means they are rejecting
the natural law----
Ms. Bass. So let me----
Mr. Lenczowski [continuing]. View of this, and----
Ms. Bass. Let me just explain to you what I am concerned
about, because--and I am not sure, again, if you were saying
this, and if you weren't, tell me.
Mr. Lenczowski. Yes.
Ms. Bass. If we view this from the perspective that the way
we should proceed is the way we did during the anti-Communist
period, and if you take the continent of Africa, for example,
we made some pretty bad decisions because we were fighting
communism. So we chose some bad sides. We supported apartheid,
we supported colonial powers, because we were trying to defeat
communism instead of addressing the main point, which is why
people were driven toward one ideology or another. It was
because people were trying to survive, and they were trying to
address their socioeconomic conditions.
So when I hear you, I feel like you might be saying that
the way we need to approach this time period is a battle over
ideologies and that we need to convince the Islamic world that
our ideology is better, as opposed to looking at some of the
root causes that drive people toward one ideology or another.
So I would just ask you, is that what you are saying, that
we need to fight this ideologically?
Mr. Lenczowski. Yes, we do need to fight it ideologically.
Poverty has existed for centuries. I visited all the countries
in the Middle East back in the 1960s. I saw desperate poverty
there, beggars everywhere--desperate, desperate poverty. And my
heart went out to those people. The problem is that they
weren't generating terrorists the way terrorists are being
And, yes, Harry Truman said in his famous Truman Doctrine
speech that Communist revolution can be kindled in the soil of
poverty and strife.
Ms. Bass. Okay. Let me----
Mr. Lenczowski. I agree with that.
Ms. Bass. Excuse me. Excuse me. Let me move on, because I
would like to ask Dr. Syeed, do you see a comparison between
Marxism-Leninism and radical Islam?
And then I would like to ask Mr. Hicks to respond to this
Mr. Syeed. It is very difficult for----
Ms. Bass. Can you put your microphone on?
Mr. Syeed. Historically, it is Islam that ultimately
brought down communism. You remember, in Afghanistan, when they
occupied Afghanistan, and we were able to help the local
Muslims to fight against them, because it was a religious duty
for them. So, in that sense, I cannot see any comparison
between the two.
What I see, basically, is that in the Muslim world, because
of, as you were mentioning, dictatorships, because of extremely
difficult situations where people were tortured, tormented, it
has created a very strange kind of psychology. And they are
using appeals to Islam to fight against something that they
believe is evil and something that has to be destroyed.
Ms. Bass. Okay.
Mr. Syeed. So----
Ms. Bass. Mr. Hicks?
Mr. Hicks. Thank you, Ms. Bass.
Just to say a few words about this discussion, I think the
parallel that Dr. Lenczowski is describing is religion being
manipulated to become a totalitarian ideology. And, in that
happening, there is, obviously, some similarity with
What I don't see and where I think I differ with Dr.
Lenczowski, I don't see that this is particular to Islam. I
think in the past we have seen other religions being
manipulated and used in similar ways and having totalitarian
ideologies. Arguably, we are seeing now in Myanmar Buddhism
being used as a totalitarian ideology to commit ethnic
cleansing and genocide against Muslim inhabitants of Myanmar.
So, yes, religions are susceptible to this kind of totalitarian
interpretation, but it is not uniquely Muslim.
If I could just say a few words about how I think my
testimony differs a bit from some of the testimonies we have
heard today. I was trying to focus on what I see as being the
push factors for violent extremism, and they include factors
like authoritarianism, sectarianism, conflict, and ungoverned
space. And, unfortunately, I see all of these problems not
being remedied by current U.S. policy and, in fact, being
exacerbated, in certain cases.
And there are certain remedies, which I briefly mentioned
in my remarks and which I go into in more depth in my longer
testimony, which include religious freedom, so I completely
agree with Dr. Farr, but also promoting other types of human
rights and basic freedoms.
Ms. Bass. Thank you.
And before I turn it over to you, Mr. Chair, let me just
wrap up by saying that I just believe that we need to have a
comprehensive approach. I mean, I support religious freedom. I
know it is ideology. I know we shouldn't vilify Islam. And I
know we need to look at the human rights issues. But I do think
it is really important for us to learn from history and to go
back and to look at some of those past periods, which is why I
was taking issue with it just being, you know, an ideological
fight. We need all of the above.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Donovan [presiding]. Thank you, Ranking----
Mr. Lenczowski. Congresswoman, I just wanted to say, lest
you misunderstand, I focused on the ideological issue because
it has been the one hugely neglected part of all of this. I
totally support the comprehensive approach that you are talking
Ms. Bass. Thank you.
Mr. Donovan. Thank you, Ranking Member.
Before we continue, I would like to enter into the record a
statement by Qamar-ul Huda, director of security and violent
extremism at the Center for Global Policy.
Hearing no objection, so ordered.
At least two of our witnesses have a hard stop at 12
o'clock, so I would ask the members if they could keep their
questions shorter than they have been, just so everybody gets a
The Chair now recognizes Ambassador Rooney.
Mr. Rooney. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, all the talk about faith and the role of faith in
God in human behavior and the dialectical materialism of the
Soviet Marxist-Leninist ideology that tried to expunge it
reminds me of Pope Benedict's famous quote, that the notion
that there is a God gives rise to the concept of human rights
and of individuals taking responsibility for their own
behavior, which was kind of paraphrasing Saint Augustine. And I
think that thread runs through a lot of this, is having
individuals take responsibility for their behavior because they
truly believe in the dignity of each human being.
With that said, there is a question here going back to the
Marrakesh Declaration and the protection of religious
minorities. And I would like to get all of your opinions of how
the declaration can really be meaningful in the context of the
existence of blasphemy laws and sharia law applied in a civil
Dr. Syeed introduced me to the great line one time of we
need a Nostra Aetate from Islam. And so I think that we have
lofty goals, but how do we square those with what is really
going on in the world right now?
Whichever one. Each one of you have touched on the
Marrakesh Declaration and sharia law and blasphemy laws.
Mr. Syeed. We believe the Marrakesh Declaration was a
result of our efforts here. We were able to convince them that
in the light of the Medina, this covenant, we need to do
something on the same lines at an international level. Because
the issue was how Muslims are committed through Islam to make
sure that the minorities living in Muslim-majority countries
are a trust from God and they have to be given full freedom in
their religion, safety, and security.
But the new approach that we had developed as American
Muslims is this reconnecting with the Medina Declaration, with
the Medina state, living in a pluralist society. So that gave
it some new sense of direction, and the participants were very
excited about that. That is why I believe that we have,
collectively, a responsibility to watch and see that the
Marrakesh Declaration is being implemented and followed up.
Mr. Rooney. So would the declaration call for the
elimination of blasphemy laws and sharia law applied in a civil
Mr. Syeed. It sets a stage for that. Because I was giving
the example here, how, as American Muslims, living so closely
and having developed our institution in collaboration with
people of other faith, it has helped us directly to address
So I was giving one example about this freedom of religion.
We have in American Islamic centers people coming in from time
to time and they say that we have studied Islam and we would
like to convert.
I remember one example that I would like to put on record
here. Years ago, in the Islamic Center of Bloomington, Indiana,
a student came, and he said, I am doing a Ph.D. in philosophy,
and I am taking a course in Islam, and I would like you to help
me to understand Islam more. So we told him that you are
welcome, you can come and visit the Islamic Center whenever you
want. So he continued to come, and after about a year he said,
I have studied Islam, I have seen you guys, how you pray and
fast and so on, I am convinced I want to become a Muslim.
So this is happening in America because we have freedom of
Mr. Rooney. Right.
Mr. Syeed. And he became a Muslim.
Mr. Rooney. And we don't have blasphemy laws and sharia
law, except for a couple of Federal judges have allowed it.
Mr. Syeed. Right.
Mr. Rooney. We also would like to get, if we still have
time, to get Tom and John to make a comment about this as well.
Mr. Syeed. But let me take it to its conclusion.
We had a job, the director's job, in the Islamic Center,
and the next year he applied, and he became our director of the
Mr. Rooney. Great.
Mr. Syeed. But within 3, 4 years, we found him getting
slackened in his socialization with Muslims and in his Islam
and so on. So, after 4 or 5 years, he renounced Islam.
So the American strength of freedom of religion--on the one
hand, we will accept people to come, and, on the other hand,
without any problem, we let them go back. And I am convinced
that there must be many, many. I am aware of many. But that
doesn't bother me.
But what excites me is that, today, if we make a list of
top 50 Muslim leaders, a large number of them were not born
Muslims. So that is what strengthens.
But this cannot happen in other countries----
Mr. Rooney. Right.
Mr. Syeed [continuing]. Because over the centuries----
Mr. Rooney. Right.
Mr. Syeed [continuing]. Different interpretations have been
made which are extraneous to the Koran and do not actually----
Mr. Rooney. Oh, good. So we can get a declaration that
blasphemy laws are extraneous from the Koran, as is the
application of sharia law in a civil context.
Mr. Syeed. We have books and books----
Mr. Rooney. No, that is real progress.
Mr. Syeed. We have produced enough literature, if you want.
I gave you last time a couple of those books----
Mr. Rooney. I have read them. They are very good.
Mr. Syeed. So I am not saying out of nothing.
Mr. Rooney. Right.
Mr. Syeed. I am saying that these 50 years have been a rich
experience and productivity. We have, by now, Web sites,
discussion, conversations, fatwas about these issues.
Mr. Rooney. Thank you, Dr. Syeed.
John and Tom? I know we don't have much time, so you say--
Mr. Farr. Thank you for the question, Ambassador.
If we could get Mr. Syeed's views accepted throughout the
Middle East, it would be a gigantic step forward. And, indeed,
the problem with blasphemy laws, as he knows and as you know,
it is the use of the state to prevent religious speech. It
harms non-Muslim minorities, but it also prevents Muslims who
wish to speak out about their own religion from speaking out.
They are charged with blasphemy if they do so.
The Marrakesh Declaration does not deal with this, but it
is a realistic step forward. It is from the heart of Islam.
And I leave this weekend to go to Rome for a week of
discussions with Middle Eastern Muslims about this very issue.
They recognize that, as Dr. Syeed does, this is a serious
problem that can't simply be waved away by passing a law. It is
a deeply cultural issue that has to be dealt with. But it is
important enough, they believe, to get on with it, and we want
to help them do that.
And one of the things that we are going to do is present to
them an understanding of the Catholic development of doctrine.
The way the Catholic church came to its understanding of
religious freedom was reaching into the deep part of its own
doctrine and allowing it to work with history.
And, hopefully, even though John is correct, there is no
pope, there is no magisterium, this is more difficult in Islam,
but, nevertheless, it is vitally important, and we want to
encourage this. So I think this is getting right at the issue,
the nub of the issue.
Mr. Lenczowski. Congressman and Ambassador, I just would
like to say in this connection that this is one of these issues
that points to the need for greater capacity in public
diplomacy and foreign information.
A huge part of the battle against radical Islamism and in
any political warfare involves anathematizing that which is
evil. It involves isolating it from its potential population
support base and recruitment base, separating it from its
allies and so on. That is the basic principle of political
So what this means is that we have to anathematize the
radical Islamists. We have to point out their corruption. We
have to point out their use of slavery, of sex slavery. You
have to point out the many features of totalitarianism that
exist under radical Islamist orders, whether it is the Islamic
State or the quasi-totalitarianism in sharia-grounded Islamist
states. We have to talk about their active collaboration with
criminal activity, including narcotics, kidnapping, human
trafficking, smuggling. We have to talk about the systematic
violation of human rights, the treating of religious minorities
as ``dhimmis.'' The blasphemy laws are part of all of this.
Now, who is going to do this? We can do some of it. The
problem is that there are loads of politically moderate Muslims
who believe in religious liberty, who believe in tolerance and
pluralism, and many of those people are subjected to fatwas to
kill them when they want to talk about these things.
Mr. Rooney. Like Pakistan last week.
Mr. Lenczowski. Yes. Yes. And so these people need to be
given a megaphone. They need physical protection. And the
megaphone can be through various information media.
Some of this stuff requires not only overt public diplomacy
capabilities in what ought to be a new public diplomacy agency,
but it requires a covert political action capability in our
Central Intelligence Agency where people can be funded and
there are no American fingerprints. They can get support,
whether it is physical support, where there is no association
with intelligence activities. They may get support from some
foundation somewhere. Where did that money come from? Well, who
Mr. Rooney. It sounds like Poland in 1983, doesn't it?
Mr. Lenczowski. You bet.
Mr. Rooney. Yeah. Thank you.
Mr. Lenczowski. You are welcome.
Mr. Donovan. We have four more members that wish to ask
questions and about 20 minutes, so I would ask the members to
keep their questions to the 5 minutes.
The Chair now recognizes the gentleman from New York, Mr.
Mr. Suozzi. I want to thank everybody for their testimony
today. It has been a great education.
Every person of faith wants to try and persuade other
people to join their faith. We are told to evangelize, in my
religion, to convince other people to join our faith. And the
problem, of course, with Islamists is that we are finding that
some people are using violence and oppression to try and
persuade people to join their faith.
So, in practical terms, there are 2.5 billion Christians in
the world. There are 1.5 billion, 1.6 billion Muslims in the
world. There are 900 million Hindus. There are 300 million
Buddhists. There are 40 million Sikhs. There are 14 million
Jews, of which 6 million were killed during the Holocaust.
And we need to figure out how to focus on Muslims of
different majority-Muslim countries that are on board with our
agenda of trying to stop violence and extremism from being
So Dr. Farr made reference to the importance of the Middle
East. Of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, according to the
Pew Research report, 986 million of the Muslims are in the
Asia-Pacific region, there are 317 million in the Middle East,
there are 248 million in sub-Saharan Africa, 43 million in
Europe, 3.4 million in North America, and less than 1 million
in South America.
So we need to, I believe, focus a lot of our attention on
those places that have not gone over to the dark side, so to
speak. I am concerned about Indonesia, which has historically
been a very tolerant place, and there have been efforts to try
and radicalize the people in Indonesia.
As Americans, our country should be working to try and
foster this tolerant behavior of Indonesia in other places in
the world. One of the second-largest countries in the world
with the Muslims is Pakistan. And we see what we have been
trying to do in America to try and rein Pakistan's behavior in
on certain things related to their relationship with
Afghanistan and behavior in that region. We need to figure out
what we need to do more to focus our energies there.
India is a great opportunity for us to have a tolerant
community with Muslims and what we can do to foster, similar to
So I want to ask each of you, in very practical terms, what
is the one thing for each of you--you each get one thing,
because I only have 3 more minutes--one thing you think we
should be focusing on to try and protect those folks that would
normally be our allies in this effort, that we don't want them
to be pushed over to the dark side, so to speak, or the one
thing that you want to do to try and reverse the trend in
places where it has gone bad.
Everybody gets one thing, practical terms, what we should
be doing to try and address this issue.
Mr. Farr. We should be empowering, for lack of a better
term, the moderates in each of these communities. They do
exist, especially in Indonesia, as you said. They exist----
Mr. Suozzi. So how could we do that in Indonesia?
Mr. Farr. We can help to support the civil society
organizations like Nahdlatul Ulama.
I would add to what Dr. Lenczowski said, that, in addition
to the United States public diplomacy and covert action that he
recommends, we should be encouraging private groups, civil
society groups, there and here to do this.
So my one thing is go to each of these groups and encourage
them to make arguments that are based on their own interests.
They already get it. We don't have to wag Article 18 of the
U.N. declaration--which is fine, but we have been doing that
for years. It doesn't work. What might work is self-interest.
Mr. Suozzi. Okay. Thank you.
Mr. Lenczowski. I would like to second Dr. Farr's comment.
I believe that if we had both a public diplomacy agency and a
covert political action capability, we could be doing our own
information programs in order to ensure that the politically
moderate populations in the Islamic world are amply warned
about the full implications of the dark side, so to speak.
Mr. Suozzi. Where is a good place to focus our intentions
other than Indonesia and Pakistan and India?
Mr. Lenczowski. I think that all--I mean, all of these
Mr. Suozzi. Well, we can't do all these places.
Mr. Lenczowski. I know, but we need to have a capacity to
do it. We broadcast in 50 languages at the Voice of America,
which successive administrations, for example, have been busy
Mr. Suozzi. So is there a particular place----
Mr. Lenczowski. We stopped the Arabic service of the Voice
of America and replaced it with a rock-and-roll station. Is----
Mr. Suozzi. Is there a particular----
Mr. Lenczowski [continuing]. That serious public diplomacy?
Mr. Suozzi. Is there a particular place that you think is
more tolerant now that we are worried about losing? Or is there
a particular place that you think is going over to the dark
side that we have to stop it from happening?
Mr. Lenczowski. I think that Indonesia is moving in a wrong
Mr. Suozzi. Well, Indonesia is a very big focus.
Mr. Lenczowski. It is really moving in a wrong direction. I
have some sources that tell me that the Indonesian military and
higher authorities are going to let it get worse and worse and
worse and finally crack down on it, violently, in order to stop
it, the way it has been done there before.
And so it is not good, and it is because the war of ideas
is not being fought as stoutly and vigorously----
Mr. Suozzi. You are not playing nice with the time limits,
though. I have to keep it moving for my colleagues.
Mr. Lenczowski. I understand.
Mr. Suozzi. Okay. Dr. Syeed?
Mr. Syeed. Congressman, we have this thing in mind because
Muslims in America who have been able during the last half a
century to create a new reality, whatever questions there were,
this is the only place where we have experimented with them and
found that they are the heart of Islam.
So we have reached out, particularly the German, and even
British and French, they recognize that. That is why they have
been sending, from time to time, their leaders to visit and
participate in our conventions and programs--not as much as we
So, similarly, I have taken delegations, interfaith
delegations, from here to Indonesia. Because we know in those
countries how we would be able to support and reinforce those
elements at least who are very clear about these issues.
Mr. Suozzi. Yeah.
Mr. Syeed. And it gets reinforced when there is this
exchange. So we need more help----
Mr. Suozzi. We should work with the Pakistani Americans to
work on Pakistan----
Mr. Syeed. Definitely.
Mr. Suozzi [continuing]. Specifically, as well. That is a
Mr. Syeed. Yes. Yes.
Mr. Suozzi. Okay. Mr. Hicks?
Mr. Hicks. Two very specific things.
Firstly, Saudi Arabia has been propagating extremist
Mr. Suozzi. Right.
Mr. Hicks [continuing]. Around the Islamic world for
Mr. Suozzi. Yep.
Mr. Hicks. And if they are----
Mr. Suozzi. They are way ahead.
Mr. Hicks. If they are our best friends, in terms of
fighting extremism, then they need to start behaving like that.
Mr. Suozzi. Yeah.
Mr. Hicks. And there are a lot of specific things that can
be raised by the U.S. Government and should be raised more
And, secondly, I mentioned Tunisia. And Tunisia is a very
important counterexample. On this issue of blasphemy we were
talking about, the religious leadership in Tunisia has
specifically said that blasphemy is not something that should
be punished by the state. And they have made many compromises
with the civil government to move forward the political process
Mr. Suozzi. Thank you very much.
Thank you to each of you.
Mr. Lenczowski. Congressman, I just wanted to say in
reference to Mr. Hicks' comment, I believe that the U.S.
Government ought to be considering a little bit more some
policies of reciprocity.
If the Saudi Government is permitted to build all sorts of
mosques, bring their money, and get rid of politically moderate
imams who run here in American mosques by bringing in their
money and say, ``You can have our money, but you have to take
our Wahhabi imam to go with it,'' and where you can come right
out here to Route 7 and buy books in the Islamic center that
talk about how you can properly beat your wife, and you can buy
these things on Amazon, well, you know, if the Saudis can do
all of that kind of stuff, maybe with a little diplomatic
reciprocity we ought to be able to build--you know, any
religious group in the United States ought to be able to go
build its church or synagogue or temple somewhere in Saudi
I believe that diplomatic reciprocity is something that
should be part of this.
Mr. Suozzi. Thank you.
Mr. Donovan. Thank you, Mr. Suozzi.
Thank you, witnesses.
I am going to reserve my time in case there is no time at
the end and recognize Mr. Rohrabacher.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much.
And let me just note that Mr. Lenczowski is one of the
heroes of the Cold War and heroes of ending the conflict with
Soviet Communism in a way that didn't cost millions of lives.
So this is a man who we owe a great deal of gratitude for.
And I might add that, during his time at the White House,
when I worked with him in the White House, he was under vicious
attack by numbers of people who supposedly believed in freedom.
And this is the man who saved us.
That same is true, Mr. Hicks, when we talk about el-Sisi.
El-Sisi saved Egypt, and his coalition saved it from becoming a
dictatorship based on Islam. And the fact is, yeah, he has
some--the el-Sisi regime is not a perfect regime, and that is
for sure. It has its faults. We have our faults, as well.
But, like during the Cold War, there were people who only
could criticize those governments that were standing up against
the onslaught of Marxist-Leninism. And, as Mr. Lenczowski was
trying to point out, Marxism-Leninism was to, for example,
socialism what radical Islamic terrorist groups now are to
And we didn't attack socialist regimes during that time
period. In fact, I remember some things we were working with
some socialist regimes, at that time. We need to work with
moderate Muslim groups and not try to nitpick them to make them
weak so they can fall to radical Islamic regimes. And that is
as simple as that.
So, with that said, I would like Mr. Hicks to have his
chance to refute what I just said.
So go right ahead.
Mr. Hicks. Thank you, Mr. Rohrabacher. Yes, I think I do
strongly disagree with what you just said about President Sisi
and his role in Egypt.
I have been professionally involved with human rights
conditions in Egypt for over 30 years, and I can definitely say
that the human rights conditions today are far worse than
anything I have seen over that whole 30-year period. What we
have now is possibly comparable to the Nasserite period, but I
am too young to remember that directly.
Nor do I think it is working. And I don't think it is
nitpicking to point to the thousands of people who have died in
political violence, many of them at the hands of the Egyptian
security forces, and call that nitpicking. That is not
nitpicking. That is a huge escalation in the level of violence
Mr. Rohrabacher. Now, as long as you have, at the same
time, been--see, here you are testifying today focusing on
that, as compared to all these other regimes that are
monstrously worse than what you are talking about.
And that is why I refer to Mr. Lenczowski's comparison to
the Cold War, to Marxist-Leninism, and that battle that we had.
There are people who, during the Cold War, spent all of their
time complaining about governments that were on the front edge.
And because they were right on the battle line against
communism, yeah, things get--you can't be a perfect, idealist
libertarian when you are confronted with that type of a
Mr. Hicks. Where are we headed----
Mr. Rohrabacher. We are faced with that kind of challenge
Mr. Hicks. Where we are headed----
Mr. Rohrabacher [continuing]. In the world.
And one last point, because I know I only have a couple
minutes, and that is, how do we make sure that Muslims
throughout the world understand that we are on their side and
that this 10 percent of Islam that has decided that they are
going to superimpose their radical beliefs on everyone else by
terrorizing the world into submission--because that is what
this is about. How do we make sure the other Muslims know we
are all human beings and we should work together against
whether it is Marxist-Leninist tyranny or Islamic radical
tyranny or whatever their kind of tyranny.
We need to make sure in countries where the oppression of
Muslims is clear, like with the Rohingyas--which we passed a
resolution yesterday about what is going on in Burma, where the
Muslim population is under severe attack and being brutally
murdered. Yeah, we spoke out yesterday, and I am proud to have
been part of that.
I was also proud that, when the Kosovos were denied their
right of self-determination and they were being brutally,
again, suppressed and slaughtered by Christian Serbs, we stood
up for the right of self-determination of the people of Kosovo,
even though they were overwhelmingly Muslim.
So, with that, that is the type of thing, we have to send
that message, that we are a principled country here, and that
is how we do that.
I will leave that and--Mr. Lenczowski, I have mentioned you
several times. Would you like to add anything to that, as you
added to my efforts when I was writing President Reagan's
Mr. Lenczowski. Congressman, you are very generous, and I
can only say that I don't deserve those kind of encomiums, but
I was very honored to be one of the cooks in the kitchen in the
Reagan White House. And it was a great pleasure and an honor to
work with you, because you and your colleagues in the
speechwriting shop were some of the greatest articulators of
the philosophy that the President represented and wanted to
bring to the world. I don't want to be patronizing, but I could
return the compliment to you in a similar way. So thank you.
I just would like to say, when one is at war with major
totalitarian movements, sometimes you have to you make
alliances. When we were at war with Hitler, we allied ourselves
with Stalin, who, in some respects, may have been even a
greater monster than Hitler in terms of the death toll that he
inflicted upon humanity and the genocide of tribes and little
nations within the Soviet Union.
Sometimes you have to choose the lesser of evils. Indeed,
as you suggested, we had to ally ourselves with some countries
like Iran. During the Carter administration, human rights
activists were attacking the Shah's Iran relentlessly because
he had a terrible secret police and because he was an
authoritarian ruler and all of this kind of stuff. The Shah was
the most liberal of all of the realistic political alternatives
in Iran at that time.
The Soviet Union was hugely active in penetrating Iran and
controlling and financing the Tudeh Party, which was their
Communist Party. There were two major attempts to take over
Iran: In 1921, when they tried to set up the Republic of Gilan
in northern Iran; and in 1945-1946, when they tried to set up
the independent Republic of Azerbaijan in northern Iran as
instruments to take over that country.
And so we undermined the Shah. We helped delegitimize him.
We pulled the rug out from him because he wasn't perfect. And
then what did we get? We got radical Shiite, revolutionary,
quasi-totalitarian Islamism in Iran.
And so I appreciate the problem of human rights violations
in authoritarian countries, and I appreciate the problems that
Mr. Hicks has raised about Egypt. I don't know enough about
Egypt to comment on this. But I believe that the greater evil
here, rather than traditional authoritarianism, is a
totalitarian movement that is metastasizing around the world.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Donovan. The Chair now recognizes Mr. Garrett.
Mr. Garrett. I am curious when you came up here and looked
at my notes, because you provided a very good segue. I am going
to take the form more of a soliloquy than a colloquy because of
the time constraints and point out that the exchange between
Congresswoman Bass and John was really informative, that I
wrote this down at the time: Marxist-Leninism and radical Islam
or radical, intolerant anything are similar because both are
antithetical to the natural state of humanity, that the
Mr. Lenczowski. The natural law.
Mr. Garrett. I have very little time, with all due respect.
And I have a great deal, based on what Mr. Rohrabacher said.
Let me keep going.
The line from the Lazarus poem referencing ``huddled masses
yearning to breathe free'' comes to mind. If you tell someone
what they cannot do, they will inherently wish to try to do
that, because that is the natural state of man.
And so I look to an illustrative piece of text from this
country, and I will omit the first word and simply say: Shall
not make laws respecting the establishment of religion nor
prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom
of speech or press or the right of people to peaceably assemble
and petition the government for a redress of grievances. I
submit that this should be our standard for the world.
However, your statements as it regards to Iran, I think,
are illustrative of the reality in which we in the West all too
often oversimplify things by suggesting that perhaps it is
either black or white. The deposition of the Shah was, in no
arguable sense, a reaction to a lack of atrocities on the part
of the secret police in Iran, but what it begat was bloodshed
on a scale not seen in that region for years that began in
1979, and then it punctuated with an exclamation point in 1988
and then again during the Green Revolution just less than a
With that, I would ask that we enter into the record the
cover, title page, and preface, which is a total of 7 pages, of
``Iran: Where Mass Murderers Rule.''
And I would point out also that I think that we
oversimplify the issue of Islam. I will submit candidly that,
despite my Christian faith, I am delighted to say that there
are many Muslims who I count among my friends. Having said
that, I will decry and condemn radical Islam vehemently and
full-throatedly, as should everyone here, as they also should
with any radical, intolerant practitioner of Christianity or
Judaism or any other faith that seeks to impose upon others
against their natural-law right to determine for themselves how
they choose to worship or if they choose to worship. And that
should be where the United States stands.
While I take exception with Mr. Hicks' comments as it
relates to some of the circumstances in Egypt, I would submit
that, as it relates to Saudi Arabia, if we are to engage in
arms deals amounting to trillions of dollars in trade, I don't
think it is too much to ask that they stop publishing texts to
the entire Islamic world, in their various languages, adhering
to a strict Wahhabist standard.
And I would also point out that the Sufis massacred in the
hundreds not so long ago were, in fact, Muslims who believed
that they should be able to be believe differently as Muslims,
and they are just as dead as any Jew or Christian or atheist
who ever died at the tip of a religious-motivated spear.
So diversity is strength so long as that diversity is
tolerant of diversity. And diversity that you can see how we
worship, who we love, how we look is important. But the
diversity that we can't see, that exists between our left and
right ear, and a world where we make human rights paramount is
equally, if not more so, important.
So I just wish we had more time on this subject matter. I
would call upon my colleagues to take a step back and
understand that condemning radical Islam is not condemning
Islam and that you should be equally willing to condemn radical
practitioners of any faith, whether they are pushing the
Rohingya from their ancestral lands; that the American role, in
order to have credibility, is not to be the parent who tells
their child not to drink while buying a bottle of liquor, but
who says, we are tolerant of others here, it works well here--
and, Mr. Syeed, your comments have been very appreciated to
that end--and it will work well for you too.
I apologize for my soliloquy, understandably because of
time. And I didn't mean to cut you off or be disrespectful, but
this is what happens when you are the junior member.
God bless. Thank you all.
Mr. Donovan. And, without objection, your offering is
entered into the record.
I am going to take 1 minute because I waited for everybody
else to ask a question.
Many times, it is debated about the United States' role in
foreign resources, giving moneys, resources, having people on
the ground in places where it is very dangerous and
experiencing some of the matters that we are speaking about
Could each of you just give me, like, 30 seconds on what
happens if the United States fails to have an influence in
these countries or starts pulling back and who fills that void
that might be created if the United States doesn't continue
with its current activities in some of these countries where we
are seeing this extreme behavior?
Mr. Farr. I will just say that the United States is the
country where religious freedom has reached its apogee. If it
is lost in this country, where can it be regained? These are
the stakes that we are talking about today.
Mr. Donovan. John?
Mr. Lenczowski. I can only see a worsening of the situation
because I think that so many of the radical Islamist movements
have an enormous amount of momentum on their side.
One thing that concerns me a lot here is what is going on
in Europe: The establishment of separatist enclaves, where
sharia law is dominant, that have become de facto no-go zones
for people to travel. You can buy an app now to put on your
iPhone that tells you whether you are in a no-go zone in Paris
Are these enclaves within Europe going to try to be part of
a system of religious pluralism, or are they going to try to
set up systems that are in complete contravention with Western
concepts of human rights?
I am very concerned about this dimension. It is not simply
a dimension of terrorism; it is--I call it in my written
testimony ``resettlement jihad'' and ``sharia supremacism.''
Mr. Donovan. Dr. Syeed?
Mr. Syeed. Yeah, I have tried to make a point that the
emergence of Muslim community in America, in this pluralist
democracy, is an asset not only for America, not only for
Muslims, for the whole world. So we are going to provide a
model to Europe, and eventually we should be able to fight
those evils which are bothering us in the rest of the world as
well. So it is just a wonderful resource, and you need to
recognize that--we need to recognize that.
Mr. Donovan. Thank you, Doctor.
Mr. Hicks. I think we have a good example of what happens
if the United States withdraws when we look at Syria. The
powers that have moved into that vacant space have been
authoritarian powers like Russia and sectarian powers like
Iran, and that, of course, is terrible for human rights, it is
terrible for religious freedom, and it is terrible for U.S.
Mr. Donovan. Thank you.
I thank you all for your testimony. I thank you all for
appearing here. I thank my colleagues for their pointed
The record will remain open for 10 days in case any member
wants to submit a question that we would ask that you do then
respond to in writing.
This hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:05 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
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