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Welcome to the American Islamic College Conference: '9/11…a Wonderful Opportunity'


One week after the 10th anniversary of the September 11th World Trade Center attacks, carried out by Islamist terrorists, the American Islamic College and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation convened students, academics, and “intellectuals” in Chicago, Illinois, for its 2nd annual conference on “Islam and Muslims in America.” Rather than accepting the underlying facts that lead reasonable Americans to express concern about the spread of Islam in America, the conference chose to focus on Americans’ “racism and bigotry,” negativity, and the so-called “Islamophobia,” inherent in their opinions about the Muslim faith.

This perverse twisting of the post-9/11 environment in America, as well as the institution’s shady past associations with noted Islamist agitators, provides the context for an event of which all Americans should be aware.

The stated purpose of the conference was to promote awareness of the school, discuss the current affairs of Islam and Muslims in America, and confront “Islamophobia.” However, events that unfolded reveal that the narrative put forth throughout the conference veered sharply from these goals, the careful review of which invites legitimate concern and even alarm*.

(*Notably, it was within this context that U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley found it appropriate in his official capacity, to apologize on behalf of America, seen here in our previously released footage from the event.)

The following video shows an opening statement from the event emcee, a Muslim/pro-Palestinian activist and host of the Rise Up Radio Show Rashid Darwish. While Darwishundoubtably came across as one of the more measured speakers at the event, and gave no reason for observers to conclude that he was of an unpeaceful character, he makes an alarming claim in his opening remarks:

“…This last week, we look back at 10 years of the 9/11 tragedy….I will tell you this, it gave us all a wonderful opportunity to now educate people about Islam….and really help define what Islam is all about.”

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Looking deeper into the history of the American Islamic College (AIC) and the background of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) invites skepticism about the conference as well as the host institution, including connections to Islamist agitators and the saga of the school’s loss of, and subsequent initiative to regain, its authority to offer accredited Associates and Bachelor of Arts degrees.


The AIC was founded in 1981 and opened its doors just off Lake Shore Drive in 1983 as the only Islamic institution in America with the authority to grant a degree. In 2004 the school closed its doors after the Illinois Board of Higher Education stripped that privilege due to their failure to conform with state regulations. In May 2011, the New York Times reported on the school’s reopening and pointed to the AIC’s ties to a “secretive and far-reaching international movement that has been accused of Islamism in some countries and of an overuse of non-immigrant work visas to hire foreign teachers in its schools in the United States.”

That movement, according to the Times, was and is led by a Turkish spiritual and political leader living in “self-imposed exile” in rural Pennsylvania: Fetullah Gulen. Gulen’s history of utilizing educational systems to promote his world view has been well documented, as also reported in The Times:

“The Gulen movement, called Hizmet (a Turkish word meaning “service”), promotes public service and education and oversees research institutes, universities, media outlets and one of Turkey’s largest banks. The movement seeks to spread Gulen’s influence internationally through an informal network of 1,000 schools in 130 countries.

“Hizmet operates more than 120 publicly financed charter schools in 25 states, in addition to a handful of private schools, like the Science Academy of Chicago, run by Niagara Educational Services, a Mount Prospect firm associated with the Gulen movement.”

The American Islamic College’s mission echoes this language:

“Our innovative interdisciplinary educational program, while grounded inIslamic learning, will be committed to promoting inter-religious and inter-cultural understanding, responsible world citizenship, and engaged social service.”


In addition to the ties with the Gulen movement, the AIC is also backed by the Organization ofIslamic Cooperation (OIC), a Saudi-based intergovernmental organization made up of 57 member states reaching four continents. Founded in 1969, it is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the U.N. The organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world (Ummah) to safeguard and ensure the progress and interests of Muslims.

The OIC’s charter aims “to be guided by the noble Islamic values of unity and fraternity, and affirming the essentiality of promoting and consolidating the unity and solidarity among the Member States in securing their common interests at the international arena.” Also stated in the OIC’s charter is “….to establisha sovereign state for the Palestinian people with Al-Quds Al-Sharif (AKA Jerusalem) as its capital, and to safeguard its historic and Islamic character, and the holy places therein….”

The OIC drafted the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which states, “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah,” and “The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.” They have made attempts to have this language adopted by United Nations Human Rights Council–efforts that have met strong opposition both within and without that body. Critics state that it is “manipulation and hypocrisy…designed to dilute, if not altogether eliminate, civil and political rights protected by international law” and that it attempts to “circumvent the principles of freedom and equality.”


It is in the subject matter and words spoken at the conference that this warped point-of-view is woven. The conference placed an overwhelming emphasis on the problem Muslims face from “racism and bigotry” in America, promoting the concept that “Islamophobia is really to blame,” rather than the aggressors.

However, given the ties of the AIC’s radical founding–spelled out in the New York Times of all places–and the history of the OIC, which has even faced U.N. scrutiny for human rights violations, is the real problem that Muslims face “Islamophobia?” or is it their own “irrational fear” of America and Americans?

If September 11 provided a “wonderful opportunity” to teach us what Islam is all about, then “no, thank you”–we are getting the message loud and clear. No one conveyed it better than Muqtedar Khan, who addressed the conference later that day, when he said, “the more Americans say they know about Islam, the more they do not like it.”

To be continued…

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