Add another US-based imam to the list of all those so-called moderate imams who soothe us at interfaith meetings but are really not so moderate. Sayed Moustafa al Qazwini is a Shia imam in Orange County who is active at inter-faith meetings. I have seen and heard him speak on at least a couple of occasions. Now it is revealed that he gave a sermon in June in which he charged that it was Israel who created ISIS. Not only that, he has doubled down on the charge in recent days.
As stated above, I have heard Qazwini speak at least two times. In April 2012, he was part of an event at Marymount College in Los Angeles put on by several local Muslim leaders to defend sharia law. During the Q and A I was able to get a response directly from him when I asked why they were not condemning Islamic intolerance towards religious minorities in Muslim lands (and Europe).
Q: “We have heard a lot of talk today about hate and intolerance, but there is an 800 pound gorilla in the back of the room, and its name is hate and intolerance. It is not the hate and intolerance that may or not be directed to you, but the hate and intolerance that is being carried out by Muslims against religious minorities in Muslim countries — people being killed and their places of worship destroyed — from the Coptic Christians in Egypt, to the Christians in Pakistan, the Jews in Yemen, the Baha’i in Iran, the Christians in Iraq and the Christians and animists in Sudan. In addition, Jews in Europe are now experiencing the worst anti-Semitism since the 1930s. It has gotten to the point where they cannot walk the streets wearing Jewish garb lest they be insulted, spat upon or assaulted. Yes, some of the perpetrators are neo-Nazis and skinheads, but the primary perpetrators are young, male Muslim immigrants. ‘I am not attributing that to Muslims in America’, I said. ‘I don’t hate Muslims and I don’t know anyone in this room who does, but why do you never speak out against that hate and intolerance?’”
Qazwini was the first to respond. He said there were two problems. First of all, most of these countries are not free countries, and for the past eight decades, the Western superpowers, including the US, have supported these regimes. “Don’t blame Islam”, he said. “Don’t blame it on Muslims.”
Qazwini also said that he has been active on the UC Irvine campus for 17 years and every Friday, he speaks out against this intolerance.”
I also heard Qazwini speak in 2015 during an event dedicated to a discussion about violent extremism. It was held at the Pacifica Institute in Irvine, an organization run by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish dissident who lives in Pennsylvania and whom Turkish President Erdogan has accused of fomenting the attempted coup that occurred in Turkey (subsequent to this particular event). Once again, Qazwini responded to a question I posed about the campaign of genocide against Christians in the Middle East:
During the q and a, I got the first question (beginning of the 4th video). I identified myself a Christian and referred to the t-shirt I was wearing that bore the Arabic character for “n”, which ISIS had been placing on Christian homes in Iraq and Syria identifying Christians (“Nazarene”), so that they could be killed.
I pointed out that a Middle Eastern Christian group in the US had adopted that symbol to bring attention to the plight of Christians, and I asked all of the panelists whether they would be comfortable wearing such a t-shirt to show their support for persecuted Christians.
The response was positive, Qazwini said he would be proud to wear it. Koca asked if I had the shirt in his size. One of the panelists ( I don’t recall whether it was Turk or Qazwini) stressed that he believed that Christians belonged in the Middle East and should not leave.) Siddiqi’s response was also positive, but I don’t think he actually answered the question of whether he would wear the t-shirt. (I can’t imagine seeing Imam Siddiqi in a t-shirt anyway.)
Obviously, Qazwini knows all the right things to say to a non-Muslim audience. Yet, one thing I learned is that he will not blame Islam or Muslims for any of the horrors that are occurring around the world. Now this. It is so typical. Blame Israel for everything. Even ISIS.