This article by Bridge Initiative Senior Research Fellow Arsalan Iftikhar originally appeared on NBC News.
The secretary of state is the chief diplomat responsible for guiding the foreign policy for the United States of America, and the face of America in the world — including the Muslim world. And soon, the man holding that job will be a former right-wing Tea Party congressman who once, among other Islamophobic statements and actions, accepted an award from a hate group labeled the “largest anti-Muslim group” in the country by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center
In the aftermath of the firing of now-former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump wasted no time in naming CIA director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s replacement. But before his time at the CIA, Mike Pompeo was a no-name Tea Party congressman from Kansas who positioned himself as a right-wing uber-hawk, particularly in relation to foreign policy toward the Muslim world.
While he was in Congress, for instance, Mike Pompeo once told a church crowd that the “threat to America” was caused by “people who deeply believe that Islam is the way.”
“They abhor Christians,” Pompeo further told tell the church audience and “will continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”
And, according to The Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University (where I serve as a senior fellow), Mike Pompeo once had the audacity to claim that all Muslims were “potentially complicit” in acts of terrorism collectively.
Mike Pompeo also tried to label the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization: He co-sponsored the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act more than once, trying to force the U.S. State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a “foreign terrorist organization.” The Washington Post reported that previous presidential administrations (both Democrat and Republican) have not viewed the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist” organization and that any such legislation would have “a far-reaching [negative] impact on American Muslims at a time when Muslim community leaders say the religious minority is facing the worst harassment it has seen since the aftermath of 9/11.”
“It is wrongheaded and dangerous to tar all [Muslim] Brotherhood members with one brush,” the New York Times editorial board wrote in a February 2017 editorial condemning any terrorist designation of the Muslim Brotherhood. “Such an order would be seen by many Muslims as another attempt to vilify adherents of Islam. It appears to be part of a mission by the president and his closest advisers to heighten fears [of Muslims].”
And even Pompeo’s current agency, the CIA, thought it was a terrible idea to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. According to an in-depth report by POLITICO Magazine, CIA experts warned that such a designation “may fuel extremism” and damage relations with America’s allies, according to a summary of a report for the intelligence community and policymakers that was shared by a U.S. official. The CIA document, published internally on January 31, 2017, noted that the Brotherhood — which boasts millions of followers around the Arab world — has “rejected violence as a matter of official policy and [has publicly] opposed Al-Qaeda and ISIS” and other terrorist groups as well.
Sadly, the Islamophobia of Mike Pompeo does not end there.
Mike Pompeo also accepted the National Security Eagle Award from the aforementioned SPLC- and ADL-designated hate group, ACT for America, in 2016. The group’s president that year called him “a steadfast ally of ours since the day he was elected to Congress.” Additionally, Pompeo has also appeared over 20 times on the right-wing talk radio show of Frank Gaffney, who has been called “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes” by the same organization.
Read the full article here.