Last updated August 13, 2018
IMPACT: Daniel Pipes is an academic and founder of the right-wing think-tank, Middle East Forum. Pipes supports racial profiling and the surveillance of Muslim communities and believes Muslims in the United States seek to infiltrate and overthrow the country. He has spent decades promoting anti-Muslim tropes and has financed numerous activists and organizations that spread misinformation about Muslims and Islam.
Daniel Pipes holds a B.A. and a Ph.D., both in History, from Harvard University. According to Pipes’s bio, he has taught at a number of universities, including Harvard University, the U.S. Naval War College, and the University of Chicago. Pipes also served as a Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Pipes is the president and founder of the Middle East Forum (MEF), described by the Center for American Progress as a “controversial far-right think-tank that is known for its anti-Islam views and hawkish foreign policy recommendations.”
In November 1990, Pipes wrote in the National Review: “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene .… All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”
In an October 2001 article for National Review Online that has since been deleted, Pipes argued that “every fundamentalist Muslim, no matter how peaceable in his own behavior, is part of a murderous movement and is thus, in some fashion, a foot soldier in the war that bin Laden has launched against civilization.”
In January 2003, Pipes argued that “if Americans want to protect themselves from Islamist terrorism, they must temporarily give higher priority to security concerns than to civil-libertarian sensitivities. Preventing Islamists from inflicting further damage implies … focusing on Muslims. Not to do so is an invitation to further terrorism.”
In December 2004, Pipes wrote in an article for New York Sun that “the threat of radical Islam implies an imperative to focus security measures on Muslims” and compared it to the process of “searching for rapists, [whereby] one looks only at the male population. Similarly, if searching for Islamists (adherents of radical Islam), one looks at the Muslim population.”
In the same article, Pipes argued that the internment of Japanese Americans during the 1940s was justified. He endorses the argument found in Michelle Malkin’s In Defense of Internment, that “in time of war, governments should take into account nationality, ethnicity, and religious affiliation in their homeland security policies and engage in … ‘threat profiling.’” He concludes that “President Roosevelt and his staff did the right thing.”
In June 2006, Pipes advocated the legalization of “terrorist” profiling based on racial and ethnic appearance arguing that “profiling is an obviously useful tool, so the solution lies in passing laws to permit the police to do so overtly and legally.”
In a 2008 article for The Jerusalem Post, Pipes warned of “Islamist infiltrators” and “Islamist moles” in the “West.” In the piece, he defended his 2003 statement in which he called for special surveillance and additional backgrounds checks of Muslims in America in an effort to uncover “connections to terrorism.” He also called for greater scrutiny of mosques and increased oversight of Muslims schools.
Pipes became the prime amplifier of the “no-go zones” conspiracy theory when he coined the term in 2006 to refer to French “Zones Urbaines Sensibles” via his personal blog. He endorsed the definition of these areas as “places in France that the French state does not fully control.” In 2013, Pipes admitted that these areas are not actually “no-go zones but, as the French nomenclature accurately indicates, ‘sensitive urban zones” and that “[he regrets] having translated [them] as no-go zones.” The theory continues to hold as it still appears in a number of Fox News segments and has even influenced President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands.
In a February 2013 article for Washington Times, Pipes called for a “ban [of] the niqab and burqa in public places.” He claims this is a response to the phenomenon that as “full-body Islamic covers spread, criminals increasingly use them to perpetrate their offenses.”
In 2003, George W. Bush nominated Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), a federally-funded think tank. Criticism from a number of Senators and Muslim and Arab advocacy organizations forced Bush to appoint Pipes during recess to avoid a Congressional vote, which shortened the typical four-year term to 18 months.
In April 2003, Frank Gaffney, the founder of the anti-Muslim think-tank, Center for Security Policy, praised Pipes’ nomination to the U.S. Institute of Peace calling it “noteworthy.” In the letter, Gaffney described the criticism of Pipes’ nomination by the American Muslim Council and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as “a jihad against President Bush’s nomination.”
In January 2010, Pipes wrote a piece praising Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, arguing that Wilders is a “charismatic, savvy, principled, and outspoken leader” who “sees Islam itself as the problem, not just a virulent version of it called Islamism.” Wilders has in the past likened the Qur’an to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and has recently called for a “Trump-style” Muslim Ban in Europe. A 2012 Reuters article revealed that Pipes and David Horowitz had provided financial support to Wilders in the past.
Pipes and the MEF were cited numerous times in Anders Breivik’s manifesto detailing the far-right mass murderer’s motivations for his July 2011 attack that resulted in the death of more than 70 Norwegians. Other individuals cited in the manifesto were Frank Gaffney, Steven Emerson, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.
In May 2001, Pipes and Steven Emerson collaborated on an article found in Pipes’ book Miniatures: Views of Islamic and Middle Eastern Politics that argued the U.S. government should “[see] acts of terror as battles, not crimes” and that “as in a conventional war, America’s armed forces, not its policemen and lawyers, are primarily deployed to protect Americans.”
In October 2012, Pipes appeared in an NPR debate alongside Zuhdi Jasser. In it they argued that it is better to have dictators than elected Islamists. Pipes argued that “Islamists, whether elected or not, whether violent or not, Islamists of any sort whatsoever are barbarians, are totalitarians, are far worse than dictators.”
In 2011, Pipes supported the campaign to stop Park 51, a development project envisioning the construction of a Muslim community center in NYC. The project was dubbed the “Ground Zero mosque.” Pipes wrote, “While Muslims have every legal right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, this initiative carries the unmistakable odor of Islamic triumphalism.”
Despite his history of derogatory anti-Muslim remarks, Pipes has been praised as “an authoritative commentator on the Middle East” by the Wall Street Journal (1989), being “years ahead of the curve in identifying the threat of radical Islam” by CBS News (2006), and “perhaps the most prominent U.S. scholar on radical Islam” by The Washington Post (2010).
Pipes’s website, DanielPipes.org has nearly 70 million page visits and claims to be “one of the Internet’s most accessed sources of specialized information on the Middle East and Muslim history.” Its readership spans worldwide, with visitors from 236 countries and domains.
One of Pipes’ most read articles, titled “What is Jihad?“, has more than 400,000 views and defines jihad as “unabashedly offensive in nature, with the eventual goal of achieving Muslim dominion over the entire globe.”
On Pipes’ website, there is a page dedicated to the racist and Islamophobic ‘Birther’ conspiracy theory, which claims former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, was secretly a Muslim, and was therefore not a legitimate president. This section has received an aggregate readership of approximately 1,000,000. The ‘Birther’ conspiracy theory has been promoted by other anti-Muslim activists including Frank Gaffney, as well as current President Donald Trump.
From 1986 to 1993, Pipes served as director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). In a 2010 op-ed for Al-Jazeera, reporter Abdus Sattar Ghazali argued that the organization produces a series of textbooks for middle schools and high schools, titled “World of Islam” that is pervaded by an “anti-Islamic sentiment.” The books reinforce common anti-Muslim tropes such as the belief that Muslims are inherently violent and deserving of suspicion.