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New legislation seeks to intimidate, imprison Muslims

Photo: Don Davis / AFSC

A bill to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization has now been introduced in Congress. It is important to note that this is an exceptional move. If this bill passes and the Muslim Brotherhood is declared a terrorist organization, that determination will be a political act, not an act based on the advice, review, and findings of the U.S. officials responsible for making these decisions within the State Department and Security Services.

This will mean that politicians can declare any group they do not like terrorists for ideological reasons (not that this isn't already the case to a certain extent). The impact of such a move is terrifying. Members of these groups will be subject to assassination and imprisonment. Other countries will use this as an excuse for political repression and military action. People will be tortured, killed, and disappeared.

In the U.S., this law will be used to sweep up and act against groups in the Muslim Community. Groups like CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), the Muslim Student Association, and American Muslims for Palestine will be some of the first groups attacked, even if there are no provable links to the Muslim Brotherhood. The political right has attacked these groups and others for years by accusing them, without proof, of being linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and similar groups.

This action against the Muslim Brotherhood is about political repression in this country, not just abroad.

And don't think that evidence is needed to act against U.S. citizens. Just look at the case of the Holy Land Five. In that case the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation were convicted and imprisoned for supposedly funding Hamas. Yet the charities that they supported did not appear on the list of organizations noted as having links to terrorism, the list used by humanitarian agencies to vet their partners, when they gave their grants. Not only that, during the period when the Holy Land Foundation provided its assistance to these organizations, the U.S. government through USAID was providing funds to the same groups, and Hamas had not yet been declared a terrorism organization.

Don't think that political trials can't happen. They have happened. They are happening.

Concerned about a Muslim registry? This is the registry. This is what will be used to intimidate, silence, and imprison members of the Muslim community. This is what needs to be opposed. This is when resistance action is needed.

It is easy to say you will support your Muslim brothers and sisters, but when they start screaming terrorism will you still stand in support? That is when you are really needed.

This op-ed was originally published on Mondoweiss. 

About the Author

Mike Merryman-Lotze is the American Friends Service Committee’s Middle East Program Director.  He coordinates AFSC’s Israel and Palestine focused advocacy and policy programming, working closely with AFSC’s offices in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and throughout the US.