WASHINGTON (RNS) The day before his inauguration, conservative faith leaders urged President-elect Donald Trump to name the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
Members of the Faith Leaders for America, a new ad hoc coalition, seek a stronger response to Muslim extremism in the Trump administration and view the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a first step.
“(Y)ou have our prayerful support as you begin to counter jihad and protect Americans from Islamic terrorism,” said National Religious Broadcasters President Jerry Johnson, reading a “Call to Prayer” from the coalition Thursday (Jan. 19).
“When you label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, we support you.”
The Muslim Brotherhood is a transnational Sunni Muslim organization that is a powerful political force in Egypt and other Arab nations. It is involved in charitable work, and officially denounces violence. But it has been linked by critics in those countries to violent Islamic groups.
Johnson and others, including Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council, also accused the Council of American-Islamic Relations, and other Muslim groups many consider mainstream, of having links to terrorism.
Boykin, an ordained minister, said Christians and Jews should be wary of CAIR because Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have declared it a terrorist group.
“All of this interfaith dialogue is part of their methodology to infiltrate the church, to draw undiscerning pastors and rabbis in,” he said.
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper responded that Boykin has a long history of targeting mainstream Muslim groups.
“Jerry Boykin is one of the nation’s most notorious Islamophobes,” he said.
Hooper said this new group’s statements follow the recent introduction of legislation by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, which would designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. He said Boykin and others are “kind of smelling blood with the Trump administration that finally they can implement their bigoted agenda.”
Some of the leaders at the news conference at the National Press Club said they differentiate between peaceful Muslims and those who support terrorism.
“There’s nothing in that document about generic Muslims, moderate Muslims,” Johnson said, referring to the group’s statement. “We’re just talking about the bad guys, the bad actors.”