In Selected Opinion

by Daniel PipesWashington Times (*)

As everyone knows, the growth of a Muslim population in the United States, roughly three-quarters immigrant and one-quarter convert, has led to an unfortunate growth of extremism and violence.

A murderous spree of jihad going back to 1977 provides one indication of this neglected problem; the recent anti-Israel encampments on college campuses provides another. Possibly even more alarming, all four Muslims thus far elected to Congress – Keith Ellison, André Carson, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib – represent the far-left, friendly-to-Islamism, Israel-hating wing of the Democratic party.

Happily, however, the U.S. population of born-Muslims is not homogeneous but includes substantial numbers of moderate, patriotic, and anti-jihad Americans. Some practice Islam, others have left the faith; all of them deeply understand the problem. Prominent names include the basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom, Ayaan Hirsi Ali of the Hoover Institution, Husain Haqqani of the Hudson Institute, and former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Nomani.

Now, the exciting possibility exists of an anti-Islamist Muslim reaching the U.S. House of Representatives. That would be Zuhdi Jasser, currently a Republican candidate in the 4th district of Arizona, a swing district presently held by Greg Stanton, a Democrat. Dr. Jasser has a real chance: 30 percent of the district’s voters affiliate Democrat, 32 percent Republican, and 38 percent independent. He is one of four Republicans running in the primary on July 30.

Dr. Jasser has a model biography. Born in Ohio in 1967, one year after his parents fled an increasingly despotic Syria, he grew up in Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and served eleven years in the U.S. Navy, including a stint as the internist to the Office of the Attending Physician of the United States Congress. He and his wife Gada settled in the Phoenix area exactly twenty-five years ago, in June 1999, where they raised three children and where he heads the eponymous Jasser Center for Comprehensive Care.

I first learned of Zuhdi in 2004, at the very start of his activist career, when he organized in Phoenix what The Arizona Republic correctly called  “the nation’s first Muslim rally against terrorism.” As he explained at the time, the “Rally against Terror” sought to give moderate Muslims “an opportunity to speak out publicly” against Al-Qaeda and other jihadis. A Washington Times editorial  lauded him: “We salute Dr. Jasser, American patriot.”

Unsurprisingly, the event attracted very modest Muslim participation but it did launch Dr. Jasser’s second, public, career. In his first communication with me, he took the long perspective: “The beginnings of every great movement in our great nation’s history of freedom began in a small way.”

Indeed, that rally, Dr. Jasser later explained “catapulted [him] into the national and international conversation on radical Islam,” where he became a leading voice for American values. Over the next two decades, he founded organizations and taught the young. He wrote a personal but learned bookA Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith (Threshold, 2012), where he argued that “Islam is a spiritual and personal way of life, not a political belief system.” He addressed large audiences in the Wall Street Journal, on CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and the BBC. He served on the prestigious U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

If the fight against jihad began Dr. Jasser’s public career, it soon took on another crucial strand: standing with Israel. As he explains in his campaign literature, “Supporters of the alliance between the United States and Israel will find no member of Congress stronger in his support than I. … I have long-been an advocate of a strong Israel, and at significant personal risk and cost to me and my family. … Support for Israel is support for America.”

As someone who has known Dr. Jasser for two decades, who has appeared with him on panels, who has helped fund his organizations, and who encouraged him to write his book, I have great confidence in his integrity, hard work, and effectiveness. As a Navy veteran, a renowned physician, a family man, and a mainstream Republican, he brings necessary qualifications to the position. As a practicing Muslim, a knowledgeable and brave voice against extremist Islam, and a stalwart friend of Israel, he brings extraordinary and unprecedented qualifications.

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser’s eloquence, courage, and ethics make him potentially the most important new member of the House in 2025.


(*) Mr. Zuhdi Jasser, MD, was a recipient of Coptic Solidarity Leadership Award in 2015

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