Tawfik Hamid is a former member of the Jamal Islamiyah terrorist organization. Thirty years ago he broke from its grip to move to the U.S. and begin a fight against radical Islam. Recently, he founded the International Center for Countering Radicalism (IC4CR.org). He told JNS he believes radicalism needs to be fought on multiple fronts, among them a more accessible and peaceful interpretation of the Koran and getting accurate information to Muslim populations because hate is often based on misinformation taught in Islamic schools and mosques.
Ahmed, Hamid, and Jasser are frustrated by the international media’s preference for sensational sound bites at the expense of the full picture.
“Many people look at what is happening in Gaza as if Israel is the aggressor,” said Hamid. “But Egypt offered a cease-fire and Israel immediately accepted it. It was supposed to start on July 5 at 9 a.m. Hamas refused the cease-fire. The full responsibility for any killings after July 5 lies with Hamas.”
He added that Hamas accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing of Muslims and the U.S. of being anti-Islam but what is not reported is the number of mosques in both Israel and America.
“If this was the case, if they were anti-Islam, why would they allow these mosques and Islamic schools to be built? Compare the numbers to the synagogues and churches in the Muslim world – there, these places are being destroyed.”
A recent Pew Research Center study of Muslim perceptions of Hamas found that support for the terrorist organization was on the decline. But Jasser said the study should be taken with a grain of salt.
“This is no silver lining unless we find an alternative to Hamas – not just we [as] Muslims, but the West. President Obama has been missing in action, and if a vacuum is created it will be filled with Arabism or Islamism,” said Jasser.
“This is the beginning of change, but Arabs who think like I do, they are very few,” said Hamid. “That does not mean these views could not one day dominate, but they need to be empowered.”
Hamid’s Facebook page has 2 million “likes.” He surmises that 10 years ago that number would have been only 200.
“If we can support this momentum, it can change,” he said.