Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Saqib Ali vs. Maryland GOP "Crazies" // Plus, an Op-ed Steel Cage Match: Young Dem vs. Old GOP

UPDATE: Montgomery County GOP Chair Mark Uncapher responds to this article in the comments section. Check it out!

Earlier this month, Maryland Juice broke the story about a controversial Republican Women's Club event being held in Chevy Chase. At issue was/is their choice of speaker: former Congressman and local radio personality, Fred Grandy. In our prior coverage, we noted:
Fred Grandy is a former member of the U.S. House from Iowa, but he is better known as 'Gopher' from the television series the Love Boat. He recently gained notoriety after being fired from his most recent gig as a morning radio personality on WMAL. Grandy's increasingly anti-Muslim show was pushed off the air after on-air comments his wife made....
The fight is now blowing up, with the Montgomery County GOP Chair stepping into the fray, multiple protests, and a lot of angry right-wing blog entries.  

Read Maryland Juice's snapshot below -- and -- check out our new blog feature: "Op-Ed Steel Cage Match." Today's competitors? Young DEM vs. Old GOP.

Grandy is booked to speak at a few events in Maryland, seemingly on topics related to Islamic extremism and Sharia law creeping into American culture. It is for this reason that Grandy's website notes other events have been "cancelled by political correctness." Grandy's events in Maryland are quickly becoming magnets for liberal activism -- and former Maryland Delegate Saqib Ali is organizing a lot of the activity. See, for example, the following Fred Grandy protests Ali is co-hosting in September (invitations shortened):

Stand Up to Bigotry in MoCo Republican's Party 

Saqib Ali invited you  - Saturday, September 24 · 1:00pm - 4:00pm

On September 24th, The Chevy Chase Republican Women's club is hosting an event in which former actor and Congressman Fred Grandy is invited to speak.

For those of who don't know, Fred Grandy is a former Congressman who has been an active leader in the nationwide movement by right-wing Republicans to incite bigotry against Americans Muslims. Usually this is done under the guise of "Anti-terrorism", "Counter-Jihad" or "Fighting Islamic Extremism"....

We don't need divisive people like Fred Grandy coming to Montgomery County to spread their venom. And we don't need the Republican Party to participate in this nonsense. Please spread the word about this event by telling your friends to join. We may have to picket the event if neccessary. Let's hope Republicans come to their senses before then and cancel the event.

...and then there is the following protest in Annapolis in October (again, co-hosted by Saqib Ali):

Stand up to Conspiracy Theorists, Homophobes & Anti-Muslim Fanatics
Saqib Ali invited you - Saturday, October 29 · 12:00pm - 4:00pm
On October 29th, The Maryland Conservative Action Network is hosting a day-long conference in Annapolis entitled "Turning the Tides":

Unfortunately, instead of inviting legitimate conservative speakers, MDCAN has instead chosen speakers who are well-known bigots, conspiracy theorists, anti-Muslim fanatics.

Frank Gaffney: One of the nations leading Islamophobes and conspiracy theorists. Gaffney claimed Saddam Hussein was responsible for Oklahoma City Bombings. He's a Birther who Claims the Federal Government and Conservative organizations like CPAC (from which he was banned) and the American Conservative Union have been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood: 

Robert Stacy McCain: Right-wing blogger who uses racist and homophobic slurs to describe Latinos and gays: 

Fred Grandy & wife Catherine Mann-Grandy: Radio Show hosts who refer to American Muslims as "Sharia-Compliant" and feel it necessary to "warn" others that Muslims work in our government: 

John Guandolo: Corrupt FBI agent who was forced out of the FBI for sleeping with other agents as well as a confidential source. Ironically now claims to be a terrorism expert:

We need to let the MDCAN know that these purveyors of division and hate are not welcome in Annapolis. Conspiracy theorists and bigots should be shunned not feted. Please join us as we picket this event in Annapolis on October 29th. Its time to shine a bright light on these people.
Ali's protests have drawn the anger of local and national Tea Party activists, who have taken to the blogs with numerous complaints. Here are a few samples, starting with one asking Saqib to "go back to wherever he's from". (Do they mean Germantown?) In case you forgot, they also remind us what country this is: "this is AMERICA." Alrighty then....

From Texas (my emphasis in red):

From Brown University / Providence, Rhode Island:
Ali and Zub are silent on Saudi Academy and other Islamic schools that teach radical Islam at their private schools, even though they are preaching the destruction of America and the murdering of Jews. Have maps of the world and Middle East without Israel. They also blame the US for 9-11.
Maryland Juice's Note: Zub seems to refer to Daniel Zubairi, Chris Van Hollen's 2006 Republican opponent. Zubairi was also a 2008 John McCain supporter who spoke out against hostility toward fellow Muslims at a campaign event. This blogger, however, must be a college student from Montgomery County. You're making Mom and Dad proud!
But my favorite response to Mr. Ali's rabble-rousing comes straight from the Elephant's mouth. Montgomery County GOP Chair Mark Uncapher recently decided to defend his party's extremism with a column in the Chevy Chase Patch. Rather than follow my normal routine of simply commenting on the article, I decided to create a new Maryland Juice feature:


The rules of the game are that I will post two (or more) dueling Op-eds written on a single topic. Readers are welcome to leave comments on the winner. Or just keep moving on! No biggie. Here is a major caveat -- I have seriously shortened these columns, so please read the full versions at the original article links below.


TITLE: Chair, Montgomery County Republican Party
TRAINING: He is an attorney and has lived in Bethesda since 1995.
SPECIAL MOVES: Using anecdotes to justify broad policy;
attacking the speaker instead of argument.

I commented to the press that his "attacking a program on 'Islamic extremism' as an attack on all of Islam makes the same mistake critics unfairly accuse Fred Grandy of. 'Islamic extremism' and Islam are not interchangeable terms." Others have also pointed out the Chevy Chase Club's First Amendment right to discuss topics and have speakers of their own choosing.

Ali's lack of judgment while in office was legendary. For example, to promote his bill banning the sale of sexual stimulants at gas stations he barged into a press conference where Mark Lunsford was speaking about the need to strengthen Maryland's sex offender laws....

Let me share my personal history to respond further.

In the early nineties our family lived in Brooklyn. Just one block over from our home was Atlantic Avenue, not far along which the Al Farook Mosque is located. This was one of the several mosques in the New York City area at which the so-called "Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel Rahman, recruited terrorists. This conclusion is not wild conjecture or biased speculation on my part. Today Omar Abdel-Rahman is serving a life term in a Federal prison as a result of a case arising out of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing....

Today, our son Peter serves as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan. While he was injured this past May by an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by the Taliban and he was hospitalized for a week, he has rejoined his unit and fights side-by-side with Muslim soldiers of the Afghanistan National Army.

At nearly the same time Saqib Ali was caterwauling about the Chevy Chase Club speaker choice, I was following news accounts about my son's unit's participating in an iftar during Ramadan with their Afghan National Army and Police counterparts.


TITLE: Former President, Maryland Federation of College Democrats.
TRAINING: He is the only Muslim to ever be president of a Jewish Fraternity.
SPECIAL MOVES: Being reasonable; directly addressing issues.

...Yes, it is true that there are instances of crime and terror associated with the Islamic faith here in America. But those few and far between, and there are far more Muslims serving honorably in our military than there are Muslims criticizing and denigrating the United States from within our borders.

I can speak to you from personal experience that the Muslim community of America, after ten years of living under a social and legal microscope, has greatly matured. It is not uncommon for Muslim youth to join their ROTC at college — (I know two Muslims that have, and they are serving our country honorably at this very time), or for mosques across the country to sponsor interfaith events, or for Muslim community leaders to cajole their members to join political discourse in America....

I do not fault my Republican colleagues in Chevy Chase for wanting to talk about Islam — it is the world’s fastest-growing faith, and one of the fastest-growing by conversion in the United States, as well. But I question the sensibility of such an event that ponders The Threat of Islam to America. Could there be another avenue to voice one’s worries? This is, by the way, not bigotry on the part of the GOP — it is sincere concern for the well-being of our country, albeit not the way I would have chosen to share it.

While one of my Democratic colleagues from District 39 is organizing a picketing operation in response to this event, I have a less confrontational solution: I invite the GOP leadership of Montgomery County and Maryland, the organizers of this event, and Congressman Grandy and his wife to join me and other Muslim leaders, both Democrat and Republican, sometime before the end of Ramadan for an iftar dinner. As a fellow citizen, and a Muslim who is passionate about public service, I want to hear for myself their concerns about my religion and its practitioners in America. All I ask in return is that they promise not to criticize my cooking. Happy Ramadan.
 Is there a clear winner? I think the answer is obvious.


  1. We need to advance civil and adult dialogue. Hamza's piece is all about encouraging us to sit down and understand each other's views and perspectives, and to talk honestly about fears, concerns impressions and misunderstandings. It doesn't help to malign those with alternative viewpoints. Instead we should reach out and come to common ground.

  2. So the Ali-Khan rivalry continues. Saqib's approach has been raising eyebrows in the Muslim community for being bombastic. Khan's approach is winning him both credibility and friends he probably thought he never had. Where are Daniel Zubairi and Guled Kassim--the other two young Muslim MD superstars?

  3. With all due respect to this blog, I am not sure how Hamza Khan and I ended up "matched" together in the same "cage." We are in much more agreement than we disagree.

    I do disagree with Saqib Ali for attempting to exercise a "heckler's veto" to the free and open expression of ideas. His apparent premise is that when someone claims to be "offended" by a speaker's views, that they can have some expectation that they can stop the person they disagree with from talking.

    However, I also don't think that I am saying anything original by suggesting that I don't think Saqib Ali is representative of American Muslims or Montgomery County liberals. He is just being Ali.

    A number of posters have referenced Dan Zubairi as a Republican Muslim. Dan and I have a long association. Over nine years ago I was at his parents' home when he launched his first campaign for office. It is matter of public record that in 2006 when he ran for Congress, I contributed $1,000. In 2008 we worked together on the Maryland McCain campaign.

    This may strange to those fixated with "identity based" politics, but Dan's religion has never been the slightest consideration for me.

  4. Shorter Mark Uncapher: "I can't be a bigot! I have a Muslim friend!"