CAIRO - The appointment of an American Muslim known for his support for police surveillance on the sizable minority in the US commission on religious freedoms is inviting Muslim ire.
It would have been better to appoint someone who has some measure of credibility with Muslim Americans, Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Washington Post.
Zuhdi Jasser was appointed a member of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
But his appointment drew fire from Muslims, who accuse Zuhdi of being a puppet for Islamophobes.
He has long been viewed by American Muslims and the colleagues in the civil liberties community as a mere sock puppet for Islam haters and an enabler of Islamophobia, Hooper said.
Jasser, an activist and cardiologist from Phoenix, is the founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).
Last year, he testified in a House hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims, a move criticized by American Muslim for fueling prejudice of the minority.
Since the radicalization hearing, anti-Muslim sentiments have been on the rise in the US, resulting in attacks on Muslims and their property.
Jasser also angered Muslims by his opposition to the building of an Islamic center near the 9/11 site.
His group has called the leadership of most established US Muslim groups malignant and accused them of preaching a form of political Islam.
Since 9/11, US Muslims have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
Jasser has also invited the ire of American Muslims over his support for police spying on the minority.
"We are not here to criticize the NYPD," Jasser told a press conference earlier this month to show support for New York Police following revelations of spying on US Muslims.
But rather to thank them for doing the work that we as Muslims should be doing, which is monitoring extremism, following extremism, and helping counter the ideologies that create radicalization in our communities."
Jasser later said in an interview that he wanted to provide an alternative voice to the criticism of the NYPD coming from Muslim and civil liberties groups.
"We just wanted the media reports to finally show balance, that there's diversity, that some Muslims don't have a problem with this."
Last year, the Associated Press revealed that the NYPD sent out undercover officers into ethnic communities to track their daily life and monitor mosques as well as Muslim student organizations.
It also revealed that the NYPD intelligence had established so-called Demographics Unit using plainclothes police officers to monitor ethnic groups in the metropolitan region.
The AP also found that the NYPD kept secret files on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims.
According to the agency, police photographed businesses and eavesdropped at lunch counters and inside grocery stores and pastry shops.
Using this information, the police department built databases showing where Muslims live, pray, buy groceries, and use internet cafes.The revelations angered US Muslims, who described the police surveillance as a violation of their civil and religious rights.