American Muslim Community Institutions Run Like Middle Eastern Dictatorships

Ever since I first discovered Dr Aladin Nassar’s “Inside MCA” website exposing corruption in the Muslim Community Association (MCA) of Santa Clara, California, I have been trying to makes sense of why this man’s obscure website matters so much.

After reading through all the sleaze “Inside MCA” exposes, I have come to realize that the MCA case embodies all the main ailments plaguing American Muslim communities nationwide:

  • Muslim Brotherhood extremists run most major US Muslim institutions, which they use to serve their own bigoted ideology and financial interests;
  • Fragmented communities remain passive in the face of this abuse because of fears of social ostracism (and maybe even physical threats) for daring to challenge Islamists;
  • Most American Muslims live in our own bubble, enjoying nice suburban lives disconnected from what really goes on the institutions that speak in our name.

The MCA is not some small isolated case or a freak little community located in a backwater town. MCA represents a community of over 10,000 Muslims in the Bay Area. Its annual budget is over $3 million. Its bylaws show clearly that it was founded by Muslim Brotherhood members and remains under their control; MCA is affiliated with the national Muslim American Society, an organization whose own members admit it was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Islamists – whether they create American Muslim institutions or seize control by hostile takeover using crooked governance rules – display a relentless drive to dominate every aspect of American Muslim life despite being a minority among Muslims. “Inside MCA” breaks down in detail their audacious systems to rig elections (in America of all places!) and block any avenue for non-Islamists to reach positions of real responsibility in Muslim institutions.

So let’s be blunt: Our institutions are run like the dictatorships many of us fled from, where leaders are not held accountable by any democratic standards and those in power perpetuate their domination via kinship and patronage networks without any transparent oversight. In countries like Egypt and Turkey, the Islamists’ bold claim to fame was once that only they could reform the old corrupt systems. But just look at the behavior of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood or Turkey’s AKP: old grey men clinging to power by any means, placing their relatives in positions of power, and striking bargains and deals among themselves.

Here in America, Islamists have imported the Middle Eastern mindset of total control via opacity, kinship, and patronage. Despite decades in America, they have failed to transcend their corrupt import: hence the presence of that misogynistic clause barring women from sitting on the board of the MCA or the extensive anti-democratic machinery to rig and dominate elections. Absolute power corrupts.

Put aside for a moment how bad this makes American Muslims look in the eyes of our neighbors. Think about what message this sends to our children – and what it says about how we view ourselves.

Are we really fully free to be who we are as Muslims in America when Islamists dominate our communal lives by controlling our institutions?

With anti-Muslim bigotry on the rise, can we sidestep Islamist-dominated institutions to reclaim our own voices and form transparent institutions up to mainstream American standards?

Dr. Aladin’s expose shows that it is virtually impossible to oust Islamists from positions of power absent the mass mobilization of American Muslims. Are we ready to break out of our passivity?