New U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Appointee Funds Anti-Muslim Extremists
Prominent Catholic Right figure Robert George and conservative scholar Zuhdi Jasser were both recently appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. As the conservative Becket Fund for Religious Liberty reports:
“The Commission’s principal responsibilities are to review violations of religious freedom internationally and make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress on actions that should be taken to advance greater protection for this fundamental human right. Becket’s Director of International and Government Relations responded to the announcements, stating ‘Professor George’s expertise in America’s philosophical basis for and historic commitment to religious freedom will re-invigorate the Commission’s founding purpose.’ ”
Some have already noted that Jasser, a self-appointed “expert” on radical Islam and terrorism who was the primary witness during Rep. Peter King’s hearings on the supposed threat of Muslim radicalization, is an inappropriate appointee to carry out this mission.
However, George may also have somewhat of a conflict of interest behind the scenes. As detailed in the Center for American Progress’ Fear Inc. report – a study documenting the extensive funding that fuels the Islamophobia industry – George sits on the board of a foundation that contributes to at least three extreme anti-Islam organizations.
Earlier this month, when Nick asked George whether he saw a conflict between publicly defending the religious freedom of Muslims and privately funding organizations that seek to defame and distort Islam, George refused to answer. But the conflict is evident.
This is symptomatic of a larger issue within the conservative community: the double standard when it comes to religious freedom and the Muslim community. The far right simply cannot continue to champion the value of religious freedom without applying that freedom to faith traditions across the board. George’s and Jasser’s new roles are a stark reminder of this contrast.