One week after N.J. Sen. Cory Booker invited the head of a Jersey City Islamic center to be his guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address, a pro-Israel group is slamming the senator because of the man’s ties to a group that has supported the Muslim Brotherhood.
Morton A. Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said it is “appalling” that Booker, D-NJ, would invite Ahmed Shedeed, president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, to Washington, D.C., last week. Shedeed is part of a group that rallied in 2013 in support of the Muslim Brotherhood after Egypt’s military removed it from power.
“It is nothing short of a disgrace,” Klein told The Jersey Journal. “A frightening disgrace for Booker to have done something like this.”
Booker spokesman Tom Pietrykoski defended the move.
“When the senator and members of our team asked New Jersey faith leaders and local officials who should be invited to the State of the Union as a response to the recent toxicity of our political discourse, one after another pointed to Ahmed Shedeed,” Pietrykoski said, “praising him for working with the FBI, the U.S. military, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security, local law enforcement and people of all faiths – including the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities – to bring people together and build bridges of tolerance and mutual understanding.”
Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights (EADHR) held rallies in August 2013 to support the deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood party. Shedeed, the group’s treasurer, was the contact for the EADHR rally in New York City.
Shedeed, who declined to specify his views on the Muslim Brotherhood, said he doesn’t know why Klein’s group is upset.
“We are fighting for human rights and democracy,” he said. “We are against the violation of human rights and democracy in Egypt.”
Shedeed serves on the Interfaith Outreach Coalition with the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and is a leader among Jersey City’s and New Jersey’s Muslims.
Alexander Mirescu, a professor of political science at Saint Peter’s University, said he’s not surprised Booker’s invitation would raise the eyebrows of a pro-Israel group. Mirescu described the Muslim Brotherhood as an “important Islamist organization” that is clear in its mission to introduce Sharia into the legal framework of countries where it’s been active.
“The Muslim Brotherhood has a topsoil of an urban, more intellectual elite that is a little more flexible” than more extreme Islamist groups, Mirescu said. “But the roots of the movement go deeper than the topsoil.”
The party gained power in Egypt in 2011, and Morsi became the country’s first democratically elected president the following year. In 2013 the party and Morsi were forced out and the Muslim Brotherhood remains banned in the country. When it ruled, Mirescu said, its political record was abysmal, Morsi gave himself the power to act without judicial review and the party persecuted Christians.
This article was published by The Jersey Journal and may be found here.