Tashbih Sayyed believes in democracy as a way of life. He can be counted among the few Muslims in America who believe that modernism, free-thinking and education are keys to rid Muslims from the morass of extremism.
Sayyed was the keynote speaker at a two-hour discussion on the Middle East crisis during a July 27 Laguna Beach Havurah gathering at a private residence in Monarch Bay.
The discussion, organized by Rabbi Stuart Altshuler, head of Congregation Eilat in Mission Viejo, explored ideas and exchanged views on how to tackle the growing fanaticism in Islam and how to alert the Muslim world that their biggest enemies -- imams and emirs -- lie within.
"I have to challenge the enemy of Muslims, the enemy of Islam, who is also the enemy of Israel and enemy of [the] USA," said Sayyed, who once served in Pakistan's government and is now editor of Pakistan Today.
Sayyed also blamed the United States and its Western partners for installing corrupt dictators in the Islamic world and giving them billions of dollars in aid.
Due to a lack of education and social services in the Middle East, according to Sayyed, Arab and Muslims are trying to qualify for eternity by doing what they determined to be God's work, which is to make war on those who ignore or question divine authority.
For extremists it is not about killing Jews per se, but a means to purchase a heaven filled with women, he said.
Sayyed, who has been harassed and threatened by fellow Muslims, spoke out vehemently against some Islamic rights organizations in the United States. He said such organizations -- many of which are funded with Saudi money -- should be banned.
He also said the time had come for the United States to be vigilant at mosques and other Islamic institutions where Saudi-funded literature is being distributed and Saudi Arabia's Whabisim is spread, in the name of Islam, to the mostly peaceful and educated North American Muslim community.
Sayyed also said he strongly opposes the creation of a separate homeland for Palestinians, saying that another Islamic state is not going to help Muslims, Islam and the world when so many other Islamic countries are already failing to do good. He said he feels this way not out of favoritism for the Jewish state, but because a Palestinian nation is just not ready for a separate country.
It will just be another state on the world map, spreading the message of hate, he said.
Sayyed added that Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who can easily pass as a personal stenographer of Yasser Arafat, could hardly be an example of leadership and that the world was just wasting time dealing with him. However, Sayyed couldn't elaborate on whom among Palestinians to deal with.
For more information about Tashbih Sayyed, e-mail Rabbi Stuart Altshuler at firstname.lastname@example.org .