In September, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) announced the releaser of a report titled “Not Qualified: Exposing the Deception behind America’s Top 25 Pseudo Experts on Islam” in which it names 25 individuals who it says “lack any credibility to be experts on Muslims and Islam.” According to the MPAC announcement, the report concludes that “Most of these individuals do not have a college degree in Islamic studies.”:
Today, MPAC released ‘Not Qualified: Exposing the Deception behind America’s Top 25 Pseudo Experts on Islam,’a timely study that examines the credentials of 25 known Islamophobes who purport to be experts on Islam, Muslims and national security.On this day, 11 years after the horrific attacks of 9/11, MPAC has invested into exposing those individuals who lack any credibility to be experts on Muslims and Islam and only feed into the cottage industry that provides false and inaccurate information to government officials, media and the general public. In the past few months, many of the individuals profiled in the study have appeared in mainstream media and political circles, where their inaccurate information and commentaries have been used by politicians such as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Some have also been cited by convicted terrorists, such as Anders Breivik of Norway. They have led our country to engage in counterproductive counterterrorism. Rather than focusing on Al Qaeda and violent extremism, they scapegoat Muslims and portray Islam as inherently violent and intolerant. ‘After 11 years, our nation has worked to move forward and embrace our pluralism, while these pseudo-experts have worked to breed suspicion and distrust that creates a decisive culture of hate and fear,’ said MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati. ‘Though these individuals are few in number, they have the power of the bully pulpit and espouse hateful rhetoric that regularly makes its way into public officials’ talking points and media airwaves.’ The study finds: Only 1 out of the 25 individuals examined have qualifications that would make him/her an expert on Islam. Most of these individuals do not have a college degree in Islamic studies. Relying on individuals who lack academic qualifications about the subjects, one which they claim to be an expert has severe negative consequences for our national security. Significant and groundbreaking research already has been done on the anti-Muslim hate industry by the Center for American Progress in its ‘Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,’ as well as the Southern Poverty Law Center. Their research focuses primarily on anti-Muslim hate activists’ sources of funding and their possible connections to other forms of hate. MPAC’s database seeks to fill in a research gap by focusing on the academic qualifications of 25 case studies drawn from some of the most vitriolic voices in the anti-Muslim circuit.”
While the GMBDR takes no position on the individuals named in the report, we note that using the MPAC report’s own criteria for who has the credibility to be “experts on Islam”, the MPAC leaders themselves fail such a test. Neither MMPAC President Al-Marayati nor longtime MPAC leader Maher Hathout has a “college degree in Islamic Studies.” According to GMBDR research, Mr. Al-Marayat has a B.S. in Biochemistry from UCLA and and MBA from the University of California-Irvine while Dr. Hathout has a medical degree from the University of Cairo. Many if not most of the individuals named in the MPAC report have academic or occupational qualifications far more germane to the subject than those of the two MPAC leaders. Furthermore, the GMBDR disagrees vehemently that only those with an Islamic studies degree are “qualified” to contribute to the discussion.