Many years ago, a Muslim with little known, but very real terrorist ties was about to be appointed to the Congressional Task Force of Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. When I pointed this out to one member of congress, he replied: “Alright. Now please find for us some untainted Muslims or Arabs”
Since then, not only have I found untainted Muslims and Arabs but I have had the privilege to find and to befriend some incredibly heroic members of these communities, who have reached deep down inside of themselves, and somehow have managed to find the courage to tell the truth about radical Islam, and the nature of the Arab world from which many of them hail. Many of these people have faced social exclusion, and many have fatwas, Islamic death threats, hanging over their heads.
Oneof these rare, courageous individuals is Dr. Tawfik Hamid. Dr. Hamid was born and raised in Egypt. Although his parents were secular, the government run secular school he attended had religious instruction one day a week. The fear of a torturous hell was something that was deeply ingrained in his young mind.
By the age of ten, Dr. Hamid began to dream of becoming a religious jihadist. Many of his young friends were excited about the conflict that Islam waged over the West, and over the revival of Islamism. They looked toward Saudi Arabia for inspiration.
Young Tawfik became increasingly more religious, and had dreams of serving Allah, and becoming a shahid ,(martyr), like so many of his classmates and friends.Says Dr. Hamid now, “It felt the only true path, the moral thing to do. It is a result of a gradual, but constant process of brain washing.”
“One is taught not to question”, he continues, “one’s critical intellect is suspended.” The Arabic phrase is “fakir kufr”, which means that is you ever start to question, you become an infidel.”
By the age of eighteen Dr. Hamid was in medical school. The Egyptian government run medical school allowed radical lslamist instruction and recruitment. He willingly joined the terrorist group, Jamaa Islamiya, headed up by none other than Dr. Aiman Al-Zawahiri, (now the second in command of Al-Qaeda).
By the age of nineteen, Dr. Hamid was engaged in an operation where he was supposed to kidnap a policeman and murder him, when he had a sudden epiphany, an empathic moment when he realized he simply could not do this to a fellow human being.
Since then, Dr. Hamid has become a medical doctor and psychologist and has devoted his life toward a reformation of Islam, has studied the texts and is trying to emphasize the non-violent aspects of the religion he loves. He is working on combating radical Islam through a new interpretation of the texts to counterbalance the violence of the Salafists, and a peaceful curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking skills, beginning at an early age, before the jihadists can reach young minds.
Says Dr. Hamid, “Islam can and must be reformed in order to inoculate young Muslims against violent indoctrination. My thoughts and actions have been geared not to destroying Islam, but to saving Islam. My goal is, and has always been, to save the next generation of young Muslims-and society in general- from the catastrophe of Islamism.”
I, for one, feel privileged and honored to have known so many heroes in the battle that confronts our generation, today. (And only hope that I woulddo the same if I were intheirshoes).
EMET, The Endowment for Middle East Truth, will be honoring Dr. Hamid, along withSenator Jon Kyl, Senator Joseph Lieberman, Former Director of the CIA James Woolsey and Dr. Walid Phares, allheroes in the fight against radical Islam, on May 6th at a dinner in Capitol Hill.
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