Mahdi Bray

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Mahdi Bray


Mahdi Bray is a former Baptist who converted to Islam in 1976, Bray describes himself as a "long time civil and human rights activist" and has held positions as the political director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and president of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations (CCMO). He served as executive director of the Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom Foundation until suffering a stroke in late 2010. MAS announced the Freedom Foundation would close in June 2011.

In his past roles, Bray defended terrorists and those alleged to be supporting them. For instance, in March 2004, he declared the Israeli assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin as "an unlawful, cowardly and dangerous act of state-sponsored terrorism."

At a Washington, D.C. rally in 2000, Bray shared the stage with Abdurahamn Alamoudi as Alamoudi declared his support for Hamas and Hizballah. Bray signaled his support for the terrorist organizations, pumping his fist up in the air and grinning as the crowd cheered.

Political clout

How much political power does the Muslim American Society wield? Depends on whom you ask — and when.

“Ask Jim Webb what kind of impact we have. Ask the governor of Virginia what kind of impact we have,” Mahdi Bray, the Muslim American Society’s executive director told The Washington Times last week.

The Muslim American Society claims credit for helping Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, defeat incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen in 2006, and Democrat Tim Kaine defeat Republican Jerry W. Kilgore in 2005. MAS said it has registered 65,000 voters in Virginia since the 2005 gubernatorial race, and most of them backed Mr. Webb in a race decided by fewer than 8,000 votes.

“The Democrat’s win hinged on the Muslim vote,” Mr. Bray said during interviews September 2007 about the organization’s political activities planned for upcoming elections in November and the 2008 presidential race.[1]

National Campaign to Defend Civil Rights

Representatives and supporters of the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) coalition held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., June 18 2002, to announce the National Campaign to Defend Civil Rights. The group announced a major demonstration on June 29 at the headquarters of the FBI and Justice Department.

"Our community is uniting with other civil rights and anti-war organizations to mobilize for the June 29 demonstration protesting the attacks on civil rights and civil liberties," stated Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society's Freedom Foundation.

Rainbow Coalition/PUSH leader Joe Leonard explained that his organization was mobilizing for the June 29 protest because President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft's use of racial and political profiling was "a threat to all the hard won civil rights gains of past generations."

"The Bush administration is substantially expanding the FBI and CIA authority to conduct domestic spying in the absence of probable cause or criminal conduct and is authorizing indefinite detention for citizens and non-citizens at the sole discretion and the direction of George Bush and John Ashcroft--without charge or trial, and without access to an attorney," Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice explained in analyzing the government's latest move.

Other speakers at the news conference included: Lubaba Abdallah, Muslim Student Association of U.S. & Canada; the Rev. Graylan Hagler, senior minister, Plymouth Congregational Church; Macrina Cardenas, Mexico Solidarity Network; Peta Lindsay & Daniel Keesler, ANSWER youth and student organizers; Chuck Kaufman, national coordinator, Nicaragua Network; Damu Smith, Black Voices for Peace; and Brian Becker, co-director, International Action Center.[2]

ANSWER "Rally Against War and Racism"

April 20, 2002 International A.N.S.W.E.R. Rally Activists representing various groups met on the Ellipse in Washington, DC to voice their support for a Palestinian state, criticize the Bush administration for its support of Prime Minister Sharon’s government in Israel, advocate a stop to racial profiling, and protest the treatment of Muslims at home and abroad.

The event was coordinated by the organization Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.

Speakers included Larry Adams - Labor Against the War, Pam Africa Activist International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sami al-Arian Professor University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)->Computer Science, Tariq Ali Author, Luis Alvarez Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques, Nihad Awad Co-Founder and Exec. Dir. Council on American-Islamic Relations, Brian Becker, Co-Director International Action Center, Vernon Bellecourt Director (Former) American Indian Movement, Mahdi Bray Director Muslim Public Affairs Council->Communications, Helen Caldicott M.D. Founder Physicians for Social Responsibility, Illel Cohen Activist, , Tarek Elgawhay Spokesperson Muslim Student Association Shaker Elsayed, Secretary-General Muslim American Society, Sara Flounders Spokesperson Iraq Sanctions Challenge, Jane Franklin Author, Teresa Gutierrez Co-Director International Action Center, Graylan Hagler Minister Plymouth Congregational Church of Christ (Washington, DC), Cheri Honkala, Founder and Executive Director Kensington Welfare Rights Union, Rafik Jaber President National Islamic Association for Palestine, Teresita Jacinto Member Committee for Indigenous Solidarity, Randa Jamal Member Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Amer Jubran Activist, Sala Kahn, Activist Magdy Mahmoud, President , Metropolitan Muslim Federation->New York, New Jersey, Carl Messner Co-Founder, Partnership for Civil Justice, Riya Ortiz, Representative Asha Samad-Matias Spokesperson Muslims Against Racism, Grace Trevett Activist.[3]

Endorsing ANSWER campaign

Since Oct. 26, 2002 when hundreds of thousands of people marched and rallied in Washington and San Francisco against the Bush administration's growing war on Iraq, the government has pretended that nothing happened.

The International ANSWER coalition, which called the Oct. 26 demonstrations, is now building new national actions on the Martin Luther King holiday weekend in January. It is also gathering hundreds of thousands of registrations in a referendum against the war, both online and on paper.

The group's web site now has a long list of endorsers for the Jan. 18-19 actions that shows the broad social character of this movement. It encompasses groups and individuals from almost every area of activism for justice, equality, peace and a better life for all the people.

Key endorsers of the Oct. 26 demonstrations like former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Rev. Graylan Hagler, Dr. Hans Christof von Sponeck--former director of the UN Oil for Food Program, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, people's historian Howard Zinn and Congressperson Cynthia McKinney Dr. James Tate, Executive Director, National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression; John Dear, former executive director of the Fellowship for Reconciliation; Attorney Michael Tarif Warren, singer Patti Smith, the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, author Ron Kovic and hundreds more.[4]

"People say NO war"

After the massive Oct. 26 2002 anti-war march, in which the broad avenues surrounding the White House were packed solid with demonstrators, there "can no longer be a shred of doubt about it: grassroots sentiment in the U.S. is opposed to the Bush administrationplans for a "pre-emptive" war on Iraq".

People came to D.C., the heart of the federal government, from every state in the U.S. The International ANSWER coalition, which initiated the call for the protest, reported 150 organizing centers around the country. Hundreds of chartered buses caused gridlock in the White House area. Tens of thousands also streamed into the city by car, van, plane and train.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the ANSWER steering committee opened the rally and introduced her three co-chairs: Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; Michel Shehadeh of the Free Palestine Alliance, and Larry Holmes of the International Action Center. Shehadeh and Holmes are also ANSWER steering committee members.[5]

DC rights march

The Aug. 23 2003 march on Washington that marked the 40th anniversary of the giant 1963 Civil Rights March led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was noted for its strong anti-war mood. Thousands of people from across the country streamed onto the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the historic march, which featured Dr. King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech.

The night before this year's march, Yolanda King hosted a "spit in" geared toward younger activists. Many people took the stage for five minutes each to "spit" poetry against war, about growing up poor and oppressed, about police brutality and other injustices to illustrate that the "dream" has not been realized by most working people in this country.

Throughout the weekend the speakers who received the loudest ovations were those who demanded an end to the occupation of Iraq.

Among the speakers were three presidential candidates--the Rev. Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley Braun and Howard Dean; historic civil-rights leaders such as James Forman, Coretta Scott King and Jesse Jackson; representatives of the civil-rights/peace-and-justice movement like NOW Executive Director Kim Gandy, National Lesbian and Gay Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman, Damu Smith of Black Voices for Peace, Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice, James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, Raul Yzaguirre of La Raza, and Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Association, who invited everyone to come back for the Oct. 25 march against the U.S. occupation of Iraq. National youth and student leaders and church representatives also spoke.[6]

"NO WAR, NO WAY"

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Jan 19, 2003, ANSWER brought together an impressive array of speakers at two rallies—one that began at 11 a.m. in the sprawling National Mall, and a concluding rally at the Washington Shipyard.

Moonanum James, co-chair of United American Indians of New England and a Vietnam-era veteran, opened the rally by connecting the U.S. government’s ongoing racist war against Native peoples with their preparations for a racist war against Iraq.

Actors Jessica Lange and Tyne Daly addressed the crowd. So did political figures, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton; former-U.S. Congressperson Cynthia McKinney and Rep. John Conyers. The Rev. Lucius Walker read an anti-war statement from Rep. Charles Rangel.

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark called on those listening to “impeach Bush.” Blase Bonpane, from the Office of the Americas, traveled from Los Angeles to bring greetings. International representation included Ashraf El-Bayoumi from the Cairo Conference against U.S. Aggression on Iraq and Jeremy Corbyn from the Stop the War Coalition and Abe Tomoko spoke as a representative of the Lower House of the Japanese Parliament.

Struggles around the world against U.S. domination were articulated by Teresa Gutierrez and Sara Flounders from the IAC; Hector Castro, director of education, Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, Colombia; Francisco Rivera, Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques; Marie Hilao Enriquez from BAYAN; and Yoomi Jeong from the Korea Truth Commission.

Muslim speakers included Mahdi Bray, Muslim American Society; Ismael Kamal, Muslim Student Association; Ihab Darwish, Free Palestine Alliance; Ghazi Khan Kan, Council on American Islamic Relations; Imam Mousa, Masjid Al-Islam; and Dr. Mansoon Khan from Peace TV.

The Revs. Herbert Daughtry, national pastor of House of the Lord Church; Graylan Hagler, pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, andJesuit priest John Dear addressed the audience. [7]

2004 MLK march

Activists inside the United States and internationally paid tribute to the struggle-oriented legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with marches, civil disobedience, rallies and much more. A majority of these actions took place on Jan. 19, 2004 the U.S. federal holiday recognizing his birthday.

In Washington, D.C., despite physical intimidation by security personnel and police, a solidarity action with the striking Sterling Laundry workers prevailed. Prominent Black activists Mahdi Bray, a leader of the Muslim American Society, the Rev. Graylan Hagler, Latina members of the UNITE union, and representatives of the Baltimore All-Peoples Congress were present, and repelled these physical attacks by goons.[8]

Global Day of Action

More than 250 U.S. cities took part in the March 20, 2004 Global Day of Action protesting Pentagon wars and occupations. The biggest demonstration was in New York, where 100,000 people marched and rallied.

The event was initiated by the International ANSWER--Act Now to Stop War and End Racism--Coalition, and United for Peace and Justice.

During the ANSWER segment of the rallies, Brian Becker, a co-director of the International Action Center and member of the ANSWER Steering Committee, applauded the courage of the Muslim community in turning out for the march, given the current repression, surveillance and raids.

Palestinian flags flew, and speakers in this segment included Ihab Darwish, Free Palestine Alliance; Lamis Deek, Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Imam Asharaf Uz Zaman, Islamic Circle of North America; Ismail Kamal, Muslim Student Association; Mahdi Bray, Muslim American Society and Freedom Foundation; and Waleed Bader, Arab Muslim American Federation/National Council of Arab Americans.

Teresa Gutierrez of the International Action Center appealed to the crowd to boycott Coca-Cola, implicated in the assassination of workers unionizing its Colombian plants.

Brenda Stokely, chair of New York City Labor Against the War and president of AFSCME District Council 1707, vowed, "We're going to bring down the imperialist powers who think they have the right to slaughter our children!" Larry Holmes of the International Action Center spoke and a taped message from political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal urged resistance to racist oppression, police occupation and imperialist oppression.

In the UFPJ segment of the rallies, speakers included Suheir Hamma of Def Poetry Jam; Sinan Antoon, an Iraqi filmmaker; David Cline, national president of Veterans for Peace; and Todd Ensign of Citizen Soldier. Fernando Suarez del Solar of Military Families Speak Out said: "Bush lied. Who died? My son."

Also featured were Tony Benn, former member of the British Parliament, representing Stop the War UK; New York City Councilmember Bill Perkins; and U.S. Rep. Major Owens. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Dorothy Zellner, a Jewish activist, advocated an end to Israeli occupation, and Ziad Abu Rish of SUSTAIN--Stop U.S. Tax Aid to Israel Now--supported Palestinian self-determination.[9]

Supporting Hamas

In 2007 Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine was accused of being far too close to a Muslim group that allegedly has ties to Islamic terrorism and espouses radical views, according to two local delegates.

Kaine should move to put some distance between his administration and the Falls Church-based Muslim American Society, said Dels. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, and Clifford L. "Clay" Athey, Jr., R-Front Royal.

The controversy started when Kaine appointed Dr. Esam Omeish, the president of the society, to the Virginia Commission on Immigration. Gilbert wrote to Kaine, asking him to reconsider the appointment after seeing online videos of Omeish accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians and exhorting Muslims to "the jihad way."

Omeish resigned less than a day later under pressure from Kaine.

But after some investigation, the delegates say the connections between Kaine and Muslim American Society appear to be deeper than just one appointment.

Kaine was the keynote speaker at the society's Freedom Foundation "Standing for Justice Dinner." He was photographed with leaders of the group, including Imam Mahdi Bray, the executive director of the foundation.

In an online video of a 2000 rally in Washington, Abdurahman al-Amoudi — who would later plead guilty to charges of funneling money from Libya to Saudi militants — took to the podium and declared his support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

"I have been labeled by the media in New York to be a supporter of Hamas. Anybody support this Hamas here?" al-Amoudi says in the video, drawing cheers from the crowd and fist pumps from Mahdi Bray.

"I wish the added that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah. Anybody supports Hezbollah here?" he asks, drawing more cheers and fist pumps.

"The governor shouldn't have been involved with this organization and its leadership," Gilbert said.

"If [Kaine] didn't know this stuff, now that he does know it, he should say he rejects what the leadership of this organization stands for and he's going to distance himself from it, and encourage other leading Dem-ocrats to do the same." Athey was less generous.

"It is clear that Governor Kaine and the Democratic Party sought the support of radical individuals who could turn out votes in his election. According to Mahdi Bray, the governor received that support," said Athey, referring to a story earlier this month in The Washington Times, in which Bray credited the Democrats' success in 2005 and 2006 to his organization.

"Ask Jim Webb what kind of impact we have," Bray said. "Ask the governor of Virginia what kind of impact we have. The Democrats' win hinged on the Muslim vote."

"I am not going to dignify the latest allegations by Dels. Gilbert and Athey with a comment," said Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall via e-mail. He also declined to comment on Bray's election-related statements.

Bray said Monday that he and others at the video weren't cheering for the terrorist organizations.

"The majority of the people they were kind of raising their hands, and kind of cheering, and so on because this was so uncharacteristic of al-Amoudi," Bray said. "We didn't know he had a problem with law enforcement. He was considered the pillar of the American Muslim community."

Bray said his gestures weren't in support of Hamas and Hezbollah.

"You saw me pumping my fists. You didn't see me raising my hands. If they had shown the audience, you would have seen people in the audience raising their hands and falling out laughing," he said. "For him to come and make these kinds of radical rants, no one took him seriously."

Bray said he does not support violence, and would have been more judicious in his reaction had the event happened after Sept. 11, 2001.

"There are some throwbacks. And I think that Gilbert and others are throwbacks to the old days" who want to "maintain the status quo. Maybe their district is not as diverse as Northern Virginia."[10]

Rally Against Israeli Violence in Gaza

August 2, 2014 Rally Against Israeli Violence in Gaza, organised by ANSWER Lafayette Park. Speakers included; Osamah Abuirshaid National Coordinator American Muslims for Palestine, Salim Adofo Vice Chair National Black United Front, Lydia Catina Amaya Community Organizer Damayan Migrant Workers Associatio, Mohsin Ansari Chair ICNA Relief USA, Nihad Awad Co-Founder and Exec. Dir. Council on American Islamic Relations, Brian Becker National Director Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), Mahdi Bray National Director AMERICAN MUSLIM ALLIANCE POLITICAL ACTION, Karina Garcia Organizer Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), Carol Gay President New Jersey Industrial Union Council, Abbas Falasteen Hamideh Member Cleveland, Tarak Kauff Board Member Veterans for Peace, Alli McCracken National Coordinator CodePink: Women for Peace, Ray McGovern Analyst (Former) Central Intelligence Agency, Carl Messineo, Co-Founder Partnership for Civil Justice, Akbar Muhammad Representative, Nation of Islam, Lucy Murphy Singer, Mike Prysner Veteran Iraq War, Eugene Puryear Member Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), Tareq Radi Founder George Mason University->Students Against Israeli Apartheid, Khalilah Sabra Executive Director MAS Immigrant Justice Center, Cornel West Professor Emeritus Princeton University->Center for African American Studies, Ann Wright Activist, Fadi Zanayed Attorney Palestinian American Council.[11]

Call for Justice

Call for Justice: Joint Letter on American Muslim Solidarity Against Police Brutality, January 26, 2015;

We are contacting you on behalf of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)(1) and Muslims for Ferguson(2) to ask for your solidarity in the struggle and call for justice concerning the tragic and unnecessary police and federal law enforcement killings of Black men, women, and children in the United States.

From the time of our Noble Prophet ﷺ‎, anti-Black and anti-African racism has plagued Muslim societies and communities. The first martyr in the early days of Islam was Sumayyah (RA), who had black skin and was a victim of violence at the hands of the governing authorities of Makkah. Other companions with black skin, such as Ammar bin Yassir (RA) and Bilal (RA), were also victims of ridicule and torture by the same authorities. State violence against marginalized communities is not a new development. History has proven time and again that Muslims are not immune to these forms of oppression.

Indeed, these oppressive behaviors and practices go against the messages that are at the heart of our Holy Qur’an and Prophetic traditions.

Signatories included Imam Mahdi Bray.

References

  1. Muslim group touts local political clout By - The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2007
  2. [Unite to fight Ashcroft, FBI Announce June 29 protests in Washington, other cities By Workers World Washington bureau Reprinted from the June 27, 2002, issue of Workers World newspaper]
  3. 20, 2002 International A.N.S.W.E.R. CSPAN Rally Activists representing various groups met on the Ellipse in Washington, DC to voice their support for a Palestinian
  4. WW Endorsers for January anti-war events By Deirdre Griswold Reprinted from the June 27, 2002, issue of Workers World newspaper
  5. [People say NO war Protesters encircle White House, flood streets of S.F. By Deirdre Griswold Washington, D.C. Reprinted from the Nov. 7, 2002, issue of Workers World newspaper]
  6. [DC rights march reflects anti-war mood By Pam Parker Washington, D.C.Reprinted from the Sept. 4, 2003, issue of Workers World newspaper]
  7. [WW http://www.workers.org/pdf/2003/ww013003.pdf Jan. 30, 2003]
  8. [Protests honor Dr. King at home and abroad By Monica Moorehead, Reprinted from the Jan. 29, 2004, issue of Workers World newspaper]
  9. [Stop the wars & occupations Global day of protest NEW YORK Reprinted from the April 1, 2004, issue of Workers World newspaper]
  10. Gilbert, Athey criticize Kaine: Delegates - Ties too close By Garren Shipley -- Daily Staff Writer.October 23, 2007 edition of the Northern Virginia Daily]
  11. CSPAN AUGUST 2, 2014 Rally Against Israeli Violence in Gaza