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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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Corruption Chronicles

Imam Who Issued Fatwa Against Islam Critic Got DOJ Contract, Holds Peace Prayer for Paris

A radical imam quietly hired by the Obama administration to teach Muslim federal prisoners is holding a “peace and unity prayer” to denounce the Paris terrorist attacks at the same mosque that he was ousted from years ago for issuing a fatwa against an author critical of Islam.

The Egyptian-born imam, Fouad ElBayly, was forced to step down from the Islamic Center of Johnstown in Windber, Pennsylvania several years ago after publicly stating that an ex-Muslim critic of Islam should receive the death penalty. The woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is a Somali-born activist who has long called for the reform of Islam to stop the radicals behind terrorist attacks and nations being run by Sharia law. Ali also operates a nonprofit dedicated to protecting girls and women’s rights, has published several books on Islam and her articles appear regularly in mainstream newspapers. She has long exposed how women suffer under Islam and is a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.

ElBayly was outraged when Ali was scheduled to appear at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown in 2007 and issued a fatwa, or death sentence, against her. A local newspaper covered the ordeal, which supposedly led to ElBayly’s ouster from the Islamic Center. “She has been identified as one who has defamed the faith,” the Egyptian imam said of the feminist author. “If you come into the faith, you must abide by the laws, and when you decide to defame it deliberately, the sentence is death.” ElBayly and Islamic Center of Johnstown founder Mahmood Qazi also pressured the university to cancel Ali’s appearance but the school didn’t budge.

A few weeks later the Islamic Center of Johnstown issued a public statement expressing shock and announcing ElBayly’s ouster. The center’s attorney wrote a letter to the local newspaper assuring that ElBayly’s views “are not shared or tolerated by the Muslims” associated with the mosque. “The Islamic Center of Johnstown was established to foster religious tolerance, education and the exercise of its religious beliefs,” the lawyer wrote, adding that members “strongly believe in exercising religious freedom, which is the right of all citizens. The Islamic Center of Johnstown sincerely respects the rights of individuals to speak their opinions openly and freely without the fear of reprisal.”

Incredibly, following the scandal the Obama administration hired ElBayly to teach Muslim federal prisoners. In 2014 the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Prisons gave the extremist imam two separate contracts totaling $12,900, according to government records. Americans paid ElBayly to deal with Muslim inmates at Cumberland Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland and provide them with “leadership and guidance.”

This week a town paper dedicated a laughable puff piece to ElBayly’s upcoming peace and unity prayer at the Islamic Center of Johnstown to denounce the Paris terrorist attacks. “Our religion is peace and harmony and brotherhood,” ElBayly says in the article. “We invite all good, peaceful people to come and join us.” He added that “we stand in love and unity” and stressed that ISIS terrorists don’t represent Islam. No mention of ElBayly’s fatwa against a religious critic or how he ended up as imam at a mosque he was supposedly ousted from over a jihadist order.


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