Sunday, January 4, 2015
Maher Hathout 1936-2015
Maher Hathout 1936-2015
Maher Hathout, a high-ranking member of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, has died of cancer in the Los Angeles area. He was 79. Below is an obituary to him in the LA Times.
As you can see from the Times piece, many people held Hathout in high regard since he was active in inter-faith events and presented a positive face for Islam-at least to many people. He was also a man with a past linked to the Muslim Brotherhood in his native Egypt. Many others-including myself- felt that he was not the moderate he was made out to be.
I had the occasion to meet Hathout on two occasions. The first was at an event in June 2012, in which he spoke about Islam at St John's Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, an event sponsored by the Guilbord Center. It was then that he was asked if he would sign the Freedom Letter Pledge, a letter sent from Former Muslims United to 100 leading Muslims in the US in 2009 (and to 200 in 2012) asking that they sign a letter stating simply that no American apostate should be harmed. He stated that he had never received it, at which point, I handed him a copy with his name as addressee. He then said that he would read it, and if it was not offensive to Islam, he would sign it.
The second time was at the MPAC 2012 annual conference which was held at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena that December. On that occasion, I asked him if he had signed the Freedom Letter, which I had handed him at the earlier event. He said that he had not because nobody was going to tell him what to sign and besides, there was no death penalty for apostates leaving Islam. Our conversation was cordial.
To date, only 2 of the addressees have ever signed the letter.
Perhaps even more troubling was Hathout's appearance at the October 2000 Al Quds day demonstration held in Washington across the street from the White House. This was an anti-Israel event in which Hathout shared the stage with Abdul Alim Musa and Abdur Rahman Alamoudi among others. Musa, a former drug dealer, is a DC-based imam who openly supports the Iranian regime and speaks openly about his contempt for America. When I heard him speak at UC Irvine in 2006, he told his audience that Islam would take over the US. Alamoudi is currently in prison for his conviction on terrorism charges. At the above-mentioned event, he told the crowd that he was a supporter of Hamas-a US designated terror organization.
In December 2013, it was announced that Hathout, who was in his late 70s, had a serious form of cancer. At the time, I wrote pretty much what I am writing now, linking the same previous reports. I wished him a recovery.
My feelings about Hathout have not changed. On the surface, he seemed easy to like, and the message he gave to non-Muslims was that Islam was a religion of peace and that Muslims and non-Muslims should live in harmony. I still feel he was an Islamist and was not being totally truthful to non-Muslims.
However, having met him, I feel no joy at his passing. I hope he did not suffer in his final days and may he rest in peace,