Daniel Pipes, a well-known and controversial commentator and author on the Middle East and Islamic terrorism, will speak at Cong. Kol HaNeshamah in Englewood on May 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum, which publishes the Middle East Quarterly and sponsors Campus Watch, Islamist Watch, and the Legal Project. His Website, DanielPipes.org, is reportedly one of the most accessed Internet sources of specialized information on the Middle East and Islam.
The author of 1′ books on Middle Eastern topics, Pipes has written columns about terrorism and Islamism that have appeared in such national magazines as the Atlantic Monthly, National Review, and Time, as well as in newspapers including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. He frequently discusses current issues on television in the United States and abroad, and has lectured in ‘5 countries. He has consulted on Middle Eastern topics for major corporations, law firms, bar associations, trade groups, government agencies, and courts of law.
In a telephone interview last month from his home near San Francisco, where Pipes is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, he acknowledged that despite his writings and nearly 100 public appearances each year, not everyone is ready to listen to his take on radical Islam.
"There are plenty of people who would rather not hear what I have to say, but they don’t turn out for my talks. It’s important to reach them, however, and I’m constantly taking on those who disagree."
Before the Sept. 11, ‘001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Pipes’ views were even less well-received. He had warned of "war" being declared on Europe and the United States, for example, as early as 1995. Shortly after 9/11, he wrote an article in Commentary about Siraj Wahaj, a black convert to Islam who in June 1991 became the first Muslim to deliver the daily prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Pipes wrote that a little over a year after that appearance in the House, Wahaj revealed his "vision in America" to a Muslim group in New Jersey, which included the words (as quoted by Pipes in Commentary): "Can you see the Newark International Airport and a John Kennedy Airport and LaGuardia having Muslim fleets of planes, Muslim pilots? Can you imagine walking down the streets of Teaneck three Muslim high schools, five Muslim junior-high schools, 15 public schools. Can you see young women walking down the street of Newark with long flowing hijab and long dresses. Can you see the vision of an area of no crime, controlled by the Muslims?"
Today, Pipes said, there is "an assertive, sometimes aggressive presence" of radical Islam in North Jersey and elsewhere that continues to expand. "I actually feel safer now, because [before 9/11] I was alone in worrying about this."
In Pipes’ view, this growing presence "needs to be combated by not letting such people into the country, and having a government that understands the nature of the enemy and is willing to address the problem, whether through counter-terrorism or intelligent policies of supporting moderate Muslims."
Pipes posits that Islamists are "finding that violence is not the way forward and working within the system is. That is the danger ahead. I’m not worried about Osama [bin Laden] as much as I’m worried about Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey. One alarms us and the other soothes us but Erdogan is more dangerous because he’s an elected leader and not hiding in a cave in Afghanistan. There is an increasing number of Islamists in American politics as well not terrorists, but people working within the system."
Cong. Kol HaNeshamah meets on the premises of St. Paul’s Church, 113 Engle St., in Englewood. The presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, call (’01) 816-1611.