Last week, Salon’s Justin Elliott highlighted Rick Perry’s ties to the Aga Khan, the leader of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam, and predicted the relationship could rile up the conservative anti-Shariah movement, potentially becoming an obstacle to Perry’s bid.
“That’s a partnership that has already prompted a bit of grumbling in far-right corners of the blogosphere and could conceivably become a primary issue if, as expected, Perry enters the presidential race,” wrote Elliott, in an article provocatively titled “Rick Perry: The Pro-Shariah Candidate?” But at least one prominent member of the anti-Sharia movement is laughing off the suggestion Perry’s friendship with the Aga Khan is a major cause for concern.
In an email, Center for Security Policy spokesperson Dave Reaboi dismissed Elliott’s article as a cynical and futile attempt to provoke anti-Sharia conservatives over a non-issue:
Politico’s Ben Smith amplified a Salon report about Perry’s relationship with Aga Khan of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam. As Salon’s in-house apologist for Islamism and crusader against conservatives, Justin Elliott clearly believed such a story, breathlessly told, would cause a great deal of friction between the Texas governor and the GOP base—who are rightfully concerned about the anti-Constitutional aspects of Shariah law in our own country, and are watching as Shariah is the rallying-cry of jihadists around the globe. That said, Perry’s relationship to Khan and the Ismaili’s, I predict, will not cause much of a stir. The Islamailis are a persecuted Shia minority in Saudia Arabia; indeed, Perry’s meeting with Khan could not have won him many friends there. Rather than reaching out– as both presidents Bush and Obama mistakenly did—to problematic organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood’s expressly political agenda, Perry’s choice to engage with a more ‘progressive’ group is a good sign.
Reaboi added that both Elliott and Politico’s Ben Smith (who linked the story, but didn’t provide additional commentary) are insulting the intelligence of the anti-Shariah movement if they believe this issue will become a serious problem for Perry:
This story tells us more about Salon, Politico and other left-of-center media outlets than about Perry. Rather than engage on the substantive issues as regards to Islamism and the extent of the threat of groups with political motivations and histories of terrorist links, Elliott and Smith refuse to take their opponents seriously, thinking they’re ‘poking the cage’ of a Republican base too unsophisticated to know the difference between the Ismaili sect and, say, the Muslim Brotherhood.
That’s not to say Perry’s relationship with the Aga Khan hasn’t drawn fire from certain anti-Sharia agitators. Blogger Pam Geller published a column on Perry’s “problematic pals” at the American Thinker just this morning. But unless the leading anti-Sharia groups get on board with this criticism, it’s hard to see it gaining much traction with the conservative base.