Christie Responds to Critics About His Ties to Radical Islamists
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, often described as a "rock star" in the Republican Party, has finally addressed the criticism of his courtship of Islamists. On July 24, Christie held an Iftar dinner at the Governor's Mansion, attended by Imam Mohammad Qatanani, a Hamas-linked cleric whose deportation is sought by the Department of Homeland Security. Christie reiterated his support for Qatanani and made the case to his Muslim audience that he is their ally by ridiculing the "bigots" attacking him.
Christie opens by talking about the attacks on "our relationship" (between him and, as he would characterize it, the Muslim community of N.J.) that show a "gaze of intolerance that's going around our country that is disturbing." You can watch the entire speech on YouTube.
He mocked his critics, saying "You'll all be fascinated to learn that in many publications around the country, I'm called an Islamist." No one ever said he is an Islamist himself and only a handful of writers have covered the controversy, including myself,, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Dr. Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer and my fellow N.J. resident, Andrew McCarthy.
Christie blatantly accused us of having anti-Muslim motivations.
"These are the kind of red herrings that people put up who are bigots, who want to judge people based upon their religious beliefs, want to judge people with a broad brush," he said.
He stood by his support for Imam Qatanani, pointing out that he was in attendance and "I'm glad to have you here." He called him a "friend" that "has attempted to be a force for good in his community."
To prove to his audience that he is their ally against "Islamophobia," though he didn't use that exact word, he cited the controversies surrounding three of his actions: His support for Qatanani, his nomination of Sohail Mohammed as a Superior Court Judge and how he stood against the NYPD's intelligence-gathering operations in his state. Let's address these cases one-by-one. (...)