by Jack Minor –
A Muslim advocacy group has sent out an e-mail stating that Texas governor Rick Perry has a relationship with Muslims that “sets him apart” from the other candidates for the Republican nomination.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (C.A.I.R.) issued an e-mail with the subject line that read, “Rick Perry’s Relationship with Muslims Sets Him Apart.” The e-mail references a Salon.com article titled “Rick Perry: The pro-shariah candidate?”
The Justice Department has named C.A.I.R. as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism financing case.
The Salon article says, “It turns out that the Texas governor has had surprisingly warm, constructive relations with at least one group of Muslims over the years.”
Salon claims that Perry is a friend of Aga Khan, the religious leader of a Shia Muslim sect called the Ismailis, which claims to have 15-20 million adherents worldwide. The Aga Khan claims to be a direct descendant of Mohammed, however, he is not a recluse. Khan controls an international business and philanthropic network.
According to Salon, Perry met Khan during a family trip to Paris in 2000 and, that over the years Perry has attended Ismaili events in Texas.
Perry has a history of working with Aga Khan’s organization. In 2009, Perry signed an “historic agreement” to allow the Ismailis to “expand collaboration in the areas of education, health sciences, natural disaster preparedness and recovery, culture and the environment.”
A press release on the agreement put out by the Aga Khan Development Network states, “The accord is designed to promote a better understanding and appreciation of Muslim civilizations and their historic, cultural and geographic diversity through expanded collaboration with the University of Texas Muslim Histories and Cultures Programs.”
The official Ismaili website quotes Perry saying at the signing ceremony, “Traditional Western education speaks little of the influence of Muslim scientists, scholars, throughout history, and, for that matter, the cultural treasures that stand today in testament to their wisdom.”
The agreement is similar to another signed the previous year establishing a partnership between the University of Texas and the Aga Khan University.
The governor’s office issued a press release regarding that agreement saying, “Gov. Perry has been a long-time supporter and friend of the Ismaili community as Texas is home to tens of thousands of Ismaili Muslims who contribute to the social, economic and cultural fabric of the state.”
The release went on to say one of the purposes of the agreement was “to further inform Americans about the historical and cultural roots of Muslim societies; the University of Texas established the Muslim Histories and Cultures Project, training secondary school teachers in a curriculum on Muslim civilizations.”
Gazette requests for comment to both the Perry campaign and Aga Khan Development Network were not returned.
Perry’s relationship with Muslim organizations could put him at odds with conservative elements in the Republican Party. The governor appears to be the only candidate with such ties.