US State Dept nominates anti-Muslim for UN refugee post

23rd Feb 2018

Nadine Osman

The US State Department faced backlash after its nominee for head of the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) was exposed as having a history of making disparaging remarks against Islam and Muslims.

Ken Isaacs, an Evangelical Christian, is in the running for a post that requires the international distribution of billions of dollars in aid to migrants.

Isaacs is currently Vice President of Christian relief agency the Samaritan’s Purse, has argued that Islam is an inherently violent religion and called for Christians refugees to receive preferential treatment.

Commenting on a CNN story on the London terror attacks, Isaacs tweeted on June 4, “if you read the Qur’an you will know ‘this’ is exactly what the Muslim faith instructs the faithful to do.”

Isaacs was named as Trump Administration’s pick to become Director General of the IOM on February 1. The 169-member has deferred to the US to lead the organisation.

The election to lead the IOM is scheduled for June. A nominee must receive the support of two-thirds of its voting members, however, insiders told The Washington Post Isaacs could be the first US nominee since the late 1960s to lose an election by the group’s voting members.

President of Refugees International, Eric Schwartz, said Isaacs’ social media posts “reflect a troubling prejudice that is really incompatible with a position of leadership for the world’s most important international migration agency.”

He continued, “The person who leads this needs to be a symbol of the international community’s support for humanity. And that means that dark-skin people and Muslim people have the same inherent worth as any other people.”

Isaacs apologised for his posts writing, “It was careless and it has caused concern among those who have expressed faith in my ability to effectively lead IOM. I pledge to hold myself to the highest standards of humanity, human dignity and equality if chosen to lead IOM.”

For its part, the State Department said it would continue to support the nomination.

“M. Isaacs has apologised for the comments he posted on his private social media account. We believe that was proper for him to do so. Mr Isaacs is committed to helping refugees and has a long history of assisting those who are suffering. We believe that if chosen to lead IOM, he would treat people fairly and with the dignity and respect they deserve,” said a spokesman.

Isaacs also penned what he called an “evening rant.” Isaacs ridiculed Obama for wanting to accept large numbers of Syrian refugees as a “foolish and delusional” attempt to “show cultural enlightenment.”

Isaacs wrote that he had spent two hours in the refugee camp and that his visit had been long enough to conclude that there were dangers lurking in the groups of refugees.

“I know what a fighter looks like, how they carry themselves, how they group, and how there is tension in the air around them. Clearly, the non-Syrian camp was 75% single males and while many rural refugees were there; there were also many men who have known violence,” Isaacs wrote. “I feel most of the refugees are fine people but there are real security risks and this can’t be swept under the rug.”

Tweeting about Syrian refugee in 2015, Isaacs wrote: “Refugees are 2 grps [sic]. Some may go back and some can’t return. Christians can never return. They must be 1st priority.”

Followed by: “If Islam is a religion of peace, let’s see 2 million Muslims in National Mall marching against jihad & stand for America! I haven’t seen it!”

National Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ibrahim Hooper, said that “this type of nomination coming from the Trump administration is a symptom of its deep hostility toward immigrants, migrants and Muslims.”

Hooper said Isaacs’s professed views should be disqualifying: “It is imperative these positions maintain neutrality with regard to religion, national origin and . . . frankly, have some sympathy for those who are migrating for no choice of their own but the economic and social pressures they are under.”

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