By Tommy DeSeno
The Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce by all accounts is handled well. It was once as out of sorts as the City itself, run by the gas company with mostly out of City gatherings.
Lifetime resident Don Stine gave it a boost in 2002. He formed the competing “Asbury Park Merchants Guild,” which gobbled up all the new businesses that were opening at the time as members. It was vibrant, fresh and gave Asbury Park some great events. Little did anyone know Stine purposely designed it not to last. He wanted to jump start the Chamber through competition, then eventually merge with it. That happened. The Merchants Guild became a special events committee of the Chamber, which has been running well ever since.
Yet there is something ominous coming this May 13, when the Chamber honors the Stone Pony with a Carousel Award, despite it being revealed that the parent company who owns the Pony is rooted in the Middle East and has a brutal Sharia Law advisor named Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani.
Here is a quick primer on the awful Sheikh Usmani and what he’s done. He wrote Pakistan’s Hudud laws, he enforced those laws as a Sharia Judge and now as a cleric who runs a madrasa, he is an activist who tried to keep those laws on the books.
What are Hudud laws? Try these few samples on for size. Usmani wrote these laws:
- If a woman is raped, unless she can produce four male witnesses, she is jailed or whipped for illegal fornication;
- Homosexuality is punished by imprisonment for two years to life (in areas that have more strict Sharia law, gays are killed);
- Theft is punishable by amputation of the right hand at the wrist; for a second offense the left foot is cut off.
Usmani is also a racist, supporting current day Islamic slavery of black people in North African countries, saying:
“Thus, the clear manifest truth is that taking slaves is permissible in Islam, with its laws and its limits which have preceded, and nothing has abrogated it, and there are wisdoms in this which we have explained, and the opinion of its abrogation is rejected and is against consensus, and has no proof from the proofs of the Shari‘ah.”
As for terroristic Jihad in western countries like America, Usmani said this of you and me:
“Here, killing is to continue until the unbelievers pay Jizyah [a Muslim tax on non-Muslims], after they are humbled or overpowered.”
Let’s recap: Sheikh Usmani is a homophobic, misogynist, racist, religious bigot who has put gays in jail, punished women for being raped, is Ok taking African slaves and wants the rest of us killed unless we submit to his religion.
Here is his connection to the Stone Pony. On the deed is Madison Marquette, but they are a wholly owned and controlled subsidiary of Capital Guidance, a Middle Eastern company. Capital Guidance has described Madison Marquette as nothing more than the vehicle they use to hold real estate in America. The parent even lists Asbury Park directly in its own portfolio of holdings.
Capital Guidance controls its subsidiaries around the world as drones or “alter egos.” They supply to the subsidiary the parent’s own board members and corporate officers. The parent’s Chief Audit Executive has testified that their software alerts the parent when the sub starts operating at a risk to capital, allowing the parent to make adjustments to the local business operation. That’s real, daily control.
In short – Capital Guidance and Madison Marquette are not just different pockets in the same pair of pants. They’re the same pocket. An integral part of the operations of this Middle Eastern company is the employment of a Sharia Supervisory Board, of which Sheik Usmani is their Chairman. He is in “frequent contact” with them according to the company’s own materials.
What to do now, Asbury Park? Shame this company to get rid of Usmani, or give it a Carousel award? Perhaps what’s driving the award is that the General Manager of Madison Marquette is a Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce. Talk about usurping culture!
Let’s look at how the rest of the country deals with such issues.
Brendan Eich was the creator of Mozilla, but when he was appointed CEO, it was revealed he donated $1,000 to California’s Prop 8 to keep marriage between a man and a woman. There was so much pressure from the gay community Eich had to resign from his own company after 1 week. Eich doesn’t compare to the savage homophobia Sheikh Usmani has employed in jailing gays.
We’ve witnessed a shakeup in the South when it comes to the Confederate flag. Public pressure strongly mounted in South Carolina to get rid of what protestors saw as a symbol of black slavery that ended a century and a half ago. Sheikh Usmani supports the current black slavery in North Africa, happening as you read this. He personifies the slavery image of that flag.
Sheik Usmani’s avowing of terrorism is undoubtedly a reason to steer clear of this animal. Furthermore, because a man who studied at his madrasa until last December was arrested in February for being a member of ISIS, we shouldn’t stand for any connection between him and Asbury Park, let alone give his advised company an award.
A certain newspaper publisher from Asbury Park (née Ocean Township) has promoted Asbury Park as a politically progressive arts community, to rival the leftist likes of Berkeley, Asheville, Portland or Boulder. He wishes.
The City doesn’t have what it takes to be genuinely progressive. Asbury Park, after all, was founded by James Bradley to be a place of play, of whimsy, of vacation and escapism. There is no desire or intellectual spark to drive activist politics. Why help a serf when you can play in the surf?
I’ll again be proven right against that publisher. If this were Berkeley or Boulder, in the activist spirit of Bobby Kennedy or MLK, Jr., progressives would be lined up against Sheik Usmani until he was gone from Madison Marquette or Madison Marquette was gone from Asbury Park. “Progressives” here don’t carry the political fire to do that. Maybe they shouldn’t. Asbury Park is for frivolity and amusement; not a political stage.
Faced with the views of Sheik Usmani, one woman who organized a Bernie Sanders march here told me she would be too concerned about the financial well being of the company (net worth $5 billion) and its effects on the boardwalk businesses to protest Sheikh Usmani (the company owns all the buildings on the boardwalk, too). Good grief. That’s the most un-Bernie thing she could have said, and such talk would never be uttered in a truly progressive city.
Perhaps the issue is fear of Islamophobia, or “Islamophobia-phobia.” Some are so afraid to be mistaken for saying all Muslims are bad they won’t say just one Muslim is bad, even if that Muslim wrote a book saying they should be killed, like Usmani did. That’s an insidious form of political correctness. If it were found that Madison Marquette was a wholly owned subsidiary of Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK, would there be any hesitation to oppose them? Usmani is worse than both.
For everyone who attends the Carousel Awards, as the Stone Pony is handed their plaque, please at least think about gays who languished in jail, the raped women flogged for fornication, the handless impoverished man who stole to feed his family and the black slave toiling in North Africa – all sanctioned by Sheikh Usmani. Even if you say nothing – it costs nothing to think of his victims at that moment.
I, however, will get to say to the aforementioned publisher, “I told you so, Dan. Asbury Park’s progressives talk the talk, not walk the walk. Anyway, who’s playing at the Pony tonight?”
Hopefully I paint with too broad of a brush. Maybe there is some morally sound progressive who gets incensed enough at honoring Sheikh Usmani to re-boot the Merchant’s Guild in protest. I’m still laying my chips on the don’t come line on that one.
(The Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce declined to comment on this article)
Tommy De Seno is an attorney, a journalist and a contributor to the website Ricochet.com