The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is coming under fire for allegedly ignoring multiple allegations of sexual abuse of women by its former Florida chapter executive director.
Hassan Shibly, 34, who resigned from his post in January, has been accused by several women who have also charged the national organization with indifference over their allegations as well as being biased against them.
One of the women, Jinan Shbat, who worked in CAIR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., for three years until January 2020, said that the organization essentially ignored the allegations against Shibley and that officials are generally hostile towards women.
“Hassan got to leave on his own terms, looking good in a specific way, and CAIR just let it happen,” Shbat told NPR. “The standard for them was just to not believe the women and to believe him first, you know. And it’s just on-brand.”
According to the outlet, incidents of bullying, secret marriages, and sexual harassment were linked to Shibley, including by his estranged wife who posted a video to a GoFundMe page late last year begging for help after he cut her and their three children off financially.
“For years, I’ve been in an abusive relationship, and the situation at home has become unbearable,” Imane Sadrati said looking into the camera. “I finally decided to build the courage to start over for my children and I.”
The allegations come after Shibley led the very prominent Florida chapter of CAIR, which has been accused of supporting Islamic terrorist groups, for about 10 years. He resigned within 15 days after his estranged wife posted her video. In a subsequent interview with NPR, Shibly denied he is an abuser or that he twisted his wife’s arm, slapped her and then pushed her against a wall during an incident in the summer of 2020 that Sadrati noted in court filings. He also denied other allegations of sexual abuse.
Though he resigned, the allegations did not go away. In fact, after his departure, several more women felt emboldened to discuss their allegations of sexual misconduct and emotional abuse by Shibly as well as alleged workplace discrimination at the organization’s national office and other high-profile chapters.
“NPR interviewed a half-dozen Shibly accusers and reviewed internal CAIR documents, social media posts and email exchanges. Together, the accounts portray Shibly as a man who used his position to seduce women and bully critics with impunity,” the outlet reported.
In addition, critics of the former chapter director say his alleged activities were hidden due to a culture of silence that is at least partially linked to Muslim cultural taboos including the open discussion of personal scandals and fears that the fall-out from public disclosures would fuel anti-Muslim reactions.
Another woman who worked with Shibly at the Florida chapter, Laila Abdelaziz, said she quit her position in 2016 after he allegedly sexually harassed her. She went on to say that CAIR leaders won’t address such behavior and allegations because she believes Muslim communities are already discriminated against and targeted by hate crimes. Still another, Kyla McRoberts, said Shibly attempted to use his position as a Muslim leader as well as her naiveté as a recent convert to Islam to “trick” her into agreeing to a “secret marriage” in 2016 without his wife’s knowledge.
“When your community is being attacked and diminished and demeaned every single day,” Abdelaziz told NPR, “it’s difficult to invite even more of that.”
For his part, Shibly, in a two-hour interview with NPR he refused to let be recorded, showed pictures of a black eye he said he received from his wife, though the alleged incident was not reported to police and Sadrati denied it.
“Her accusations are absolutely and blatantly false,” he said. “She’s using my position and the legal system to gain advantage in our ongoing legal divorce process.”
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