Born February 24, 1933 to a Muslim family in Mombasa, Kenya, Ali al Mazrui holds a B.A. degree from Manchester University, an M.A. from Columbia University, and a doctorate from Oxford. The author of more than 30 books, Mazrui is currently a professor of humanities and political science at SUNY Binghamton, where he serves as director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies. He is also a senior scholar in Africana Studies at Cornell University; a board member of the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding; a fellow at the Nigeria-based Institute of Governance and Social Research; and president of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists of North America.
In the past, Mazrui has been a board member of both the American Muslim Council and—along with Jamal Barzinji and others—the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy. He was also president of the African Studies Association of the United States (1978-79); vice president of the International Congress of African Studies (1979-91); and a board of trustees member with the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies (1998).
Mazrui hosted the 1986 PBS series The Africans: A Triple Heritage, and authored a companion book with the same title. While The Africans emphasized the horror, and the continuing cost to the continent, of the European slave-trade of centuries past, Mazrui failed to mention, in that context, that he himself is descended from Mombasa’s leading slave-trading family, which sold slaves into Muslim lands.1
In the book version of The Africans, Mazrui supported the southward expansion of Islam through the Sudan—an expansion generated by the genocidal Sudanese Islamic government—as a natural development not to be resisted by the Christian South.2 According to an entry in Governance and Leadership: Debating the African Condition, Mazrui “writes approvingly about Sudanese massacres, enslavement and forced conversions of African southern Sudanese”; “talks about Western-Christian slavery but not about Arab-Islamic slavery which pre-dated and post-dated trans-Atlantic slavery for centuries”; and “talks about racism in the West and denies racism in Arab-Muslim societies.” Moreover, Mazrui wrote that after Moses and Jesus, “the last of the Great Jewish prophets” was Karl Marx.
Mazrui was a featured speaker at the 2002 annual banquet of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, where he suggested that “some members of the Bush administration in collusion with Israel” were “more than ready to plunge the Middle East into turmoil in the hope that the final outcome would be to the territorial advantage of Israel and the strategic advantage of the United States.” “All this,” he said, “is part of the emerging external sadism of the United States, a readiness to hurt others abroad.”
In April 2002, Mazrui co-authored a highly controversial article titled “Is Israel a Threat to American Democracy?” Depicting Osama bin Laden‘s hatred of the U.S. as a response to America’s provision of “massive economic aid” and “sophisticated…weapons” to Israel, this piece states that “Israeli militarism, occupation of Arab lands, and repression of Palestinians” ultimately “provok[e] suicide bombers” and give “rise to movements like Hamas and al Qaeda”; that the U.S. is “both the main source of military support for the enemy of the Arab World, Israel, and…the main destroyer of Arab capacity to rise militarily”; that “Israeli neo-Nazism” has “reversed the scale of genetic values favored by German Nazis”; that Israel “has indeed become the most efficient war machine since Nazi Germany”; that Israel pursues “a policy of ethnic cleansing” in quest of a “final solution to the Palestinian problem”; and that those who had opposed Israel’s “creation in the first place” were now being “vindicated.”3
In 2003 Mazrui dismissed allegations that University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, who had recently been arrested on the basis of voluminous FBI evidence, was indeed an agent of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Rather, said Mazrui, Al-Arian was merely a “victim of prejudice and of popular ill will.”
Also in 2003, Mazrui characterized America’s post-9/11 anti-terrorism measures as assaults against civil liberties and democracy: “We can empty the political prisons of Saddam Hussein without having a Guantanamo Gulag of our own in Cuba under American jurisdiction.” Regarding upscaled airport security in the U.S., Mazrui said, “If you are a Muslim, it is an equal opportunity for harassment.”
In 2004 Mazrui delivered a lecture at the International Center for the Propagation of Islam, whose founder and director, Ahmed Deedat, received funding directly from Osama bin Laden’s family and boasted about having personally met the al Qaeda leader on several occasions.
In 2005 Mazrui was a board member of the Association of Muslim Social Services (AMSS), a sister organization of the International Institute of Islamic Thought.Al Mazrui is an editorial board member of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, a publication of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs. Among his fellow editorial board members are such notables as John Esposito and John Voll.
1 Cited in David Horowitz, The Professors (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2006), p. 282.
2 Ali A. Mazrui and Tony Kleban Levine, eds., The Africans: A Reader (Praeger Publishers, 1986). Cited in The Professors, p. 282.)
3 Ali A. Mazrui, “Is Israel a Threat to American Democracy?” SwahiliOnline.com (April 17, 2002). Cited in The Professors, p. 282.