Born in 1979 to parents who were Pakistani Muslim immigrants to the United States, Faiz Shakir grew up in Florida. In 2002 he earned a bachelor’s degree in government at Harvard University, where he was a member of the Harvard Islamic Society (HIS). In 2000, Shakir served as a co-chair for HIS’s Islamic Awareness Week events, one of which was a fundraiser for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a group that acted as the fundraising arm for Hamas in the United States.
After graduating from Harvard, Shakir earned a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. He then worked as a communications aide in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and as a legislative aide to Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Graham of Florida. In 2003-04, Shakir served as a junior staffer for the John Kerry–John Edwards presidential ticket.
From 2005-12, Shakir was vice president of the Center for American Progress (CAP), where he advised the organization’s senior leadership on matters pertaining to economic policy, domestic policy, national security, and civil rights. In 2005 he also helped launch CAP’s ThinkProgress blog, where he was editor-in-chief from 2007-12. During his tenure at ThinkProgress, Shakir repeatedly denounced Israel while endorsing the flotillas that sought to deliver aid to the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip.
In August 2011, Shakir co-authored a CAP report titled Fear, Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, which implied that Islamophobia was largely the product of a Jewish conspiracy. That publication’s stated objective was to “expose … the influence” of the “sinister,” “hateful,” “purposively deceptive,” “bigoted,” and “racist” individuals and groups that, according to CAP, were part of an “Islamophobia network in America.” For further details about CAP’s report, click here.
Shakir has written positively about the Tunisian Islamist Al-Nahda Party and its genocidal leader, Sheikh Rashid Ghannouchi, who once said: “There are no civilians in Israel. The population—males, females and children—are the army reserve soldiers and thus can be killed.”
In a July 2011 appearance on C-SPAN, Shakir spoke out in favor of imposing higher tax rates on high earners in the U.S. “We should change our conception of what taxes mean,” he said. “Most people who join country clubs, or gyms, or other exclusive entities in America, feel … proud to pay that monthly due, because they want to be part of that special privileged community in which they receive wonderful resources and benefits. [They] should feel that same kind of awe and respect for paying taxes.”
From June 2012 through March 2013, Shakir served as a senior advisor and media director to Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Minority Leader in the House of Representatives. After that, he was a senior advisor to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from March 2013 until January 2017.
In 2016 Shakir informally advised Senator Bernie Sanders‘s failed campaign for that year’s Democratic presidential nomination.
In January 2017 Shakir joined the American Civil Liberties Union as its political director, a post he continues to hold.
In 2017 as well, Shakir took a firm stance against S.720, a Senate bill affirming Congress’s opposition to a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that — in accordance with the aims of the Hamas-inspired Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement — urged nations worldwide “to pressure companies to divest from, or break contracts with, Israel.” Explaining why he and the ACLU were against S.720, Shakir told an interviewer from Tablet magazine: “The ACLU’s concern here is that we may be criminalizing speech, chilling speech, and chilling political beliefs—targeting certain political beliefs through this bill.” “The bill as constructed,” he added, “would target individuals and potentially cause them legal jeopardy for expressing support of a boycott that they might feel is in their own political belief system.”
Shortly after President Donald Trump’s 2018 State Of The Union address, Shakir criticized the president for having used the word “America” too frequently in his speech. Wrote Shakir: “Tonight, President Trump said the word ‘America’ more than 80 times in his speech. Yet, after a divisive first year, we hear and feel how exclusionary that ‘America’ is, with policies that have harmed so many vulnerable American communities. The ACLU stands ready to protect these communities, both in the courts and at the polls.” Shakir also charged that: “[T]he immigration plan put forth by Trump would hold Dreamers hostage to his demands for a harmful border wall and an even larger mass deportation force. We are at this crossroads because of the president’s deeply destructive ideas fomented by his nativist allies and divisive rhetoric…. We cannot let America’s Dreamers be deported.’”
In February 2019, Bernie Sanders appointed Shakir to serve as his campaign manager for his second run at the White House.
Further Reading: “Faiz Shakir” (Keywiki.org, ACLU.org); “Harvard Islamic Society Kicks Off Annual Awareness Week” (Harvard Crimson, 11-8-2000); “Nancy Pelosi Hires Think Progress’s Faiz Shakir As Director Of New Media” (Huffington Post, 5-8-2012); “Nancy Pelosi Hires Former Terrorist Fundraiser” (by Daniel Greenfield, 5-28-2012); “The Center for American Progress’s Jewish Conspiracy Theory” (by Daniel Greenfield, 8-30-2011, re: Fear, Inc.); “The Terminology of Taxation” (by Jonah Goldberg, 7-22-2011); “A Conversation with Faiz Shakir About Anti-Semitism and BDS” (TabletMag.com, 8-10-2017); “ACLU [and Faiz Shakir]: Trump’s America Is Exclusionary” (ACLU.org, 1-30-2018); “Bernie Sanders Hires Top Progressive Advocate, Faiz Shakir, as Campaign Manager” (Daily Beast, 2-19-2019).
- The term “Dreamers” is derived from the so-called DREAM Act, legislation that would legislation that would lay out a path-to-citizenship for illegal aliens who initially came to the U.S. as minors.