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“American Caliph” Book Talk

December 1, 2022 @ 7:00 pm 9:00 pm EST

with author Shahan Mufti

Join author Shahan Mufti for a behind-the-scenes look at American Caliph, his riveting true story of America’s first homegrown Muslim terror attack–the 1977 Hanafi siege of Washington, D.C.

Get a sneak-peek at the event with Steve Pierce’s interview of Shahan Mufti.

***In line with our commitment to equity, love and justice, we ask that you please keep your mask on at our indoor events.

An image of the book cover, titled American Caliph - The True Story of a Muslim Mystic, a Hollywood Epic, and the 1977 Siege of Washington, DC by Shahan Mufti
A black and white image with a large, somewhat destroyed wall with the words Council of the District of Columbia. Several officers are gathered around the chaos and examining the destruction, glass shattered on ground and hole in wall.
A black and white image of Marion Barry in a hospital bed, presumable after being shot in the chest. He is talking to someone off-camera and has his hands raised, but is shirtless with several medical devices hooked up to his chest.
A black and white image with several officers and health officials gathered around a stretcher with a body covered in a white sheet. They seem frantic and are rushing to help.

One of Publishers Weekly’s “best nonfiction books” of 2022

Late in the morning of March 9, 1977, seven men stormed the Washington, D.C., headquarters of B’nai B’rith International, the largest and oldest Jewish service organization in America. The heavily armed attackers quickly took control of the building and held more than a hundred employees of the organization hostage inside. A little over an hour later, three more men entered the Islamic Center of Washington, the country’s largest and most important mosque, and took hostages there. Two others subsequently penetrated the District Building, a few hundred yards from the White House. When a firefight broke out, a reporter was killed, and Marion Barry, later to become mayor of Washington, D.C., was shot in the chest. The deadly standoff brought downtown Washington to a standstill.

The attackers belonged to the Hanafi Movement, an African American Muslim group based in D.C. Their leader was a former jazz drummer named Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, who had risen through the ranks of the Nation of Islam before feuding with the organization’s mercurial chief, Elijah Muhammad, and becoming a spiritual authority to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Like Malcolm X, Khaalis had become sharply critical of the Nation’s unorthodox style of Islam. And, like Malcolm X, he paid dearly for his outspokenness: In 1973, followers of the Nation murdered seven Hanafis at their headquarters, including several members of Khaalis’s family. When they took hostages in 1977, one of the Hanafis’ demands was for the murderers, along with Muhammad Ali and Elijah’s son, to be turned over to the group to face justice. They also demanded that the American premiere of Mohammad: Messenger of God—an epic about the life of the prophet Muhammad financed and supported by the Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi—be canceled and the film destroyed. The lives of 149 hostages hung in the balance, and the United States’ fledgling counterterrorism forces—as yet untested—would have to respond.

Shahan Mufti’s American Caliph gives a full account of the largest ever hostage taking on American soil and of the man who masterminded it. Informed by extensive archival research and access to hundreds of declassified FBI files, American Caliph is a riveting true-crime story that sheds new light on the disarray of the 1970s and its ongoing reverberations.

Read more about the book HERE.

A medium-framed headshot of Shahan Mufti, a medium-skinned man wearing glasses and a grey sweater on top of a blue button up, looking into the camera with his hands intertwined resting on the table he is sitting at.

Shahan Mufti is the chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Richmond and a former daily news reporter for The Christian Science Monitor. He is the author of The Faithful Scribe: A Story of Islam, Pakistan, Family, and War, and his writing has appeared in Harper’s MagazineThe New York Times MagazineThe Atlantic, and The Nation, among other publications.

Shahan Mufti at the podium at the Sanctuary for Independent Media, talking to the crowd and wearing a blue button up with a black blazer and glasses.
Shahan Mufti at the podium at the Sanctuary from the back so the audience is in the background
Shahan Mufti showing images from his book "American Caliph"
Steve Pierce sitting on the stage at the Sanctuary
Shahan Mufti on stage at the Sanctuary
Shahan Mufti and Steve Pierce sitting on stage at at the Sanctuary with a questioner at the microphone off stage
an audience member with a white beard and beret asks a question
Shahan Mufti and Steve Pierce speaking on stage at the Sanctuary
an audience member wearing a headscarf asks a question
Shahan Mufti and Steve Pierce sitting on stage at at the Sanctuary with a questioner at the microphone off stage
Shahan Mufti signing books
3361 6th Ave
Troy, 12180 United States
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