Police Remove Muslim Women From Pam Geller’s ‘Human Rights Conference’

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer only preach to their minions, and anyone else is not accepted.

Police Remove Muslim Women From Pam Geller’s ‘Human Rights Conference’

By Eli Clifton on Apr 30, 2012 at 9:30 am, ThinkProgress

Yesterday in Dearborn, Michigan, noted anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer hosted a conference promising to advocate for “human rights” in one of the largest Muslim communities in the United States. Geller, writing on her blog on Sunday, warned, “We will meet fierce resistance by Islamic supremacists who will do anything, say anything to impose the sharia and whitewash the oppression, subjugation and slaughter of women under Islamic law.”

But surprisingly, Muslim women found themselves denied entry to the conference and, after patiently waiting in the corridor after being told to wait, were removed from the Hyatt Hotel by the Dearborn Police Department and Hyatt security.

Several of the young women commented that they shared a similar appearance with Jessica Mokdad, the young women who Geller and Spencer claim was murdered in an “honor killing” (a conclusion not shared by Mokdad’s family or Michigan prosecutors).

ThinkProgress attempted to attend the event and was turned away, and eventually removed from the Hyatt by the police, along with the young women. One of the women commented, “I tried emailing [Pamela Geller to register] and I literally couldn’t get any kind of response back.” That comment seems to contradict Geller’s claim that she wants to help Muslim women and that the conference was in defense of the human rights of Muslim women.

Another woman who tried to attend the conference told ThinkProgress:

Coming in, I was asking where the human rights conference is. [Hyatt Security and Dearborn Police] were like, ‘what are you talking about?’ I’m like, ‘the human rights conference on the second floor.’ They were like, ‘the anti-Islam conference?’ That’s what they’re calling it now.

And another woman expressed surprise that Geller, who has asked to hear from more Muslim voices on human rights issues, was denying Muslims access to her event. “I watched an interview with her […] and she said, ‘Where are the Muslims?’ Well, we’re here!” Watch it (police arrive to escort the women off the Hyatt premises at 3:58):

Pamela Geller emailed ThinkProgress, “They didn’t register. We’ve been announcing for weeks that only registered attendees would be admitted.”

Geller and Spencer play prominent roles in the Islamophobia “echo chamber,” as detailed in the Center for American Progress’s report “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.”

“Jessica Mokdad” Conference: At War with Islam by Any Crooked Means

Jessica_Mokdad_Conference
The Panelists at the conference

When Malcolm X uttered the famous words“by any means necessary,” it was in the midst of the Jim Crow era. He was making it known that Blacks were not going to take the systematic violence and oppression directed against them in a subservient manner. On the other side was Bull Connor, George Wallace, the Ku Klux Klan and organized racism which sought to uphold Jim Crow “by any crooked means.”

In the “fine” tradition of the Jim Crow-era racists, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and other leading anti-Muslim activists have declared war on Muslims by any and all crooked means. In doing so they project their own inadequacies and stealth motives onto Muslims and Islam. They create new definitions of theological concepts such as taqiya (dissimulation to protect oneself from violence and coercion), defining it as lying for the advancement of Islam. In fact, it is Spencer and Geller who are lying to aide their own cause and to line their own pocket books. They put on the mask of defenders of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, when it is they who are a part of the leading regressive force in the US undermining and challenging our liberties and freedoms.

This was on full display yesterday, April, 29 in Dearborn when they went ahead with an anti-Islam conference titled the “Jessica Mokdad Conference.” Jessica Mokdad was a young woman who was murdered by her step-father, a sick man who had been sexually abusing her.

Mokdad’s murder had nothing to do with Islam, but Geller spinned it into an honor killing.

Despite it not being an honor killing, despite the fact that Mokdad’s family requested her name be taken off the conference, (expressing how it pained them that Geller and co. could so thoughtlessly use Jessica’s memory to further hate of the religion she “loved”) the title was kept: “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference.”

Geographic Racism

Dearborn, Michigan is home to one of the largest concentrations of Arabs and Muslims in the United States. For this reason it has earned the scorn and undying resentment of the fanatical anti-Muslim movement.

According to these racists Dearborn has ceased to be a part of America because of the “camel jockeys” and “towel heads” who have invaded. In their mind the city has become “Dearbornistan,” and Michigan an “Islamic Republic.”

Such racist notions zeroing in on certain geographic locations isn’t new, it is a similar kind of racism that paints the US’s Southern border as “Third World” and “backward” because of the large percentage of Latinos.

In their nostalgic-looking-back-at-the-50′s-White-bred world when so-called true Americana existed, when America was a Christian (or Judeo-Christian) nation lies the heart of the anti-Muslim movement’s present malaise.

Like most fundamentalists, they hearken to a mythic, purer past, while selling the fear of an impending Armageddon, after which America will no longer be America.

To fight to keep America “pure,” to recreate its glory, the crowd is given the message: “you are the soldiers,” “this is a war,” ”we are the soldiers. It’s up to us.” (via. USA Today reporter Niraj Warikoo):

Standing for Truth

Dearborn’s residents and Jessica Mokdad’s family decided not to protest the conference, instead they held a town hall titled, Rejecting Islamophobia. This is where the anti-Loons gathered, those opposed to bigotry and hate:

“We stand for America,” said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Dearborn-based Arab-American News, at a panel discussion held at a Detroit hotel. “And they (anti-Muslim activists) stand against America and against the American way of life.”

Siblani’s views were echoed by others who gathered for a conference organized by the Arab American Institute and supported by several other Arab-American groups to counter a conference held in Dearborn on Sunday by anti-Muslim activists called the “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference on Honor Killings.”

Last year, Mokdad, 20, a Muslim was shot dead by her stepfather in Warren, Mich. Some anti-Islam activists said it was a honor killing because initial reports were that she was perceived as too independent, but Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo said Friday it was not an honor killing. The family of Mokdad opposed the anti-Islam conference and didn’t want Mokdad’s name on it, Cataldo said.

On Sunday, Imam Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn — the biggest mosque in Michigan — said : “Honor killing has no religious roots in Islam.”

Sunday’s anti-Muslim conference features two of the most well-known anti-Islam activists in the United StatesPamela Geller and Robert Spencer.

Geller, who blogs against Islam, said: “Our goal is to raise awareness about the phenomenon of Islamic honor killing in order to help bring a stop to it. These girls have rights, too, they’re human beings, and yet they’re completely forgotten in our politically correct culture.”

Qazwini said he believes Geller is motivated by money. He said she wants to make “Islam look like a monster to raise funds.”

Sunday’s anti-Muslim conference in Dearborn is the latest effort by anti-Islam activists to target Dearborn, which has the highest percentage of Arab-Americans in the U.S., according to Census figures. Earlier this month, Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones held a demonstration outside Qazwini’s mosque.

In addition, some Christian missionaries have increasingly targeted Muslims at the annual Arab festival in Dearborn; last year, some yelled at festival goers as they walked by.

James Zogby, who heads the Arab American Institute, said of Sunday’s anti-Muslim conference: “These people are bigots … they are sick.”

The Arab-American conference featured talks by U.S. House Reps. John Conyers and Hansen Clarke, both Democrats from Detroit. Daniel Kirchbaum, executive director of Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights, also spoke at the event, saying that many in Michigan want to make sure “Muslims are treated fairly and equally.”

Try as they may, to spit on the memory of Jessica Mokdad in the name of human rights, the anti-Muslim bigots will not be successful–as long as those who are vigilant speak out against their hatred, fear-mongering, false dichotomies, generalizations, misattributions and lies.

Please read Omar Baddar’s account of the “Reject Islamophobia” event: AAI Community Town Hall Shatters Anti-Muslim Narrative.

Dearborn: Muslims and Members of Other Faiths Successfully Counter Anti-Muslim Conference

MSNBC describes it as “dueling in Dearborn.” I think the real story is the rejection of Islamophobia, and the anti-Islam outsiders who arrived only to agitate:

Dueling in Dearborn over murder of a 20-year-old woman

By Kari Huus, msnbc.com

In Dearborn Mich., a Detroit suburb known for its concentration of Muslim Americans, anti-Islam leaders from around the country are gathering to discuss how to rescue women from that faith. The “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference on Honor Killings” on Sunday is named for a local Muslim woman murdered one year ago.

But Muslims, civil rights groups and other religious leaders say the conference is merely another event put on by well-known bigots to attack the minority religion. Their response was to schedule a town hall meeting just a few miles away on Sunday called “Rejecting Islamophobia: A Community Stand Against Hate.”

The honor killing conference, organized by Pamela Geller, who became nationally famous for her vocal opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque, aka Park 51 in Manhattan, is based on the premise that Mokdad, 20 years old when she died in April 2011, was the victim of an honor killing justified by Islam.

Mokdad’s family maintains that the killing was a tragedy that has nothing to do with their Islamic beliefs, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s not a case based on honor,” Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo, chief of homicide, told the Free Press on Friday.

In court, prosecutors have said the motive for Mokdad’s killing was that her stepfather, Rahim Alfetlawi had “been sexually abusing her,” Cataldo said, according to the report. They argue that when she threatened to go public about the abuse he killed her.

Cataldo said the family strongly objects to the conference using Mokdad’s killing, which they say was a tragedy that had nothing to do with their faith.

Geller insists this was an honor killing carried out by a devout Muslim because his stepdaughter was not following Islam, and that the family is covering it up. She alleges that law enforcers systematically cover up honor killings here and elsewhere under “stealth enforcement” of Islamic shariah law.

On her web site, Geller says: “Despite pressure from the media and members of Jessica’s family who want to cover up the honor killing aspect of her murder, we are not going to change the name of the conference. Unlike those closest to her, we are going to honor Jessica’s memory and stand up against the brutal practice that took her life.”

The Dearborn conference will feature speeches by Geller and Robert Spencer — author of the blog “Jihad Watch” — as well as several like-minded legal and religious figures. They have also invited a young man who says he was Mokdad’s friend to offer “firsthand testimony” that she was a victim of honor killing.

Stop the Islamization of America, which Geller and Spencer founded, has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit civil rights watchdog.

“Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead,” according to a profile published by SPLC on its web site. ”She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims.”

The Arab American Institute, a decades-old community organization in the Detroit area, discouraged Muslims and their supporters from protesting at the site of Geller’s conference.  But they organized a competing event, said AAI president Jim Zogby, because Geller and Spencer have become too prominent to ignore.

“Geller and Spencer have thousands of followers, and are given airtime to spew their hate on major American news networks, as if they are respected analysts with just another viewpoint,” Zogby said on the AAI announcement for the “Rejecting Islamophobia” town hall in Detroit.

Although many Americans have never encountered a Muslim in person, about 43 percent questioned in a recent Gallup Poll said they felt at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.

“This group, we cannot ignore. This is the time for our community to take a stand, along with all those who value America’s commitment to diversity and freedom of religion, against the politics of division and bigotry promoted by the Islamophobes.”

A variety of community, interfaith and religious leaders and Michigan public on their agenda, for a “community conversation about how to respond to these continued attacks,” said Zogby.

One participant who was just on his way to the town hall was Dawud Walid, who heads the Michigan office of the Council on American Islamic Relations, a civil rights advocacy group for Muslims.

“I think firstly we have to better expose who these anti-Muslim bigots are as well as their funders,” said Walid. “We believe that the Islamophobia that permeates our country is being pushed by a well-organized, highly-funded network.”

He says that while Dearborn and Detroit have become a focus for the activities of Geller and others of like mind, the problem is bigger.

“Islamophobia is a national illness,” he said.

Rejecting Islamophobia: Town hall counters ‘Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference’ in Dearborn

Jessica_Mokdad
Jessica Mokdad “loved Islam” according to her parents.

Striking back and rejecting Islamophobia:

Rejecting Islamophobia: Town hall counters ‘Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference’ in Dearborn

Dearborn, home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of Arab Americans, once again will become a focal point for debate over the practice and persecution of Islam in the west.

Pamela Geller, conservative activist and co-founder of Stop Islamization of America, is scheduled to host the “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference” from the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The event is named after a 20-year-old woman fatally shot by her stepfather last year in Warren. Initial reports suggested Rahim Alfetlawi shot Mokdad because he believed she had strayed from Islam, but prosecutors have since said that religion did not play a role.

Despite opposition from family members who say Mokdad’s murder has nothing to do with Islam, Geller has refused to rename the conference, suggesting an attempt to cover up what she continues to call an “honor killing.”

“Unlike those closest to her, we are going to honor Jessica’s memory and stand up against the brutal practice that took her life,” Geller said in a statement announcing the conference.

Local leaders say the conference is misleading and argue that Dearborn has become a convenient target for anti-Muslim groups, pointing to recent protests led by activist Pastor Terry Jones.

To counter Geller’s conference, The Arab American Institute and partners have scheduled a competing town hall on Sunday titled “Rejecting Islamophobia: A Community Stand Against Hate.” It is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel in Dearborn.

“This is clearly not the first time our community in Michigan has had to deal with a hate group,” AAI President Jim Zogby said in a statement. “Despite repeated efforts to target Arab Americans and American Muslims, the community has remained resilient and poised, sometimes choosing to ignore the fervor.

“This group we cannot ignore and this is the time to stand up and make our voices loud and clear in opposition to the politics of division and bigotry.”

Family Upset “Human Rights” Conference Has Deceased Daughter’s Name On It

Jessica_Mokdad
Jessica Mokdad “loved Islam” according to her parents.

The decrepit vileness that is Pamela Geller knows no bounds. She is going ahead with her planned anti-”Human Rights Conference.”

Please see our previous coverage of Geller’s egregious attempt to use the suffering of Jessica Mokdad and her family for her own personal anti-Muslim and material advantage:

Family upset “human rights” conference has deceased daughter’s name on it

(Arab American News)

DEARBORN – A local Arab American family is angry over an upcoming ”human rights” conference that features the name of their deceased daughter, believing that its true goal is to push an anti-Islam agenda.

The Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference is scheduled to take place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn on April 29 at 5 p.m., and marks the one year anniversary of Mokdad’s death.

Mokdad was only 20-years-old when her step-father Rahim Alfetlawi shot her to death in Warren.

Following the fatal incident mixed reports about Alfetlawi’s motive for killing Mokdad were disputed. Family members of Mokdad and a prosecutor on the case say Alfetlawi was controlling, and obsessed with Mokdad.

The family says Alfetlawi wanted to have a romantic relationship with Mokdad. Others say it was a honor killing and religiously motivated, because Mokdad wasn’t following traditional Islamic customs and becoming “Westernized.”

“It wasn’t a honor killing at all,” a close friend of the family said. Speaking to The Arab American News by phone Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor, Bill Cataldo says there’s sufficient proof that religion was not a factor that triggered the crime.

He says days leading up to the incident Mokdad came forward to police with information about Alfetlawi, and also shared that information with a friend. The information is not being disclosed, because those who knew Mokdad well may be sensitive about it.

When Alfetlawi learned Mokdad had shared the information with police and a friend he became angry  according to Cataldo. She was found dead afterwards.

Conservative blogger Pamela Geller is hosting the conference. Geller is also the executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, and Stop Islamization of America. In a television interview Geller said she’s just trying to save other women from being the next Mokdad.

In a local televised interview, Cassandra Mokdad, the victim’s step-mother said that Geller is, “using Jessica as her poster child for anti-Islam.” Cassandra declined to speak, but has said she might make an appearance at the conference to let Geller know how she feels.

Geller refuses to remove Mokdad’s name from the conference despite requests from the family. Conference speakers include television host and author Michael Coren, human rights activist Nonie Darwish; Sudanese ex-slave Simon Deng; David Wood, one of the former Christian missionaries who was charged with preaching the peace at the Arab American International Festival in Dearborn; James Lafferty of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Taskforce, co-cost of the conference. Wood is from the group Acts 17 Apologetics.

The conference is dedicated to exposing what the group says is the plight of women under “Islamic Law in Dearborn.” Organizers say they chose the Hyatt in Dearborn to stand in solidarity with other women in the area who may be in danger or oppressed under Islam. In the past the city’s mayor and officials have took drastic measures to prove the fact that Islamic Law does not exist in Dearborn. There are also misconceptions that women in Dearborn are oppressed, another claim the mayor has rejected.

The Mokdad family friend has lived in Dearborn for 25 years, and says such claims about Dearborn and its women are not true. The Arab American Women’s Business Council is based in the city, and includes well educated Arab American professionals. “Dearborn is home to the 2010 Miss U.S.A.,” she said. “We have a very good community.”