Freedom of speech under attack by Islamophobes in Tennessee

Freedom of speech under attack by Islamophobes in Tennessee

by Sheila Musaji, TheAmericanMuslim.com

I’ve noted before that Pamela Geller Does Not Understand Freedom of Speech when she found fault with American Muslims and others for denouncing her hate ads.  This she called an attempt to “impose blasphemy restrictions on free speech”.  She does not understand that   Freedom of speech does not include freedom from condemnation of that speech.  She showed this same lack of understanding of freedom of speech when Al Jazeera came to the U.S.  In that case Pamela Geller Defended Free Speech By Calling for Censorship.  When a number of students at UC Irvine disrupted Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s talk, The Irvine 11: Freedom of Speech and Double Standards – 11 of those students were arrested and stood trial and the MSU on campus was censured for coordinating the protest.  Pamela Geller called the MSA suspension for disrupting the ambassador’s talk “a giant stop sign to the Islamic supremacism and jackbootery increasingly found on college campuses. America is waking up to the enemy in our midst.” 

Geller and her partner Robert Spencer actively promoted the recent protest in Tennessee.  In fact, Geller posted on Twitter  “Thousands gather at AFDI free speech demo in Tennessee”.  This means she is taking responsibility for this shameful display of bigotry.  Unless she believes that the organizers and participants in this protest should be censured or arrested just as those who disrupted Ambassader Oren’s talk were, then she is truly hypocritical when it comes to freedom of speech.  This protest was an egregious example of selective freedom of speech.

The background:  Last month, Coffee County, Tennessee commissioner Barry West posted a photo on Facebook of a man squinting down the barrel of a gun, with a caption reading, “How to wink at a Muslim.”  The Muslim community in Tennessee and across the nation was outraged, and many were frightened by the implications of the photo and caption, especially coming from an elected official. The photo below is a capture of the Facebook page by the Mail Online.  There is no way to see this as anything but threatening.

As Elizabeth Plank noted in an article on this incident:

… An endorsement of Islamophobia by an elected official can only make matters worse for a state that is the home of a frightening amount of anti-Muslim violence. “We know that these lead to discrimination and hate crimes in the Muslim community, and we are very wary of that,” said Sabina Mohyuddin. “I am a second-generation American. My children are third generation. We don’t see ourselves as anything but American,” she continued.

Daniel Tutt, an Episcopalian interfaith activist and a research fellow at the nonprofit Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington, told USA Today that the best thing Barry West can do is publicly apologize and privately meet with Muslim families living in Coffee Country. “The initial reaction from Muslims will be, ‘This is unfortunate, but we’ve seen a lot of this.’ But it’s not acceptable. If the same thing were done to the Jewish or African-American communities, it would not be tolerated.” …

West ultimately issued a half-hearted apology after first denying that there was an issue and claiming it was only a joke. Look at this photograph and caption, and simply scroll through the article collection below containing many references to previous incidents in Tennessee, and consider whether or not a community that has seen so much hate directed towards it would see this as a joke.  In fact, simply change the wording and replace the word “Muslim” with a word descriptive of another community and see what your reaction would be.

how_to_wink_at_a_muslim

The American Muslim Advisory Council decided to host a meeting to allow local Muslims to share with their neighbors about who the Muslim community is, and to talk about American Muslims and public discourse, and they invited a representative of the DOJ and the FBI to attend and talk about what’s considered free speech and what’s illegal hate speech, and where the line is where speech can be prosecuted.    The situation in Tennessee was that there was a lot of tension between the Muslim community and their neighbors.  There had been a series of anti-Muslim incidents, and an elected official had posted something that the Muslim community believed to have crossed the line between protected speech and hate speech.  This is exactly the sort of situation that the DOJ’s community outreach program is designed to address.  Bill Killian, U.S., Attorney of the Eastern District of Tennessee was to speak about the Constitution, the first and fourteenth amendments, and to clarify what constitutes hate speech, and what are the existing legal consequences.

A meeting was arranged and publicized and the Islamophobia network freaked out.  They made a number of ludicrous claims and totally misrepresented the meeting.

An article by Janet Levy titled The Not-So-Veiled Threat to Non-Muslims in Tennessee contains most of the misrepresentations that were repeated endlessly by the Islamophobia echo chamber.

Levy opened by saying that “Claims that American Muslims are loyal citizens, partners in counterterrorism investigations, part of radicalization prevention efforts, and an integral part of American society for centuries fell flat, especially coming from the host organization that was formed only two years ago in response to anti-shariah legislation in the Volunteer State.  A well-informed crowd responded with calls of “taqiyyah” when members of AMAC, a group that bills itself as “a bridge between the Muslim community and law enforcement,” touted Muslim contributions to U.S. society and their dedication to upholding American values. (Taqiyyah doctrine obligates Muslims to deceive infidels as part the required effort or jihad to institute Islamic doctrine or shariah). In actuality, Muslim organizations have specifically instructed Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement and have demanded that all counterterrorism-training materials be expunged of critical references to Islam and Muslims, as well the training instructors fired or retrained who fail to follow along.”

So, according to Levy, we are to understand that well informed people know that if American Muslims claim to be loyal citizens and an integral part of American society – they are lying (practicing taqiyya) and required to lie by their evil religion.

From there she goes on to make false claims about Muslims being forbidden to befriend non-Muslims, being required to wage jihad to establish a global Islamic government under Sharia, having aspirations to replace the Constitution with shariah, etc.  She also claims that no other group in the United States has been the focus of such a degree of attention and outreach, no outreach to Jews or other communities, the DOJ and FBI have not scheduled meetings addressing the concerns of any other group but Muslims.

This is the usual ploy of the Islamophobes.  No matter what the particular issue at hand, rather than dealing with facts, they throw in every negative aspersion they can to demonize the religion of Islam, and Muslims in general.  It is exhausting to have to constantly respond not only to the particular issue at hand, but to all the bigoted claims added on to prove to their audience that Muslims are somehow unique and dangerous.  All of the claims that Levy makes in her despicable tirade have been previously addressed.  Here are responses to specific charges made by Levy in this article:

— Qur’an 5:51 Can Muslims Have Non-Muslims as Friends? – The Concept of Wilaya in the Qur’an; — How mainstream Muslims understand the term “jihad”;— Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha Arbitration Courts;— The Return of the Caliphate?;— The Taqiyya Libel Against Muslims;— American Muslims must defend the Constitution of the United States;— Muslims are a part of our American heritage;— Historic events and people that shaped the American Muslim community;— Does CAIR tell Muslims not to talk to the FBI?The False Claim that Muslims have no programs to counter radicalization;— A defense of free speech by American and Canadian Muslims;— Where is the U.S. Government Getting It’s Information on Islam and Muslims? (training scandals);— FCNA Resolution: On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans

As to all the other constantly repeated claims about Islam and Muslims, the meaning of terms, interpretation of scripture, etc. please see Resources for dealing with Islamophobia and Islamophobesfor responses to these and numerous other claims.

Actually, having representatives of the DOJ, FBI, or other government agencies speak to minority groups about issues of particular concern to various groups, and about civil rights and constitutional issues is not at all unusual.  Just last month, Attorney General Eric Holder of the DOJ spoke at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Centennial Summit.  In his speech he discussed the history of the fight against anti-Semitism, against discrimination, and for civil rights.  The fact that such work remains unfinished, and that challenges and threats still lie before us.  “And the path to ensuring equality, opportunity, and justice for all – regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or walk of life – still stretches beyond the horizon.”

In fact, a statement Mr. Holder made to the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) applies equally to this meeting in Tennessee (just replace Jewish community with Muslim community):

That’s why gatherings like this one are so critical. By fostering constructive dialogue, by standing firm against discrimination, by monitoring hateful activities, by studying the roots of extremism, by defending the security of Jewish populations around the globe, and by educating policymakers, law enforcement leaders, and members of the public – ADL is proving every day that the changes we seek are possible. You’re showing that the results our citizens deserve are not beyond our reach. And you’re strengthening the ability of our nation’s Justice Department to advance these vital efforts.

More than three decades ago, ADL stepped to the forefront of this work – pioneering a model hate crime law that has since inspired similar statutes in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Across the country, you’ve helped guide the implementation and enforcement of these and corresponding federal laws – including right here in Washington.

During the 1990s – when I served as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia – I worked closely with David Friedman to create a Hate Crimes Working Group to build engagement between community leaders, prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and the D.C. residents they were sworn to serve. Under my predecessor, Attorney General Janet Reno, this approach was widely replicated across the country. And, on an even larger scale, ADL’s efforts to support and educate law enforcement with innovative training programs – in partnership with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum – have helped to reinforce the values of tolerance and respect for our nation’s diverse population.

To date, more than 80,000 law enforcement officials – including all new FBI agents – have taken part in this training. At every level of today’s Justice Department, my colleagues and I have been proud to work with ADL in broadening the impact of your efforts. We’ve partnered with you to develop cutting-edge resources like the FBI’s new Hate Crime Training Manual. And we’ve been fortunate to stand together in calling for the passage of important legislative tools, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that has enabled us to take these comprehensive efforts to new heights.

…  We can all be proud of the Justice Department’s comprehensive civil rights enforcement efforts – and our ongoing work to bring about long-overdue reforms. We can be encouraged by the results of our close collaboration with ADL – in building new safeguards for vulnerable populations and securing needed changes to help guard against bigotry. Together, we’re upholding the values that have defined this organization over the past century, and the principles that lie at the heart of our justice system.

…  We must also continue to move forward in preserving our democratic ideals and ensuring fair treatment for all – even, and especially, in moments of great difficulty.

…  In July of last year, the Department filed suit against a Tennessee county for discriminating against local Muslims by refusing to allow a new mosque to open. ADL wrote and filed a brief to aid in this case, on behalf of a broad interfaith coalition. The congregation encountered vandalism, threats of violence, and steep public opposition. But the Department obtained a court order requiring county authorities to stand aside and honor First Amendment rights – and the congregation was permitted to worship in their new facility.

This action, and many others like it, prove the Department’s determination to safeguard the core Constitutional protections that stand at the center of who we are as a nation – and that have always empowered the ADL to bridge divides and promote cooperation over conflict. As Americans, we must not allow any group to be stigmatized or alienated. We must not tolerate acts of hatred. And we must reaffirm every day – through our actions as well as our approach – that justice and public safety are not in tension. They rely upon one another.  …

This meeting in Tennessee was exactly the same sort of effort against Islamophobia as previous and continuing efforts against anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry.

Here are just a few examples of such community meetings and presentations by U.S. Attorneys and other DOJ officials to many different minority communities:

— In Ohio “the office hosts meetings open to the broader community to discuss a wide range of topics. In the past year alone, the U.S. Attorney has spoken to community groups about hate crimes, hosted meetings focused on ways to reduce bullying in schools and convened a meeting a local mosque to hear concerns to security restrictions at airports and border crossings, to name a few.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI convene quarterly meetings with community leaders, interested stakeholders and members of Northern Ohio’s minority communities. The office has partnered with The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio and holds the meeting in important locations in the community, from a Sikh gurdwara to a center of Cleveland’s Vietnamese community. By sharing our collective experiences and stories, we hope to continue to creat understanding and respect between all our various cultures.”  [url=http://www.justice.gov/usao/ohn/programs/outreach.html]***[url]
— In California “Scams targeting seniors and the elderly are on the rise in the Internet Age and consumer protection experts advise that education is the most important element of a successful fraud prevention program. With that goal in mind, on November 13, 2012, the Central District of California teamed up with Bet Tzedek Legal Services of Los Angeles to produce a short program to educate local seniors on scams and how to avoid being victimized by fraud. U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr., Sandy Samuels of Bet Tzedek and Debbie Deem of the L.A. Regional Office of the FBI led an interactive presentation for seniors.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office participated in a community meeting in conjunction with the “Stand UP and Speak Out Against Bullying” Campaign.  Hosted by the Los Angeles Police Department’s West Valley Division, the Reseda Neighborhood Council and the Reseda Magnet School, the meeting at Reseda H.S. brought together more than 200 students, parents, teachers and other interested parties. ***
— In Alabama, A meeting in Birmingham, Alabama between FBI officials and representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Birmingham-area les­bian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations.
—- In D.C. U.S. Attorneys, and Police addressed a neighborhood meeting of the Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission to discuss urban crime and violence ***.  The D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office staff attend approximately sixty community meetings and events a month. These meetings are held by civic associations, local government, and the Metropolitan Police Department. During these meetings, in an effort to improve transparency in the criminal justice system, community prosecutors educate the community about our Office including giving insight on our bond determinations, charging decisions, and sentencing allocutions. We also educate the community about the inter-workings of the criminal justice system. In an effort to formalize this educational component, we have piloted a new program called “Witness for the Prosecution” Over a period of several sessions, this program educates the community about the criminal justice and our Office’s role in the criminal justice system. In the coming year, we should look towards expanding this program to marginalized communities, such as the Muslim, Ethiopian, Hispanic and Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered communities. Moreover, during these community meetings we receive various nuisance abatement complaints. In an effort to address and document these complaints, we have drafted a Nuisance Abatement form which standardized how we receive complaints and disseminate these complaints to the appropriate agency.  ***  On October 3, 2012, the Civil Rights Division and the Community Relations Service (CRS) of the Department of Justice hosted a Roundtable on Religion-Based Hate Crimes at the Robert F. Kennedy Main Justice Building Conference Center. Representatives from 22 religious and interfaith organizations representing a broad array of religious communities participated in a discussion about data collection and reporting relating to religion-based attacks on individuals and places of worship, and the adequacy of current categories in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.  Diverse religious groups presented anecdotal and survey evidence about hate crimes against Sikhs and Hindus, as well as against Arab Americans, and recommended that these be added as categories in the Uniform Crime Reports to help better understand religious and ethnicity-based hate crimes. Changes to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports are considered by the Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board, a board made up of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials and subject matter experts. The Board then makes recommendations to the FBI Director. ***
— In Arizona, the Southern Arizona Hate Task Force met with elected officials, the acting U.S. Attorney and members of the FBI in forums designed to inform the public about how they can report allegations of police misconduct, about the elements of a hate crime, and what to do if they have been a victim of a hate crime. They’ve even launched a website designed to provide community members with factual information about hate crimes and links to important local resources.  ***  U.S. Attorney Burke’s civil rights focus has been instrumental in addressing community conflict by recognizing that some communities, particularly those of color, race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity, are at higher risk of discrimination and the possible threat of violence. The office has held community civil rights forums to ensure that people are aware of their civil rights and know whom to contact if they or someone they know is a victim of a hate crime. U.S. Attorney’s Office personnel have also reached out to local law enforcement and provided training on the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, forging partnerships that have facilitated better communication among state, local, and federal agencies.  Through the efforts of its Civil Rights Unit and Community Outreach component, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona has held community forums with Latino and African American communities to address issues of immigration and police misconduct. The office has also conducted community forums that target faith-based groups, including interfaith groups, boards of Rabbis, and outreach to Arizona’s Islamic centers. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona also regularly holds forums with sexuality and gender identity-based communities to build trusting relationships with law enforcement.  ***
— In Minnesota, in the aftermath of the burning of an Amish barn, CRS worked with Amish leaders and local police to develop an agenda for a town hall style meeting. The town hall meeting provided non-Amish community members with an understanding of the history and background on the Amish way of life in an effort to prevent future misunderstandings, biased-based incidents, and hate crimes. ***
— In Connecticut, Civil rights outreach by US Attorneys of the DOJ included:  Visits to two New Haven schools in celebration and recognition of Black History Month. Our presentations to students at Micro Society Magnet School and Hill Central Music Academy began with a discussion of prominent African Americans in recent history and important moments in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. We then engaged the students in a discussion about hate crimes by using the example of a civil rights prosecution handled by this office, asking the students “What would you do?” and “How would you feel?” if you were a victim of or witness to the offensive conduct. We finished with a vibrant discussion about bullying and its consequences. They joined with the FBI’s Atlanta Division to host the nation’s first community conference to discuss implementing and enforcing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. We recognized that members of the community, and particularly those citizens who the new law is primarily designed to protect, may not be knowledgeable about the changes in the law. Moreover, we believed that state and local officers, who are the first responders to incidents that might qualify as hate crimes, needed training not only on the changes to the statute, but also on enhancing their community outreach efforts so that victims are empowered to report violations. Consequently, we convened members of community groups along with hundreds of officers and agents from local, state and federal law enforcement organizations for a day-long event at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Through speakers and panel discussions, participants shared important information about investigating, prosecuting and preventing hate crimes, while also encouraging communications and building trust between law enforcement and these community groups. ***

This meeting, unlike the hundreds of other meetings across the country with various minority groups, did not go smoothly, and was overwhelmed by the followers of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer who had posted appeals to meet in Tennessee for a protest against what they termed an attempt to take away their right to freedom of speech and “impose Sharia blasphemy laws” in the U.S.

Here is what then took place:

Nashville Scene posted the entire 1 hour and 39 minute VIDEO of the event.

Charles Johnson reported Pamela Geller at Tennessee Anti-Muslim Protest: “Without Freedom of Speech We Must Resort to Violence”.  He includes a video that Geller posted of her speech to the crowd outside the meeting and he notes that “Geller even hints around about using violence against Muslims, starting at about 4:50 into the video.  Geller says:  There are no Jews, they’re all leaving Norway. They’re fleeing France, they’re fleeing the UK. Christians can’t wear a cross in the UK. For us, Europe’s a cautionary tale. We are only five to ten years behind Europe.  And I will tell you that freedom of speech is a line in the sand because, without freedom of speech peaceful men must resort to violence. [shouting] AND WE DON’T WANT TO!  Right, you don’t want to. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)”

Other statements by Geller in the course of her tirade:  – The first amendment protects all speech, not just speech that we like – We’re speaking out against the most brutal and oppressive ideology on the planet – Truth is the new hate speech – The justice dept under the Obama admin has become a de facto legal arm of the Muslim Brotherhood – We need an army, the time is now to stand up …

NEWS21 reported Muslim group’s TN forum with feds disrupted by heckling  “During the keynote speech given by Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Tennessee, audience members continually interrupted, making it difficult to understand what was said. Killian brought a PowerPoint presentation that covered the First and 14th amendments and what constitutes a hate crime, among other things. He read the First Amendment verbatim, between interruptions. …  Former “Saturday Night Live” star Victoria Jackson was among the protesters.  “The Constitution and Sharia cannot coexist,” she said. “Islam is evil.”

A Times Free Press article U.S. Attorney Bill Killian greeted by hostile crowd at Manchester, Tenn., free speech event included this strange statement:  “Some people at the impromptu rally were handing out anti-Islamic literature, other patriotic materials and some Christian materials as several speakers were using a megaphone to work up the crowd.  One man’s sign read: “In America, you are free to practice your religion, and I am free to insult it.”  I would hope that this was a typo, and that they did not actually mean to say that “anti-Islamic literature” is equivalent to “other patriotic materials”.

Pam Strickland wrote in the Knox News Irony goes over protesters’ heads.  She gives a detailed description of events during the meeting including:  “… During the outdoor rally, one woman with a bullhorn declared that “Islam does not deserve the protection of the First Amendment.” Others carried anti-Muslim signs.  None of the signs spoke of religions other than Islam, but the underlying theme was that Christianity was the preferred religion the First Amendment was written to protect. If that were the case, why would we need the First Amendment? Some would say to protect different Christian denominations. Only that’s not what the First Amendment says. It says religion, and it doesn’t have any exceptions written into it. It protects all religions — period.  … ”

An editorial in the Tullahoma News Actions at diversity meeting shameful  noted that:

There was no door to stand in front of that kept black students from entering, and there were no police officers arresting black citizens as they attempted to eat at a counter with the words “whites only” emblazoned on the wall above their heads.  But little else distinguished Tuesday night’s event at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center from those hate-filled, racist gatherings of days past.

Organized and sponsored by the American Muslim Advisory Council, headquartered in Murfreesboro, the event, called “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society,” was billed as an educational opportunity for the public to learn about American Muslims, as well as how the civil rights of all citizens are protected under the United States Constitution.

It was the result of a recent Facebook reposting by Coffee County Commissioner Barry West in which a man is pictured pointing a gun at a camera with words that read, “How to wink at a Muslim.” West has since apologized for the post and removed it, but not before the story about his posting went viral.

While, undoubtedly, some of the nearly 1,000 people who attended the event and preceding anti-Muslim and “free speech” rally were there to listen and learn, the overwhelming majority had another intention in mind – to intimidate, undermine and disrupt the event.

Their stated reason for being there? To protest what bloggers had called the government’s attempts to take away an individual’s First Amendment rights to post whatever he or she chooses on social media sites without repercussion.  The real reason, however, became apparent shortly after the presentation began.

Wrapped in American flags and waving Bibles, the protesters shouted, “speak English” at a Muslim man who has been in the United States for three decades. They cheered and clapped at photos of a burned mosque in Columbia, Tenn. They booed at photos of American Muslim soldiers killed while serving their country in the United States militaryThey accused all Muslims of being terrorists and yelled at them to “go home.”  Those who couldn’t get inside for the presentation due to overcrowded conditions called law enforcement officers “communists.” One man, who donned a confederate soldier’s cap, shouted, “Mohammed was a pedophile!”

There is no doubt that the majority of the people in Coffee County are embarrassed and ashamed by the actions of the people gathered at this assembly, and that many, if not the majority, of those in attendance, were from out of town. …

And finally, Hate Comes to Manchester, Tennessee by Drost Kokoye.  This is a first-hand account by one of the Muslim attendees/organizers of the “Public Discourse in a Diverse Society” forum, that was disrupted by anti-Islam hate groups in Manchester, TN. Although this incident was widely reported on in various media, many outlets left out the depth of hate that was on display Tuesday evening.

In recent years, there has been an alarming surge in anti-Islam hate group activity in Tennessee, especially in areas such as Rutherford and Coffee Counties.  This virulent hate was fully on display Tuesday night at the “Public Discourse in a Diverse Society” forum in Manchester.

Since 2010, our community has seen a concerted effort being made to demonize the religion of Islam and its adherents, with hate groups from all over the nation using our state as a staging ground for spewing negative propaganda.  This includes the effort to block the construction of the Murfreesboro Mosque, to the faux-outrage created when an elected official mistook a mop-sink in the state legislature for a “Muslim foot-bath.” Legislators who have fallen under the influence of these groups introduced an “anti-Sharia bill,” which would have made the practice of Islam punishable by up to 20 years in prison.  Additionally, we have seen a normalization of increasingly violent rhetoric – such as a Facebook posting by Coffee County Commissioner Barry West, depicting a gun being pointed at Muslims.

Commissioner West’s posting “How to Wink at a Muslim” garnered national attention, due to the overt call to violence against a specific minority group.  Local Muslim groups such as the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) and the American Center for Outreach (ACO) immediately asked West to issue an apology, due to the aggressive nature of the post in addition to Mr. West being a public official.  As this story went viral on social media, many key players in the Islamophobia industry latched themselves to the story, criticizing AMAC and ACO for demanding an apology.  Much to the chagrin of the anti-Islam groups, Mr. West issued an apology for his irresponsible post the next day.

Tuesday evening, the American Muslim Advisory Council hosted about “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society” in Manchester, TN, as an open forum to discuss the dangerous effects of the rhetoric that was espoused by Mr. West in his post.  Those within well-funded Islamophobia Industry – such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer from the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) saw this as an ideal opportunity to fan the flames of hate in our back yard.  And while their so-called protest was done so under the guise of “defending free speech,” the reality is that the public is unaware of the nefarious affiliations of such groups.

Geller and Spencer and their organizations are listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “hate group leaders.”  They hold close affiliations with the English Defense League – a Neo-Nazi affiliated group that has employed violent tactics against the Muslim community in the UK.  Both Geller and Spencer were cited extensively (174 times between the two) in mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto, which was written shortly before he murdered over 80 people in Norway.  To put it plainly, these individuals recognized widely as being extremists – therefore it is highly concerning that so many citizens of Tennessee have bought into their overt message of hate and bigotry.

Groups like the TN Eagle Forum and ACT for America (also listed as nativist and hate groups, respectively) called for thousands of their followers to come to this public forum to “stand up for their first amendment rights” that they claimed AMAC is trying to limit. These groups turned out people from all over Tennessee. Personally, I spoke with folks from Bristol, Sparta, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Tullahoma. They showed up in front of the Manchester Coffee County Conference Center hours before the forum. Geller and Spencer joined in around 5:30pm, ensuring the crowd was primed and riled up – including rhetoric that alluded to justifying violence.

After the outdoor protest, waves of people flooded the hall at 6:20pm.  All the seats were taken with in the first five minutes so people started to post up along the walls, near the doors, outside the doors, in the lobby, and all the way out to the entrance of the building.

The AMAC program had yet to begin, when Eagle Forum members (who also brought their own American flag) took it upon themselves to stand up and recite the “Pledge of Allegiance.”  Everyone else in the room, Eagle Forum member or not, joined them, for one of the most aggressive recitations of the Pledge that I’ve ever heard, followed by a long and loud applause.

At 6:30 pm, Zak Mohyuddin, an AMAC Board Member and long time resident of Coffee County, began the forum with an introduction to who and what AMAC is.

Before he could even get a sentence out, he was interrupted by a comment from the audience, “speak English!”

The panel continued as follows:

Zulfat Suara – AMAC Board Chair

Dorothy Zwayyed – AMAC East Tennessee Coordinator

Sabina Mohyuddin – AMAC Board Member and long time Coffee County resident

Bill Killian – U.S. Attorney DOJ Eastern District of Tennessee

Kenneth L. Moore – special agent in charge of the FBI’s Knoxville Division

Throughout the program, the speakers were plagued with interruptions, jeers and epithets being lobbed at them. Whenever examples of cooperation between the American Muslim community and law enforcement were highlighted, the crowd would yell, “Infiltrators,” Terrorists,” and “go home! 

As a representative of the Muslim community who was participating in the forum, the words of hate that I heard spoken on this day are something that I will not forget for a long time.

As I stood up to gather index cards for the Q&A session, a man from the crowd said, “Watch out, she might blow up!”  – Which was met by rousing laughter, rather than disgust.

As one of the Muslim speakers from the event finished, another individual exclaimed “FINALLY!  Can we burn her at the stake now?” – which was also met by laughter and cheers.

When bullying and discrimination that kids face in schools was brought up, one woman yelled,“Leave our children out of this. They hate you.”

Finally, during a portion of the presentation – a picture of a mosque, which had been destroyed by arson, was shown.  Rather than responding with compassion, the hateful attendees responded with applause and cheers.

Although the goal of the forum was to foster dialog and positive engagement – it is clear that Geller, Spencer and the hate groups came to cause divisiveness and hate.  It is saddening that some Tennesseans have succumbed to this temptation, as it brings back dark memories from our nation’s past.  On a positive note, many in attendees from the community greeted us with goodwill and assured us that the haters do not represent them or the majority of people out there.  Though a small gesture, this helped end an otherwise tense night on a positive note.  As we move forward from this eye-opening evening – the hope is that Tennesseans will take the lead in denouncing and marginalizing these fringe groups, while fostering an environment of positivity and inclusion.

Stop Trying to Split Gays and Muslims

Geller is attempting to pinkwash Islamophobia, but many in the LGBT and Muslim communities will not allow it to happen.

Chris D. Stedman, a humanist, who is also homosexual has been an outspoken fighter against anti-Muslim bigotry and takes on Geller and her cohorts’ claim that they have support from the gay community head on.

Homosexuality is a controversial topic in many Muslim American communities in which there is heated debate about the topic, but there appears to be a consensus that despite disagreements on homosexuality, respect and support for equal rights before the law, especially in the case of the marginalized has to be part and parcel of securing ones own rights.

Stop trying to split gays and Muslims

Anti-Islam crusader Pam Geller’s effort to foment hate between the two groups is based on lies and doomed to fail

BY 

I have an earnest and sincere question for the LGBT community: Do you support Pamela Geller?

Geller, who is one of the most active proponents of anti-Muslim attitudes in the United States, rose to notoriety as one of the key instigators of the Park51 backlash, misrepresenting a proposed Islamic Community Center (think a YMCA or Jewish Community Center) by calling it the “Ground Zero mosque” and engaging in dishonest rhetoric and blatant fear-mongering. Her organization, Stop the Islamization of America, was identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, alongside extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis. And it’s earned that label — Geller and her allies have dedicated countless hours and millions upon millions of dollars to drum up hatred, fear and xenophobia toward Muslims.

Last week I learned that Geller and one of her biggest allies, Robert Spencer, are hosting a fundraiser for their anti-Muslim advertisements on the website Indiegogo. This disturbed me for a number of reasons, but particularly because Indiegogo’s terms explicitly prohibit “anything promoting hate.” (Despite reports from me and many others, Indiegogo has so far declined to remove the fundraiser; if so inclined, you can let them know what you think about that here.)

While I was looking into this, I discovered that Geller recently announced plans to run a series of anti-Muslim advertisements in San Francisco quoting Muslim individuals making anti-LGBT statements. Why? Because members of San Francisco’s LGBT community criticized other anti-Muslim ads she has run there.

I tweeted my appreciation that the LGBT community in San Francisco is standing up against her efforts to drive a wedge between LGBT folks and Muslims. Soon after, Geller retweeted me, claiming that she in fact has “huge support in Gay community.” Immediately, her supporters began to lob insults and even threats at me; Spencer himself suggested that I should be rewarded for supporting Muslims by someone “saw[ing] off [my] head.” (Meanwhile, though Geller, Spencer and their supporters kept tweeting at me that Muslims “hate gays” and want to kill me, many Muslim friends and strangers alike tweeted love and support for LGBT equality at me.)

As things settled down, I realized that Geller had stopped responding to me when I requested more information to back up her assertion that she has “huge support in Gay community,” after the only evidence she provided was a link to a Facebook group with 72 members. I’ve since asked her repeatedly for more information, but have not gotten a response.

I couldn’t think of a single LGBT person in my life that would support her work, but I didn’t want to go off of my own judgment alone. So I started asking around. It wasn’t hard to find prominent members of the LGBT community who do not share Geller’s views.

“The idea that the LGBT community should support Islamophobia is offensive and absurd,” said Joseph Ward III, director of Believe Out Loud, an organization that empowers Christians to work for LGBT equality. “[American Muslims] are our allies as we share a common struggle to overcome stereotypes and misconceptions in America.”

“Trying to drive a wedge between the LGBT community and other communities is old, tired and [it] doesn’t work,” said Ross Murray, director of News and Faith Initiatives for GLAAD. “Pitting two communities [like the Muslim and LGBT communities] against one another is an attempt to keep both oppressed. Wedge strategies are offensive and, in the long run, they do not work. Geller is not an LGBT ally — she’s posing as one because it is convenient to her [anti-Muslim] agenda.”

“As with any attempts at a wedge, these efforts seek to erase the real and powerful reality of LGBT Muslims and seek to create a false dichotomy: All the LGBT people are non-Muslim/Islamophobic and all the Muslims are straight and homophobic,” said Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, program director of the Institute for Welcoming Resources at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “Particularly given the oppression, marginalization, hatred and violence visited upon the LGBTQ community, it is critically important that we use our spiritual, communal and political power to speak out against the victimization and vilification of any other community. As a Christian lesbian, I must stand against any attempts to victimize another because of their personhood.”

“There’s no doubt that there’s a great deal of religion-based bigotry against LGBT people, although it’s hardly limited to Islam. The Hebrew Scriptures also prescribe the death penalty for some homosexual conduct, but you don’t typically see people using this to inflame anti-Semitic or anti-Christian sentiment,” said John Corvino, author of “What’s Wrong With Homosexuality?” and coauthor of “Debating Same-Sex Marriage.” “To single out Muslims in this way is both unhelpful and unfair.”

Despite her claim, the work of Geller and her colleagues has plenty of opposition in the LGBT community. Why?

For starters, it’s wrong.

As Junaid Jahangir writes in a recent piece at the Huffington Post, “[Geller’s] selective references provide a misguided view of the current Muslim position on queer rights issues.” He rightly notes that her advertisements lift up the views of a controversial Muslim cleric, but ignore the “over 2,500 Muslim intellectuals from 23 countries [that] not only called for an international treaty to counter such clerics, but also called for a tribunal set by the United Nations Security Council to put them on trial for inciting violence.” In his piece, which is a must-read, Jahangir goes on to quote many influential, pro-equality Muslim leaders. Pointing to the activism they are doing to support LGBT rights, he demonstrates that Geller is unfairly — and dangerously — presenting a skewed picture of Muslim views on LGBT people.

“There’s no question that homophobia is rampant among the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims — but that doesn’t negate the fact that there are huge groups of Muslims who have easily reconciled their faith and sexual orientation, like LGBT people in other faith communities,” said Reza Aslan, author of “No God but God” and “Beyond Fundamentalism,” in a recent phone interview. “For a woman who leads an organization that has been labeled a hate group to try to reach out to a community like the LGBT community, by trying to make a connection based on bigotry, is harmful and ridiculous. Bigotry is not a bridge.”

Of course, members of the LGBT community are right to be concerned about the dangers of religious extremism and totalitarianism — whether it is Christian, Muslim or any other expression. But demonizing another community won’t help reduce the influence of religious fundamentalism.

You can be honest about your disagreements without being hateful. I’m a queer atheist, and I believe that there are ideas and practices promoted by Muslims in the name of Islam that are not only false — they’re extremely harmful. But to rally against Muslims and Islam as if they and it are some monolithic bloc is counterproductive; it creates enemies where we need allies. There are many Muslims who oppose cruelty and violence done in the name of Islam and favor equality for all people, and they are positioned to create change. We should be working with them, not standing against all of Islam. Based on my own experiences, I know that this is a much more constructive approach. In my book “Faitheist,” I tell several stories about Muslim friends who are not only accepting of my sexual orientation, but are also fierce allies for LGBT equality.

That’s the problem with Geller’s advertisements, and with sweeping, generalizing statements about entire groups of people: They don’t account for the diversity of ideas and traditions that exist within any given community. Geller focuses on a ridiculously tiny minority of Muslim extremists in order to paint her picture of Islam, and in doing so she neglects to account for the rich and varied traditions of generosity, selflessness, social progress and forgiveness present within Islam. Not only that, but her efforts alienate key allies — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — who share her concerns about Muslim extremists, but who also recognize that her narrow approach is unfair and dishonest.

Instead of adopting Geller’s approach, LGBT people should focus on building relationships. After all, support for marriage equality more than doubles among people who know a gay person. The Pew Research Center reports that of the 14 percent of Americans who changed their mind and decided to support gay marriage in the last decade, 37 percent (the largest category) cited having “friends/family/acquaintances who are gay/lesbian” as the primary reason. The second largest group in this astounding shift, at 25 percent, said they became more tolerant, learned more and became more aware.

In 2011, I wrote an essay encouraging more cooperation and solidarity between the LGBT community and the Muslim community:

[In 2009], a Gallup poll demonstrated something the LGBTQ community has known for some time: People are significantly more inclined to oppose gay marriage if they do not know anyone who is gay. Similarly, Time Magazine cover story featured revealing numbers that speak volumes about the correlation between positive relationships and civic support. Per their survey, 46 percent of Americans think Islam is more violent than other faiths and 61 percent oppose Park51, but only 37 percent even know a Muslim American. Another survey, by Pew, reported that 55 percent of Americans know “not very much” or “nothing at all” about Islam. The disconnect is clear: When only 37 percent of Americans know a Muslim American, and 55 percent claim to know very little or nothing about Islam, the negative stereotypes about the Muslim community go unchallenged.

The Muslim and LGBTQ communities face common challenges that stem from the same problem—that diverse communities don’t have robust and durable civic ties. This is why the Muslim and LGBTQ communities ought to be strong allies.

I continue to believe this, and Geller’s work isn’t helping. Geller, Spencer, and their supporters are wrong to try to pit the queer community against Muslims. Their efforts to force a wedge between us and the Muslim community are little more than fear-mongering — a tactic that has long been used to keep the LGBT community marginalized and oppressed.

Read the rest…

Geller & Spencer promote Muslim “collective guilt” over a FB post

Geller & Spencer promote Muslim “collective guilt” over a FB post

by Sheila Musaji
Pamela Geller posted an article Dearborn Muslim calls for killing anti-Islam protesters and her partner in the AFDI hate group posted an article with the same title.

They reprinted an article by David Wood which included a screen grab of this FaceBook post:

This is a hateful message.  The individual responsible should be ashamed.  If there are any FaceBook regulations that he has violated, he should lose his ability to post.  However, this single hateful message was all that it took for Geller & Spencer to not only post articles including the “Muslim” description, but also to tweet on the #MyJihad hashtag


Spencer asked “Will Dearborn authorities investigate Aboudi Berro? Don’t hold your breath.”  Geller said: “Islam in America. Respect it.”

So, according to them, this tweet by one individual jerk somehow is representative of “Islam in America” and this should be investigated by local law enforcement.

I wonder why their concern is always so selective, and only focuses on Muslims who behave badly.

Here are a just a few tweets from Islamophobic spammers on the #MyJihad site:









Would Geller and Spencer agree that all of these are hateful?  If so, why do such statements not concern them?  Would a headline like “Christian calls for killing Muslims” serve any purpose.  Are all Christians or all Jews somehow responsible for the bigotry of some?  Should all of these individuals also be investigated?  If they are not investigated is that “proof” of some Christian conspiracy to impose their will on non-Christians.

I doubt that they would be concerned, as some of their own AFDI/SIOA/SION leadership have previously suggested genocide, wiping out Muslim “bacteria” and “destroying Islam”.

This is pure hatred.

AFDI/SION’s Leadership: Arrests & Scandals

AFDI/SION’s Leadership: Arrests & Scandals

by Sheila Musaji
On September 11, 2012, AFDI/SIOA/SIOE/SION/EDL/BF held what they called a Global Alliance Event in NYC.  These groups are so inter-connected and have so many acronymns and give each other so many titles that it is difficult to keep up.

Here from their own announcements are the leaders

International Activist Leadership Team to be called the SION President’s Council. The initial members of the President’s Council are:  SIOE’s Anders Gravers; Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll of the EDL; Debbie Robinson of the Q Society of Australia, Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller.  The members of the newly formed council unanimously voted to elect Pamela Geller Council President.

… The President’s Council differs from the SION Board, which includes:  Swiss parliamentarian Oskar Freysinger; Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media; Ashraf Rameleh of Voice of the Copts; Ali Sina of FaithFreedom.org; Wafa Sultan, Stefan Herre of Politically Incorrect in Germany; the Israeli author Dr. Mordechai Kedar;  Babu Suseelan; and Anders Gravers of SIOE.

This Board functions in an advisory capacity, while the President’s Council is a steering committee. It functions as a mobile, proactive, reactive on-the-ground team developing and executing confidential action plans that strike at the heart of the global anti-freedom agenda.

Most of these characters have profiles in our TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry.  Let’s look at just a few of these “leaders”.  Two have been arrested, one has previous serious convictions, one has made genocidal statements about Muslims, etc..  We have discussed the “top leadership”, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer previously.  They are also in the “who’s who” and mentioned frequently in the “Resources for dealing with Islamophobia Summary” at the bottom of the page.
KEVIN CARROLL of the EDL

Bob Pitt of Islamophobia Watch reports that

The joint leader of the far-right English Defence League has been arrested on suspicion of a race hate crime.

Kevin Carroll, cousin of the anti-Islam group’s founder Stephen Lennon, was arrested on Saturday morning by officers investigating allegations he posted a message inciting racial hatred on Facebook.

Mr Carroll, who recently stood unsuccessfully for election as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire, is also the joint leader of the nationalist British Freedom Party.

A message posted on Facebook by a group which supports the EDL read: “Kev was arrested in Luton Town Centre for Religious & Racial Hatred, following on from screenshots being provided to the OB of FB comments ‘allegedly’ made.

“He has now been bailed with conditions and has to sign in at the Police Station twice a week. He was on his way to a meeting in Luton when he noticed he was being followed, Kev says it was something out of the sweeney as they all pulled up around him, pepper spray, flashing lights, well over the top.”

The EDL was dealt a blow last week when its founder and leader Stephen Lennon – who also uses the alias Tommy Robinson – was jailed for 10 months for entering the USA illegally.

A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said: “a 43 year old was arrested on Saturday morning on suspicion of ‘Display threatening abusive/insulting written material with intent/likely to stir up racial hatred’.”

Independent, 14 January 2013

According to the British Freedom party, of which Carroll is now chairman, he was arrested in connection with a Facebook post from October in which he described Muslims as “all fukin backward savages, a devil spawned death cult worshiping all that is unholy and barbaric, pure evil”.

It is of course welcome news that Carroll has been arrested in connection with this blatant incitement of hatred. However, it is difficult to see how a prosecution under the racial hatred law (Part 3 of the Public Order Act) could succeed, as Muslims (unlike Jews and Sikhs) are defined as a multi-ethnic faith community and except under exceptional circumstances are not protected by that legislation.

A charge under the religious hatred law (Part 3A of the Public Order Act) would also fail, as that legislation is completely useless, requiring both proof of intention and that the words should be threatening (which in this case they are not).

What this underlines is the need to amend the religious hatred law so that Muslims have the same protection against incitment to hatred that mono-ethnic faith communities do.

As things stand, the Crown Prosecution Service might be better advised to charge Carroll under Section 127(1) of the Communications Act 2003, which makes it an offence to send over a public electronic communications network a message that is “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character”. The offence carries a possible 6-month prison sentence.

TOMMY ROBINSON aka Stephen Lennon of the EDL

In October he was arrested on a charge of entering the United States illegally on someone else’s passport to speak at the AFDI/SION Conference on 9/11/12.  In November,  Richard Bartholomew reported that Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer were raising funds for Robinson’s legal defence.  Geller called Robinson’s arrest “darkness descending in England” and “sharia inspired victimization!” and described Robinson as “part of our international team, members of SION’s President’s council, key players in the worldwide struggle for freedom.”  Earlier this month, Robinson was found guilty and sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Sky News reports that Robinson has been found guilty by a British court and sentenced to 10 months in prison.

… The court heard that he was previously jailed for assault in 2005 and also has previous convictions for drugs offences and public order offences.

Sentencing the 30-year-old, Judge Alistair McCreath, told him: “I am going to sentence you under the name of Stephen Lennon, although I suspect that is not actually your true name, in the sense that it is not the name that appears on your passport.

“What you did went absolutely to the heart of the immigration controls that the United States are entitled to have.  “Had it been known in this country that you were proposing to leave under a false passport, you would not have been accepted on to the plane and you would not have been permitted to leave this country on a false passport.  “It’s not in any sense trivial.”

Bob Pitt of Islamophobia Watch asks a pertinent question: “Is Geller asking us to believe she didn’t realize that her star guest, who as the Sky and BBC reports note had previously been barred from entering the US, could only have secured entry to the country by illegal means? Hopefully the US authorities will be investigating Geller’s role in this.”

Actually, the authorities should be investigating both Geller and Spencer’s role in this, as they both lead the organizations involved.

And, of course, Geller has already posted an article calling this “political imprisonment in the UK”.  She says that “It is stunning that the UK has degenerated to such depths. Freedom is no longer a reality, but a defeated idea undone by cowardice and capitulation of Islamic thuggery and violence.”  And that Robinson was “imprisoned for standing up for freedom and equality of rights under the law. I stand with Robinson.”

BABU SUSEELAN of Indian American Intellectuals Forum

You can read our full TAM profile on Suseelan Babu Suseelan, the Hindu face of AFDI/SION.  Here are the highlights:

…  The SPLC says about Susseelan:  “Babu Suseelan, a Hindu nationalist who believes that Marxists and jihadists are “in collusion” to “deconstruct [Hindu] society with apocalyptic ideas” and who has called on India’s Hindu population to “unite together and work towards the goal of Establishment of ‘Divine Hindu Kingdom’”

…  At the AFDI/SIOA/SIOE/SION/EDL/BF Global Alliance Event held on 9/11/2012 in New York, Aaron Labaree at Guernica Magazine, attended and reported on the Conference.  He provides “A few choice words by Dr. Babu Suseelan:

“If we do not kill the bacteria,” the jowly Suseelan scolded the audience, “the bacteria will kill us.” Otherwise, he warned, “Muslims will breed like rats and they will be a majority.” Still, he concluded hopefully, “Islam can be stopped! And it can be wiped out.”

Spencer laughed, but Geller covered her face, as if witnessing the antics of a naughty child.  There is no way to understand this except as a call for genocide.  And, covering your face with your hands or laughing, are not appropriate responses for individuals who claim not to hate Muslims.

Geller and Spencer both describe this SION board member as a “Hindu human rights activist”.

ALI SINA of Faith Freedom International

You can read the full TAM profile on Ali Sina here.  A few quotes are enough to explain how hateful this individual is:

— ”We strive for the unity of Mankind through the elimination of Islam, the most insidious doctrine of hate. Islam can’t be reformed, but it can be eradicated. It can’t be molded, but it can be smashed.
— “At FFI, we do not want to reform Islam. We want to eradicate it. Just as cancer cannot be reformed and the only way to cure the patient is to eradicate it, Islam cant be reformed either and it must be eradicated for the world to be saved.””
— ”Islam, like fascism, appeals to people with low self esteem and low intelligence. Both these ideologies are irrational. They disdain reason, and hail devotion and submission to a higher authority.
— there is no such thing as moderate Muslim … Every “moderate” Muslim is a potential terrorist. The belief in Islam is like a tank of gasoline. It looks innocuous, until it meets the fire. For a “moderate” Muslim to become a murderous jihadist, all it takes is a spark of faith.”
— “If any city in the West is nuked I am 100% for nuking tens of cities in Islamic countries. I don’t see Muslims as innocent people. They are all guilty as sin. It is not necessary to be part of al Qaida to be guilty. If you are a Muslim you agree with Muhammad and that is enough evidence against you.”
— But you are diseased. You are infected by a deadly cult that threatens our lives. Your humanity is destroyed. Like a limb infected by flesh eating disease, now you are a threat to the rest of mankind.  …  Islam is disease. What does moderate Muslim mean anyway? Does it mean you are moderately diseased?

Adam Hasner: Islamophobe for Congress

Loonwatch has been reporting on Adam Hasner since 2009 when he first came across our radar screen for his alliance with Pamela Geller and endorsement of Geert Wilders. Not long ago he was pontificating about “Civilization Jihad” and other nonsense,

“We are not in a War on Terror,” Hasner said. “This is a civilizational struggle against an ideology of Sharia Islam.”

“It’s not just a threat on foreign soil,” he continued. “It’s also a threat from those who seek to destroy us from within. And we have a problem of domestic terrorism both in the violent form as well as in the civilizational jihad that we’re witnessing here in our own country and our own state.”

Adam Hasner: Islamophobe for Congress

BY 

Congress’s anti-Islam caucus will likely grow in November, and Florida’s Adam Hasner may be its worst new member

Rep. Michele Bachmann has gotten a lot of attention lately for her witch hunt against Muslims in the U.S. government, but she’s not alone. In addition to the four lawmakers who signed on to her letters, there are a handful of others who together might be called the Islamophobia Caucus — and their ranks are likely to swell after November, thanks in part to one of the caucus’ most outspoken members, Rep. Allen West.

After redistricting made West’s 22nd Florida congressional district slightly more liberal, he moved to the 18th. Running in his place is Adam Hasner, the former Florida House majority leader who abandoned a previous bid for the Senate. Hasner has already earned top-flight endorsers, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and West himself, as well as several major conservative organizations.

But perhaps a bit farther down the list is Pam Geller, the anti-Islam blogger and activist who spearheaded the effort against the so-called ground zero mosque. While she may not have officially endorsed Hasner, they’re clearly comrades in the fight against Shariah law. “Pamela [Geller] and I were on the front lines of that together, fighting to make sure that we kept her safe here,” Hasner told a Fort Lauderdale crowd in June of last year. For her part, Geller has written numerous blog posts praising Hasner, whom she declared to be “my friend.” “So many patriots and elected officials joined us, like Adam Hasner,” she wrote in June of last year. Here’s a photo of them posing together from her blog. (Hasner did not reply to requests for comment.)

As the Florida Independent noted in September of last year, Hasner has been involved in a “long-time crusade against the supposed threat of Sharia in the U.S.” In 2009, he appeared on a panel in D.C. with Geller and Frank Gaffney, the man behind Bachmann’s with hunt, according to a press release unearthed by the liberal research group American Bridge. Robert Spencer, another key figure in the Islamophobia cottage industry, called Hasner a “fearless truth teller” (here’s a photo them posing together via Spencer’s blog, Jihad Watch).

Before that, Hasner invited notorious Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders to Florida. “When I invited Geert Wilders to join me for a Free Speech conference in Palm Beach County, not only did the hotel cancel its plans to have him come in, but I was the one who was asked by the Hamas front group, the Council on Arab-Islamic Relations, to resign from the Florida House of Representatives, because I was an Islamophobe and a hater,” he said in the Fort Lauderdale speech. Wilders has made crusading against Islam his top priority. He was under house arrest for hate speech in Holland and is barred from visiting several countries.

When Hasner caught flak for the invitation, he was unperturbed. “These are the same people who have been attacking me all session. This isn’t about being anti-Islam, this is all about the right to free speech and they are trying to stifle it,” he casually told the St. Petersburg Times in April 2009. Wilders personally thanked Hasner in his speech, saying, “We need strong leaders like we have here today, Allen West and Adam Hasner. We need strong men like that.”

Within just a few days of the Wilders speech, it was an event that Hasner did not attend that raised eyebrows. He apparently boycotted an imam’s opening prayers at the state Legislature. The Palm Beach Post reported at the time:

As usual, the Florida House opened session today with a prayer. But for the first time this year (and possibly the first time ever), that prayer was led by an imam, Qasim Ahmed, from the Islamic Learning Institute in Tampa. The prayer was videotaped by Ahmed Bedier, United Voices of America director, who remarked on the absence of House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Boca Raton. Bedier said he was videotaping the “historic” moment. “We did notice Hasner’s empty chair. That’s definitely noticed,” Bedier said… Hasner said he wasn’t on the floor this morning for personal reasons and noted the iman was in the House at the invitation of Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek. “It’s Jim Waldman’s right as a member to invite whomever he wants,” Hasner said.

In 2011, according to a YouTube video of a speech uncovered by American Bridge, Hasner boasted about the real reason for his absence two years earlier. “When the imam who was invited by a state representative who was a Democrat from here in Broward County, when he was invited to give the morning prayer at the Florida House of Representatives, and I boycotted the prayer, I was the one who was ridiculed,” he said.

In 2008, Hasner helped found an anti-Shariah group called Florida Security Council with an activist named Tom Trento. While Hasner was never an official member, he touted his involvement with the organization, which later changed its name to United West. “You cannot fight an enemy when you will not acknowledge that an enemy even exists, and that enemy has a name, and that is Shariah-compliant Islam,” Hasner told a local conservative group in March of last year. “We cannot allow political correctness and multiculturalism or appeasement to cripple our defenses at home or abroad.”

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon’s political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.
MORE ALEX SEITZ-WALD.

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.”

Robert Spencer in Damage Control After Terror Attack in Norway

Spencer is working hard to disassociate himself from one of his fans

Spencer is working hard to disassociate himself from one of his fans

Robert Spencer in Damage Control After Terror Attack in Norway

The anti-Muslim loons of the world are in a major bind right now. Their intolerant anti-Muslim attitude and constant fear-mongering is responsible for the horrible terrorist attack that occurred in Norway at the hands of self-professed Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller supporter Anders Behring Breivik. Recent reports suggest that Breivik was inspired by the writings of anti-Muslim bigots like Spencer and Geller, as well as others in the anti-Muslim circle such as Bat Ye’or and Fjordman.

Spencer himself has come out and attempted to dismiss the connection between Breivik’s violence and his own anti-Muslim bigotry, saying “no one has explained or can explain how this guy’s supposed anti-jihad views have anything to do with his murdering children.” A fair question in light of the tragic violence that Breivik was responsible for.  Did the anti-Muslim hatred inspire the violence in Oslo?

Spencer lays out his version of the logic this way, saying:

1. Freedom fighters preach free speech, freedom of conscience and equality of rights for all people, against Sharia and Islamic supremacism that denies those rights, advocating only legal means of protest and dissent.

2. Some nutcase who allegedly expressed allegiance with the freedom fighters kills people, none of whom are preaching Sharia or Islamic supremacism.

3. Media assumes that #1 caused #2 and blames freedom fighters.

The obvious problem with Spencer’s logic is that it does not include his and other anti-Muslim loons’ consistent denunciations of “leftists” as jihad-enablers. This is a key tenant of the so-called anti-jihadist movement. They hate the left, or more specifically, anyone who treats Muslims with a smidgen of fairness and tolerance. Spencer and Geller consistently and constantly portray the left as those who would sell out the West to the scary Mooslems. Spencer’s hate site Jihad Watch is filled with posts denouncing the “Leftist/Jihadist alliance,” warning his readers of how the left will happily allow the Mooslem hordes to overthrow the West and “dhimmify” its population.

Breivik adopted this view of the left.  Paul Woodward notes that Breivik argued “that cultural conservatives should not identify their main opponents as Jihadists, but instead should focus their attention on those he regards as the ‘facilitators’ of Jihadists, namely, the proponents of multiculturalism.” It was these liberals and “multi-culturalists” that were the target of his rampage.

Therefore, a more logical set-up would be as follows:

1. Anti-Muslim bigots vilify Muslims as a threat to Western culture and civilization, and argue that the left is most responsible for allowing Muslims to undermine Western civilization.  In fact, the left is more the enemy than the anti-jihadists themselves!

2. A right-wing self-proclaimed anti-jihadist chooses the capital of a famously liberal, leftist, and socialist country as the target for his attack.

3. Media is perfectly justified in establishing a link between #1 and #2.

When you preach bigotry and fear on a daily basis, don’t be surprised when one of your followers takes the next logical step.  But Robert Spencer has a reason to feign surprise and indignation over what his hatred has incited, as the link between his hate-writing and this act of terrorism becomes clear:  Richard Silverstein notes that the right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik cited Robert Spencer 46 times in his manifesto.  He was clearly quite the fan.  This certainly seems to be right-wing anti-Muslim terrorism inspired by the king of Islamophobia himself, Robert Spencer.

Ellison Speaks of the Organized anti-Muslim Industry

Keith Ellison is well aware of Spencer and comp. He realized that their books, blogs, interviews, etc., infiltrated the highest recesses of the Republican party.

Keith Ellison Shrugs Off Conservative Mockers

“You know it still doesn’t matter,” Ellison said of the mockers and the hearing. “Because a lot of good people stood up. A lot of people who are not Muslims stood up and said this is bad, this is ugly and we don’t like it.”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) isn’t sweating the mocking his emotional testimony before Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) hearings on Muslim extremism last week generated from the right.

Asked by TPM Wednesday about the drubbing he’s received from conservative pundits since he teared up before King’s panel, Ellison basically said, what else is new?

“Well, you know, I don’t anticipate some people will appreciate everything that I say and stand for,” he said. “But I’ll say this: American people realize that when we say freedom and justice for all, that means all. You know, Muslims too.”

Ellison said it’s open season on the right when it comes to Muslims.

“Look there is an organized anti-Muslim industry in the United States,” he said. “It’s Pam Geller, it’s Robert Spencer, it’s Steve Emerson…it’s Frank Gaffney. They’re well-known entities.”

“They sell books doing this, they tell people they’re counter-terrorism experts, and you know,” Ellison added. “But what does that have to do with the whole economic discussion we’ve been having?”

Looking back on the King hearings, which generated more controversy about King than they exposed secret Muslim extremism in America, Ellison said they showed that the conservative anti-Muslim machine he describled is not the mainstream of the country.

At (Civil) War with the Idiots he Created

Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson

If none of you have noticed by now there is a civil war raging in the Islamophobic Anti-Muslim blog-world. We expect to talk about this in greater detail but at least one site has dedicated itself to tracking the ins-and-outs of what they hilariously term the “Great Soap Opera.”

It has gotten to a level where web media outlets such as The Washington Independent have taken notice and started writing about it. Gawker also mercilessly ripped apart the players involved in this melodrama which pits the leader and founder of the so called “anti-jihad movement,” Charles Johnson against his former followers and friends Robert Spencer, Baron Bodissey (!) and loon blogger Pam Geller. Enjoy!

It’s hard to know what to make of Charles Johnson, the batshit crazy founder of Little Green Footballs, engendering the hatred of his even batshit-crazier former compatriots.

Johnson and his recent penchant for heretical thinking has sparked a full-on blogger civil war (and got Glenn Beck all mad), pitting stupid brother against stupid brother. The Washington Independent took a look yesterday:

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, jazz musician and Web designer Charles Johnson has devoted his blog, Little Green Footballs, to exposing Muslim extremism in and outside the United States. His targets have included the Council on American-Islamic Relations, filmmaker Michael Moore, Reuters, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Dan Rather, and the late pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie – who some LGF commenters (not Johnson) call “St. Pancake,” a tribute to the Israeli steamroller that killed her. LGF helped write the lexicon of the self-styled “anti-Jihadist” blogosphere – from “moonbat” (“an unthinking or insane leftist”) to “anti-idiotarian” (“anyone who grasps the significance of and does his or her best to combat the post-9/11 political alliance between the ‘Old Left’ and militant Islam”).

But in the early days of Barack Obama’s presidency, LGF has become better known for the various fights it picks with many on the right – including conservative bloggers, critics of Islamic extremism, and critics of Islam in general who used to be Johnson’s fellow travelers.

At issue is an anti-Islamic conference in 2007 organized by some of Johnson’s acolytes. Among the invited attendees were members of a Belgian political party with ties to neo-Nazism, which is a perfectly natural fit, seeing as how the conference was organized around the idea that you should hate people who are different from you. Johnson took issue with the idea of his beloved anti-Islam movement being associated with neo-Nazis, and used his blog to attack members of the movement who got to cozy with extremists.

The whole thing has gotten out of hand, he told the Independent: “I don’t think there is an anti-jihadist movement anymore. It’s all a bunch of kooks.”

Well imagine that! If you organize people around the notion that all Muslims everywhere want to kill white Americans, some kooks show up at the table.

Johnson’s experience with the nutjobs-of which he is one-on the right is an object lesson in why soft-headed liberals like to keep an eye on seemingly respectable people who flirt with hatred and racism in their political messaging. Because even if those people stop short of actually saying, “Let’s round up the Muslins,” they tend to attract, and lend credence to, the people who are going for that in the first place.

Johnson should be commended for taking a stand against neo-Nazis and Glenn Beck. And he should still be condemned for spending the last eight years giving them ammunition and inspiration. If neo-Nazis are into your ideas, Charles, you might want to rethink them.