What is the David Horowitz Freedom Center?
The David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC) is a far-right anti-Muslim think tank that is notorious for “giving anti-Muslim voices and radical ideologies a platform to project hate and misinformation.” Founded in 1988 by David Horowitz, the Freedom Center has amassed substantial financial backing, receiving nearly $36 million in funding between 2017 and 2021.
The Southern Poverty Law Center designated David Horowitz as “the godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement.” The David Horowitz Freedom Center is entrenched in the Islamophobia network within the United States, spreading a web of misinformation through its media echo chambers.
Tax forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service reveal that the Freedom Center has provided financial support to other affiliated groups within the Islamophobia network, some of which have their origins traced back to the Freedom Center itself. For instance, JihadWatch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, propagates Islamophobic viewpoints on a regular basis.
Initially established as the Center for the Study of Popular Culture in Los Angeles, the organization morphed into the Freedom Center. Notorious for promoting hatred and disseminating misinformation, the DHFC is known for hosting extravagant weekend getaways that serve as a gathering point for far-right leaders and activists.
Under the leadership of Horowitz, the Freedom Center has initiated a network of projects that provide a platform for anti-Muslim voices and radical ideologies to disseminate hate and misinformation. Among these projects, Jihad Watch, Frontpage Magazine, DiscoverTheNetworks.org, NewsReal, and Freedom Center on Campus have prominently promoted Islamophobic rhetoric, actively contributing to the spread of false narratives about Islam and Muslims.
The DHFC maintains direct ties with several key figures within the Islamophobia network, including Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, Nonie Darwish, Steven Emerson, Pamela Geller, and Frank Gaffney. Robert Spencer and Daniel Pipes frequently contribute to the Freedom Center’s FrontPage Magazine, a prominent online publication known for its far-right perspectives.
The Freedom Center hosted far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders in 2017. In 2016, Wilders was found guilty of hate speech after alleging a “Moroccan problem” in the Netherlands amidst his anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Nonie Darwish and Steven Emerson were featured as guest speakers during the Freedom Center’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, a campaign that propagated a conspiracy alleging Muslim alignment with America’s adversaries. This campaign fostered an atmosphere of “intolerance, fear, and bigotry in a climate of prejudice towards Muslims that is already at an unprecedented level.”
The Freedom Center hosts an annual “Restoration Weekend,” which gathers anti-Muslim activists and speakers like Pamela Geller, Geert Wilders and Steve Bannon. “Restoration Weekend” has propagated further hatred and falsehoods against Muslims, in line with the DHFC’s agenda.
The Freedom Center has also targeted universities and colleges, accusing them of promoting leftist ideologies and forming alliances with “Radical Islam.” The DHFC has been highly critical of Middle Eastern studies departments at institutions like Georgetown University, accusing them of concealing terrorist connections. The Freedom Center targets college Muslim Student Associations, alleging common anti-Muslim tropes.
The Freedom Center exercises significant influence within the American conservative political arena through its various media platforms, organized programs/events, and high-level relationships.
The far-reaching influence of the Freedom Center has extended to the White House, as prominent far-right figure Steve Bannon shares a close alliance with David Horowitz. Following Trump’s presidential victory, Horowitz publicly listed names of individuals who had supported the Freedom Center, among them figures such as Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, and Kellyanne Conway.
Through its unwavering support for anti-Muslim activists, financial contributions to Islamophobic organizations, and publication of articles on platforms like JihadWatch, the DHFC remains steadfast in its mission to propagate misinformation about Islam and Muslims.