Type of Organization: Media, Politics
The Middle East Forum (MEF) is an independent non-profit organization that uses its platform to portray Islam as an inherently violent ideology and “imperialist faith.” The organization promotes hostility towards Muslim immigrants, claiming that they are a threat to Western values because “many [of them] want to replace existing European civilization with Islam.” The organization is one of the major roots of the Islamophobia network in America and a notable promoter of false facts about Islam.
Founder and President Daniel Pipes is a long-standing promoter and perpetrator of anti-Islam misinformation. In a 1990 article for the National Review, he referred to Muslims as “brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene.” In 2001, he was one of the first to perpetuate the claim that “the major Muslim organizations [America] are in the hands of extremists.” He repeated this in a June 2011 report from the Middle East Quarterly, a MEF publication, in which he asserted that 80% of U.S. mosques feature texts that promote or support violence.
In a 2016, blog post criticizing President Obama’s visit to a mosque, Pipes wrote that it is reasonable for “non-Muslims [to] worry that a co-worker will behead them or attack them at a party, that they’ll be bombed attending a sporting event, or rammed into by planes when working at their offices.” Pipes is one of the top five ‘experts‘ who generate “false facts and materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups, and the media.”
The MEF furthers its mission through its publication Middle East Quarterly, as well as through numerous projects such as Campus Watch, Islamist Watch, and Legal Project. Notably, Campus Watch monitors what MEF claims are “often erroneous and biased teachings and writings of U.S. professors specializing in the Middle East,” and it operates as a vehicle for the organization to villainize as well as track professors whose political opinions on the Middle East differ from that of the MEF. The Legal Project “helps defendants pay legal costs.” The project was involved in an incident in which the controversial right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders was charged with hate speech and incitement to hatred for his anti-Islam comments.
The MEF uses their Education Fund to contribute financially to other organizations, researchers, writers, activists, and more, in an effort to drive the public debate on American Muslims and Islam in Western civilization.
Since its inception in 1990, the Middle East Forum has received millions of dollars in funds from other identified islamophobia-promoting groups, such as Donors Capital Fund, Middle Road Foundation, William Rosenwald Family Fund, and the Becker Foundation. In turn, it has contributed to other organizations within the Islamophobia network, including Zuhdi Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, and Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism.