MONITORING AND COMBATING ISLAMOPHOBIA

A Project of the Council on American-Islamic Relations

American Freedom Alliance

Type of Organization: Politics, Grassroots, Education

The American Freedom Alliance (AFA) is a non-profit organization which, according to its mission statement, “promotes, defends, and upholds Western values and ideals” through sponsored conferences, publications, and networking groups. the AFA acts as a grassroots organizer, hosting conferences and forming coalitions amongst like-minded entities and individuals. Its conferences and events are motivated by the goal of educating others in the AFA’s principles. Among the organization’s five main areas of focus, it identifies the “Islamization of the West” as a “threat that [is] of particular concern.”

In 2016, the AFA hosted a conference titled, “Islam and Western Civilization: Can they Co-exist?” The conference featured several key speakers from the U.S. Islamophobic Network, including Frank Gaffney, Nonie Darwish, and Pamela Geller. The event provided a platform for other individuals such as Bosch Fawstin, an American cartoonist, and James Simpson, an economist and journalist who has worked with Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, to also promote Islamophobic sentiments and perpetuate fear and misunderstanding of Islam. Fawstin likened the religion to Nazism, asking the audience “when I say the words ‘Nazism means peace’, what is your reaction?” In response to their laughter, he continued: “That’s my reaction to Islam means peace.” Meanwhile, Simpson criticized refugees coming to the U.S., falsely claiming that they have an agenda “to erase Western culture.”

During her opening address for the 2017 edition of the conference, titled “From Gold to Dust: The Destruction of California,” AFA President Dr. Karen Siegemund defended her organization’s anti-Muslim stance, explaining that the AFA “speaks out against those who muzzle women, that throw homosexuals off of towers, and all sorts of violence that they do against each other and to us.” Later in the conference, Lance Izumi from the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy criticized an anti-Islamophobia initiative by the San Diego Unified School District, which allowed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to provide input to the school board’s curriculum with the intent to combat Islamophobia and prevent school bullying.

The AFA has also given honors to islamophobic actors, such as David Horowitz and Geert Wilders. Horowitz, who is the founder and CEO of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an identified Islamophobic organization, was honored by the AFA with its “Heroes of Conscience” award in 2017. The honor, which aims to recognize “men and women who work daily to support the values and ideals which have formed the very cornerstone of our civilization,” was also given to Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician known for his Islamophobic rhetoric, in 2009. As a keynote speaker at an AFA dinner, Wilders made assertions that “Islam is not a religion,” but “a totalitarian, dangerous and violent ideology.”

The AFA’s annual conferences frequently attract local anti-Muslim politicians as well as mainstream actors, indicating a significant level of influence within the California anti-Muslim network. Recent conferences have included senior Border Patrol agent Christopher Harris, former California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, and LA County Board of Supervisors member Michael Antonovich, amongst others.

The organization’s extensive connection to media outlets and mainstream political networks is evident in the affiliations of its senior leadership. Amongst the AFA’s Board of Directors, Chairman Gary Aminoff has held leadership positions in a large number of Republican organizations, including the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Los Angeles County Republican Central Committee. He is also a delegate to the California Republican Party. Vice President Michael Greer was a co-founder of the LA-Santa Monica Tea Party. John Hancock, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Fellow, is a co-host of the Unite IE Radio Show.

American Freedom Law Center

The American Freedom Law Center, Inc. (AFLC) is an anti-Muslim law firm co-founded and co-led by David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise.   The center often acts as the Islamophobia Network’s legal counsel and has represented Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative.  

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Appearing as a key witness supporting Rep. Peter King’s anti-Muslim hearings in March 2011, Jasser criticized Muslim organizations for informing communities of the fundamental constitutional right to have counsel present during interactions with law enforcement.

American Islamic Forum for Democracy

American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is an anti-Muslim lobby group founded by Zhudi Jasser. Under Jasser’s leadership, AIFD has allied itself with institutions and legislative efforts that attempt to limit Muslims’ access to enumerated freedoms in the Bill of Rights.

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Americans for Peace and Tolerance

Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) is a Boston-based lobby group founded by Charles Jacobs that proliferates misinformation and conspiracy theories about Islam and Muslim-Americans. It is dedicated to undermining mainstream Muslim institutions and promoting Islamophobia within the media. 

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Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter, a conservative media personality, has gained notoriety for her unabashed Islamophobia. Her influence extends to the social media platforms, where she boasts over 2 million followers on X (formerly known as Twitter). 

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Bare Naked Islam

Bare Naked Islam is an anti-Muslim Internet blog and online community that portrays Islam as “a totalitarian political cult-like ideology.” Bannered with the line “It isn’t Islamophobia / When they really are trying to kill you,” the blog Bare Naked Islam is run by New York-based ‘Bonni’ Benstock-Intall.

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Center for Security Policy

The Center for Security Policy is a key anti-Muslim lobbying and propaganda group founded by Frank Gaffney. CSP seeks to advance anti-Muslim sentiment in both policy and society and predicates Islam as an existential threat to America. 

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