Finding 1: Subject matter experts perceive a small, but highly welcome, decline in Islamophobia in America during the period covered by this report. In 2012, CAIR rates Islamophobia as a 5.9 on a scale of one to 10, with one representing an America free of Islamophobia and 10 being the worst possible situation for Muslims. In 2010, CAIR rated the state of Islamophobia in America as a 6.4.
Finding 2: The U.S.-based Islamophobia network’s inner core is currently comprised of at least 37 groups whose primary purpose is to promote prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims. An additional 32 groups whose primary purpose does not appear to include promoting prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims but whose work regularly demonstrates or supports Islamophobic themes make up the network’s outer core.
Finding 3: The inner core of the U.S.-based Islamophobia network enjoyed access to at least $119,662,719 in total revenue between 2008 and 2011. Groups in the inner core are often tightly linked. Key players in the network benefitted from large salaries as they encouraged the American public to fear Islam.
Finding 4: In 2011 and 2012, 78 bills or amendments designed to vilify Islamic religious practices were introduced in the legislatures of 29 states and the U.S. Congress. Sixty-two of these bills contained language that was extracted from David Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) model legislation. While the bias behind the bills is clear, the presence of an actual problem that needed solved was not, even to the legislators introducing the measures. In at least 11 states, mainstream Republican leaders introduced or supported anti-Muslim legislation.
Finding 5: Anti-Muslim trainers serving law enforcement and military personnel were dealt a significant blow in late 2011. The tone and content of these training sessions reflected the trainers’ personal biases more than any subject matter expertise. Multiple Federal government outlets agreed to review their training on Islam and remove biased or inaccurate materials. The continued use of such trainers by state and local entities deserves further investigation.
Finding 6: There were 51 recorded anti-mosque acts during the period covered by this report, 29 in 2012 and 22 in 2011. Two notable spikes in anti-mosque acts occurred in 2011-2012: May 2011 (7 acts), likely related to the killing of Osama bin Laden and August 2012 (10 acts), probably all in reaction to the massacre of six Sikh worshippers by a white supremacist in Oak Creek, Wis.
Finding 7: Islamophobic rhetoric remains socially acceptable. Research released in 2011 found, “citizens are quite comfortable not only opposing [extending citizenship to legal Muslim immigrants], but also being public about that fact.” A number of mainstream candidates for the Republican presidential nomination used Islamophobic rhetoric. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) held a series of five anti-Muslim congressional hearings, which were subjected to broad spectrum push back but also enjoyed significant support. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) partnered with inner core leader Frank Gaffney to launch a campaign accusing Muslims in public service of infiltrating the government on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood. This last episode ended up being a very welcome example of public officials supporting Americans of the Islamic faith in a bipartisan manner.
Background and Acknowledgments
From 1995 to 2009 CAIR published an annual report on the status of Muslim civil rights in the United States. Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States January 2009-December 2010, co-sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Race and Gender, was an expansion of the annual civil rights report intended to monitor and report on levels and acceptance of Islamophobia in the U.S. This is the second Islamophobia report. Some portions of this report have been published previously.
Susan Zimmerman, Usama Al-Zatari, Kjrstin Berg, Nickolai Sukharev, Allison Stuewe, and Lindsay Hogan assisted with research and preliminary drafting of this report.
CAIR’s analysis of 2011 and 2012 anti-Islam bills is indebted to Bill Raftery’s “Gavel-to-Gavel” blog (http://gaveltogavel.us/site/). The data collected there about the bills was the starting point for the information contained in this report.
CAIR is extremely grateful to the twenty-one people who contributed their time and expertise in rating the state of Islamophobia in America for this report:
- Amardeep Singh, Director of Programs and Co-Founder, The Sikh Coalition
- Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim
- Dr. Zahid Bukhari, Executive Director, Center for Islam and Public Policy (CIPP)
- Dr. Muqtedar Khan, Professor, University of Delaware
- Haris Tarin, Director, Washington, D.C. office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
- Dr. Waleed Basyouni, Vice President, AlMaghrib Institute
- Mohamed Elibiary, Founder, Lone Star Intelligence LLC
- Sahar Aziz, Professor, Texas Wesleyan School of Law
- Dr. Hatem Bazian, co-founder and Academic Affairs Chair at Zaytuna College, and senior lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
- Nathan Lean, author of “The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims”
In order to obtain the most forthright opinions on Islamophobia in America, CAIR offered interviewees the option of remaining anonymous, among those who took this option were a New York lawyer, a former U.S. government official, a U.S. government employee, a state government employee and a law enforcement officer. None of the experts consulted in rating the state of Islamophobia in America are employed by CAIR or serve on any CAIR board of directors.
CAIR’s Vision Regarding Islamophobia in America
Our vision looks toward the time when being Muslim carries a positive connotation and Islam has an equal place among many faiths in America’s pluralistic society.
Among the indicators that this vision is a reality would be the following points:
- Islam has a 75 percent or higher favorability rating among the general public.
- A person’s Muslim faith is considered an asset in private employment and public service.
- Politicians welcome and seek public support from Americans of the Islamic faith.
- Association with anti-Muslim movements or rhetoric discredits those who put themselves forward seeking to earn the privilege of public service.
Questioning Islam or Muslims is not Islamophobia
It is not appropriate to label all, or even the majority of those, who question Islam and Muslims as Islamophobes. Equally, it is not Islamophobic to denounce crimes committed by individual Muslims or those claiming Islam as a motivation for their actions.
Financing Prejudice and Hate
Groups in the inner core are often tightly linked. For example, Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum granted $1,242,000 over three years to Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s American Freedom Defense Initiative and Jihad Watch share the same five leaders.
Key players in the network benefitted from large salaries as they encouraged the American public to fear Islam. David Horowitz of the David Horowitz Freedom Center earned $488,953 in 2011. As president/treasurer of the board of directors of ACT! for America Brigitte Gabriel oversaw a 79 percent increase in her own compensation, going from $87,300 in 2010 to $156,473 in 2011.
Not all of the organizations and individuals discussed in this report have promoting fear of Islam as their primary purpose. However, as readers of this report will observe, the contributions of this outer core to the Islamophobia network in America cannot be responsibly ignored. These groups, including Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and Fox News, give the Islamophobia network access to further financial resources and a wider audience.
In 2011, the authors of the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Fear, Inc. examined the Islamophobia network’s roots. They found seven foundations contributing $42.6 million over a ten year period to organization’s promoting anti-Islam sentiment in America. Fear, Inc. focused only on the funding coming through foundations while this report spotlights total revenue.
As a result of using similar primary source material a certain amount of repetition in the two reports’ findings exists. CAIR has worked to minimize this repetition and focus on expanding the public’s understanding of group’s promoting Islamophobia in America. The authors of this report strongly encourage all readers to obtain Fear, Inc. as an essential resource for understanding the Islamophobia network.
A number of journalists have also already produced insightful material on this subject. For instance, it was Justin Elliot of Salon Magazine who first broke the news that Barre Seid is likely responsible for a $17 million donation to the Clarion Fund to make its 2008 distribution of millions of copies of its anti-Muslim film Obsession possible. Similarly, The Tennessean’s Bob Smeitana revealed questionable financial transactions between Steven Emerson’s not-for-profit Investigative Project on Terrorism and for-profit SAE Productions.
CAIR developed its American Islamophobe Database by reviewing the source material for both 2011’s “Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States 2009-2010” and this report.
Groups and individuals cited in the reports and active in the last five years were entered into the database and then assigned to one of three categories:
Inner Core: Groups or individuals whose primary purpose is to promote prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims and whose work regularly demonstrates Islamophobic themes.
Outer Core: Groups or individuals whose primary purpose does not appear to include promoting prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims but whose work regularly demonstrates or supports Islamophobic themes.
Of Concern: Groups or individuals who have used Islamophobic themes or supported Islamophobia in America, but whose work does not regularly demonstrate or support Islamophobic themes. CAIR does not further discuss groups placed in this category in this report.
CAIR then obtained tax documents known as Form 990s for each non-profit organization in the inner core for the years 2008-2011, when they could be acquired in the window of time allotted for researching and writing this report. Form 990s must be filed annually by tax exempt organizations.
The Inner Core
CAIR identifies 37 groups in the Islamophobia network’s inner core. The impact of eleven of these groups is local in nature. Five of the local groups are based in Florida: Americans Against Hate, Citizens for National Security, Counter Terrorism Operations Center, Florida Family Association and The United West. ACT! For America is headquartered in Florida as well.
The influence of these groups spans a full spectrum from minimal, such as the Sheepshead Bay, New York’s Bay People, to significant, such as ACT! For America, the Center for Security Policy, Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs and the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
The Inner Core is examined at length in the next section of this report.
The Outer Core
CAIR identifies 32 groups in the Islamophobia network’s outer core. Many of the listed foundations were identified by the Center for America Progress Action Fund in Fear, Inc. and are included because they funnel money to the network. Just as providing funds to white supremacist or anti-Semitic groups should be seen as anathema, these foundations must be held to socially responsible standards.
Outer Core groups are noted throughout this report, but will be given a fuller examination in a subsequent document.
Groups in the Islamophobia Network’s Inner Core
(Groups listed with a state abbreviation tend to operate only in that state.)
- ACT! For America
- American Freedom Defense Initiative
- American Freedom Law Center
- American Public Policy Alliance
- American-Islamic Forum for Democracy
- Americans Against Hate (Fla.)
- Atlas Shrugs
- Bare Naked Islam
- Bay People (N.Y.)
- Center for Security Policy
- Center for the Study of Political Islam
- Christian Action Network
- Citizens for National Security (Fla.)
- Concerned American Citizens (Calif.)
- Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment (Calif.)
- Counter Terrorism Operations Center (Fla.)
- David Horowitz Freedom Center
- Debbieshlussel.com (Mich.)
- Dove World Outreach Center
- Florida Family Association (Fla.)
- Former Muslims United
- Forum for Middle East Understanding
- Gates of Vienna
- Investigative Project on Terrorism
- Jihad Watch
- Middle East Forum
- Middle East Media Research Institute
- Militant Islam Monitor
- SAE Productions
- Society of Americans for National Existence
- Stop the Islamization of Nations
- Strategic Engagement Group
- Tennessee Freedom Coalition (Tenn.)
- The Clarion Fund
- The Shoebat Foundation
- The United West (Fla.)
- The Virginia Anti-Shariah Taskforce (Va.)
Groups in the Islamophobia Network’s Outer Core
(Groups listed with a state abbreviation tend to operate only in that state.)
- American Center for Law and Justice
- American Family Association
- American Islamic Leadership Coalition
- Anchorage Foundation/William Rosenwald Family Fund
- Family Security Matters
- Becker Foundations
- Carroll County Republican Party (Tenn.)
- Christian Broadcasting Network
- Donors Capital Fund
- Eagle Forum
- Endowment for Middle East Truth
- Extreme Terrorism Consulting
- Fairbrook Foundation
- Fox News
- Grace Baptist Church (Tenn.)
- Liberty Counsel
- Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
- National Review
- Richard Mellon Scaife Foundations
- Russell Berrie Foundation
- Rutherford Reader (Tenn.)
- Security Solutions International
- Stewart County Republican Party (Tenn.)
- Traditional Values Coalition
- The Family Leader
- The Mark Levin Show
- The Oak Initiative
- The Rush Limbaugh Show
- The Savage Nation
- Washington Times
- Williamson County Republican Party (Tenn.)
- Worldnet Daily
Daniel Pipes and his Middle East Forum (MEF) are longstanding components of the Islamophobia network. Pipes’ involvement in anti-Muslim sentiment is documented back to his 1990 statement raising concerns about “brown-skinned people” with “different standards of hygiene” immigrating to America.
MEF’s funding activities provide an illuminating example of the interconnected nature of the Islamophobia network:
- Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism received $1,242,000 from MEF between 2009 and 2011.
- Between 2009 and 2011 MEF sent Yigal Carmon’s Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) $450,000.
- Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy got $60,000 in 2009.
- The Committee for Accuracy on Middle East Reporting, or CAMERA, received two grants totaling $70,000, one in 2009 and the other in 2011.
- David Horowitz’s Freedom Center, which in turn funds Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, got $6,000 in 2009.
- Zuhdi Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy accepted $10,000 from MEF in 2010.
- Outer core group the Endowment for Middle East Truth, on whose board Pipes’ serves, received a $75,000 grant from MEF in 2010.
Similarly, the David Horowitz Freedom Center is intertwined with Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. In turn, Geller and Spencer are hand-in-hand: each member of Jihad Watch’s board of directors is listed on the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s web site as a “global leader.”
Jihad Watch filed as a non profit organization in 2007, reporting $0 in revenue on its Form 990. Its most recent 990s cover 2010 and 2011.
Jihad Watch does, however, appear on the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2009 Form 990. Acknowledged as a ‘program’ of the Center, Jihad Watch accrued over $300,000 in expenses with $0 in revenue. Spencer is listed as an employee of the Freedom Center with the title Jihad Watch Director.
In 2010, Jihad Watch is again listed as a Freedom Center program, and Spencer is still an employee. But in 2010, Jihad Watch also filed separately as a nonprofit, this time with revenue and grants over $190,000. On this form, Spencer is listed as Jihad Watch’s VicePresident, claiming no compensation whatsoever. This form 990 also lists Pamela Geller as Jihad Watch’s president, while at the same time listing Geller and Spencer’s other organization, The American Freedom Defense Initiative, as the recipient of a $70,933 “payment to an affiliate” from Jihad Watch.
Jihad Watch continues to be listed as a program of the Horowitz Freedom Center in 2011, this time receiving its own separate $95,000 grant. Again Spencer is the “Director of Jihad Watch” raking in a salary of $161,206 from the Center. Jihad Watch’s most recent, separately listed 990 reports increased grants and revenue, reaching over $238,000. Jihad Watch granted American Freedom Defense Initiative $16,624 that year, while still listing Geller as their President and Spencer as their VP.
Geller and Spencer represent a wide array of inner core staples: American Freedom Defense Initiative (as the two top global leaders), Atlas Shrugs (Geller’s blog), the David Horowitz Freedom Center (Spencer’s employer), Jihad Watch (both are board members) and Stop the Islamization of Nations.
They are not the only people serving multiple parts of the network.
Intertwining of American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Jihad Watch and the David Horowitz Freedom Center
Others in the Network
Nina Cunningham is the founder and CEO of Quidlibet Research, a legal consulting firm. She serves on the boards of the Center for Security Policy, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and also the Clarion Fund. She is also a director at the Endowment for Middle East Truth.
Clare Lopez, a former national security professional, is a member of the Clarion Fund board of advisors, a United West board member and Center for Security Policy fellow.
David Steinmann is listed as the Vice Chairman of Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum and also serves on the board of Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy. The Committee on Fairness and Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) lists him as a director. In addition to these institutes, Steinmann is also the president of treasurer of the William Rosenwald Family Fund, of which Fear, Inc. reports that between “2001 and 2008, the Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald Family Fund contributed $2,818,229 to Islamophobic organizations.”
Dr. Ashraf Ramelah’s advocacy for Coptic Christians, a group facing discrimination in too many places around the world, is undermined by his alliance with the Islamophobia network and his propagation of misinformation about Islamic religious principles. For example, during his speech at Stop the Islamization of Nations’ 2012 International Freedom of Speech Congress Ramelah defended Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller saying “a lot of America (is) calling us bigot(ed) and Islamophobic, no, we (are) saying the truth and the truth hurt(s).” When speaking about the September 11th attacks he said “they are not terrorists, they are jihad. They are for the Quran.” Ramelah is a board member of Stop the Islamization of Nations, of which he says “I believe this… global organization will be the first organization to counter Islam in… every country in the world and we will win.” Along with his position on SION’s board, he is also the president of Voice of the Copts, a human rights organization, and a contributing editor of Family Security Matters, a conservative news source sponsored by Center for Security Policy.
Examples of Affluent Supporters of the Network
Foster Friess made his fortune in mutual funds. His super PAC donations gave life to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s 2012 GOP presidential nomination bid. As noted in this report, Santorum explicitly endorsed profiling of Muslims during a presidential debate.
On his website, Friess lists among his key issues “helping peaceful Muslims… to transcend the 7th century ideology of violence, intimidation, and coercion that threatens them … and us.” Leading the cause, according to Friess, are inner core groups such as Brigitte Gabriel and ACT! for America, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Frank Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy, and Jihad Watch. Outer core groups such as Family Security Matters are also feature. Islamophobes such as Ayan Hirsi Ali and Dr. Wafa Sultan are also endorsed by Friess.
In 2012, Friess opined on contraception, “This contraceptive thing, my gosh it’s such [sic] inexpensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
Joyce and Aubrey Chernick
In 2010, Politico found that “the lion’s share of the $920,000 [the David Horowitz Freedom Center] provided over the past three years to Jihad Watch came from [Joyce] Chernick, whose husband, Aubrey Chernick has a net worth of $750 million.” Aubrey Chernick is a software engineer.
According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Aubrey Chernick’s Fairbrook Fund donated $1,498,450 to elements of the Islamophobia network from 2004 to 2009.
On his 700 Club program, Robertson, a wealthy televangelist, is known for making comments asserting that “Islam is Satanic,” “Islam is not a religion,” and that “Muslims are worse than Nazis.”
Miller is Chief Executive Officer of Nashville’s Healthmark Ventures. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Miller was the sole contributor to the Citizens 4 Ethics in Government super PAC. His gift totaled $105,000. Miller is active in Tennessee Republican-party politics heading “fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts as chairman of the 2010 Tennessee Victory Leadership Team and is a member of the Williamson County GOP Chairman’s Circle.”
Miller’s gift to Citizens 4 Ethics in Government was used to support Lou Ann Zelenik’s run for U.S. Congress. Speaking about his opposition to Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) Miller said, “I don’t think she believes there is a problem with Islam.”
Others of Note
As cited earlier, numerous press reports point to Chicago-based Barre Seid as the source of a $17 million donation that enabled the Clarion Fund to distribute 28 million free copies of its anti-Islam film Obsession in battleground states in the run up to the 2008 election.
Bob Vander Plaats is the president and CEO of The Family Leader. In 2011, the Hill newspaper, one of two key Capitol Hill publications, named Vander Plaats’ endorsement as one of the top 10 coveted endorsements for Republicans running for president. He eventually endorsed Rick Santorum. The Family Leader’s 2012 election Marriage Vow contained both anti-Islam language, and in its original form including language that implied that African-Americans were better off during the slavery-era than under President Barak Obama’s administration.
Leaders of the Islamophobia network are generally well-compensated for their efforts, often enjoying salary increases that far surpass those anticipated by members of the general workforce.
As President/Treasurer of the board of directors of ACT! for America Brigitte Gabriel oversaw a 79 percent increase in her own compensation, going from $87,300 in 2010 to $156,473 in 2011. Robert Spencer, whose compensation does not reflect earnings from his numerous books, got a 17 percent raise from his employers at the David Horowitz Freedom Center in 2011. Both David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes benefitted from at least a 12 percent compensation increase in 2011.
Sample Compensation of Inner Core Leaders
CAIR’s total revenue figure is obtained from publicly available IRS Form 990s covering 2008-2011. The below table illustrates the limitations on the documentation from which CAIR’s total is derived. Where an entity is web-based (e.g. Atlas Shrugs, Bare Naked Islam) or for-profit (e.g. SAE Productions, Center for Study of Political Islam) no information is publicly available. In other cases, form 990s were not available. Further investigation is warranted.
A blank space indicates no information was obtained. “PYR” noted that the information was obtained from the next year’s Form 990. “990”indicates that the information was obtained from IRS tax filings.
Limits of Financial Information Obtained by CAIR
The Inner Core
Act! For America, Brigitte Gabriel
In its 2011 IRS filings, ACT! for America includes among the organization’s accomplishments a total membership of 175,000 people, 635 chapters, and 40,000 Facebook fans. The group also celebrates its role in the passage of anti-Islam bills in Arizona and Tennessee. Also among its accomplishments ACT! lists the distribution of thousands of “Sharia Law for Non-Muslim” [sic] pamphlets and the hosting of multiple events at which participants were taught “about how the Islamic doctrine of abrogation, which is the annulling of contradictory passages in the Koran, has annulled up to 124 peaceful verses and superseded them with violent and jihadist verses aimed at non-Muslims.”
ACT! for America was founded by Brigitte Gabriel. She worked as a news anchor in Lebanon and Israel before she immigrated to the United States and founded her own production agency.
Gabriel once told the Australian Jewish News: “Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.” Speaking at the Intelligence Summit in Washington, D.C. on February 19, 2006, Gabriel told the audience, “America and the West are doomed to failure in this war unless they stand up and identify the real enemy. Islam.”
When asked whether Americans should “resist Muslims who want to seek political office in this nation” Gabriel said:
“Absolutely. If a Muslim who has—who is —a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day— this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”
Along with her stated desire to have Muslims barred from public office, Gabriel has also claimed that Arabs “have no soul” and that Muslims worship “something they call ‘Allah,’ which is very different from the God we believe [in].”
ACT! for America’s executive director is Guy Rodgers, a former consultant to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and former national field director for Ralph Reed’s Christian Coalition.
American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and its project Stop the Islamization of America
According to its biography “The Freedom Defense Initiative is a new organization launched by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.” The organization “acts against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials, the mainstream media, and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, the ever-encroaching and unconstitutional power of the federal government, and the rapidly moving attempts to impose socialism and Marxism upon the American people.”
Geller and Spencer are instrumental figures in anti-Islam circles. Geller is discussed in detail in the Atlas Shrugs entry in this section. Spencer is discussed in detail in the Jihad Watch entry in this section.
In a widely denounced campaign, AFDI created a series of what the group initially dubbed “pro-Israel” ads. The original ad read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” Then in larger text it reads, “Support Israel” and “Defeat Jihad.”
Later ad variations replace “Israel” with, “Copts,” “Baha’is,” “Thailand,” “our troops,” and “Hindus.”
Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer, who ruled that the ads could be placed in DC-area metro stations, called the advertisement “hate speech.” That label has followed the ads wherever they appear.
Initial ad buys appear aimed more at generating controversy—securing priceless media and internet exposure to AFDI—than actually bringing the issue into the public consciousness. The initial ad buys in both New York and San Francisco were a mere 10 ads each. In Washington, DC it was only four. This number soon increased, however. According to an article in Jewish Voice, more recent ads cost “about $70,000.”
AFDI’s “savage” ads appeared in at least San Francisco, New York, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. In each case, if the transit authority in question hesitated over placing the ads, the American Freedom Law Center, a creation of David Yerushalmi, either filed suit or threatened to do so.
Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) is an AFDI project. The United States Patent and Trademark Office refused to grant SIOA a trademark because: “The applied-for mark refers to Muslims in a disparaging manner because by definition it implies that conversion or conformity to Islam is something that needs to be stopped or caused to cease.” In December 2012, an Alaska ethics panel recommended that Karen Sawyer, former chief of staff to Rep. Gatto, be fired after it found “she used state resources to help an anti-Islamic group.” That anti-Islamic group was Stop the Islamization of America.
American Freedom Law Center, David Yerushalmi
The AFLC was co-founded by David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise. On their website, AFLC is described as a litigation firm dedicated to protecting religious liberties and the “Judeo-Christian heritage” of the United States.
AFLC, particularly David Yerushalmi, often acts as the Islamophobia network’s lawyer. He is the author of American Laws for American Courts, the template legislation used in many states to vilify Islam. He is legal counsel at the Center for Security Policy.
Yerushalmi’s other group, the Society of Americans for National Existence, has advocated making the practice of Islam in America a felony.
In May of 2011, a report on “Sharia adherence” in U.S. mosques co-authored by Yerushalmi was published on the website of Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum. The report cited a Muslim prayer leader’s beard length and choice of which arm to wear his watch on as indicators of immanent violent extremism. Yerushalmi’s lead researcher on the project was Dave Gaubatz, who has compared Islam to a “terminal disease.”
Writing on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s blog on June 13, 2011 Robert Steinbeck had this to say about the study:
A new “study” co-authored by a man who staunchly believes America’s mosques are incubators of violent jihad has determined – surprise, surprise! – that America’s mosques are incubators of violent jihad. The report, entitled “Shari’a and Violence in American Mosques” and published last week by the anti-Muslim website Middle East Forum, dons a shawl of academic respectability – but even a cursory review of its logic and methodology reveals it as a blatant exercise in propaganda.
Yerushalmi is confident in his hatred of Islam, writing, “Our greatest enemy today is Islam. The only Islam appearing in any formal way around the world is one that seeks a world Caliphate through murder, terror and fear.”
Outside of his anti-Islam activism Yerushalmi is notable for writing, “There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote.” Yerushalmi also says he finds truth in the view that Jews destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite.
American Public Policy Alliance
The American Public Policy Alliance is responsible for American Laws for American Courts, the anti-Islam template legislation that has been considered by lawmakers across the nation. While the organization has a professional-looking website, its Washington, DC address is a UPS Store. APPA has a minor Facebook presence, with less than 100 friends as of early 2013.
American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), Dr. Zuhdi Jasser
According to its 2011 IRS filings, “AIFD’s mission is to advocate for the preservation of our US Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state.” The group is led by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, its president and founder.
Dr. Jasser believes, “…operationally, Islam is not peaceful.” According to a February 25, 2008 article in the Naples Daily News during a presentation in Florida an audience member said to Jasser, “I’ve read the Quran several times … I see no path of moderation.” Jasser answered, “You’re absolutely right … but I don’t think you get your ethics and morals from a book.”
Appearing in March 2011 as a key witness supporting Rep. Peter King’s anti-Muslim hearings, Jasser criticized Muslim organizations for informing communities of the fundamental constitutional right to have counsel present during interactions with law enforcement.
AIFD “applauded” an amendment to Oklahoma’s state Constitution that would have implemented state-sponsored discrimination against Islam. Both a federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit have held the amendment likely violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by clearly favoring all other religions over Islam.
In 2008, Dr. Jasser accepted a “Defender of the Home Front” award from fellow inner core organization the Center for Security Policy.
Zuhdi Jasser narrated The Third Jihad, a film created by the Clarion Fund that depicts Muslims as inherently violent and seeking world domination. Following revelations that the film was shown as part of training at the New York Police Department, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called it “wacky” and “objectionable.” Deputy Commissioner Paul Brown said, “[Third Jihad] was reviewed and found to be inappropriate.”
A broad national collation of 64 organizations and individuals sent a letter to several U.S. Senators expressing “deep concern” at Jasser’s 2012 appointment to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The coalition asserted that “Jasser’s consistent support for measures that threaten and diminish religious freedoms within the United States demonstrates his deplorable lack of understanding of and commitment to religious freedom and undermines the USCIRF’s express purpose.”
Americans Against Hate, Joe Kaufman
Americans Against Hate was founded by Florida-based Joe Kaufman as a civil rights group opposing bigotry and violence. Kaufman has a long history of seeking to marginalize and disenfranchise the American Muslim community and its institutions. In 2006, Kaufman joined forces with an anti-Islam preacher in Florida to block the expansion of a mosque in Boca Raton. Speaking to the St. Petersburg Times on July 14, 2006, Kaufman said, “This mosque should not exist on American shores.”
Kaufman has in the past promoted the views of the terrorist organizations Kach and Kahane Chai and praised the Kahane terror group and its founder Mier Kahane on a forum of the radical Jewish Defense League in Florida.
In an undated opinion piece that seems to have been written shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks, Kaufman argues, “The attacks on our World Trade Center and Pentagon took the lives of 5000 Americans, far greater a number than the attack on Pearl Harbor. Question: If the decimation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the right thing to do, in response to Pearl Harbor, then why the heck are we saving our nuclear weapons now? And furthermore, if we’re not using them, why do we have the nukes in the first place?”
Atlas Shrugs, Pamela Geller
Geller, the editor of the Atlas Shrugs blog, has been described as a “caustic mouthpiece” for the Islamophobia network. She is also the executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, overseeing its Stop Islamization of America project.
In her book Stop Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance, Geller warns against possible “secret halal meat” prepared in school lunches. Geller also uses the book to promote her campaign against the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” and her proposed series of ads encouraging Muslims to leave Islam.
In the wake of news that U.S. Marines had urinated on enemy corpses in Afghanistan, Geller loudly proclaimed, “I love these Marines. Perhaps this is the infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial.” Defense Secretary Panetta called the Marines act, “utterly deplorable” and the Marine Corps commandant called the behavior, “wholly inconsistent with the high standards of conduct and warrior ethos that we have demonstrated throughout our history.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Governor Rick Scott declined to speak at a Florida Tea Party convention in early January 2012 featuring presentations by Geller and Bill Warner, another activist with a history of making prejudiced statements.
Expanding links between European and American racists, Geller joined the English Defence League’s Tommy Robinson in Stockholm for a rally put on by the Swedish Defence League.
In 2010, PayPal severed relations with Atlas Shrugs saying that according to the service’s Acceptable Use Policy, “…PayPal may not be used to send or receive payments for items that promote hate, violence, racial intolerance.”
Bare Naked Islam
Bare Naked Islam is a blog run by New York-based Bonni Intall. The blog has featured threats of violence targeting mosques, including the comment “I want [Muslim] blood on my hands.” Bare Naked Islam was one of the major promoters of the campaign to pressure Lowe’s to drops its ads from TLC’s “All-American Muslim.”
In 2011, WordPress.com removed the blog for violating the hosting company’s terms of service (TOS), which prohibit blogs that “contain threats or incite violence towards individuals or entities.” Intall found a new service provider shortly afterward.
Bay People is a community organization and internet blog. The group’s activities center on efforts to oppose the opening of a community mosque in Sheepshead Bay, New York.
Center for Security Policy (CSP), Frank Gaffney
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy. Gaffney served in the Reagan administration. CSP asserts that it is a “non-partisan national security organization.”
Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s Hardball has referred to Gaffney as “one of the country’s leading anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists.”
Gaffney’s conspiracy theories include asserting that a new logo for the Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency, which contained a crescent shape, was “code-breaking evidence” of “official U.S. submission to Islam.” His own ally Andrew McCarthy denounced as “nutty” Gaffney’s other theory that President Obama “may still be Muslim.”
Gaffney argued that some senators’ decisions to question the wisdom of the war in Iraq should be treating as a “hanging offense.” During a television appearance, Gaffney alleged that Islamic religious principles are seditious, “In fact, it is absolutely antithetical, Sharia is, to our Constitution, and the pursuit of it as you said in your comment, Brigitte [Gabriel], is incompatible with the Constitution’s Article VI, and therefore, far from being a protected religious practice, it is an impermissible act of sedition, which has to be prosecuted under our Constitution.”
The Center for Security Policy and Gaffney actively promote the anti-Islam ideology of David Yerushalmi, the center’s general counsel. According to CSP’s IRS tax-filing Yerushalmi was listed as an independent contractor in 2009 and 2011. He was compensated $153,376 in 2009 and $110,823 in 2012. Yerushalmi is discussed in detail in the American Center for Law and Justice entry in this section.
Center for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI), Bill French
CSPI is a think tank founded by Bill French, who also goes by the alias Bill Warner. The think tank’s mission is “to educate the world about political Islam, its founder Mohammed, his political doctrine and his god, Allah.” French is a former physics professor and has no formal background or education in law or religious studies.
Christian Action Network
The Christian Action Network was founded by Martin Mawyer with the stated purpose of protecting America’s religious heritage through education. They have allied with the American Center for Law and Justice in their opposition to Park 51 Cultural Center which included the production of the Islamophobic film “Ground Zero Mosque.”
Citizens for National Security
Florida-based Citizens for National Security files its tax returns as Friends of Intelligence Practitioners. Its largest programs appear to be ‘document briefings” of which “Sharia Law: What you need to know” is one. In 2011, former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) hosted the group on Capitol Hill where they offered a conspiracy-theory laden presentation to “warn Americans about ‘fifth column’ Muslims who it said are pulling the strings of mainstream Muslim organizations and trying to take over the United States.”
The Clarion Fund
The Clarion Fund is a shadowy nonprofit group distributing anti-Muslim propaganda films such as Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West and The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America.
The group first garnered significant attention in 2008 when it was accused of attempting to influence the presidential election by distributing millions of copies of Obsession to voters in battleground states. As revealed by reporter Justin Elliot, the Fund received a $17.7 million donation, likely from Chicago-businessman Barre Seid, via the Virginia-based Donors Capital Fund to finance the distribution.
Jeff VanDenBerg, director of Middle East Studies at Drury University, called Obsession “a blatant piece of anti-Muslim propaganda.” Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, a Muslim interviewee for Obsession, now calls the production a “vile piece of propaganda.” The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel think tank, also pulled its support of the project.
Subsequently, the St. Petersburg Times revealed strong ties between Clarion Fund and the Israel-based group Aish HaTorah. The newspaper’s investigative report stated:
Clarion’s address, according to Manhattan directory assistance, is the same address as Aish HaTorah International, a fundraising arm of Aish HaTorah. The Clarion Fund and Aish HaTorah International are also connected to a group called Honest-Reporting, which produced Obsession. Honest-Reporting’s 2006 tax return uses the same address.” According to the Delaware Department of Corporations, Robert (Rabbi Raphael) Shore, Rabbi Henry Harris and Rebecca Kabat incorporated Clarion Fund. All three of whom are reported to have served as employees of Aish HaTorah International.
The Third Jihad made headlines in 2011 after revelations that it was used in officer training by the New York Police Department. Following these revelations, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called the film “wacky” and “objectionable.” Deputy Commissioner Paul Brown said, “[The Third Jihad]
was reviewed and found to be inappropriate.”
In 1995, The Third Jihad co-producer Erik Werth was arrested after he claimed to be a secret service agent and threatened to have an airline employee arrested.
Clarion Fund’s advisory board includes a number of notable members of the Islamophobia network, including Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes and Zuhdi Jasser.
Concerned American Citizens
Concerned American Citizens is a California-based group whose stated purpose is to promote the separation of Shariah Law and Spiritual Islam. Their activities have been primarily limited to organized efforts to oppose the establishment of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley, California.
Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment (CCFA)
California-based Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment was founded by Steve Klein with the aim of exposing alleged pro-Islamic biases in high school education materials.
Counter Terrorism Operations Center (CTOC), Sam Kharoba
The Counter Terrorism Operations Center asserts that founder Sam Kharoba “has trained over 20,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers.”
Kharoba has no formal academic degrees in Islamic studies and no prior experience in law enforcement. His only claim of any qualification is that he has a pre-university level certificate in Arabic culture, but Arabic culture and Islam are not synonymous; only 20 percent of the world’s Muslims are Arabs. With operatives coming from all over the world, Al-Qaeda is not limited to a single race or ethnicity, either—nearly 40 percent of U.S. Muslim homegrown violent extremists are Caucasians, Latinos, and African-Americans.
In his training manual, Kharoba posits Islam itself is the problem: it is inherently violent and aggressive, making it the root cause of radicalization. Therefore Muslims are not to be trusted partners with law enforcement.
Upon review, it was found that large sections of Kharoba’s manual were word-for-word identical to unreliable web-based sources. The investigation found the most common source was Wikipedia. Fifteen out of the manual’s 19 chapters were analyzed and 79% had sections of text that were nearly word-for-word identical to a Wikipedia article. In at least one notable case, Chapter 14 (Dar-al-Harb/Dar-al-Islam), nearly the entire chapter was identical to a Wikipedia article dated November 18, 2007.
In Washington Monthly’s March/April 2007 edition, investigators Meg Stalcup and Joshua Craze reported Kharoba telling audiences, “When I look at the life of Muhammad, I get a very nasty image…I am talking about a pedophile, a serial killer, a rapist. And that is just to start off with. Anyone who says that Islam is a religion of peace is either ignorant or flat out lying.”
David Horowitz Freedom Center, David Horowitz
David Horowitz is the founder and CEO of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The Freedom Center lists among its main projects Jihad Watch, employing Robert Spencer as director of that program. The conspiracy-laden Front Page Magazine is also a Freedom Center project.
In the Right-Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism, People for the American Way notes, “One of the main purveyors of the charge that progressives are secretly supporting terrorism is David Horowitz, who claims that there ‘are only a couple of degrees of separation between anybody on the left and the terrorists – and that includes people in the Democratic Party.’ In Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the Radical Left, Horowitz said that both Muslims and progressives abhor America and American values.”
In Fear, Inc., the Center for American Progress Action Fund lists Horowitz among the “leading lights of the Islamophobia network.” The report’s authors note, “Horowitz has gone even further than his conspiracy-minded colleagues by alleging that Islamic extremism has infiltrated our education system, beginning in kindergarten.”
In its reporting on Horowitz, the Southern Poverty Law Center says, “Horowitz sees no philosophical gradations; if you’re not in total agreement with his view of Islam, you’re in favor of Muslim hegemony.”
Debbieschlussel.com, Debbie Schlussel
Schlussel is a Michigan-based author and commentator known for her anti-Muslim viewpoints. After the passing of Apple founder Steve Jobs, Schlussel wrote, It’s a safe bet that if Steven Jobs had been raised as an Arab Muslim, there would be no Apple. Not even Al-Apple.” She has also fed the conspiracy theory that President Obama is Muslim and thus questioned his loyalty to America.
Dove World Outreach Center, Terry Jones
Terry Jones is pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, a Florida Baptist congregation in Gainesville, which organized and promoted “International Burn a Koran Day in 2010. Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe condemned the church saying it is a “tiny fringe group and an embarrassment to our community.” The town even denied the church the required permit for the burning. The event garnered him international attention. Jones ultimately canceled the event.
In 2011, Jones held a mock trial of the Quran and subsequently burned a copy.
Florida Family Association, David Caton
Florida Family Association (FFA) is a fringe right-wing group. FFA was founded by David Caton in 1987. Caton received national attention when home improvement chain Lowe’s pulled ads from TLC’s “All American Muslim” program after pressure from FFA. According to the group’s website, FFA exists to “defend, protect and promote traditional, biblical values.”
FFA has opposed the basic right of petitioning a court for redress of grievances when such an action interferes in FFA’s vision of America. According to FFA, “Many states including Florida are likely to offer amendments similar to Oklahoma to provide a legal block to Sharia Law and ensure justice is equally served. However, court challenges [to such amendments] stand in the way of common sense and public safety.”
FFA promotes the conspiracy theory that Tampa, Fla. may become “one of America’s first Sharia compliant cities.” The organization’s Welcometotampafl.org project “is designed to warn current and future citizens of Tampa about the growing acceptance of Islamic policy and Sharia law by local officials.”
The FFA frequently cites and allies with Islamophobes Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller.
Writing in the New York Times on December 17, 2011, reporter Samuel G. Freedman observed, “If there is any upside to the campaign against ‘All-American Muslim,’ it is that national scrutiny has cut Mr. Caton down to size. Several major companies that he claimed had stopped advertising — Home Depot and Campbell’s Soup — issued statements saying they had done no such thing.” Similarly, on December 14, 2011, the editorial board of the New Jersey Star-Ledger wrote the following, “[The Florida Family Association] call themselves Christians, but the evangelical group that demanded Lowe’s home improvement chain yank its television ads from a reality show about Muslim families sounds more like a club for bigots.”
Writing in the Tampa Bay Times on January 15, 2012, commentator Daniel Ruth said, “The Florida Family Association is a cabal of one squirrelly little biblical bully, armed only with an email list of like/narrow minded self-righteous fellow travelers who wouldn’t know the meaning of faith, hope and charity if they tripped over it.”
Former Muslims United, Nonie Darwish
Nonie Darwish, a self-styled “former Moslem,” has written that “Islam is cruel, anti-women, anti-religious freedom and anti-personal freedom in general.” During a speech in 2011, Darwish asserted that “Islam should be fought and should be conquered and defeated and annihilated.”
She told the New York Times: “A mosque is not just a place for worship. It’s a place where war is started, where commandments to do jihad start, where incitements against non-Muslims occur. It’s a place where ammunition was stored.”
Darwish’s group, Former Muslims United, once put up a billboard stating “Stop the Murfreesboro Mosque” in an attempt to block the construction of a mosque in Tennessee.
Forum for Middle East Understanding, Walid Shoebat
The Forum for Middle East Understanding claims “to educate the public concerning the issues of the Middle East including culture, religion, politics and terrorism.” The FFMU essentially belongs to Walid Shoebat and is the recipient of his donations, lecture and book sales, totaling over $560,000 in 2009.
Shoebat’s training and speaking events are promoted using his credentials and his “background” as a former PLO terrorist who converted to Christianity. CNN researchers “found no evidence” to support Shoebat’s claim of being a “former PLO terrorist.”
Shoebat also heads The Shoebat Foundation. A survey of the foundation’s website on July 18, 2011, found that, “For security reasons the debit on your credit card statement [after donating to the Shoebat Foundation] will show up as Forum for Middle East Understanding.” The need to have two different names with money going to one organization bears further investigation.
Researcher Thom Cincotta found, “In dozens of YouTube videos, Shoebat suggests Islam is the fake religion of the ‘anti-Christ’ and implies that Muslims bear the ‘Mark of the Beast.’ He denounces Islam and Muslims as inherently violent and savage, recounting an endless litany of (non-terrorist) violent acts committed by individuals in a manner that suggests an irredeemably violent culture.”
Cincotta also quotes Shoebat saying, “The Muslim beheads with a smile. You can see it on YouTube, on TV; the Afghan child trained to execute Christians. Mom holds the head and dad holds the leg and the ten year old hacks the person being decapitated while smiling. The worst torture is supposed to be in Yemen and Saudi [Arabia].’ ‘You say that Islam is a peaceful religion? Why? It hates the West. It hates Israel.”
Shoebat furthers conspiracy theories that U.S. mosques are dangerous, saying, “Now, we aren’t saying every single mosque is a potential terrorist headquarters. But if you look at certain reports by the Hudson Institute, in 80 percent of mosques they found pamphlets and education on jihad. So they’re in the mosque, the mosque in accordance to the Muslim Brotherhood is the command post and center.”
During a radio interview with G. Gordon Liddy, when discussing links between Barack Obama and Islam, Shoebat stated that “…it is very clear that Barack Hussein Obama is definitely a Muslim.”
Gates of Vienna
Gate of Vienna is a blog claiming to stop the Islamization of the US and Europe. According to the blog, “At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war.”
Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), Steve Emerson
Emerson is founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). IPT is little more than an anti-Muslim propaganda mouth-piece. The New York Times Book Review said Emerson’s 1991 book Terrorist was “marred by factual errors…that betray an unfamiliarity with the Middle East and a pervasive anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bias.”
Emerson said of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, “This [the bombing] was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible. That is a Middle Eastern trait.” Timothy McVeigh, a Caucasian American, was later convicted for committing the terrorist act.
In 1996, after a plane exploded off the coast of New York, Emerson quickly asserted, “I have no doubt whatsoever, at this point, that it was a bomb that brought down TWA Flight 800 – not a missile, but a bomb…” The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the cause of the tragedy was vapor in a fuel tank, a tragic accident rather than a deliberate bombing.
Emerson’s credibility was further derailed in the late 1990s when Florida Weekly Planet newspaper Senior Editor John Sugg quoted two unnamed Associated Press reporters who said Emerson gave them a document on terrorism supposedly from FBI files:
“One reporter thought he’d seen the material before, and in checking found a paper Emerson had supplied earlier containing his own unsupported allegations. The two documents were almost identical; except that Emerson’s authorship was deleted from the one purported to be from the FBI. ‘It was really his work,’ one reporter says. He sold it to us trying to make it look like a really interesting FBI document.'”
Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer
Spencer operates the blog “Jihad Watch,” which is notorious for its depiction of Islam as an inherently violent faith.
In Smearcasting, the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted, “By selectively ignoring inconvenient Islamic texts and commentaries, Spencer concludes that Islam is innately extremist and violent.” Smearcasting quotes Spencer as saying, “Unfortunately, however, jihad as warfare against non-believers in order to institute ‘Sharia’ worldwide is not propaganda or ignorance, or a heretical doctrine held by a tiny minority of extremists. Instead, it is a constant element of mainstream Islamic theology.”
Spencer has referred to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as a “con man. Someone who is knowing [sic] that what he is saying is false, but is fooling his followers.” In the same video he asserts, “From a historical stand point, it is not even clear that Muhammad existed.”
Spencer believes that, “traditional Islam is not moderate or peaceful” and says assertions “that the Qur’an doesn’t teach violence any more than the ‘Bible or Torah’ is flatly false.”
Spencer also attempts to assert that the violent extremists interpretation of the Quran is mainstream, “Of course, the devil can quote scripture for his own purpose, but [Osama bin Laden’s] use of these and other passages in his messages is consistent (as we shall see) with traditional understanding of the Quran…”
Academics formally trained in Islamic studies, such as Dr. Carl Kenan and Dr. William Kenan at UNC-Chapel Hill, have flatly stated that Spencer’s views have “no basis in scholarship.”
Spencer has been named part of the Top 10 “Anti-Islam inner circle” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC has listed Spencer’s blog Jihad Watch and his organization “Stop the Islamization of America” as hate groups.
In 2006, Spencer participated in a conference honoring anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, who sought to legalize government discrimination in the Netherlands. Spencer proudly highlights his participation in this conference among his “Notable Speaking Engagements.” Fortuyn’s anti-Muslim views and the resulting backlash against Muslims living in the Netherlands are noted in the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Reports for 2002 and 2005.
Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes
Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum, a right-wing think tank. In 2004, Pipes supported the widely-repudiated internment of JapaneseAmericans writing: “Yes, I do support the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II.”
President George W. Bush was forced to bypass a Republican-controlled Senate confirmation process to place Pipes temporarily on the board of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Pipes’ nomination faced stiff opposition and he would not have been confirmed if his nomination was subjected to a vote.
At a July 23, 2004 Senate committee meeting, Sens. Edward Kennedy (DMA), Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) all opposed his appointment. Sen. Harkin, who was involved in the formation of the USIP, spoke at length about Pipes’ statements warning of the “dangers” posed by the enfranchisement of American Muslims and his “dossiers” on academic critics of Israeli policies.
Pipes has stated that the views of far-right French racist Jean-Marie Le Pen “represent an important outlook in the national debate over immigration and Islam” and said that he (Pipes) supports racial and religious profiling of Muslims and Arabs.
In 1990, he said: “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene…All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”
“This religion would seem to have nothing functional to offer,” Pipes said of Islam in 1996.
Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
MEMRI was co-founded in 1998 by Yigal Carmon and Meyrav Wurmser. The group has an established reputation for distributing highly selective, distorted, and inaccurate translations of Arabic and Persian media. Through these selections the organization attempts to portray Muslims and Arabs as being inherently irrational and violent.
According to Vincent Cannistraro, former Chief of Operations and Analysis at the Central Intelligence Agency’s Counterterrorist Center, “MEMRI is selective and acts as a propagandist for a political point of view which follows the extreme right of the Likud.”
Similarly, Brian Whitaker, former Middle East editor (2000-2007) for The Guardian newspaper, wrote that MEMRI “poses as a research institute when it’s basically a propaganda operation,” and goes on to say that the items it translates are chosen largely suited to its political agenda, and “are unrepresentative and give an unfair picture of the Middle Eastern media as a whole.”
Brian Whitaker’s 2007, The Guardian article, “Arabic Under Fire: A child on Hamas TV talked of annihilating the Jews … or did she?” provides a well-known example of MEMRI producing inaccurate translations of Arab media. According to Whitaker, in a Hamas video clip distributed by MEMRI, the host of a children’s television show, dressed as a costumed character, asks a young girl “What she will do for the sake of al-Aqsa?” to which the girl responds “I’m going to draw a picture.” Instead, MEMRI’s quotes the girl as stating “I’ll shoot.” Next, the host asks, “What are we going to do?” to which the girl responds “We’re going [or want] to resist.” Instead, MEMRI quotes the girl as stating, “We want to fight.” The host continues and asks, “What then?” to which the girl responds, “The Jews will shoot us” or “The Jews are shooting at us.” However, MEMRI quotes the girl as stating, “We will annihilate the Jews.”
CNN’s Arabic department also found “massive problems” with MEMRI’s translation of the program.
In 2000, MEMRI produced an inaccurate translation of an interview provided by Sheikh Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine (1994-2006), to depict him as providing anti-Semitic statements.
During an interview with Egyptian Weekly, discussing the Second Intifada, Sabri was asked, “How do you deal with the Jews who are besieging al-Aqsa and are scattered around it?” Instead, MEMRI quotes the interviewer as asking, “How do you feel about the Jews?” According to Mr. Whitaker, MEMRI then, “cut out the first part of the mufti’s reply and combined what was left with part of his answer to another question” to provide an anti-Semitic sounding reply. In 2003, Mr. Carmon admitted to Mr. Whitaker that the translation was incorrect, and MEMRI has since posted a transcript of the interview that correctly states the interviewer’s question.
Militant Islam Monitor
MIM is a blog maintained by an unknown author. The author has a tendency to write short posts with claims that are either un-sourced or reference poorly reputable sources.
SAE Productions is a for-profit company owned by Steven Emerson. Emerson is discussed at length in the Investigative Project on Terrorism entry in this section.
Society of Americans for National Existence
David Yerushalmi is the head of the anti-Islam hate group Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE). Yerushalmi is discussed in detail in the American Freedom Law Center entry in this section.
On its now password-protected website, SANE once offered a policy proposal that would make “adherence to Islam” punishable by 20 years in prison, called for the immediate deportation of all non-citizen Muslims, and urged Congress to declare war on the “Muslim Nation,” which SANE defined as “all Muslims.” SANE’s war manifesto also said, “We need to implement the Separation platform with a Search and Destroy Mission whenever Islam raises its ugly head.”
Paul “Dave” Gaubatz is the former leader SANE’s Mapping Shari’a in America Project. In his now deleted blog Gaubatz once wrote, “Most agree Islam in itself practiced as a religion can lead to violence, but as an ideology it is a terminal disease that once spread is hard to destroy.” Writing on Barack Obama’s 2008 election win Gaubatz noted, “The last count indicated 91% of African Americans in NC voted for Obama. What is the percentage of Muslims in NC who are African American??? During my visits to mosques in NC it was well over 90%. The other 10% were Arab or from Pakistan (the Islamic leaders.)”
Stop the Islamization of Nations
SION was founded and directed by Pamela Geller in January 2012 as an international derivative of her domestic project, Stop the Islamization of America, and drawing inspiration from the Denmark based Stop the Islamization of Europe. In September 2012, SION hosted EDL member Tommy Robinson at a rally at the UN detailing a war on free expression. Robinson was later arrested for entering the United States on a false passport.
Strategic Engagement Group, Stephen Coughlin, John Guandolo
SEG claims the “Islamic movement” is a threat to American civil liberties and speaks of Islamic centers as “potential military compounds.”
Stephen Coughlin of the Strategic Engagement Group has given many lectures on Islam at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, at the FBI’s D.C. field office and worked as a consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
According to researcher Thom Cincotta, “In his thesis, Coughlin took issue with President George W. Bush’s assertion that ‘the terrorists are traitors to their own faith.’ According to Coughlin, Bush, Rice, and other Administration officials were wrong to declare Islam a religion of peace that had been hijacked by a few violent extremists for an agenda that has nothing to do with Islam. To Coughlin, these officials ignored all evidence that Islamic law obligates Muslims to use violence in the name of spreading or defending the faith.”
John Guandolo, another senior official with the Strategic Engagement Group, left the FBI shortly after reports surfaced that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with a key witness in a corruption trial. During a 2012 anti-Muslim training in Tennessee, he was videoed shoving a local news camera that attempted to record the training. Guandolo believes that mosques are “front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood with no right to exist.”
Of Guandolo the Times-Gazette reported, “Every major Muslim organization is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, the former FBI agent said, which he said was formed to overthrow America and establish Islamic law. ‘They’re having great success of implementing Shariah law; I could give you a thousand examples.’”
On its website, Strategic Engagement Group proudly highlights two testimonials retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin wrote for the organization. Boykin is known for arguing that Islam is not a religion and should be denied First Amendment protections.
Tennessee Freedom Coalition, Lou Ann Zelenik
The TFC is an organization based in Tennessee run by Lou Ann Zelenik, who was a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008 and 2010. Of a mosque expansion in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Zelenik stated “This isn’t a mosque. They’re building an Islamic center to teach Sharia law. That is what we stand in opposition to.” She also accused Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) of being soft on the perceived Islamic threat “I will work to stop the Islamization of our society, and do everything possible to prevent Sharia law from circumventing our laws and our Constitution.”
The Shoebat Foundation
A group run by Walid Shoebat, see Forum for Middle East Understanding.
The United West
The United West is a Florida-based group started by Tom Trento which evolved from the Florida Security Council. Trento is listed as one of the “associates” in the Center for Security Policy’s “Sharia: the Threat to America,” report. The Canadian Broadcasting Service in 2012 concluded that Trento “considers himself a soldier battling the Muslim menace in the U.S.” and that his group “opposes any project to build new mosques or expand existing ones.” Trento believes eighty percent of the mosques in the United States are teaching “sedition.”
In a 2011 blog post Trento asserted that the Occupy Orlando movement was being controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Virginia Anti-Sharia Taskforce
The Virginia Anti Sharia Taskforce is a Virginia-based nonprofit group run by James Lafferty. Lafferty also serves on the boards of Jihad Watch and the American Freedom Defense Initiative. In a February 2012, he expressed pride in “…pictures of some mosque somewhere, and it was usually in the South I’m proud to say where a guy would drive a pickup truck right into the mosque…”
Islam is Not a Religion
In a surreal moment in 2011, a Tennessee judge ruled that Islam is a religion after anti-mosque activists filed courts briefs arguing that it is not. The federal government filed a legal brief in the case supporting Islam’s centuries long standing as an actual faith. Many in the Islamophobia network, including former Congressman Allen West, prefer to characterize Islam as a totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology. Former General Jerry Boykin also makes such arguments in an effort to deprive Muslims of First Amendment protections.
Islam Is an Extremist Religion
At the other end of the spectrum, many in the Islamophobia network argue that Islam itself is extremist. This argument is often advanced by selective quoting or incorrect understanding of the Quran’s verses. This theme is often found in the works of Robert Spencer and Act! for America.
All Muslims Are Violent Extremists
Some take the previous theme and extrapolate that since Islam is a violent religion, every Muslim is a potential threat. This view leads to arguments for anyone who looks Muslim getting extra scrutiny by law enforcement. Sam Kharoba, who claims to have trained more than 20,000 law enforcement officials, is but one proponent of this theme.
Muslims Plan to Subjugate America and Supplant the Constitution
Newt Gingrich famously told an audience of his fears that his grandchildren may grow up in an America that is “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists.” Proponents of this thesis, such as the Center for Security Policy and legislators in at least 31 states, have convinced themselves that Muslims have both the desire and ability to stealthily destroy America from within.
The Muslim Brotherhood Is the Driving Force Behind Almost Every Muslim
Prior to 9/11, it was in vogue to accuse Muslims engaged in public service of being agents of Saudi Arabian Wahhabi, or more properly Salafi, ideology. After 9/11, this narrative shifted to accuse everyone of being agents, or apologists for, terrorist groups. The new conspiracy theory is that every Muslim in the public eye is fronting for the Muslim Brotherhood. This theme manifested itself in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s 2012 allegations that, among others, a senior aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a man who had recently received high honors from a group representing retired FBI agents had both deceived the system and were covert Islamic supremacists.
Minimize, Dismiss or Mock Assertions of Concern over Anti-Muslim Sentiment
Islamophobes call Muslims “whiners” when Muslims point out the bias being directed at the community. After the FBI released numbers for bias crimes in 2011, advocates of this theme attempted to use the 157 hate crimes against Muslims as proof that Islamophobia is either not really happening or is minimal.
A Murkey Endgame
What is never clear is where the Islamophobic vision for America takes us. Should all the Muslims be deported? Disenfranchised? Put in camps? Worse? Rhetoric advanced by Pamela Geller, Walid Shoebat and blogs like Bare Naked Islam gives cause for concern. Legislators passing laws designed to vilify Islam while serious candidates for our nation’s highest office speak of loyalty oaths demands a national pause and realignment with founding principles.
The Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism (People for the American Way)
After conducting an analysis of anti-Muslim rhetoric, People for the American Way identified “eight key strategies” used to “inflame anti-Muslim sentiment”:
|Strategy 1:||Frame Muslim Americans as Dangerous to America.|
|Strategy 2:||Twist statistics and use fake research to “prove” the Muslim threat.|
|Strategy 3:||Invent the danger of creeping Sharia.|
|Strategy 4:||“Defending liberty” by taking freedoms away from Muslims.|
|Strategy 5:||Claim that Islam is not a religion.|
|Strategy 6:||Maintain that Muslims have no First Amendment rights under the Constitution.|
|Strategy 7:||Link anti-Muslim prejudice to anti-Obama rhetoric.|
|Strategy 8:||Claim an “unholy alliance” exists that includes Muslims and other groups targeted by the Right wing.|
The State of Islamophobia in America
That subject matter experts representing a diverse range of viewpoints perceive small, but highly welcome, decline in Islamophobia in America is a cause for optimism.
As in determining the 2010 rating, CAIR asked experts for their opinions of the state of Islamophobia in America. In the survey results, interviewee comments were anonymous.
Included among the survey respondent’s observations of reasons for optimism were the following:
- “Tea party was defeated badly in 2012 elections. Islamophobes are on the defensive. The national Muslim organizations took grass roots initiatives to explain Shariah and to expose Islamophobes.”
- “Things are getting better slowly. The Muslim community needs to do more to work with non- Muslims and others in the U.S. to foster better relationships of trust and mutual respect.”
- “While there are egregious instances of Islamophobia in America, the situation overall for Muslims in America is much better than for most minorities elsewhere, by far.”
- “2009-2010 were difficult Islamophobia years for a number of reasons but among them the election of a President with a middle name of Hussein and new type of background for too many Americans, the Tea Party’s rise as a new national political force w/o adequate usurping safeguards to keep it from being hijacked by non-economic activists like Islamophobes, a surge of more troop deployments into the [Afghanistan-Pakistan] conflict theater and there was a peak of homegrown violent extremism cases hitting the media and thereby increasing public anxiety of Islam and Muslims. Today on all four of these drivers there has been a significant rollback.”
Included among the survey respondent’s observations which advised caution were the following:
- American Muslims are being used as a political tool. We are no longer considered a community as much as a platform. When you listen to legislation, when you read the news, when you watch debates there is always the discussion about American Muslims, as if we are supposed to let the media make us the villain. As if it’s okay that Muslim and terrorist are synonymous. Terrorists do not represent Islam, and until politicians and the media recognize that we cannot eradicate Islamophobia.
- We are just a terror act away from this being 10.
- The political culture and culture production in general is heavily tilted toward Islamophobic content and as such we might not have the incident reported but the air is thick with racism directed at Muslims without any counter production.
CAIR’s Key Factors Increasing Islamophobia In the United States in 2011 and 2012
- FBI, military and other government agencies employ anti-Muslim trainers and training materials.
- The use of anti-Muslim rhetoric by Republican presidential candidates is accepted and applauded.
- Under anti-Muslim chairman the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee holds five hearings targeting the entire Muslim community.
- Association with anti-Muslim movements or rhetoric appears to carry little to no negative stigmatization.
- Seventy-eight bills seeking to restrict religious freedom for Muslims are introduced in 29 states and the U.S. Congress, many with mainstream Republican leadership support. Two pass in 2011, in Tennessee and Missouri. Two more pass in 2012, in North Dakota and Kansas.
- Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and four other members of congress attempt to paint American Muslims engaged in public service as disloyal infiltrators.
- In March 2012, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that, “The number of anti-Muslim groups tripled in 2011, jumping from 10 groups in 2010 to 30 last year.”
CAIR’s Key Factors Reducing Islamophobia In the United States in 2011 and 2012
- Islamophobes are becoming recognized as hate groups. Six reports—four produced in 2011—shine light on the Islamophobia network. One of these reports—Fear, Inc., by the Center for American Progress—tracks $42 million given to anti-Muslim groups by seven foundations.
- A report and multiple news stories highlight the use of anti-Muslims trainers and materials by law enforcement. By the end of 2011, Attorney General Holder announces major reform.
- In the wake of Anders Breivik’s Islamophobia-inspired massacre in Norway major editorials remind America that the extremist rhetoric of the U.S. Islamophobia network can inspire violence domestically.
- Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) holds a congressional hearing on the status of American Muslim civil rights and also a balanced hearing on the threat of domestic extremist groups in America.
- Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) attempt to paint American Muslims engaged in public service as disloyal infiltrators is strongly rejected in a bipartisan fashion.
As recorded in our first Islamophobia report, in 2010 Time found that “twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court” and that “nearly one-third of the country thinks adherent of Islam should be barred from running for President.” That finding alone argues for concern about how Islamophobia manifests in America. The last two years have added to our picture of the extent of the Islamophobic attitudes in America.
A survey released by Gallup in August 2011 found the following:
- At least 4 in 10 in every major religious group in the U.S. say Americans are prejudiced toward Muslim Americans, with Jews (66%) saying this in slightly higher numbers than Muslims (60%).
- At 48%, Muslim Americans are by far the most likely of major faith groups surveyed to say they have personally experienced racial or religious discrimination in the past year.
In September 2011, the Public Religion Research Institute noted, “Forty-seven percent of Americans agree that Islam is at odds with American values, and 48 percent disagree.” The study’s authors reported that those who felt Islam is at odds with American values were more prevalent among Republicans and those who identify with the Tea Party.
But it is not just the right that has concerns about Muslims according to a study released by Ohio State University in July 2011. In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden OSU researchers found that Americans, particularly “political liberals and moderates” found Muslims more threatening and positive perceptions of Muslims significantly declined. Adding detail to the report’s key findings, the researchers wrote:
After Bin Laden’s death, more Americans agreed that Muslims living in the United States “increased the likelihood of terrorist attack” (27 vs. 34%) and “make America a more dangerous place to live” (17% vs. 25%). At the same time, fewer respondents agreed that Muslims living in the United States are “are supportive of the United States” (62% vs. 52%) after the killing of Bin Laden.
These shifts were all among liberals and moderates.
The percentage of liberal respondents who agreed that Muslims in the U.S. “increased the likelihood of terrorist attack” and “make America a more dangerous place to live” shifted from 22% to 33% and from 8% to 24%, respectively, after the killing. In contrast, the percentage of conservative respondents who agreed that Muslims in the U.S. “increased the likelihood of terrorist attack” and “make America a more dangerous place to live” did not significantly change after the killing, 38% pre vs. 36% post, and 30% pre vs. 26% post, respectively.
2011-2012 Best List Inductees
Shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks, Mark Strohman went on a shooting rampage targeting people he perceived as responsible or complicit with the terror attacks. During the course of his spree, he entered the store where Bhuiyan was working. After demanding to know Bhuiyan’s country of origin, Strohman shot him in the face and left him for dead. The shooter murdered two other men that day, one Muslim and one Hindu. Strohman later asserted that he was hunting Arabs, but none of the three men he killed were Arab.
Partially blinded and with shotgun pellets still in his face, Bhuiyan forgave his attacker. He then worked to get Strohman’s death sentence commuted to life without a chance of parole. This included filing a lawsuit on Strohman’s behalf and numerous meetings with officials. The effort gained Bhuiyan international attention. However, Strohman was ultimately executed in 2011.
In an interview with NPR on June 19, 2011, Bhuiyan said, “In Islam it says that saving one human life is the same as saving the entire mankind. Since I forgave [Strohman], all those principles encouraged me to go even further, and stop his execution and save another human life.”
Bhuiyan later founded an organization called World Without Hate to continue his campaign against bigotry. Esquire named him one of its “American’s of the Year” for 2011.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R)
Following Islamophobic criticism of his nomination of Sohail Mohammed as a New Jersey Superior Court judge, Christie pushed back. Commenting on the baseless fear some were spreading about Islamic religious principles Christie bluntly stated, “This Sharia law business is just crap. It’s just crazy, and I’m tired of dealing with the crazies.” Of the nominee, Christie stated, “He is an extraordinary American who is an outstanding lawyer and played an integral role in the post-September 11th period in building bridges between the Muslim American community in this state and law enforcement.”
At the height of the Park 51 controversy during the summer of 2010, Christie spoke admirably about the Muslim community in the United States, stating, “We cannot paint all of Islam with that brush. We can’t paint all of Islam with the Muhammad Atta brush. We have to bring people together.”
Senator Dick Durbin (D-III.)
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, Durbin held a hearing titled “Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims” in 2011. This hearing was a response to the anti-Muslim hearings being held by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). During the hearing, Durbin stated, “…it is incumbent upon all Americans who love this nation and the values our Constitution protects to make it clear…the civil rights of our Muslim neighbors are as important as the rights of Christians, Jews and nonbelievers.”
Reporting on the hearing, the New York Times editorial board wrote, “Offering federal data rather than mythic scapegoating of an easy political target, the Senate hearing focused on the fact that while Muslims make up 1 percent of the population, they are victims in 14 percent of religious discrimination cases.”
Following the massacre of Sikh worshipers by a white supremacist in Oak Creek, Wis., Durbin called a hearing to examine hate crimes and the threat of domestic extremism in America.
Media and Interest Groups Exposing Islamophobia in Counter Terrorism Training Received by Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement
Political Research Associates, Washington Monthly, Wired, CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°” and National Public Radio.
Political Research Associates (PRA) is a progressive think tank. In Manufacturing the Muslim Menace PRA details a nine-month investigation into anti-Muslim content in law enforcement counterterrorism training.
One attendee at a training by Walid Shoebat summed up Shoebat’s views on how law enforcement should deal with Muslims as, “Kill them all, including the children.” The report reveals “the inaccurate and conspiratorial myths” in courses that are being taught to public servants by agenda-driven or unqualified instructors.
Washington Monthly has more than 40 years of experience reporting on how government can be improved. The article “How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam” details anti-Muslim trainers such as Sam Kharoba, who teaches homeland security professionals that “Islam is a highly violent radical religion that mandates that all of the earth must be Muslim.” According to the article, when Kharoba gave his first training in 2002 he “had no professional experience in law enforcement, no academic training in terrorism or national security, and is not himself a Muslim.”
Wired magazine and its website reach more than 14 million readers each month. In September 2011, Senior Danger Room Reporter Spencer Ackerman’s story about the FBI’s use of anti-Muslim materials in some of its trainings focused significant attention on the issue. Ackerman had already begun unveiling inaccurate and conspiracy-theory driven FBI training materials relating to Muslims in July, but the September piece resulted in a firestorm. Subsequently, the FBI has committed to revising its materials and Attorney General Holder acknowledged that the material was both “wrong” and actually impeded counter terrorism efforts.
CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°” did an exposé on Walid Shoebat, a wellknown speaker on the anti Muslim circuit. CNN found “no evidence” to support Shoebat’s claim that he is a former terrorist.
Similarly, NPR produced a story demonstrating how, during a class with law enforcement officials, anti-Muslim trainer John Guandolo cast suspicion on a Muslim employee in Ohio. Despite the employee receiving the support of numerous public officials, including the head of the local Joint Terrorism Taskforce, Guandolo’s allegation had a significant impact on the Muslim’s career.
The Democratic Members of the House Homeland Security Committee, plus Reps. Mike Honda and Judy Chu
Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.), Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) and Cedric Richmond (D-La.) all expressed their dismay at anti-Muslim congressional hearings held by committee chairman Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.).
Rep. Thompson is the committee’s ranking member. In that role he called on King to expand the hearing’s scope to include a full spectrum of domestic extremist threats.
Democrats criticized King for the narrowness of the hearings, arguing that violent extremism exists in multiple sectors of American society, not just one religious minority. They also argued that many of the witnesses called by King did not possess expertise on either the topics they were invited to speak on or radicalization in general.
During King’s final hearing in the series, an exasperated Rep. Richardson questioned King’s witness choices saying, “This is not a talk show, this isn’t Oprah, this is a U.S. congressional hearing; panelists should be professionals.”
In the San Jose Mercury News, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, wrote, “Let us not forget that the words ‘national security’ were used to send 120,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps in desolate parts of the country, causing them to lose everything they had. They were convicted in the trial of the public arena and put into prison camps with guns pointed at them.” In a CNN op-ed, Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.) outlined how he saw similarities between King’s hearings, and the attitudes that led to Honda’s internment in a California camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II.
The “Defending Religious Freedom” Campaign
The Islamic Circle of North America’s $3 million “Defending Religious Freedom” campaign was a year-long effort to oppose the Islamophobic mythology behind anti-sharia fears. The program was launched in October 2011 and was slated to run through December 2012. The campaign sponsored billboards that pointed interested people to a hotline where they could speak to a person and ask questions about Islam and Shariah. It also included educational literature and outreach activities.
Those Involved in the Opening of the Murfreesboro Mosque
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) became the focus of one of the nation’s most vitriolic and sustained anti-mosque campaigns after its congregation announced plans to move from an overcrowded space in an office park.
The ICM was established in 1982 and people had worshiped there without significant incident for more than twenty years. Getting the new facility approved involved dealing with an anti-Muslim campaign that included vandalism, lawsuits, shots fired, a bomb threat, and arson. The federal government even intervened to affirm that Islam is a religion after mosque opponents attempted to argue otherwise in court. The mosque officially opened in November 2012.
Groups Exposing the Islamophobia Network
People for the American Way, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for American Progress
People for the American Way (PFAW) has more than 25 years of experience supporting equality for all Americans. The group’s “Right-Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism” identifies eight strategies used by anti-Muslim groups to smear the faith. PFAW identifies such strategies as “Frame Muslim-Americans as dangerous to America” and “’Defend Liberty’ by taking freedoms away from Muslims.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a “nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry.” In its summer 2011 Intelligence Report, SPLC led with an article on the “Jihad Against Islam.” Concluding that “The apparent recent surge in popular anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States has been driven by a surprisingly small and, for the most part, closely knit cadre of activists,” the Center then identified “The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.”
The Center for American Progress is a think tank dedicated to progressive ideas. The center published Fear, Inc., a report that identifies the core donors, misinformation experts, grassroots organizations, media enablers, and political players that make-up the Islamophobia network.
All three institutions continue to regularly document and challenge the Islamophobia industry. PFAW through its Right Wing Watch project, SPLC on its blog, and CAP through its Think Progress blog.
The 2009-2010 Best List Inductees
The following individuals, institutions and groups were recognized in the 2009-2010 report for their contributions to pluralism: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Loonwatch.com; the Congressional Tri-Caucus; Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN); Jon Stewart, Aasif Mandvi and “The Daily Show;” Keith Olbermann and “Countdown with Keith Olbermann;” Stephen Colbert and “The Colbert Report;” Media Matters for America; interfaith leaders; and Rachel Maddow and “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
Update to the 2009-2010 Best List Inductees
Following revelations that the New York Police Department was systematically spying on law abiding Muslims in New York and other regions, Mayor Bloomberg defended the practice. For that reason, his inclusion in the best list is being revoked.
Chart of 2011-2012 Best List Inductees
Chart of 2011-2012 Worst List Inductees
2011-2012 Worst List Inductees
(Retired) Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin
Boykin was the United States Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. He is currently the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, where his biography notes he has a passion for “encouraging Christians to become warriors in God’s Kingdom.”
Boykin is also on the board of directors of the Oak Initiative, a group included in the outer core of the Islamophobia network. Boykin asserts that “[Islam] should not be protected under the First
Amendment,” that there should be “no mosques in America,” that Islam is a “totalitarian way of life,” and that there can be no interfaith dialogue or cooperation between Muslims and Christians.
In 2003, President Bush rebuked Boykin for his anti-Muslim stance. Writing in the New York Times on October 20, 2003, Brian Knowlton reported, “Boykin had said, among other things, that Muslims worship an ‘idol,’ not a ‘real God,’ and that America’s enemy in the fight with Islamic extremism was ‘a guy called Satan.’”
Mayor Richard Meehan of Ocean City, Md., ignored requests to reconsider inviting Boykin to speak at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast on January 26, 2012. After advocacy and veteran groups raised similar concerns about a scheduled Boykin speech at West Point, the general withdrew from the event.
In June 2012, Boykin claimed Dearborn, Michigan is “almost one hundred percent Muslim and operating under sharia law now.
Zuhdi Jasser and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy
When Islamophobic organizations and individuals need a Muslim to give them cover for their anti-Islam activities, they turn to Zuhdi Jasser. He is president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). Jasser is discussed at length under the American Islamic Forum for Democracy entry in the Inner Core section of this report.
A former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Herman Cain was for a while the frontrunner for the Republican 2012 presidential nomination. Cain is discussed at length in the Islamophobia in the 2012 Election section of this report.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)
Peter King represents a district centered on New York’s Long Island. King held a series of five anti-Muslim hearings that were opposed by a broad spectrum of community groups. According to an analysis conducted by CAIR, the hearings had the ultimate effect of disproving King’s two main allegations against American Muslims.
For more on Rep. King, see the Fate of Anti-Islam Candidates sub-section of the 2012 Presidential Election portion of this report. His congressional hearings are discussed at length in the section of this report titled Rep. Peter King’s Anti-Muslim Hearings.
Yerushalmi authored American Laws for American Courts, the model anti-Islam legislation that was introduced in numerous states in 2011 and 2012. He is legal counsel at the Center for Security Policy, an Islamophobic institution that was inducted on to the Worst list in 2009-2010.
Yerushalmi is discussed at length under the American Freedom Law Center entry in the Inner Core section of this report.
Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.)
Allen West represented a congressional district that includes parts of Florida’s Broward and Palm Beach counties. In 2003, then Lt. Col. Allen West was fined $5,000 for using improper methods to force information out of an Iraqi detainee. In 2012, West said he was aware of “78 to 81 members of the Democrat party [in the U.S. Congress] that are members of the communist party.”
West claims that Islam is not a religion and that Muslims are a “fifth column” in America. West has asserted that Islam is “a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion.” He also called Islam a “very vile and very vicious enemy that we have allowed to come in this country.”
West works with the inner core group ACT! for America, praising its leader as “incredible.”
Walid Shoebat and the Forum for Middle East Understanding
Fake “former terrorist” Walid Shoebat has made significant amounts of money, in some cases tax-payer funds, teaching anti-Muslim bias to law enforcement officials and others. In a two-piece CNN exposé, researchers “found no evidence” to support Shoebat’s trademark claim of being a “former PLO terrorist.” According to CNN, Shoebat says terrorism and Islam are inseparable.
Shoebat is discussed at length under the Forum for Middle East Understanding entry in the Inner Core section of this report.
State Legislators Who Sponsored Anti-Islam Legislation
In 2011 and 2012, 29 states and the U.S. Congress considered bills or amendments intended to interfere with Islamic religious practices. Sixty-two of these bills contained language that was extracted from David Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) model legislation. Examples of prejudiced and Islamophobic rhetoric from state legislators who support the anti-Muslim movement abounded. While most of these bills failed, many right-wing politicians found that the anti-sharia—which is code for anti-Islam–issue draws attention to them, taps into public fear, and can distract from more serious issues such as the economy and jobs. To date bills aimed at vilifying Islam were signed into law in Arizona, Kansas, South Dakota, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
For more on this subject, see the Anti-Islam legislation section of this report.
The Clarion Fund
The Clarion Fund is a shadowy nonprofit group distributing anti-Muslim propaganda films such as Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West and The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America. The group first garnered significant attention in 2008 when it was accused of attempting to influence the presidential election by distributing millions of copies of Obsession to voters in battleground states.
The Clarion Fund is discussed at length in the Inner Core section of this report.
David Caton and the Florida Family Association
The Florida Family Association (FFA) is a fringe right-wing group. FFA was founded by David Caton in 1987. It received national attention when home improvement chain Lowe’s pulled ads from TLC’s “All American Muslim” program after pressure from FFA. According to the group’s website, FFA exists to “defend, protect and promote traditional, biblical values.”
Caton is discussed at length under the Florida Family Association entry in the Inner Core section of this report.
In a move PR Daily ranked #5 on its “Top PR blunders of 2011” list, the home improvement chain removed its advertising from TLC’s reality series “All-American Muslim” because of an anti-Muslim campaign initiated by inner core groups like the Florida Family Association (FFA) and Internet hate sites such as “Bare Naked Islam.”
Hate groups objected to TLC’s portrayals of non-stereotypical American Muslims. In an action alert, FFA said, “The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”
The move to pull the advertising both emboldened hate groups and legitimized their messaging. While Lowe’s was not the only company to pull its advertising, it was the first.
A number of spontaneous protests took place outside Lowe’s stores nationwide and the retailer was forced to delete thousands of anti-Muslim comments from its Facebook page. Numerous politicians, celebrities and journalists spoke against the decision to pull the ads. In one example of the objections to the decision to pull advertising, a group of Baptist and Jewish leaders delivered petitions totaling 200,000 signatures to Lowe’s headquarters.
Hate Crimes and Discrimination
Explaining her motivation for the sneak attack, Menendez told authorities, “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims. Ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers I’ve been beating them up.”
In 2011, the most recent year for which the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has released statistics, there were 157 anti-Muslim hate crimes. The agency reported 107 anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2009 and 160 in 2010.
At a 2011 hearing on protecting the civil rights of American Muslims, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez spoke about the civil rights division’s use of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) explaining that the law “protects individuals, places of worship, and other religious institutions from religious discrimination and unjustifiable burdens on religious exercise in the application of zoning and landmarking laws.” Perez told attendees at the hearing, “Of the 24 RLUIPA matters involving mosques that the Department has opened since the law was passed [in September 2000], 14 have been opened since May 2010.”
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in 2011 cases filed on the basis of “Religion-Muslim” accounted for 21 percent of the total religion charges.
The EEOC’s Justine Lesser told Plaintiff magazine that “the number of charges alleging discrimination by Muslims on the basis of their religion has also risen, from 330 in fiscal year 2001 to 880 in the past fiscal year 2011.” On July 10, 2012, AOL Jobs’s Claire Gordon reported, “In the last decade, 6,600 Muslims have filed complaints with the federal government, claiming that their employers discriminated against them because of their beliefs.”
In 2011 and 2012, an apparent lack of confidence in the U.S. Constitution’s strength led to a number of bills, and in some cases laws, which have at their heart the goal of subjecting Islam to government-sanctioned censure.
The Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan component of the Library of Congress that does research for members of Congress, determined that, “Any bill that would specifically ban sharia may be challenged as a disapproval of Islam in violation of the Establishment Clause or as an infringement on the ability of Muslims to freely exercise their beliefs under the Free Exercise Clause.”
Similarly, Think Progress reported, “As the Supreme Court explained in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah, ‘the protections of the Free Exercise Clause pertain if the law at issue discriminates against some or all religious beliefs or regulates or prohibits conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons.’”
These legal protections are part of what makes America vibrant. Opposing Islamophobic efforts to undermine them ensures that American democracy continues to work for everyone.
American Laws for American Courts and Its Derivatives
In 2011 and 2012, 78 bills or amendments designed to vilify Islamic religious practices were introduced in the legislatures of 29 states and the U.S. Congress. Sixty-two of these bills contained language that was extracted from Islamophobe David Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) model legislation.
Part of bills’ original sponsor(s)
- 73 bills were introduced by Republicans
- 1 bill was introduced by a Democrat (Alabama)
- 3 were bi-partisan (Kansas, South Carolina, South Dakota)
- 1 was introduced by Republicans along with an Independent who caucuses with the Republicans (South Dakota)
Number of bills that used language of Islamophobe David Yerushalmi
- 62 were based on David Yerushalmi’s American Law for American Courts
- 16 were not
Fate of Bills
Bills were signed into law in Arizona, Kansas, South Dakota and Tennessee in 2011 and 2012. These joined previously passed bills in Oklahoma and Louisiana bringing the total to six states with an anti-Islam law on the books.
What is Sharia?
Sharia literally means “path.” It is a set of interpretations of the Quran and other Islamic sources; it is dynamic and intended to accommodate the time, place and laws—in America that means the U.S. Constitution—of a particular community. Sharia is interpreted differently based on its surroundings. Sharia mandates Muslims to respect the law of the land in which they live.
Is Sharia Taking Over?
According to the Public Religion Research Institute, as of September 2012, 61 percent of Americans reject the notion that American Muslims are seeking to establish Sharia as the law of the land. The number of Americans who feel that Muslims are working to subvert the Constitution rose from 23 percent in February 2012 to 30 percent in September 2012.
No religious code can replace American law. Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states, “This Constitution…shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby. …” Additionally, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion. …”
America has an already established tradition of allowing people of faith to make agreements and resolve disputes within the parameters of their religion, as long as any resulting contract complies with U.S. law. Catholic Canon law and Jewish Halacha are the most frequently cited examples in the context of the debate surrounding Islamic practices.
No national Muslim organization is calling for the implementation of foreign law in the United States. Many support the idea that individuals can make faith-based agreements that are in accordance with U.S. law which can subsequently be enforced by U.S. courts. A primary example of this is the Islamic mortgage industry. Corporations offer loans that are compliant with both Islamic rules against lending money with interest and with American law. These contracts can, if necessary, be enforced in a U.S. court of law.
In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution opposing ALAC-type legislation noting that it is “duplicative of safeguards that are already enshrined in federal and state law,” and saying, “Initiatives that target an entire religion or stigmatize an entire religious community, such as those explicitly aimed at ‘Sharia law,’ are inconsistent with some of the core principles and ideals of American jurisprudence.”
The ABA also stated the following:
- “Language in these Bills and Amendments dealing with ‘international law’ or ‘foreign and customary law’ is likely to have an unanticipated and widespread negative impact on business, adversely affecting commercial dealings and economic development in the states in which such a law is passed and in U.S. foreign commerce generally.”
- “Many of the Bills and Amendments would infringe federal constitutional rights, including the free exercise of religion and the freedom of contract, or would conflict with the Supremacy Clause and other clauses of the Constitution.”
Regarding the notion of Islamic rules supplanting American law, the American Civil Liberties Union reached the following conclusion in a report released in May 2011:
A new report by the ACLU, Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System, examines, in detail, the cases repeatedly cited by anti-Muslim groups as evidence of the alleged “Sharia threat” to our judicial system. The report concludes that these cases do not stand for the principles that anti-Muslim groups claim. Rather, these court cases deal with routine matters, such as religious freedom claims and contractual disputes. Courts treat these lawsuits in the same way that they deal with similar claims brought by people of other faiths. So instead of the harbingers of doom that anti-Muslim groups make them out to be, these cases illustrate that our judicial system is alive and well, and operating as it should.
The Anti-Defamation League wrote of the 2012 anti-Islam bill in Florida that there “simply is no documentation of unconstitutional application of foreign law in our judicial system. Florida courts are already prohibited from applying or considering religious law in any way that would constitute government entanglement with religion due to the separation of church and state embodied in the Florida and federal constitutions.” The Florida Bar’s Family Law Section made a similar argument.
As will be shown momentarily, the legislators who introduced anti-Islam bills also failed to produce evidence of an actual problem they felt would be addressed by such a law.
The Purpose of American Laws for American Courts
Writing in the New York Times, reporter Andrea Elliot concluded that actually passing ALAC was a “secondary concern” for its author, David Yerushalmi. “If this thing passed in every state without any friction, it would not have served its purpose,” Yerushalmi told Elliot. “The purpose was heuristic — to get people asking this question, ‘What is Shariah?'”
CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper told the Roswell Daily Record, “Quite frankly, I don’t think that the sponsors of these bills really care that much that they actually get enacted — they’re more interested in throwing mud against the wall (and) smearing Islam.”
While most of these bills failed, many politicians found that the anti-Sharia issue draws attention to them and taps into public fear.
Yerushalmi wrote the model legislation to “get people asking this question.” What he achieved was an anti-Muslim dialogue characterized by religious intolerance and the absence of an actual problem that was supported by a troubling number of mainstream state-level Republican leaders.
It is reasonable to argue that the anti-Sharia movement is really a cover for Islamophobic sentiment. Bill supporters often argue that their legislation is meant to preserve American law, but this argument does not withstand even minimal scrutiny.
Writing in The Guardian, journalist Sarah Posner identified the main themes running through the movement:
The conspiracy theory about sharia law is fivefold: that the goal of Islam is totalitarianism; that the mastermind of bringing this totalitarianism to the world is the Muslim Brotherhood, the grandfather of all Islamic groups from Hamas to the Islamic Society of North America; that these organizations within the US are traitors in league with the American left and are bent on acts of sedition against America; that the majority of mosques in the US are run by imams who promote such sedition; and that through this fifth column sharia law has already infiltrated the US and could result in a complete takeover if not stopped.
Writing about an anti-Islam bill in Florida, reporter Paul Berger noted in the Jewish Daily Forward on March 7, 2012, “The bill’s supporters acknowledge that their proposal is aimed at Muslims.” Berger went on to state that, if passed, the law might end up “preventing Orthodox couples from using Jewish religious courts, or batei din, to arbitrate their divorces, according to legal specialists and some Jewish groups.”
On May 11, 2012 the Topeka Capital-Journal reported, “Sen. Chris Steineger, R-Kansas City, said a marketing campaign by supporters of the bill inundated him with materials that ‘explain’ why sharia law is coming and Muslims are trying to take over America.” Steineger told the Capital-Journal, “The proponents of this measure, clearly by the literature they gave me and by the video link they directed me to, they presented this as protecting us against sharia law.
The Topeka Capital-Journal later reported, “But [Kansas state] House members left no doubt that the bill is largely about Islam. Rep. Janice Pauls, D-Hutchinson, told her colleagues it was important to vote for it to stave off Sharia — a view shared by Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia. The bill passed 122-0 in the House.”
Despite the bill’s clear anti-Islam genesis, Virginia Delegate Rick Morris (R-64th district), who introduced a bill that echoed ALAC language, said, “It’s definitely not an anti-Muslim bill.” A Virginia newspaper reported that Morris was telling his colleagues in the state legislature that the bill was intended to “apply American laws to family situations such as custody disputes, premarital agreements, divorce and the division of assets.”
Virginia legislator Del. Bob Marshall (R-13th district) also argued that his bill did not target Islam. However, on February 12, 2012, Virginia-based constitutional professor Douglas Laycock told the Virginian-Pilot, “This one is more cautiously drafted than a lot of these bills because it doesn’t mention Shariah law. Although everyone knows that’s what it’s about.” Laycock then added, “You cannot be a state with commercial enterprises in a global economy and not deal with foreign law.” Business interests and faith groups, such as the Jewish Community Federation, opposed the Virginia bill.
“I would be less than fully honest with you if I didn’t also say that part of the purpose of [House Bill] 1253 is to deal with what I am going to say generally has been referred to as Sharia law,” said South Dakota State Representative Roger Hunt (R-10th district) before the State House Judiciary Committee. “[This bill] will give us the provision needed to in essence deal with religious codes that would be sought in the state of South Dakota.”
In other places, legislators did not even attempt to hide the bias behind the bills they introduced.
In Tennessee, the bill’s original definition of “Sharia” was, in practical terms, the entire religious tradition of Islam. “Sharia,” read the bill as introduced, includes the “set of rules, precepts, instructions, or edicts” based upon sources from “the god of Allah or the prophet Mohammed.” It stated that “Sharia” encompasses all content derived from “any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali, Ja’afariya, or Salafi.” Islam is split into two main branches, Sunni and Shia. Sunni Islam has four main schools of thought: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali. Jafari is Shia Islam’s main school of thought. Salafi is a movement within Sunni Islam. Thus, the above definition of Sharia both encompasses the vast majority of Muslims as well as reveals the author’s unfamiliarity with the faith.
Rep. Carl Gatto (R-Palmer), Chairman of the Alaska State Legislature’s House Judiciary Committee, said his proposed version of ALAC was necessary because of the religious beliefs of recent immigrants. “As a kid, we had Italian neighborhoods, Irish neighborhoods . . . but they didn’t impose their own laws,” Gatto said. He added, “When these neighborhoods are occupied by people from the Middle East, they do establish their own laws.” Gatto later said, “I’m more concerned about cultures that are vastly different from European immigrants, who come here and prefer to maintain their specific laws from their previous countries, which are in violent conflict with American law. That’s the issue that I am worried about.”
In December 2012, an Alaska ethics panel recommended that Karen Sawyer, former chief of staff to Rep. Gatto, be fired after it found “she used state resources to help an anti-Islamic group.” The panel also recommended that Sawyer never be allowed to work for the legislature again. Sawyer resigned before she could be fired. According to the panel’s findings, Sawyer allowed David Heckert of Islamophobe Pamela Geller’s group Stop Islamization of America to “use the Wasilla legislative information office and equipment for work related to his organization.” It also found that Sawyer used state equipment to help plan activities related to a 2011 group conference, and that she failed to file a timely disclosure showing she was a member of the group’s board in 2011 and 2012.” The Associated Press also noted that the panel found that SIOA’s “main mission appeared to be promoting their organization and its mission with HB88 [Alaska’s anti-Islam bill] as a validation point.”
South Dakota anti-Sharia bill sponsor Phil Jensen (R-District 33) told an audience, “It is alarming how many of our sisters and daughters who attend American universities are now marrying Muslim men.”
In Pennsylvania, the bill itself included no mention of Islam. However, in a memo to all House members urging them to co-sponsor the bill, Rep. RoseMarie Swanger (R-district 102) falsely claimed that Sharia is “inherently hostile to our constitutional liberties.” Later, Swanger claimed she “had no idea how [the memo] was going to be written” and that it was never circulated. Swanger also claimed that it was leaked by “someone who is not my friend.” This claim is rather incredible, given that the memo, with Swanger’s signature, was available on the Pennsylvania state legislature’s website.
Missouri State Rep. Don Wells (R-Cabool) referred to Sharia, as a “disease” like polio during a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee, which was discussing a bill Wells had proposed to ban consideration of Sharia in that state’s courts. When another lawmaker asked if Wells really believed Sharia is like polio, he replied, “Absolutely.”
Michigan State Rep. Dave Agema (R-Grandville) was clearly targeting Islam for unequal treatment in relation to other faiths. In explaining why he felt his bill was important, he told the Grand Rapids Press, “They [Muslims] want specific laws applied to their specific groups … They do not want to be under our law.” Agema also repeated the myth that President Obama is secretly a Muslim.
Groups supporting the bill also are blunt about their anti-Islam sentiment. In a newsletter the Eagle Forum told its supporters, “Sharia law is becoming part of the American landscape as Christianity is being systematically removed. Christian students are being told they cannot pray at school activities or even pray in front of American institutions, while public school students adopt Muslim names, pray on prayer rugs and celebrate Ramadan under a state-mandated curriculum.” Tennessee’s anti-Islam bill was given to legislators by Tennessee Eagle Forum President Bobbie Patray. Texas Eagle Forum president Pat Carlson testified in favor of that state’s anti-Islam bill.
In at least one instance, once a legislator was made aware of the bill’s history, he withdrew it. Shortly after a press conference held by CAIR-Minnesota and interfaith groups, Republican State Senator Dave Thompson withdrew his bill, which had been written using American Laws for American Courts as a template, saying, “It was never my intent to introduce legislation that was being targeted to any one group.”
A Non-Existent Problem
While the bias behind the bills is clear, the presence of an actual problem that needed solved was not, even to the legislators introducing the measures.
The Star Assistant in Alabama reported, “But no one—not even Sen. Gerald Allen, who sponsored the bill—can point to examples of Muslims trying to have Islamic law recognized in Alabama courts.” Allen could not even define Sharia when asked, saying “I don’t have my file in front of me.” When pressed about why the Alabama bill’s definition of Sharia matched one found in Wikipedia, legislative staff “confirmed that the definition was in fact pulled from Wikipedia.”
Texas legislator Leo Berman said his bill was necessary because he had heard, but apparently had not actually tried to confirm, that one American town was allowing judges to use Sharia. “I heard it on a radio station here on my way into the Capitol one day. I don’t know Dearborn, Michigan, but I heard [that Sharia is accepted there] on the radio. Isn’t that true?”
North Carolina legislator Rep. George Cleveland also was forced to admit, “I do not have any specific examples off the top of my head,” when asked to show a need for his version of American Laws for American Courts.
The pattern continued in South Carolina. “None of the senators nor Kevin A. Hall, a Columbia attorney who testified in support of the bill, were aware of any examples in South Carolina where courts upheld sharia law over the U.S. Constitution.” When he was asked about Sharia in South Carolina, former State Attorney General Henry McMaster told an interviewer, “I haven’t encountered anything except American law.”
Sen. Mike Fair of South Carolina sponsored a version of Yerushalmi’s bill in that state’s Senate but admitted that he was, “not aware of any cases of foreign law being used in a South Carolina court.”
In Wyoming, Rep. Gerald Gay called his bill a “pre-emptive strike” since, according to the Billings Gazetteer, “No Wyoming court rulings have been based on Islamic law.” Gay feared Wyoming judges might use Sharia to interpret “honor killings” and arranged marriages.
Similarly, Georgia Rep. Mike Jacobs, vice chairman of Georgia’s House Judiciary Committee and original sponsor of the American Laws for Georgia’s Courts bill, “acknowledged that he was not aware of any instances in Georgia where a plaintiff or defendant asked the court to apply Sharia law but believes it has happened elsewhere.”
The Kansas City Star’s Jason Noble reported, “Missouri Reps. Paul Curtman and Don Wells agreed that there was no evidence that state courts were judging cases based on Islamic principles or foreign laws.” Challenged again a month later, Curtman still could not provide an example.
Unlike many legislators, Kansas’ Rep. Peggy Mast “provided numerous links to stories about Islamic courts in Britain and a print-out from the ‘Islam Review’ — a website that’s stated purpose is ‘to demonstrate that the fundamental teachings of Islam are incompatible with the. Christian faith, and the American way of life.’ However, like in other states, “Mast’s research didn’t turn up any instances of Kansas courts invoking Sharia.”
Missouri Speaker of the House Stephen Tilley also could not provide “an example of foreign law trumping domestic law in Missouri courts,” reported Politicalmo.com in early March 2011. The article noted that Tilley’s office later issued a statement outlining one case in New Jersey, but that ruling was rightfully overturned by a higher court.
Iowa state legislator Kim Pearson conceded that she did not “know of any cases of [Sharia deciding issues in Iowa courts] happening or how, under the Iowa and U.S. constitutions, it could.” Nevertheless, Pearson’s bill specifically targeted Islam for unequal treatment under the law.
Republican State-Level Leaders Embrace Anti-Islam Bills
In at least 11 states, mainstream Republican leaders introduced or supported anti-Muslim legislation. At least nine of those bills were based on Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin ignored the Constitution’s proscription against government censure of religion when she threw her weight behind House Bill 1552, a version of Yerushalmi’s model ALAC, saying, “I personally believe that a law should be made on American law, on our constitution. The people of Oklahoma spoke pretty clearly when there was a vote…on Sharia law.…” Four federal judges have currently ruled that the vote Fallin was referring to resulted in a law that is likely un-Constitutional.
On March 2, 2012, MSNBC’s Kari Huus reported “[South Dakota] Gov. Daugaard’s general counsel Jim Seward testified that the bill served to ‘answer the question of the Sharia law’ without being unconstitutional or interfering with business interests. This bill was motivated by a growing demographic concern in Sioux Falls,’ Seward said, referring to the influx of immigrants from majority Muslim countries.”
Rep. Carl Gatto was chairman of the Alaska State Legislature’s House Judiciary Committee when he sponsored an anti-Islam bill. Missouri Speaker of the House Stephen Tilley supported a bill. In South Dakota, original sponsor Charles Hoffman was majority whip.
The originator of Michigan’s anti-Muslim bill was Rep. Dave Agema, the majority caucus chair. Agema was elected as the national committeeman from Michigan to the Republican National Committee in May 2012.
The Impact of the Bills
The 2010 amendment to Oklahoma’s state constitution, which prohibits courts from applying—or even considering —”Sharia law” and “international law,” explicitly subjected Islam to government censure. It immediately faced a legal challenge from then CAIR-Oklahoma Executive Director Muneer Awad. A federal judge put the law on hold after determining that the challenge had merit and the law would likely be ruled unconstitutional.
In January, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision to block implementation of the Oklahoma state constitutional amendment. The appeals court ruling stated in part:
We conclude that Mr. Awad’s allegation—that the proposed state amendment expressly condemns his religion and exposes him and other Muslims in Oklahoma to disfavored treatment —suffices to establish the kind of direct injury-in-fact necessary to create Establishment Clause standing. …
Appellants do not identify any actual problem the challenged amendment seeks to solve. Indeed, they admitted at the preliminary injunction hearing that they did not know of even a single instance where an Oklahoma court had applied Sharia law or used the legal precepts of other nations or cultures, let alone that such applications or uses had resulted in concrete problems in Oklahoma.
Speaking about the decision on MSNBC, CAIR staff attorney Gadier Abbas said, “It’s not as if the 10th Circuit is a bastion of left-wing activism. This [ruling] is coming from a very conservative court … [The court’s ruling] is unequivocal that there are really serious, very clear violations of the Constitution that this amendment poses.
Vilification of Islam
To date, the only other observed impact of an enacted anti-Islam bill besides vilifying Islam during the process of passage is that it has no real world effect. In Tennessee, Rep. Judd Matheny and Sen. Bill Ketron’s original, identical bills were revised and passed with all references to religion removed.
Similarly, the language of the final Arizona law has more symbolic than substantive impact. This observation substantiates our earlier assertion that legislators are spending their time passing laws to solve a non-existent problem. There is no wave of religious law being blocked by these anti-Islam bills because that wave does not exist.
2012 Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Act
Two Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Acts contained language that singled out American Muslims for additional scrutiny over the threat of violent extremism in the United States.
Co-sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), both bills (S.1546 and H.R.3116) sought to create a new coordinator position within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to direct efforts on “counter[ing] homegrown violent Islamist extremism” with particular focus on the “ideology of Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups” in the United States.
In a letter to Senator Lieberman, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reaffirmed that, “DHS has made it a priority to counter all forms of domestic violent extremism, regardless of ideology,” and that DHS has already established, “the Counterterrorism Advisory Board [led by a counterterrorism coordinator] to better coordinate the Department’s … efforts to prevent and protect against foreign and homegrown terrorist attacks.”
Section 213 of the Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Act 2011 (S. 1546) stated, “The Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall designate an official of the Department [of Homeland Security] to coordinate efforts to counter violent extremism in the United States, particularly the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism. …”
A DHS position focused on “Islamist extremism” plays well in the current political fear-of-Islam environment. However, enacting such a position would send a clear message that the U.S. government views American Muslims collectively as a threat. Such a position would be short sighted, as terrorism in America can arise from a number of ideologies. It also leaves wide open a door for the United States government to become involved in determining the “correct” or “acceptable” form of Islam.
Putting Tennessee First Act
The Tennessee Eagle Forum drafted a bill to limit the number of legal immigrants a charter school can hire. The group’s parent organization, the Eagle Forum, is part of the Islamophobia network’s outer core. The Putting Tennessee First Act “comes amid worries from some groups about the involvement of Islamic organizations in running charter schools elsewhere in the country, although there are no such schools in Tennessee.”
Among the bill’s sponsors was Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron, a Republican from Murfreesboro who had previously introduced the Material Support to Designated Entities Act, a bill that would have essentially outlawed the practice of Islam in that state. The Tennessean reported that “Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, said after discussing the measure with Ketron, he believes worries that Islamist groups might infiltrate charter schools do appear to be among its backers’ motivations.”
Some observers noted the similarity between this bill and past efforts to target religious based schools, such as Oregon’s Compulsory Public School Attendance Bill. In that instance, the “initiative’s main target” was Roman Catholics.
Speaking at a U.S. Senate hearing in 2011, Thomas Perez, who leads the civil rights division at the Department of Justice mentioned such past mistakes saying:
“A century ago, being Catholic, my own faith, gave rise to attack in much the same way that being Muslim does today. Many said at the time that you could not be a good American and a good Catholic. One example was the 1923 passage of a law in Oregon prohibiting teachers from wearing religious garb. It was aimed at keeping nuns out of public schools. Over time, this law came to bar teachers of other faiths, including Muslims and Sikhs wearing religious head coverings, from working as teachers in Oregon. The law was reaffirmed in 2009, when it was preserved as an exception to a new religious freedom law.”
Normalization of Islamophobic Rhetoric
Researchers found that Americans have equal levels of opposition to both Christian and Muslim immigrants. However, while opposition to Christian immigrants is not displayed publicly, “there is nothing politically correct or socially desirable about hiding opposition to extending citizenship to legal Muslim immigrants, quite the opposite, in fact. Citizens are quite comfortable not only opposing it, but also being public about that fact.”
A number of mainstream candidates for the Republican presidential nomination used Islamophobic rhetoric. This issue is covered at length in the Islamophobia in the 2012 election section of this report.
In Tennessee, “the Williamson County Republican Party, the Stewart County Republican Party, the Carroll County Republican Party and perhaps several others” adopted resolutions criticizing that states’ governor for hiring an American Muslim lawyer. The Williamson County Republican Party’s resolution said the governor had, “elevated and/or afforded preferential political status to Sharia adherents in Tennessee.” The Stewart County Republican Party Resolution said, “One of the latest Executive Service Employees has included Samar Ali, an expert in Shariah Compliant Finance which is one of the many ways Islamic terrorism is funded.”
Some examples of anti-Muslim rhetoric during the period covered by this report include:
- John Joseph Jay, who along with Pamela Geller incorporated the inner core American Freedom Defense Initiative, advocated “taking out” leading media figures and incumbent elected officials along with an exhortation to, “burn all the mosques, period.”
- Speaking outside a fundraising event for a Muslim charity in Yorba Linda, Calif., in 2011, Councilwoman Deborah Pauly (R-Villa Park) told a crowd, “What’s going on over there [at the fundraiser] right now … that is pure, unadulterated evil,” and “Make no mistake my friends, these who are assembling are enemies of America.” Later she added, “I know quite a few Marines who will be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise.” Young children were among the event’s attendees.
- Televangelist Pat Robertson compared those who oppose Islam in America to those who opposed Nazis.
- When the supermarket chain Whole Foods launched an online only marketing campaign seeking to appeal to Muslim customers during Ramadan, it came under attack. For example, anti-Muslim blogger Debbie Schlussel wrote, “Whole Foods … for the Organically Conscious Jihadist.” Executives at one of the outlet’s twelve operating regions reacted to Islamophobic pressure by circulating an internal memo that was leaked to the press advising stores to avoid giving the impression that the chain was celebrating or promoting Ramadan.
- Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) expressed his exasperation when “a guy in Arabian dress” did not receive secondary screening in an airport.
- Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) sponsored a congressional briefing to present a conspiratorial report titled, “Homegrown Jihad in the USA: Muslim Brotherhood’s Deliberate, Premeditated Plan Now Reaching Maturity.” The report was put together by Citizen’s for National Security, which has also put together a report on alleged Islamic infiltrations into Florida textbooks.
- A Republican state representative from Tennessee, Rick Womick, told reporters, “Personally, I don’t trust one Muslim in our military.” He agreed that all Muslims should be removed from the military.
- According to Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, the First Amendment does not apply to Muslims. “Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam,” Fisher wrote in a blog post. He later added, “The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity. They were making no effort to give special protections to Islam. Quite the contrary.”
- Real estate mogul Donald Trump gained national attention as he considered a run for the Republican presidential nomination. During that period of media attention, he said, “Well, I’ll tell you what. The Koran is very interesting. A lot of people say it teaches love and there is a very big group of people who really understand the Koran far better than I do. I’m certainly not an expert to put it mildly, but there’s something there that teaches some very negative vibe.”
- Cal Thomas, the nation’s number-one ranked syndicated columnist, wrote, “Islam is a copycat religion, taking from old and new testaments; denying some of it, while adding to it. And if you read the last chapter of revelation, you see God’s judgment on people who add to or subtract from his word. There is only one word of God and Muhammed isn’t it.” Thomas was responding to an op-ed that explained how Muslims hold Jesus in high regard. Thomas had previously compared Muslims to “cancer.”
- Colorado State Sen. Kevin Grantham (R-Cañon City) found the idea of banning mosque construction in America worth considering.
A Fox News Effect?
The Public Religion Research Institute included the following points in a report published in September 2012:
“There is a strong correlation between trusting Fox News and negative views of Islam and Muslims. This pattern is evident even among conservative political and religious groups.”
“Among all Republicans, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) say that Islam is at odds with American values. Among Republicans who most trust Fox News, more than 7-in-10 (72 percent) believe that Islam is at odds with American values.”
“Among Republicans who most trust other news sources, less than half (49 percent) say Islam is at odds with American values, making their attitudes roughly similar to the general population.”
“A similar effect can be seen in beliefs about American Muslims and the establishment of Shari’a law. Nearly 6-in-10 (58 percent) Republicans who most trust Fox News believe that American Muslims are trying to establish Shari’a law in the U.S. Again, the attitudes of Republicans who most trust other news sources look similar to the general population (33 percent and 30 percent respectively).”
In May 2011 Rolling Stone reported that Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes may have a personal “paranoia” in regards to Muslims:
Once, after observing a dark-skinned man in what Ailes perceived to be Muslim garb, he put Fox News on lockdown. “What the hell!” Ailes shouted. “This guy could be bombing me!” The suspected terrorist turned out to be a janitor. “Roger tore up the whole floor,” recalls a source close to Ailes. “He has a personal paranoia about people who are Muslim — which is consistent with the ideology of his network.”
While this report is not intended as a comprehensive review of Fox’s coverage of Muslims and Islam, three examples of troubling coverage are presented for the reader:
- Glenn Beck hosted anti-Muslim speaker Joel Richardson on his Fox News program and the two “tied Islam to the Antichrist in the new testament.
- During an interview on “Fox and Friends,” Fox News host Mike Huckabee falsely claimed that Muslims believe “Jesus Christ and all the people who follow him are a bunch of infidels who should be essentially obliterated.” Huckabee also referred to Islam as the “antithesis of the gospel of Christ.” He also seemed to compare Muslim prayer being allowed in a church to the showing of pornographic films.
- Fox Business host Eric Bolling said he would “love” to have back a guest who said Islam “is the worst, most deadliest idea in the history of the world.”
In 2012, Media Matters for America collected a number of examples of factually questionable assertions about Muslims made on Fox News. These included Brian Kilmeade claiming that all “terrorists are Muslims,” and a Fox News contributor saying, “The truth is that Muslims tend to be more violent than Christians.” Contributor Steven Crowder continued the pattern in June 2012, alleging that a “high percentage” of Muslims “hate Jews and Christians.” According to Crowder “the real problem is the Quran.”
Islamophobia in the 2012 Election
No similar trigger-event occurred during the 2012 election cycle. However, this did not mean the network was shut out. Anti-Islam sentiment was put forth by most GOP presidential contenders and made its way into the Republican Party’s 2012 platform.
In August 2012, JZ Analytics reported that while 56 percent of Democrats view American Muslims favorably, only 35 percent of Republicans have similar feelings. Twenty-three percent of Democrats view Muslims unfavorably while 47 percent of Republicans view Muslim unfavorably.
A poll of registered American Muslim voters conducted by CAIR before the election found that, “The percentage of those who said they are closer to the Democratic Party grew from 49 percent in a similar poll taken in 2008 to 66 percent today. Almost half of respondents said that the Democratic Party was friendly towards Muslims.” Further, the survey revealed that Muslim voters are very concerned about the rising level of Islamophobia within American society and with the promotion and exploitation of Islamophobia within the Republican Party. More than half of CAIR survey respondents said they feel the Republican Party is unfriendly toward Muslims.
After the election, four members of the Congressional anti-Muslim caucus—Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) and Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)—did not return for Congress’ 113th session.
The Family Leader Marriage Vow
Known formally as “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Family” the document was produced by the Family Leader, an Iowa-based Christian conservative group. The Family Leader asked presidential candidates to sign the vow to proclaim their opposition to “Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human-rights forms of totalitarian control.” In its original form, the pledge also contained outrageous language regarding African-Americans: “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.” Michele Bachman, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry signed the pledge. Bachmann was the only one to sign the document when the slavery language was included, but she subsequently claimed that the language was not in the document she signed.
GOP Anti-Islam Platform Plank
The Republican Party’s 2012 platform included a plank inspired by anti-Islam legislation. The plank was adopted without argument or debate during a meeting of the Republican Party’s platform committee.
The measure was introduced by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach told the platform committee: “I’m not aware of any court that’s actually accepted the argument, but in cases involving either spousal abuse or assault or other crimes against persons, sometimes defenses are raised that are based in Sharia Law. We actually put a provision to this effect in Kansas statute this year and I think it’s important to say that foreign sources of law should not be used as part of common law decisions or statutory interpretation by judges in the lower state courts as well.”
Kobach subsequently went on Secure Freedom Radio, which is generally hosted by the Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney but on this occasion was hosted by former congressman Fred Grandy, and had the following exchange:
Grandy: Is this a way of saying through the Republican Party organs that perhaps these kinds of Kansas-like [anti-Islam] provisions should be introduced at the state level around the country?
Kobach: Absolutely, that is the unequivocal intent and I don’t think anyone reading our platform could come to any other conclusion. We’d like to see all of the states take a firm stand against Sharia law being used in their courts.
The language appeared under the header “American Sovereignty in U.S. Courts” in the GOP’s final platform: “There must be no use of foreign law by U.S. courts in interpreting our Constitution and laws. Nor should foreign sources of law be used in State courts’ adjudication of criminal or civil matters.”
GOP Presidential Candidates
In November 2011, Bachmann fed into the conspiracy theory that Sharia may replace the U.S. Constitution saying its consideration in American courts “would usurp, and put Sharia law over the Constitution, and that would be wrong.” Frank Gaffney, a leading proponent of government interference in Islamic religious practices, admitted spending “hours, over several days” with Bachmann briefing her on his anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), also running for president, accused Bachmann of hating Muslims, a charge she denied.
Bachman signed the Family Leader marriage vow. She was not shy about taking money from inner core leadership. According to the Federal Election Commission, Bachmann accepted $1,800 from Pamela Geller in November 2011. In response to a 2005 debate question about French Muslims, Michele Bachmann (RMN) said: “Not all cultures are equal. Not all values are equal.”
Speaking to Christianity Today on March 21, 2011, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza said that Muslims have “an objective to convert all infidels or kill them.” Cain said he would not appoint a Muslim to a cabinet position. Speaking on Fox Nation, Cain said, “I don’t know one Muslim who will denounce Sharia law, and then say they can support the Constitution of the United States of America. So my assumption based on what I know about their belief system is that they are not going to give up Sharia law. Anybody that takes the oath of office in a Herman Cain administration will put their hand on the Bible, not the Quran!”
Subsequently, Cain modified that stance, saying that to serve in his administration he would require loyalty oaths from Muslims. In making this modification he explained to Fox News host Glenn Beck that he would not require similar oaths from Mormons or Catholics “because there is a greater dangerous part of the Muslim faith than there is in these other religions.” Also in a Fox News interview, Cain said, “Many of the Muslims, they are not totally dedicated to this country, they are not dedicated to our Constitution.”
Cain later asserted that he meant only “radical Muslims;” however, he had previously told radio host Laura Ingraham that he had never met a Muslim who was not radical.
Cain opposed a planned mosque expansion in Tennessee saying, “It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion. And I don’t agree with what’s happening, because this isn’t an innocent mosque.” Speaking on Fox News, Cain said that communities have a right to ban mosques.
The presidential contender met with Muslims in Virginia and on July 27, 2011 issued a statement saying “I remain humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends.”
However, after that meeting, Cain related an anecdote to a crowd in Florida about a surgery performed on him by a Lebanese doctor. Cain told the audience that he thought the doctor’s name, “Dr. Abdallah,” sounded “too foreign.” Cain then told event attendees of his relief when he learned the man in question was not Muslim but a Christian from Lebanon.
News sources uncovered a 2006 article written by Cain on the history of Islam. Throughout the article he sites “historian” Rod Parsley, who is known for arguing that American Christians should destroy the religion of Islam.
A former speaker of the U.S. House, Gingrich told an audience that he feared that by the time his grandchildren reach his age “they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”
Gingrich believes that Sharia is a “mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States.” In January 2012, Gingrich told a South Carolina town hall that he would only support a Muslim for the presidency if that person would “commit in public to give up Sharia.”
In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Paul challenged the host’s assertions after Hannity took him to task for defending the right of Muslims to build an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan saying, “This means you blame the religion, you don’t want to blame the religion. The principle here is a private property principle. We shouldn’t have governments building buildings and telling people where to build. It should be a private property issue.”
Pawlenty is the former governor of Minnesota. In late March, 2011 ABC News reported that Pawlenty “says his decision to shut down a state-sponsored mortgage program designed to appeal to devout Muslims—who are forbidden by Sharia law to collect or pay interest on loans—demonstrates his commitment to rooting out Islamic law.” According to news reports, only three people had used the program.
Perry signed the Family Leader’s pledge. The Houston Chronicle reported that Perry had a close relationship with “the Aga Khan, head of an Islamic sect called Ismailis,” attended a groundbreaking ceremony for “an Ismail worship center” and had started a “teacher-training program on Islamic history.” Perry’s relationship with the Muslim community in Texas was generally described as positive.
Shortly before his presidential bid, Perry hosted a prayer summit. Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy reported that the event was funded by the outer core American Family Association. Event organizers proclaimed that only Christians would be allowed to speak and that, according to “one of Perry’s organizers,” “It would be idolatry of the worst sort for Christians to gather and invite false gods like Allah and Buddha and their false prophets to be with us at that time.”
During his efforts to secure the Republican presidential nomination for the 2008 election, the former Massachusetts governor reportedly said that he would not consider Muslims for cabinet posts saying, “Based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.” Romney later disputed the accuracy of that quote.
A different Romney emerged for the 2012 election. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 2011, Romney responded to an anti-Muslim comment saying that radical Islamists are a threat domestically and internationally yet “they take a very different view of Islam than the Muslims I know … [Muslims Romney knows] are peace-loving and America-loving individuals. I believe that very sincerely. I believe people of the Islamic faith do not have to subscribe to the idea of radical, violent jihadism.” During a debate on June 12, 2011, Romney seemed to dismiss other candidates’ fear mongering about Sharia, or Islamic principles, replacing the Constitution. Romney instead reaffirmed that “people of all faiths are welcome in this country.”
While Romney adopted a much better approach to Muslims in the 2012 election, there were still some concerns. Walid Phares, a Lebanese Christian was named as Romney’s co-chair for the Middle East working group. This in spite of Phares’ links to the Lebanese Forces, a militia which was implicated by an official Israeli commission in the 1982 massacres in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps during the Lebanese civil war.
Phares is also known for warning the public about the hidden Muslims who are planning to take over the United States by implementing Sharia legislation.
In August 2012, Romney met in a small group with a key figure in the Islamophobia movement, retired Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin.
Santorum is a former senator from Pennsylvania. Santorum calls Sharia “an existential threat” to America.
In a nationally televised presidential debate, Santorum defended ethnic and religious profiling. After being asked who, specifically, he would profile he answered, “Obviously Muslims would be someone you’d look at, absolutely.”
Just prior to his presidential bid Santorum told an audience, “… it is evil. Sharia law is incompatible with American jurisprudence and our Constitution.”
In January 2012, Santorum implied that equality was solely a Christian concept, drawing responses from Sikh, Hindu and Muslim groups. “Where do you think the concept of equality comes from?” Santorum said. “It doesn’t come from Islam. It doesn’t come from the East and Eastern religions. It comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Also in January, 2012 journalists brought attention to a 2007 speech in which Santorum gave a lengthy Islamophobic rant at David Horowitz’s “Second Annual Academic Freedom Conference.” Santorum asserted that in order to “win,” Americans must “… educate, engage, evangelize and eradicate.”
Look at Europe. Europe is on the way to losing. The most popular male name in Belgium — Mohammad. It’s the fifth most popular name in France among boys. They are losing because they are not having children, they have no faith, they have nothing to counteract it. They are balkanizing Islam, but that’s exactly what they want. And they’re creating an opportunity for the creation of Eurabia, or Euristan in the future…Europe will not be in this battle with us. Because there will be no Europe left to fight.”
Santorum signed the Family Leader’s marriage vow.
Fate of Anti-Islam Caucus (Federal Incumbents)
There is no formal anti-Muslim caucus, but several current, former and aspiring members of Congress are known for their Islamophobic views.
Rep. Allen West (R-FLA., lost)
West’s loss was the biggest post-election news regarding Islamophobia in elected office. West was known for his claims that Islam is not a religion and that Muslims are a “fifth column” in America. Rep. West has asserted that Islam is “a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion.”
He also called Islam a “very vile and very vicious enemy that we have allowed to come in this country.” He will no longer be making those claims as a member of Congress. This also means that Islamophobia network groups such as Citizens for National Security and ACT! for America will no longer have West offering them a legitimizing platform in the halls of Congress.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn., won)
Bachmann won by less than two percent of the votes cast in her race. She is discussed more fully under the presidential candidates section above. In 2012, she led a McCarthy-like campaign that sought to portray essentially any Muslim in public service as an infiltrator worthy of suspicion. This campaign is covered more fully in the Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Anti-Muslim Witch Hunt section of this report.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y., won)
King easily defeated his opponent.
In 2010, he became chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee. Upon assuming the chairmanship, he announced that he would hold a series of congressional hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims. At the end of 2012, King was term-limited out of the position.
In 2004, Rep. King first voiced his allegation that “You could say that 80%, 85% of the mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists” and that average Muslims “are loyal,” but “don’t come forward, they don’t tell the police what they know. They won’t turn in their own.” In 2007, King said, “Unfortunately, we have too many mosques in this country.”
In early 2011, Rep. King implied that American Muslims are not “American” when it comes to protecting our nation during times of war: “When a war begins, we’re all Americans. But in this case, this is not the situation. And whether it’s pressure, whether it’s cultural tradition, whatever, the fact is the Muslim community does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should. The irony is that we’re living in two different worlds.”
Chairman King led off announcing his proposed series of hearings by reciting the allegation that “over 80 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by radical imams.” In January, 2011, he staunchly announced that he will “stand-by” that number. He has never offered evidence for this figure besides citing the opinion of one man who had done no research on the matter.
His congressional hearings are discussed at length in the section of this report titled Rep. Peter King’s Anti-Muslim Hearings.
Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C., retired)
Myrick did not run for re-election in 2012. In 2009, she famously held a press conference accusing young American Muslims who were interning on Capitol Hill of being spies and infiltrators. In 2003, she advised looking at a potential national security threat coming from convenience stores saying, “You know, look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country. Every little town you go into, you know?”
Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga., won)
Broun ran unopposed. In 2011, Broun expressed his exasperation when “a guy in Arabian dress” did not receive secondary screening in an airport. He also once hosted David Yerushalmi at a Capitol Hill briefing on Islamic religious principles. Yerushalmi is listed among “the worst” Islamophobes in this report.
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C., won)
Ellmers won her race. In 2012, an Ellmers campaign ad used the terms “the Muslims” and “the terrorists” interchangeably. The ad implied that the Park 51 Muslim community center is a “victory mosque” celebrating the 9/11 attacks. In the ad, Ellmers said, “The terrorists haven’t won and we should tell them in plain English: No, there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero.”
Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn., lost)
The freshman lost his seat. During one of Rep. Peter King’s anti-Muslim hearings, Cravaack called CAIR, one of America’s leading Muslim organizations, “a terrorist organization.”
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz., won)
Franks won. He signed onto the Bachmann-led campaign to exclude Muslims from public service by labeling them infiltrators. He also participated in Rep. Sue Myrick’s press conference that attempted to label Muslim congressional interns as spies. Franks promotes the Islamophobia network’s inner core member and go-to Muslim, Zuhdi Jasser. This included penning a joint opinion piece with Jasser that was published in the Washington Times on May 13, 2012. Jasser is listed among “the worst” Islamophobes in this report.
Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas, won)
Gohmert advances the conspiracy theory that foreign terror supporters come to the United State to give birth so the child has American citizenship and can later return to America in order to commit atrocities.
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-III., lost)
Walsh was defeated. When a town hall meeting attendee told Walsh that he was “looking for some godly men and women in the Senate, in the Congress, who will stand in the face of the danger of Islam,” Walsh left the door open for suspicion of every Muslim living in certain parts of Illinois when he responded saying radical Islam is more of a threat “now that it was right after 9/11,” and, “It’s here. It’s in Elk Grove. It’s in Addison. It’s in Elgin. It’s here.”
Fate of Other Anti-Islam Republican Candidates
Adam Hasner (Fla., lost)
Former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, who ran for U.S. Congress in 2012, received Pamela Geller’s endorsement. Hasner said he and Geller “were on the front lines” opposing a Muslim community center in lower Manhattan in 2010. In 2009, Hasner invited Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders to speak at an anti-Islam summit in Florida. In 2011, Hasner boasted about boycotting the first-ever prayer offered by a Muslim in the Florida House. Hasner also helped found the anti-Muslim Florida Security Council, which subsequently evolved into the inner core organization United West.
Lou Ann Zelenik (Tenn., lost)
Lou Ann Zelenik, candidate for Tennessee’s sixth congressional district, said, “I consider 15 percent of Islam a religion, 85 percent political. It’s a total way of life. The only ones who do not call Islam a religion are the Muslims because it’s not a religion.”
As part of her campaign, Zelenik spoke against the expansion of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Zelenik attracted the support of multimillionaire Andy Miller, whose similar anti-Islam stance brought funds to that took Zelenik from being “regarded as a long shot, into contention.”
Zelenick promised supporters that if she was elected she would “work to stop the Islamization of our society, and do everything possible to prevent Sharia Law from circumventing our laws and our Constitution.”
Ted Cruz (Texas, won)
While making a campaign appearance, Cruz said, “Sharia law is an enormous problem.”
Itamar Gelbman (Texas, lost)
Itamar Gelbman, a candidate for the sixth congressional district in Texas, sent a mailer to about 40,000 homes which listed “Stop the Islamization of America” among the “Issues I will fight for.” Pamela Geller endorsed him. Gelbman lost in the primary.
Cindy Pugh (Minn. state legislature, won)
In November 2012, Tea Party candidate Cindy Pugh won a seat in Minnesota’s state legislature. Earlier that year, she had used her Facebook page to “compare Muslim women and children clad in traditional Islamic garb to garbage bags.”
Charlie Fuqua (Ark., lost)
In an Arkansas congressional race, Rep. James McLean defeated Fuqua, a candidate who advocated the deportation of all Muslims in a self-published book. The Republican Party of Arkansas distanced itself from the proposal with a spokesperson saying that Fuqua’s remarks “were highly offensive to many Americans and do not reflect the viewpoints of the Republican Party of Arkansas.”
Gabriela Saucedo Mercer (Ariz., lost)
Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, self-proclaimed Tea Party candidate for U.S. Congress in Arizona’s third district, was shown in a video interview stating: “If you know Middle Easterners, a lot of them, they look Mexican … and they mix … those people, their only goal in life is to cause harm to the United States, so why do we want them here, either legally or illegally.”
After being criticized for the comments, Mercer said that she meant to refer to terrorists. She then called the inner core group ACT! for America “a great tool where you can learn a lot” and then promoted an article titled, “Islamic Inventions? How Islamic Inventors Did Not Change The World.”
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer backed out of a fundraiser for Mercer after the comments drew public attention, but Brewer did not rescind her endorsement of Mercer.
N.Y. State Sen. David Storobin (N.Y., lost)
During his re-election campaign, Storobin wrote a letter to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg alleging that a mosque in Sheepshead Bay, N.Y. “may pose a danger to public safety.” Critics allege Storobin was seeking to bolster his image as a “right-wing conservative.”
Fate of Anti-Islam Democratic Candidates
Gary Boisclair (Minn., lost)
Boisclair, who registered to run for a Minnesota congressional seat but lives in West Virginia, exploited a campaign law that requires TV stations to run candidate’s ads to run his spot attacking Rep. Keith Ellison’s (D-Minn.) Islamic faith. Boisclair falsely claimed that, “The Koran says Christians and Jews are blasphemers, who should have their hands and feet cut off, and that they should be crucified and killed. Do you really want someone representing you who swears an oath on a Koran? A book that undermines our Constitution and says you should be killed?”
Ben Akselrod (N.Y., lost)
While pursuing a seat in New York’s General Assembly, Akselrod alleged that a mosque under construction in Sheepshead Bay, N.Y. would draw radical elements to the neighborhood. Critics say he was pandering to the anti-Islam group Bay People.
Persistence of the ‘Obama Is a Muslim’ Myth
In July 2012, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life reported that 30 percent of Republicans believe President Obama is a Muslim, while eight percent of Democrats believe the president is a Muslim.
In its coverage of a poll conducted by Democratic polling group Public Policy Polling, Talking Points Memo reported: “Asked whether Obama is Christian or Muslim, some 45 percent of Alabama Republican respondents picked Muslim; 14 percent correctly identified him as Christian. Another 41 percent said they were unsure. In Mississippi, a majority of Republicans, 52 percent, identified Obama as Muslim; 12 percent said he was Christian and 36 percent were undecided.”
Rev. Franklin Graham continued the false allegation that President Obama is a Muslim during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” saying, “I can’t say categorically [that Obama is not a Muslim] because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama.”
A banner reading “Muslim Lier” [sic] was hung on the south side of the building housing the Obama campaign headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa.
Other Islamophobia Incidents from the 2012 Election Cycle
- On the positive side, in December 2011, Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) responded to controversial remarks by presidential candidates Herman Cain and Rick Santorum on racial profiling of Muslims. Issa, a Republican of Lebanese descent, called the idea of profiling Muslims “farfetched” and called on law enforcement to be “sensible” when addressing risks.
- A committee was established in Virginia’s 87th House district to oppose an Arab-American Republican running for office. The Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force PAC opposed the nomination of David Ramadan, baselessly calling him a terrorist.
- In Orlando, Fla., the Tea Party was set to hold its convention with Islamophobe Pamela Geller as a speaker. However, few politicians made an appearance. GOP Senate candidates and presidential candidates said that they were unable to attend. Sid VanLandingham, the convention’s communications director, stated that this was due in part to the controversy surrounding Geller: “They [CAIR] put pressure, I think, on some of the state officials, and I think some of the state officials, in their judgments, they declined to go, [the officials’] reasons were ‘prior commitments’.”
- Georgia State Representative Judy Manning said, “I think Mitt Romney is a nice man, but I’m afraid of his Mormon faith. She then added, “It’s better than a Muslim.”
- Country music legend Hank Williams Jr. told a crowd at the Iowa State Fair, “We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S. and we hate him!”
Rep. Peter King’s Anti-Muslim Hearings
For seven years before the first hearing, King had maintained that “80%, 85% of the mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists,” and that average Muslims “are loyal,” but “don’t come forward, they don’t tell the police what they know. They won’t turn in their own.” In December 2010, he staunchly announced that he will “stand-by” the 85 percent number.
After announcing the hearings, King wrote, “Federal and local law enforcement officials throughout the country told me they received little or – in most cases – no cooperation from Muslim leaders and imams.” King promised Fox News that during the hearings there will be “law enforcement familiar with the facts.”
The fifth and final hearing, “The American Muslim Response to Hearings on Radicalization within their Community,” was a hearing about the hearings, and was not reviewed for this report.
The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and the Community’s Response
The first hearing was held on March 10, 2011. Given that the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life later called it the “top Islam-related story of the year” this was King’s moment to have government, law enforcement and expert witnesses support his allegations against the Muslim community.
Instead, three of the four witnesses on the hearing’s key second panel had no homeland security or other professional expertise relevant to the hearing’s topic. The only witness who did represent law enforcement was selected by the Democratic members of the committee.
Two of King’s witnesses offered only anecdotal stories of personal tragedy. King’s third witness, Zuhdi Jasser is a member of the Islamophobia network’s inner core and is discussed at length in the inner core section of this report. The New York Times said Jasser “has little following among Muslims but has become a favorite of conservatives for his portrayal of American Muslim leaders as radical Islamists.”
In King’s only attempt to back up his allegation that “80%, 85% of the mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists” during the entire series of hearings came when he asked Jasser if extremism is a “systemic problem” in the American Muslim community. Jasser, a physician, is not an expert and has conducted no research on the topic. Jasser’s response to King was vague and confused: “It’s a minority, but there’s an ideology that exists in some mosques — not all, not a majority — but in some mosques. And it’s a significant number.”
The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons
King’s second hearing, held in June 2011, focused on prison radicalization. The hearing did not feature any witnesses from the Bureau of Prisons or the Department of Justice.
In his opening remarks King noted that this was the third Congressional hearing on the issue in recent years, saying there are a “large number” of prison radicalization cases.
Seven months earlier, the Congressional Research Service (CRS)—the non-partisan entity within the Library of Congress that does research for Members of Congress—reported: “Based on CRS analysis of the 43 violent jihadist plots and attacks since 9/11, only one involved radicalization in prison. A study of 117 homegrown jihadist terrorists from the United States and the United Kingdom found only seven cases in which prison had a significant impact on an individual’s radicalization process.”
This led CRS to conclude that “the lack of conclusive prison-based radicalization among the jihadist terrorism plots and foiled attacks since 9/11 suggests that the threat emanating from prisons does not seem as substantial as some experts may fear.” When CRS updated the report in November 2011, one of 53 plots involved prison radicalization and the conclusion on prison radicalization from the first report remained unchanged.
Witnesses’ testimony reflected this conclusion. Michael Downing, deputy chief and commanding officer of the Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau of the Los Angeles Police Department, said it “remains a phenomena of low volume.” In his written testimony, Professor Bert Useem of Purdue University, whose work was funded by institutions affiliated with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, concluded, “My core argument, then, is that U.S. prisons are not systematically generating a terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland.”
Al Shabaab Recruitment and Radicalization Within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland
The third hearing in the series was held in July 2011. It focused on Al Shabaab, a Somali-based violent extremist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Again, there were no witnesses representing the federal government, the most important entity engaged in protecting the homeland from international terrorism.
In his opening statement for the hearing, King cited an incident in Minneapolis, saying, “When one cleric spoke out against al-Shabaab inside the Minneapolis mosque where many of the missing young Somali-American men had once worshiped, he was physically assaulted, according to police.” This statement is noteworthy as it continued King’s line of factually inaccurate attacks on the Muslim community.
The Muslim scholar, or “cleric” in King’s words, was at the mosque by invitation of its leadership. Hasan Jama, the mosque director, was the victim of the attack. Prior to Jama’s leadership, federal authorities alleged that some young attendees of the mosque had gone to join Al Shabaab in Somalia. Since taking the director position, Jama had been involved in flooding the mosque with “positive and peaceful messages.”
A news report on the incident also noted, “[FBI] officials say the mosque’s leaders have been involved in ongoing conversations between law enforcement and community members.”
Later in his opening statement, Rep. King attempted to argue that his hearings “are also liberating and empowering to the many Muslim-Americans who have been intimidated by the leaders in their own communities, and are now willing and able to come forward.” King asked witness Ahmed Hussen, a Canadian, to support this. Hussen said “yes,” but spoke only to shared values between Islam and the West, not to the dubious claim of “benefits” of King’s hearings, saying, “our religion is not incompatible with American or Canadian values.” There is nothing in Hussen’s written testimony supporting the notion that King was “liberating and empowering” Muslims.
Hussen, the hearing’s first witness, discussed the Canadian-Somali community at length. It is reasonable to question why this witness was selected. After the first hearing, Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones had called attention to “the good things happening here in Minnesota with our Somali community.” FBI agent Boelter, quoted above, also indicated a “helpful” Somali community. Why did King feel the need to go outside the United States for a witness, given that law enforcement officials had indicated a Somali community in Minnesota that was concerned and helpful?
According to the witnesses, groups like Al Shabaab show no compunction about killing Muslims.
“More Muslims are killed by Shabaab than anybody. That’s who they target,” said witness William Anders Folk, former Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Minnesota. Witness Thomas Jocelyn of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies concurred: “Most of Shabaab’s terrorism is actually focused on Muslims, both in Somalia and also the victimization of Muslims I would say internationally. … What they did is they found any Muslims that weren’t willing to work with them and they systematically killed them.”
Folk summed up neatly the sober reality regarding Al Shabaab: “The reality, Congressman, is that only a very small number of Somalis that have left the United States–or that have joined al-Shabaab–only a small number of Somalis have joined al- Shabaab as compared to the total number. But the reality is even that small number as compared to the large population is too many.”
Homegrown Terrorism: The Threat to Military Communities Inside the United States
The fourth hearing was held jointly with the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in December. This hearing featured two Department of Defense witnesses.
In his opening remarks, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) expressed the ongoing concern that singling out a faith minority as the sole threat could stigmatize Muslims.
Rep. King responded saying, “There’s no desire on anyone’s part to denigrate the tremendous contributions made by the Muslim American community. We’re talking about a very small, small minority, but a lethal minority.”
This remark stands in stark contrast to King’s statement to Frank Gaffney a few months earlier: “When a war begins, we’re all Americans. But in this case, this is not the situation. And whether it’s pressure, whether it’s cultural tradition, whatever, the fact is the Muslim community does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should.” [Emphasis added.]
The issue of broadening King’s examination of threats to homeland security received more attention than just Rep. Thompson’s comment. When asked by Rep. Laura Richardson (R-Calif.) if the “threat to U.S. communities is limited to Islamic extremists only,” all three Department of Defense witnesses on the first panel said no.
United States Army Senior Advisor on Counterintelligence Operations and liaison from the FBI Jim Stuteville, said that the Army was training its personnel to focus on “behavioral activity, not on any specific ideology, religion, or ethnic group. We adopted that approach because we want to make sure that we can account for any type of threat, both those previously and those in the future.”
Lt. Col. Reid Sawyer of the Combating Terrorism Center at West cited the “Christian right movement and the identity movement.”
A report issued by King’s committee staff on December 7, 2011 does acknowledge the honorable military service of many members of the American Muslim community:
At least 6,024 U.S. service members who declared Islam as their faith have served honorably in overseas war deployments since the 9/11 attacks, and 14 Muslim-American troops have been killed in action, all in Iraq, the Pentagon informed the Committee’s Majority Staff. We honor these American heroes, four of whom are buried in nearby Arlington National Cemetery, for making the ultimate sacrifice in service of our nation.
Conclusions Regarding Rep. King’s Hearings
1. After four hearings, King failed to prove allegations that the American Muslim community is led by fundamentalists and does not cooperate with law enforcement. Evidence available prior to the first hearing and five of the six law enforcement officers he brought to testify do not support these allegations.
Not a single witness attempted to factually validate the allegation that the Muslim community is run by extremists. Zuhdi Jasser, the only witness to attempt to back King up on the allegation, gave a rambling response to the charge that is exemplified by the contradictory positions he took in these sentences: “It’s a minority, but there’s an ideology that exists in some mosques — not all, not a majority — but in some mosques. And it’s a significant number.”
Five of the six law enforcement officers brought to testify at the hearings did not support King’s assertion that Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement.
Chief Smith of Saint Paul, Minn. talked about “strong relationships” with Somali Muslims.
Sherriff Baca of Los Angeles described “strong bonds” with the American Muslim community.
LAPD Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau Commander Michael Downing said, “Los Angeles is known for its outreach and engagement with Muslim communities”.
Neither of the two U.S. attorneys who testified criticized Muslim leadership or mosques. Instead, former U.S. attorney Kevin Smith described a Muslim community committed to the Constitution: “In our outreach and engagement with Muslim communities, we recognize, and the Muslim communities recognize, that the law of the land is the Constitution. And that there may be sharia principles in their community that they look at, similar to Jewish laws, but the law of the land, the rule of law is the Constitution of the United States.”
Additionally, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs Paul Stockton said in his written testimony, “Muslim-Americans are important allies in the effort to counter violent extremism in the United States.” Speaking during the hearing, Stockton said, “And that is recognizing the tremendous contributions of Muslim Americans to national security and the armed forces in particular. We need Muslim Americans in the United States military.”
Evidence and public statements of senior law enforcement officials available prior to the hearings also contradicted him.
To date, King has neither retracted his unsubstantiated allegations nor admitted that he was wrong.
King’s rhetorical smearing of an entire faith community is not based in fact. He needs to explain how standing by the allegations serves domestic security.
2. Over the course of four hearings, King did prove what was already known: that a small number of individuals within the American Muslim community are susceptible to violent extremism.
Over the last year King has proven—perhaps unintentionally—what everyone already knew: a small number of individuals within the American Muslim community are susceptible to Al-Qaeda’s ideology. Given this lack of revelation, it is difficult to justify the time and expense of these hearings to tax-payers and the stigmatization of the American Muslim community.
American Muslims are aware that even a small fraction of violent extremists represent a threat to their nation.
Rather than joining Muslims and their representative organizations in expanding efforts to deny Al-Qaeda and its ideology any safe haven, King unapologetically continues to cast suspicion on the entire community.
3. King’s record of leveling unsubstantiated allegations and biased attacks on the Muslim community and habit of calling people with records of anti-Muslim bias as potential witnesses and information sources denies him any credibility in discussions about American Muslims and homeland security.
A sober and objective examination of terrorism and the threat of violent extremism is important. King’s penchant for spicy, self-serving sound bites makes for entertaining TV, but it belittles the subject.
CAIR asserts that Rep. King’s politically exploitative approach to the subject resulted in both broad-spectrum pushback against him and public disinterest in his hearings, after the significant attention given to the first one.
Chairman King’s general response to criticism of his hearings was that political correctness needed to be put aside for the sake of examining this threat to the homeland. CAIR agrees with putting aside political correctness in an effort to have substantive discussions. However, we also believe that King’s broad brush indictments of an entire religious minority can play no role in a serious examination of threats to our nation.
4. King’s committee is charged with helping to protect the homeland against terrorist attacks. Al-Qaeda and its allies remain the most significant terrorist threat to our nation, but other groups have carried out attacks. King’s decision to give these groups a free pass allows them a safer space to operate outside the light of his committee’s scrutiny.
Three Department of Defense witnesses agreed that threats to military communities emanate from multiple sources, not just violent extremists who claim to be acting in the name of Islam.
William Anders Folk, former Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota, said that his professional experiences taught him that threats from multiple ideologies “require the unwavering attention of law enforcement.” Police Chief Tom Smith of Saint Paul, Minnesota also agreed about the need to be concerned about domestic-based terror from groups such as white extremists. Mr. Thomas Joscelyn, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, replied “certainly” when asked if Al Shabaab was attempting to recruit in communities other than among Muslims.
Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Witch Hunt
Bachmann’s conspiracy theory was built on a report issued by the Center for Security Policy, the organization headed by Frank Gaffney.
Central among those targeted was Huma Abedin, aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After having a team evaluate Bachmann’s allegations against Abedin, CNN’s Anderson Cooper said, “But the truth is [Bachmann and the others] don’t have any direct evidence. What they have are allegations of past connections of relatives of hers that are tenuous at best.”
Others attacked by Bachmann and her colleagues included:
- Mohamed Elibiary: An advisor to law enforcement organizations at the local, state, and federal levels. In 2011, the Society of Former Special Agents honored Elibiary for his “extraordinary contributions to specific cases in support of the FBI’s counter terrorism mission.”
- Dalia Mogahed: Mogahed was appointed to the president’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and has advised the Department of Homeland Security.
- Imam Mohamed Magid: He enjoys widespread interfaith respect and has also advised the Department of Homeland Security.
The letters also attacked organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and Muslim Advocates.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) responded to his fellow Minnesotan in a letter of his own. Ellison questioned Bachmann’s reliance on Gaffney, saying, “Mr. Gaffney’s views have been widely discredited, including by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and conservative organizations.” Bachmann’s 16 page response to Ellison contained no substantive facts to back up her allegations.
Bachmann’s original conspiracy theory was soundly criticized by other Republicans.
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), said, “These attacks have no logic, no basis, and no merit and they need to stop. They need to stop now.” McCain also said, “These allegations about Huma, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant.”
When asked about the controversy, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, “From everything that I do know of [Abedin], she has a sterling character and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.”
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a former FBI agent who chairs the committee on which Bachmann serves, also rejected her allegations saying, “That kind of assertion certainly doesn’t comport with the Intelligence Committee, and I can say that on the record.”
Edward Rollins, who was Bachmann’s campaign chief during her 2012 presidential run, said: “Having worked for Congressman Bachman’s campaign for president, I am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joe McCarthy level.”
The episode ended up being a very welcome example of public officials supporting Americans of the Islamic faith in a bipartisan manner. On Election Day 2012, Bachmann only retained her House seat by a very narrow margin. It was not a total loss for Bachmann: she raised more than $1 million in 25 days after the letter controversy started.
Targeting Students and Education
In January 2011 Patriots United, a Tea Party-linked group in Broward County, Fla., sent letters claiming schools in that state were brainwashing American children to favor Islam. Patriots United leader Sheri Krass told the St. Petersburg Times, “I’m not Ms. Paranoid or anything like that. But I do know I heard some of these major publishers have backing with Arab countries, that are financially backed in some way, or they are somehow being influenced in some way by them.”
In July 2011, acting on information from ACT! for America, Virginia’s Prince William County Tea Party Patriots distributed an email challenging “pro-Islamic bias in a local school textbook and claiming that the author “revises history to present Islam in a better light.”
At a time when Arabic language skills were in demand, the Mansfield school district in Texas discarded plans to implement an Arabic studies program. Of the decision, Cross Timbers Elementary School assistant principal said, “We had people who were animatedly fearful of anything to do with Islam.”
At a planning commission meeting for the Michigan Islamic Academy, opponents made “derogatory comments … regarding the religious practices of Muslims.”
An elementary school in Hatfield, Pennsylvania canceled the reading of “A Song for Me, A Muslim Holiday Story,” a book written by a local Muslim mother and school volunteer. The cancellation occurred after significant protest from other school parents and community members.
California parent Dawn Kingsley objected to a school curriculum that teaches students about Islam. The Chico Unified School District replied that they were following state mandated guidelines. The district’s director of alternative education, John Bohannon, stated that, “Teaching about the different types of religion isn’t against the law. You just can’t teach to favor one religion over another.”
After a Muslim speaker gave a lecture on Islam to an advanced placement high school class in Tampa Bay, Fla., anti-Islam activists “ham-handedly equated [speaker Hassan] Shibly’s appearance with supporting terrorism.”
In Pennsylvania, Rev. Bruce Leonatti attacked a middle school social studies book he called “an Islamic Tojan horse.” Leonatti admitted having ties to ACT! for America. Leonatti cited passages from myWorld History: Early Ages that say, “The Arab Muslim empire was generally tolerant towards Jews and Christians,” and “Medieval Christians would not tolerate even minor differences in beliefs,” as evidence that the textbook promotes Islam over other faiths. The school district’s superintendent found the textbook to be acceptable.
In November 2012, opponents of a proposal to give students in Broward County, Fla., two additional days off during the school year to observe Islamic holidays alleged that the idea was “cultural jihad.” One female speaker warned the hearing, “Do not lose sight of their end game. First, it’s a seemingly innocent request to recognize a holiday or two. The camel’s nose is pushed further into the tent when you will be asked to have school girls in Broward wear the hijab, the veil which covers the head and neck, so as not to insult the Muslim boys. And then it will become mandatory and you will have a camel living with you in your home.”
There were 22 recorded anti-mosque acts in 2011. This included a mosque in Stockton, Calif. which was destroyed by what an insurance investigator concluded was arson. A man living next to a mosque in Amherst, N.Y. posted a sign on his property reading, “Bomb Making Next Driveway.” During a hearing for a proposed mosque in Plymouth, Minn. individuals opposed to the project asserted, “aiding the enemy is treason,” and “this is an ideology that wants to destroy.”
There were 53 recorded anti-mosque acts in 2010 and 13 in 2009.
Anti-Mosque Acts by Year
** CAIR includes an incident in the zoning category only if bias is clearly identified in zoning proceedings. Places of worship of many faiths routinely face opposition from neighbors due to traffic or land use concerns. Incidents where no bias is identified by CAIR are not included in our counts.
Three notable spikes in anti-mosque activity have been identified since CAIR began maintaining the mosque incident database in 2009:
- September 2010 (12 acts), likely as a result of the national controversy over a planning Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan.
- May 2011 (7 acts), likely related to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
- August 2012 (10 acts), probably all in reaction to the massacre of six Sikh worshippers by a white supremacist in Oak Creek, Wis.
2011-2012 Anti-Mosque Acts by State
Aside from arson and spray painting, other types of common vandalism as Islamic places of worship included the use of pork products and the burning of Qurans. Like people of the Jewish faith, Muslims do not eat pork products.
2010’s national controversy over Park 51, a planned Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan, was the most visible mosque incident to date. Two other facilities also faced extended disputes involving multiple anti-Islamic acts: the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tenn. and the Sheepshead Bay Community Center in Sheepshead Bay, N.Y.
While mosques too often face biased opposition to construction and expansion, CAIR notes that when a Muslim community stands by its project the community will generally emerge successful.
Research Shows Positive Growth in U.S. Mosques
The American Mosque 2011: Basic Characteristics of the American Mosque, Attitudes of Mosque Leaders,” a comprehensive study of mosques and the attitudes of mosque leaders in the United States released in February 2012, indicated that the number of American mosques increased 74 percent between 2000 and 2011 and that Muslim houses of worship are ethnically-diverse institutions led by officials who advocate positive civic engagement.
The report’s major findings included:
- The number of mosques and mosque participants continued to show significant growth, from 1,209 mosques in 2000 to 2,106 in 2011. New York and California had the largest number of mosques. Seventy-six percent of mosques were established since 1980.
- Mosque leaders overwhelmingly endorsed Muslim involvement in American society. More than 98 percent of mosque leaders agreed that Muslims should be involved in American institutions and 91 percent agreed that Muslims should be involved in politics.
- The vast majority of mosque leaders did not feel that American society is hostile to Islam.
- Mosques remained an extremely diverse religious institution. Only a tiny minority of mosques (3 percent) had just one ethnic group that attends that mosque. South Asians, Arab-Americans and African-Americans remained the dominant ethnic groups, but significant numbers of Somalis, West Africans and Iraqis worshiped at mosques nationwide.
- The number of mosques in urban areas was decreasing, while the number of mosques in suburban areas was increasing. In 2011, 28 percent of mosques were located in suburbs, up from 16 percent in 2000.
Others have noted this increase in the number of Muslim places of worship. In 2011, religion scholar Paul Numrich drove through Chicago and counted a total of 91 mosques. Chicago is home to an estimated 400,000 Muslims. “I think this is the lesser-told story,” Numrich stated. “The story we hear is the controversy.”
After reviewing a survey of more than a thousand American Muslims, researchers at Harvard University and the University of Washington concluded that “there is no systematic data whatsoever to support the claim that mosque involvement or religiosity among American Muslims are associated with anti-American attitudes or behavior.” The report authors then concluded that, consistent with research on other religious groups, mosques “help integrate Muslims into US society.”
More than a Quarter of Americans Are Not OK with Having a Mosque in Their Area
In March 2011 a CNN/Opinion Research Survey Corporation poll found that “69% of Americans would be ‘OK’ with a mosque in their area while 28% would not. But there are big differences depending on where you live. Half of rural Southerners say they disapprove of a mosque in their neighborhood, while 42% say they would be ‘OK’ with it. That rises to roughly three-quarters among those who live in cities and suburbs.”
A 2011 poll of Tennesseans conducted by Vanderbilt University found that 37.4 percent of respondents felt local communities “should be able to prohibit construction of mosques.”
These short synopses represent only a few of the mosque incidents tracked by CAIR in 2011 and 2012:
Joplin, Mo., August 2012 – One month after a failed arson attempt in which security cameras recorded a man tossing a flaming object onto the building, the facility of the Islamic Society of Joplin was burned to the ground. The building was valued at an estimated $600,000. A CAIR staffer who visited the wreckage the day after the fire reported “people driving by in their trucks cursing the mosque.” By mid-September the FBI and ATF were offering $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of the arsonist.
Plymouth City, Minn., August 2011 – City council members described receiving “vile, religiously hostile” emails from people opposed to a local mosque construction project. During a hearing on the proposal, one person opposing the North West Islamic Community Center said, “Aiding the enemy is treason.” The center opened its doors in July 2012.
St. Anthony City, Minn., June 2012 – “Vile anti-Muslim remarks” were made at a St. Anthony City Council meeting. The hearing involved plans to establish the Abu Huraira Islamic Center. The council voted against the plan and allegations of bias were made. The Department of Justice agreed to review the allegations. In the interim, mosque leadership bought property for their place of worship.
Central City, Ill., September 2011 – A small package with no return address appeared at the door of the Islamic Center of Centralia in September 2011. The authorities and bomb squad responded and evacuated the facility and residents in the area. The package was not a bomb but did contain burned Qurans and hate mail.
New York, N.Y., September 2011 – A burnt copy of the Quran was sent to Masjid Hefaz, arriving on the day before the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. The package also contained mocking drawings of the Prophet Muhammad.
Ontario, Calif., August 2012 -Three pig legs were thrown on the driveway of the Al-Nur Islamic Center. Witnesses reported two women driving a white pick-up truck came during night time prayers and hurled the objects from the vehicle. It was being investigated as a hate crime. The congregation has faced vocal opposition in the past.
Wichita, Kan., October 2011 – An arsonist started a fire at the Islamic Association of Mid-Kansas, which spread and gutted the mosque’s attic causing $150,000 of damage. In 2012, The ATF offered $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible. The mosque had previously received hate mail that included offensive remarks about Islam and crude images of the Prophet Muhammad as a pig.
Morton Grove, Ill., August 2012 – Two air rifle shots were fired at the outer wall of the Muslim Education Center (MEC) mosque in Morton Grove. The shots were heard by worshipers outside the mosque and were powerful enough to damage the building’s brick wall. David Conrad was arrested and faced four felony charges for allegedly firing the shots.
Lomita, Calif., March 2010 – The city council of Lomita, California rejected the Islamic Center of South Bay’s (ICSB) application to renovate its facilities. ICSB had been present in the community since 1985. Many involved in the process felt the denial was predicated on anti-Muslim bias due to a small but vocal and organized opposition. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice opened a civil rights investigation of the apparently biased decision by the city. In March 2012 the Greater Los Angeles Area office of CAIR, along with the law firm of Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick LLP, filed a legal complaint against the city. In January 2013, a conditional agreement was announced between ICSB and the City of Lomita to settle the claim that the city violated the law when it denied the mosque’s application to rebuild and renovate.
Dupage County, Ill. – Writing in the Chicago Tribune on March 17, 2011, Serena Maria Daniels and Joe Ruzich observed, “The Zoning Board’s action [concerning the proposed Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America (MECCA)] marked the third time in recent months it has recommended against proposals concerning Muslim places of worship.” The county planning board asserted part of its rationale for rejecting the center was that it may “add to an oversaturation of religious institutions in the area.” Observers were unaware of such an argument ever being made regarding other places of worship. The MECCA Center was ultimately approved and, according to the group’s web site, is now under construction.
One of the other facilities that had been recommended against was the Irshad Learning Center. The property had previously been used by a family as a secular education center. In January 2010, however, a Muslim group, was denied a permit—without explanation—to use the facility in a similar manner. CAIR-Chicago filed a lawsuit on behalf of the center arguing violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments as well as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. In March 2011 a federal judge rejected most of the county’s motion to dismiss and the matter went to discovery. The judge’s ruling included references to Islamophobia being involved in opposition to the mosque, saying for example, “The Naperville Tea Patriots posted a letter dated January 4, 2010, addressed to Naperville City Council members, suggesting that the conditional use application was a form of ‘Stealth Jihad’ and that Plaintiff intended to spread ‘Radical-Jihadist Islamic Ideology.’ Constance Gavras, leader of a local Act! for America chapter said, “A lot of these mosques are directly connected to terrorist organizations.”
Temecula, Calif. – After a long struggle, city planning officials unanimously approved a development plan for the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley in December 2010. The approval was appealed by the anti-mosque group Concerned American Citizens whose leadership alleged that churches in the area were held to higher standards than the mosque. According to the Los Angeles Times, some hearing speakers “hurled visceral attacks against Islam, warning that the mosque would serve as a strategic foothold for extremists bent on undercutting America’s values and laws.” As one example of the type of tactics used to protest the expansion plan, in July 2010 anti-mosque demonstrators were urged to bring dogs to the regular Friday congregational prayers to harass worshipers. Despite this opposition, groundbreaking for the project took place in September 2012.
Lombard, Ill., August 2012 – Someone threw a bottle filled with acid and other unspecified materials at the College Preparatory School of America in Lombard as worshipers were inside praying nighttime Ramadan prayers. Worshipers said they heard a loud bang and discovered that the acid bomb had been thrown at the window of the school. No one was injured.
Bridgewater, N.J. – An editorial in New Jersey’s Courier News stated that opposition to a proposed mosque in Bridgewater was “fueled in significant part by racism.” The editors quoted one mosque opponent as saying the mosque “represents a coming in and taking over an entire community by the Islamic World.” Backers of the Al Falah Center filed suit against Bridgewater Township after passage of a zoning ordinance restricting places of worship ended a zoning dispute. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that during the early stage of the application process the township had not raised issues relating to zoning laws, with the planning board’s expert concluding that the mosque would not measurably change local traffic patterns. The suit alleged that “a storm of anti-Muslim hysteria and sentiment” changed that and resulted in the altered zoning ordinance. A judge declined to dismiss the suit and, at the time of writing this report, the parties are in negotiations.
Lilburn, Ga., August 2011 – In a settlement following a DOJ civil rights investigation, the city of Lilburn, Georgia agreed “not to impose different zoning or building requirements on Dar-E-Abbas or other religious groups, and to publicize its nondiscrimination policies and practices.” The DOJ had found that the city’s denial of a zoning change for the mosque was based on “religious bias of city officials and to appease members of the public who opposed the construction of a mosque because of religious bias.”
Two episodes of anti-mosque activity merit special focus to highlight the sustained nature of some of these episodes.
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) became the focus one of the nation’s most vitriolic and sustained anti-mosque campaigns after its congregation announced plans in 2009 to move from an overcrowded space in an office park. The ICM was established in 1982 and congregants had worshiped without significant incident since then.
Shortly after purchasing a new property, congregants discovered that vandals had spray-painted “not welcome” on signs announcing the new mosque.
The Rutherford County Planning Commission unanimously approved ICM’s plans in May 2010. At the June meeting, more than 600 people protested the approval. During the meeting, Allen Jackson of the World Outreach Church said, “We have a duty to investigate anyone under the banner of Islam.”
By December 2010, Tennessee taxpayers paid in excess of $75,000 to fight a lawsuit aimed at punishing the officials who approved the mosque project.
According to a local TV station, opponents of the project feared “the mosque [would] draw a terrorist element to Rutherford County.” While running for U.S. Congress, Lou Ann Zelenick railed against the mosque, asserting Islam is not a religion but a political ideology.
In April 2011, fourteen plaintiffs joined a lawsuit attempting to block construction of the center. A statement issued by the plaintiff ’s lawyer read, “The residents neighboring the property of the 52,000-square-foot Muslim Brotherhood Training Center fear for their property values, their safety, their privacy and constitutional rights.” In May, judges found that the plaintiffs “failed to prove they’re being harmed.”
In September 2011, Javier Alan Correa called the mosque and threatened it, saying, “On September 11, 2011, there’s going to be a bomb in the building.” Correa was indicted in June 2012.
In 2012, a judge ruled that the planning commission did not provide adequate public notice of the meeting in which the building plans would be discussed and instructed planning officials to not issue mosque officials an occupancy permit. Shortly afterward, a federal judge stepped in and allowed an occupancy permit to be issued.
The members of Murfreesboro’s Grace Baptist Church voted to erect 13 white crosses on their property across from the mosque when it opened. Mack Richards told the Daily News Journal, “It was more or less to make a statement to the Muslims about how we felt about our religion, our Christianity.”
When the community held an official opening ceremony for the mosque in November 2012, Imam Ossama Bahloul noted, “Yes, we received hundreds of hate (emails), but we received thousands of supportive ones. It reminds us that the majority of people are good.”
The Associated Press’s Travis Loller noted that other mosques in Tennessee in places like Memphis and Chattanooga had experienced a much warmer response from their community. Loller identified several contributing factors to the atmosphere of hate in Murfreesboro:
- The Rutherford Reader: a weekly paper whose anti-Muslim columns’ hostility was so great local Kroger grocery stores pulled the publication from their shelves.
- Lou Ann Zelenick: a twice-failed congressional candidate who used anti-Muslim rhetoric as a substantive part of her campaign. After losing her first bid for office she helped co-found the anti-Muslim Tennessee Freedom Coalition.
- State Senator Bill Ketron: sponsor of anti-Islam legislation discussed elsewhere in this report.
- Local leaders, such as the mayor and chamber of commerce, did not clearly reject the hateful words and actions against the mosque and the Muslim community. (Note: The Tennessean reported that Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess “doggedly moved forward” with the mosque approval process despite opposition.)
Sheepshead Bay, New York
In 2008, a Muslim small-business owner purchased land in Sheepshead Bay, N.Y. with the intention of replacing the single-family home that stood on the property with a mosque. The Muslim American Society subsequently bought the property from him. The facility was expected to serve about 1,500 people.
Critics of the mosque “inflamed racial tensions with anti-Islamic remarks.” Protests at the site have been frequent and opponents were reported holding signs saying “Islam not welcome here” and “New York is not Islamabad.”
A group called Bay People was formed to oppose the mosque’s construction. While Bay People asserted concerns over traffic issues, in 2010 the Forward noted, “Their group’s own website goes considerably further. ‘The neighborhood residents are mostly of Italian/Russian/ Jewish/Irish decent (sic) and will not benefit from having a mosque and a Muslim community center,’ reads the website, baypeople.org.”
Bay People ultimately lost a legal challenge they filed seeking to stop the mosque.
Conservative columnist Andrea Peyser wrote two columns in the New York Post in 2010 with ominous warnings about the mosque.
In June 2010 a bomb threat was made against the mosque. The Brooklyn Paper reported that a protester at an anti-mosque rally threatened violence in an effort to block construction of the mosque. The newspaper quoted one of the protesters, who said: “If they build a mosque there, I’m going to bomb the mosque … I will give them a lot of trouble … They’re not going to stay here alive.”
In March 2011, 120 protesters led by Pamela Geller, a nationally recognized leader of the Islamophobia industry, opposed the construction of the mosque asserting that the Muslim Brotherhood was behind it and asking “Why here?”. In May 2011 “He is dead” and smiley faces were spray painted on the mosque construction site days after the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Anti-Muslim Trainers and Organizations
The tone and content of these training sessions reflect the trainers’ personal biases more than any subject matter expertise.
A frequent theme is that Islam itself is the problem: the trainers say that Islam is inherently violent and aggressive, making it the root cause of radicalization, and that therefore Muslims are not to be trusted. Among the many flaws with this argument is that it selectively picks the most extreme opinions in Islamic history and claims that two verses of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, known as “verses of the sword,” override all 113 verses stressing self-defense, peace, forgiveness, patience and tolerance.
Another common theme is one of “civilizational conflict” between the west and Islam. This includes rhetoric and historical explanations of how and why the two “civilizations” are ideologically opposed and incompatible. These lessons will often suggest, either implicitly or explicitly, that conflict between Islam and the west is inevitable.
A third theme is specifically attacking the character of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Often, the Prophet is portrayed as detestable and dangerous.
In 2011, the government released plans to improve its homegrown counterterrorism training and remove all unqualified trainers with anti-Muslim bias. Also in 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued federal interagency guidelines on countering violent extremism curriculum standards, Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Training: Guidance and Best Practices.
That same year, the U.S. military went through its training material and is reported to have removed information on Islam that was biased and inaccurate. Similarly, the FBI “pulled more than 700 documents and 300 presentations that stereotyped Islam or were factually inaccurate” from its training materials. The agency issued The FBI’s Guiding Principles Touchstone Document on Training in 2012.
CAIR does not wish to repeat the excellent work of investigative reporters and organizations that shined a glaring light on anti-Muslim law enforcement training in 2011. Our contribution to the discussion is the below summary of some of the major biased trainers and the organizations or companies they use. While the Federal government has made great strides in ending the use of such trainers, opportunities still exist for them at the state and local levels.
Archangel Group (John Giduck)
John Giduck’s book Terror at Beslan is the lone source describing rapes by the terrorists who held hostages at a school in Beslan, Russia. When asked by Washington Monthly reporters about his sources for the allegations, “[Giduck] did not explain why no other journalist among the dozens assigned to cover Beslan had managed to unearth such accounts.” Giduck believes, “Going back to the time of Mohammed, Muslims’ goal has been to take over the world.” Additionally, the Washington Monthly article notes that Giduck advances the idea that government representatives should shoot terrorists in the back of the head twice. He argues, “I think the first thing we need to do is pass federal legislation exempting law enforcement from any civil or criminal prosecution, any liability at all, for what they do if there is a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.”
Counter Terrorism Operations Center (Sam Kharoba)
The Counter Terrorism Operations Center (CTOC) asserts that Sam Kharoba “has trained over 20,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers.” Kharoba is discussed at length under the Counter Terrorism Operations Center entry in the Inner Core section of this report.
Center for Security Policy (Frank Gaffney)
Frank Gaffney is quoted as stating: “Members of our team have been involved in training programs for several years now, many of which have been focused on local law enforcement intelligence, homeland security, state police, National Guard units and the like.” Frank Gaffney is discussed at length under the Center for Security Policy entry in the Inner Core section of this report.
Extreme Terrorism Consulting (Richard Hughbank)
Extreme Terrorism Consulting says that it is “in the business of educating security and emergency crisis response professionals so they can better understand terror.” President Richard Hughbank believes, “For Muslims, jihad is not simply a word that represents going to war. It is a way of life that stems directly from a religious belief structure dating back to the time of their prophet Muhammed. Eliminating or enslaving non-Muslims globally is their ultimate goal, and terrorism is the primary vehicle they intend to use to reach this Caliphate.”
Forum for Middle East Understanding (Walid Shoebat)
The Forum for Middle East Understanding (FFMU) claims “to educate the public concerning the issues of the Middle East including Culture, religion, politics and Terrorism.” Shoebat is discussed at length under the Forum for Middle East Understanding entry in the Inner Core section of this report.
Strategic Engagement Group (Stephen Coughlin and John Guandolo)
Strategic Engagement Group claims the “Islamic movement” is a threat to American civil liberties and speaks of Islamic centers as “potential military compounds.”
Stephen Coughlin of the Strategic Engagement Group has given many lectures on Islam at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and at the FBI’s D.C. field office, and has worked as a consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
According to Thom Cincotta:
In his thesis, Coughlin took issue with President George W. Bush’s assertion that ‘the terrorists are traitors to their own faith.’ According to Coughlin, Bush, Rice, and other Administration officials were wrong to declare Islam a religion of peace that had been hijacked by a few violent extremists for an agenda that has nothing to do with Islam. To Coughlin, these officials ignored all evidence that Islamic law obligates Muslims to use violence in the name of spreading or defending the faith.
John Guandolo, another senior official with the Strategic Engagement Group, left the FBI shortly after reports surfaced that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with a key witness in a corruption trial. During a 2012 anti-Muslim training in Tennessee, he was filmed shoving a local news cameraman who attempted to cover the training.
Guandolo believes that mosques are “front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood with no right to exist.”
Of Guandolo, the Times-Gazette reported, “Every major Muslim organization is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, the former FBI agent said, which he said was formed to overthrow America and establish Islamic law. ‘They’re having great success of implementing Shariah law, I could give you a thousand examples.’”
On its website, Strategic Engagement Group proudly highlights two testimonials that retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin wrote for the organization. Boykin is known for arguing that Islam is not a religion and that Muslims should be denied First Amendment protections.
Security Solutions International, LLC (SSI)
Security Solutions International’s website describes its mission as “to serve the nation’s Military and First Responders” as well as to aid or consult “an agency that has a problem with a homegrown extremist group.”
In his review of SSI, Thom Cincotta raised several concerns about course content:
- “SSI’s seminars for peace officers include … courses on ‘The Islamic Jihadist Threat,’ ‘Jihad 2.0,’ and a conference entitled, ‘Allah in America.’
- During a course on ‘Middle Eastern Culture and Terrorism,’ instructors devote time to teach police about alleged Islamic conspiracies like the ‘Legal Wing of Jihad in America.’
- SSI’s Chief Executive Officer Solomon Bradman has stated that he “can’t take the responsibility of [his] course linking their religion [Islam] to terrorism. I think their religion got linked to terrorism a long time ago.”
In one webinar taught by SSI, “Middle Eastern Culture and Terrorist Strategies,” a trainer stated: “we pretty much pick on everybody; we particularly pick on Muslims” and “ISLAM Mandate is to dominate the world.” The topics taught that “can actually help detect radical threats” are the life of the Prophet Mohammad, the Ramadan month of fasting and “Arab naming conventions.”
In 2010, CAIR’s Washington state chapter announced that a webinar on security technology for law enforcement personnel co-sponsored by Security Solutions International (SSI) was canceled after two of the presenters withdrew from the event due to community concerns about SSI’s anti-Islam bias.
Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley
While serving as an instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., Dooley taught fellow officers that only a “total war” on Islam would protect America, that they should use “Hiroshima” tactics, target civilian populations, and abandon the Geneva Conventions.
Dooley told students, “It is therefore time for the United States to make. our true intentions clear. This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated. Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction.”
Mark A. Gabriel
Allegedly a Muslim convert to Christianity, Gabriel claims to be a former Ph.D. recipient from Al-Azhar University, a prestigious Islamic university in Egypt.
According to Gabriel, the only solution to terrorism committed in the name of Islam is to convert all Muslims to Christianity. He said: “Political and military actions have a role to play, but they will not take this evil away. There is only One to rescue us: He is the source of peace and the prince of peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Gabriel believes, “Muhammad came to bring revenge, hatred, lust, killing, bloodshed. This is … it’s very obvious.” Gabriel also asserts, “I would love to say to any Muslim man or woman, in any place around the world, Islam will not give you peace, Muhammad will never lead you to a right way to connect with God, and to experience his love, his forgiveness, his peace.”
Gabriel also believes, “Islam is full of discrimination—against women, against non-Muslims, against Christians and most especially against Jews. Hatred is built in to the religion. The history of Islam, which was my special area of study, could only be characterized as a river of blood.”
P. David Gaubatz
Gaubatz is the former leader of the “Mapping Shari’a” project of the hate group Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE). Before it deleted its original website, SANE published a policy proposal that would make being Muslim in America a felony punishable by twenty years in prison.
Gaubatz has been known to express contempt for law enforcement officers. In 2008, he wrote: “Upon my arrival the FBI, Columbus PD and ISNA security officers were conducting foot surveillance (and doing a very, very poor job). After about 3 hours of their poor surveillance and my playing with them, they gave in.”
According to Gaubatz, “As an ideology [Islam] is a terminal disease that once spread is hard to destroy. Once the ideology (cancer) takes hold it is like trying to remove millions of cancerous cells in one’s body. Not impossible to remove, but very, very unlikely.”
Following the massacre of U.S. soldiers by Major Nidal Hassan at Fort Hood, Gaubatz wrote:
Politicians, Muslims, and law enforcement are concerned about a ‘backlash’ against Muslims. Now is the time for a professional and legal backlash against the Muslim community and their leaders. Muslims know what materials are being taught in their mosques and they know many of the materials instruct young Muslims to kill innocent people who do not adhere to Sharia law. If Muslims do not want a backlash, then I would recommend a ‘house cleaning.’ Stack every Saudi, al Qaeda, Pakistani, Taliban, Hamas, and Muslim Brotherhood piece of material from their mosque and have a bonfire. Tell the American, Jewish, and Muslim community this hatred will no longer be allowed in their mosques.
Ramon V. Montijo
Montijo is a partner/instructor with the New Mexico Institute of Intelligence, (NMII). According to the Washington Post’s “Monitoring America,” Montijo told those in his classes that most Muslims want to impose sharia law in the United States. He said: “They want to make this world Islamic. The Islamic flag will fly over the White House – not on my watch!”
Walid Phares, who has taught for the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies and the National Defense University, is a “former official with the Lebanese Forces, a Christian militia.” This militia was implicated, by Israel’s official Kahan inquiry and other sources, in the 1982 massacre of civilian men, women and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon.
In 1999, Phares’ World Lebanese Organization included among its “leading members” both “Col. Sharbel Baraket, former deputy commander of the [South Lebanese Army], and Etienne Sakr, head of the radical Guardians of the Cedars group.” Until its closure in 1999, the South Lebanese Army (SLA) controlled the notorious Khiam Prison. Human Rights Watch has stated, “It is indisputable that systematic torture occurred in Khiam.” The SLA also perpetrated atrocities such as the 1984 massacre in which its members “fired guns and hurled hand grenades at men rounded up for questioning.”
Similarly, Sakr’s group earned “a reputation for atrocities” during the Lebanese civil war. Responding to questions about his group’s role in the Sabra and Shatila massacres, Sakr said, “We have the full right to deal with our enemies in Lebanon in the manner we find suitable.”
Phares argues that “jihadists within the West pose as civil rights advocates” and patiently recruit until “[a]lmost all mosques, educational centers, and socioeconomic institutions fall into their hands.”
With the power of “community representation,” they [jihadists] established a net of connections with the Arab civil rights movements and civic associations. Amazingly enough, while their comrades oppress millions of people overseas, the jihadists within the West pose as civil rights advocates, interested solely in the “rights” of their immigrant communities.
Spencer is a well-known anti-Muslim activist and pseudo-expert on Islam. He has no degree in Islamic studies; he has a M.A. in religious studies from UNC-Chapel Hill where he focused on early Christianity. Spencer is discussed at length under the Jihad Watch entry in the Inner Core section of this report.
Gawthrop is an intelligence analyst who was worked with the FBI and the Defense Department’s Counterintelligence Field Activity and has compiled and taught briefings at Quantico, the National Defense Intelligence College and to New York City’s chapter of InfraGard, a partnership organization between the FBI and the public sector.
Gawthrop has been part of the faculty of American Military University, a 20-year-old online higher education institution that mostly enrolls veterans seeking jobs in security and intelligence.
Gawthrop, in a 2006 interview to WorldNetDaily, claimed that “Muhammad’s mindset is a source for terrorism.”
On June 8, 2011, he gave a presentation to the New York Metro InfraGard in which he recommended that the fight should not focus on one terrorist group, such as al-Qaida, but on the ideology of Islam.
In the same lecture, he advised that law enforcement agents undermine militants by attacking the religion of Islam. Pointing at his presentation to the words “Holy Texts” and “Clerics” he said, “If you remember Star Wars, that ventilation shaft that goes down to into the depths of the Death Star, they shot a torpedo down there. That’s a critical vulnerability … we should be looking at, should be aiming at these.”
John Marsh is the acting Law Enforcement Coordinator for the US Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He is a self-described “intelligence specialist,” and has presented and lectured to the Defense Department.
He has repeatedly given a presentation from 2010 that discusses a “Civilizational Jihad” throughout history. He uses fear and war-like rhetoric and claims that the goal of this “Civilizational Jihad” is a “Replacement of American Judeo-Christian and Western liberal social, political and religious foundations by Islam.”
Marsh often does not distinguish between “terrorist” and “Islamic terrorist.” In one of his presentations he writes that terrorists “1. All Say they are Muslims. 2. All believe they are acting as followers of the true Islam.” In the same presentation he discusses a quote from the son of the founder of Hamas saying, “It doesn’t matter if he’s a terrorist or a traditional Muslim. At the end of the day a traditional Muslim is doing the will of a fanatic, fundamentalist, terrorist God.”
He uses inflammatory imagery when discussing Islam, including an image of the World Trade Center in flames next to a pair of minarets. He used the subjective, anachronistic phrase, “The West never remembers and the East never forgets” and also claims that, “No Major Muslim group has ever renounced the doctrines of jihad of the sword.”
American Freedom Defense Initiative’s ‘Savage’ Ads
Later ad variations replace “Israel” with, “Copts,” “Baha’is,” “Thailand,” “our troops,” and “Hindus.”
Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer, who ruled that the ads could be placed in DC-area metro stations, called the advertisement “hate speech.” That label has followed the ads wherever they appear.
While AFDI has a history of producing ads, the “savage” ad appears to be a response to ads created by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. That group began placing ads that showed a Palestinian designer and an Israeli social worker, each alongside a child, with the text, “Be on our side. We are on the side of peace and justice. End U.S. military aid to Israel.” Geller denounced the campaign’s ads as anti-Semitic.
Geller’s initial ad buys appear aimed more at generating controversy, bringing priceless media and internet exposure to AFDI, than actually brining an issue into the public consciousness. The initial ad buys in both New York and San Francisco were a mere 10 ads each. In Washington, DC it was only four. However, this soon expanded. According to an article in Jewish Voice, more recent ad buys cost “about $70,000.”
AFDI’s “savage” ads appeared in at least San Francisco, New York, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. In each case, if the transit authority in question hesitated over placing the ads the American Freedom Law Center, an inner core creation of David Yerushalmi, either filed suit or threatened to do so.
Also, in each case those who opposed Geller were subjected to her trademark caustic hate. For example, after Jewish groups in Chicago denounced her ads, Geller wrote, “As if on cue, dhimmi Jews in Obama’s old stomping ground did the step ‘n fetchit for Islamic supremacism. Taking their cue from the Jewish councils of Germany and the judenrat that sold out their own people…” Chapel Hill, North Carolina transit authorities did not run the ads after it was determined that official policy forbids ads with religious and political content. Geller referred to the town’s leaders as “cowards” and the town mayor as a “quisling” after the decision.
Geller often attempts to portray those opposed to her ads as seeking to restrict free speech. However, a letter from a broad-based coalition of 127 organizations written to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) serves as an example of what tolerance-minded groups are actually saying.
That letter stated, “It is not our desire that WMATA disallow advertisements that contain any political speech as this would curtail the use of an important forum where ideas are frequently exchanged. We respect the protections afforded to political speech, and do not wish that our position be misinterpreted as advocating for the curtailment of such speech.”
In an example of respecting free speech while choosing to promote diversity, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency issued a statement noting that Geller’s piece “has no value in facilitating constructive dialogue or advancing the cause of peace and justice” and donated the ad proceeds, approximately, $3,400, to the San Francisco Human Rights commission.
In the wake of AFDI’s hate ads, communities often see an increase in pro-tolerance activities.
American-Based Inspiration for Norwegian Anti-Muslim Terrorist
In his manifesto, Breivik repeatedly quotes Robert Spencer, Walid Shoebat, Pamela Geller, the “Gates of Vienna” blog and Daniel Pipes.
And while the Islamophobia network disavowed Breivik’s violence, some did so with caveats.
On her “Atlas Shrugs” blog, Pamela Geller wrote, “Breivik was targeting the future leaders of the party responsible for flooding Norway with Muslims who refuse to assimilate, who commit major violence against Norwegian natives, including violent gang rapes, with impunity, and who live on the dole… all done without the consent of the Norwegians.”
Geller also posted a photo of attendees at the youth camp in Norway taken hours before Breivik murdered many of them. Geller captioned the photo, “Note the faces which are more MIddle [sic] Eastern or mixed than pure Norwegian.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose extreme anti-Muslim positions caused her to be canceled as a possible witness at Rep. Peter King’s anti-Muslim hearings, gave a speech in which she asserted that Breivik “had no other choice but to use violence” because his “views were censored.” The American Enterprise Institute, a prominent Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tank, lists Hirsi Ali as a “visiting fellow.”
Hate groups objected to TLC’s non-stereotypical portrayals of American Muslims. In an action alert, the Florida Family Association (FFA) said, “The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”
In a move PR Daily ranked #5 on its “Top PR blunders of 2011” list, the home improvement chain Lowe’s removed its advertising from the program because of the anti-Muslim campaign initiated by FFA and Internet hate sites such as Bare Naked Islam.
Bare Naked Islam was subsequently dropped by its internet host after the site featured a number of threats of violence targeting U.S. and European mosques.
Kayak.com also pulled its advertisements from the show, but the travel website maintains it was a move unrelated to pressure from FFA.
The move to pull the advertising both emboldened hate groups and legitimized their message. While Lowe’s was not the only company to pull its advertising, it was the first.
A number of spontaneous protests took place outside Lowe’s stores nationwide and the retailer was forced to delete thousands of anti-Muslim comments from its Facebook page. Numerous politicians, celebrities and journalists spoke against the decision to pull the ads. A group of Baptist and Jewish leaders delivered petitions accounting for 200,000 signatures to Lowe’s headquarters asking that the ads be reinstated. “All-American Muslim” was cancelled after one season due to low ratings.
Research Erodes Anti-Muslim Hysteria
On January 24, NPR’s Dena Temple-Raston reported, “After compiling his interviews [with hundreds of violent extremists claiming Islam as their motivation] Quintin Wiktorowicz came to the conclusion that—contrary to popular belief —very religious Muslims were in fact the people who ended up being the most resistant to radicalization.”
A study issued in February 2011 by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security shows that the number of Muslim-Americans who perpetrated or were arrested for terrorist acts dropped from 47 in 2009 to 20 in 2010.
The study also reported that:
- The number of Muslim-Americans engaged in terrorist acts with domestic targets declined from 18 in 2009 to 10 in 2010.
- Tips from the Muslim American community provided the source of information that led to a terrorist plot being thwarted in 48 of 120 cases involving Muslim Americans.
In a press release accompanying the study, David Schanzer, Director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, said, “This study puts into perspective the threat presented by domestic radicalization of Muslim Americans.” Schanzer noted, “Is this a problem that deserves the attention of law enforcement and the Muslim American community? Absolutely. But Americans should take note that these crimes are being perpetrated by a handful of people who actions are denounced and rejected by virtually all the Muslims living in the United States.”
According to author Risa A. Brooks, an assistant professor of political science at Marquette University, Muslim home grown terror is not a serious threat to the United States. In her work titled “International Security,” she details her comprehensive three-step systematic determining factors that aide her in drawing this conclusion. She states that when considering the analytical and empirical grounds there is not substantial enough evidence to assume that Muslims Americans are driven or capable of carrying out terrorist acts against the United States.
A survey released by Gallup in August 2011 offers further evidence that misinformation rather than facts dominate the Islamophobic narrative:
- Despite believing that they are often the victims of intolerance, Americans who practice Islam are among the most tolerant of U.S. faith groups studied.
- Muslim Americans who attend religious services at least once a week have higher levels of civic engagement and report less stress and anger than do other U.S. Muslims who attend religious services less frequently.
- Of the major religious groups studied, Muslim Americans are the staunchest opponents of military attacks against civilians, with 78% saying such attacks are never justified. Muslim Americans are unique in the numbers in which they oppose such attacks. A majority of Americans in the other faith groups say military attacks on civilians are sometimes justified, with Mormon Americans the highest at 64%.
- …it is worth noting that Muslim Americans are the least likely of all major religions in the U.S. to justify individuals or small groups attacking civilians. Eighty-nine percent of Muslim Americans say there is never a justification for such attacks, compared with 79% of Mormon Americans, 75% of Jewish Americans, and 71% of Protestant and Catholic Americans. Moreover, the frequency with which Muslim Americans — or any other faith group — attend religious services has no effect on whether they justify violence against civilians.
Writing in Time, Romesh Ratnesar concluded, “American Muslims remain more moderate, diverse and integrated than the Muslim populations in any other Western society. Despite the efforts of al-Qaeda propagandists like al-Awlaki, the evidence of even modest sympathy for the enemy existing inside the U.S. is minuscule.”
A comprehensive study of mosques and the attitudes of mosque leaders in the United States released in late February 2012, indicated that the number of American mosques increased 74 percent since 2000 and that Islamic houses of worship are ethnically-diverse institutions led by officials who advocate positive civic engagement.
The report’s major findings included:
- The number of mosques and mosque participants continues to show significant growth, from 1,209 mosques in 2000 to 2,106 in 2011. New York and California have the largest number of mosques. Seventy-six percent of mosques were established since 1980.
- Mosque leaders overwhelmingly endorse Muslim involvement in American society. More than 98 percent of mosque leaders agree that Muslims should be involved in American institutions and 91 percent agree that Muslims should be involved in politics.
- The vast majority of mosque leaders do not feel that American society is hostile to Islam.
- The majority of mosque leaders (56 percent) adopt a flexible approach to interpretation of Quran and Sunnah (the normative practice of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad) that takes into account the overall purposes of Islamic law and modern circumstances.
- The vast majority (87 percent) of mosque leaders disagree that “radicalism” is increasing among Muslim youth. Many mosque leaders say the real challenge for them is not radicalism and extremism among the youth, but how to attract and keep them close to the mosque.
- Mosques remain an extremely diverse religious institution. Only a tiny minority of mosques (3 percent) have just one ethnic group that attends that mosque. South Asians, Arab-Americans and African-Americans remain the dominant ethnic groups, but significant numbers of Somalis, West Africans and Iraqis now worship at mosques nationwide.
- The number of mosques in urban areas is decreasing, while the number of mosques in suburban areas is increasing. In 2011, 28 percent of mosques were located in suburbs, up from 16 percent in 2000.
- The conversion rate per mosque has remained steady over the past two decades. In 2011, the average number of converts per mosque was 15.3. In 2000 the average was 16.3 converts per mosque.
- Shia mosques are also expanding in number. Some 44 percent of all Shia mosques were established in the 1990s.
Groups in the inner core should ostracized from mainstream public discourse in a manner similar to white supremacist, anti-Semitic or other groups, such as the Westboro Baptist church.
Free speech is essential in an open society. People of conscience must be willing to defend speech that repulses their humanity. However, we at CAIR believe that bigoted speech should be relegated to where it belongs- the fringes of society and out of serious policy discussion. Inner core groups should not be offered legitimizing platforms by media outlets or political groups.
Challenge the culture of politically exploiting hate against Muslims, reject anti-Muslim laws
Legislators must reject the introduction of anti-Muslim, anti-Sharia, and anti-foreign law legislation that seeks to marginalize American Muslims and keep them from having the same rights and access to the courts as Americans of other faiths.
Rep. Peter King’s five anti-Muslim hearings generated no appreciable response from Republican leadership. The response to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s allegations of Muslim Brotherhood infiltration was encouraging. It was both bi-partisan and strong.
When contenders for our nation’s highest office call for loyalty oaths or smear an entire religious minority as a threat then they should face significant opposition.
Protect the sanctity of places of worship
America as a place that protects religious minorities is an ideal ingrained in our national character since the Pilgrims arrival. When a place of worship is damaged or vandalized the entire community, religious leaders of all faiths, elected officials and private citizens should rally to reject bias. Similarly, when routine zoning or land use issues are transformed into forums of hate speech or legal challenges as to the very nature of religion then strong voices for pluralism need to be present.
CAIR’s recently released “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety” brochure is an ideal starting place for facility leaders interested in improving the facility of their site. Contact [email protected] using the subject line “mosque safety” for more information.
Support of the End Racial Profiling Act and reform of DOJ racial profiling guidelines
CAIR requests that Congress enact the End Racial Profiling Act and revise the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division’s Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.
The U.S. Constitution requires that federal and state law enforcement agencies respect the rights and freedoms of “all persons,” regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. American citizens respect their law enforcement agencies and look to them to enshrine the rights that the Constitution affords in their institutions, policies and practices. Should our nation’s law enforcement agencies overlook or disregard the Constitution by engaging in acts of discriminatory profiling, our citizens would be sent a message that engaging in profiling based on race, nationality, religion, etc., is acceptable and worth emulating.
CAIR also believes that racial and religious profiling is not effective law enforcement and narrowly focuses the nation’s law enforcement resources away from following actual leads and preventing illegal and violent acts. Profiling violates the basic constitutional protections of the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Profiling also hinders counterterrorism efforts against antigovernment extremists. For example, Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995), James Von Brunn (Holocaust Museum Shooting, Washington, D.C. 2009) John Bedell (Pentagon Shooting, Washington, D.C. 2010), Joseph Stack (IRS Building Suicide Bombing, Austin, TX 2010) and Floyd Corking (Family Research Council Shooting, Washington D.C. 2012) would not have been identified by racial or religious profiling.
Drop or modify the term Islamist
Many Muslims who wish to serve the public good are influenced by the principles of their faith. Islam teaches Muslims to work for the welfare of humanity and to be honest and just. If this inspiration came from the Bible, such a person might well be called a Good Samaritan. But when the source is the Quran, the person is an “Islamist.”
Unfortunately, the term “Islamist” has become shorthand for “Muslims we don’t like.” It is currently used in an almost exclusively pejorative context and is often coupled with the term “extremist,” giving it an even more negative slant. There are few, if any, positive references to “Islamist” in news articles. There are also no — nor should there be — references to “Christianists,” “Judaists” or “Hinduists” for those who would similarly seek governments “in accord with the laws” of their respective faiths. No journalist would think of referring to the “Judaist government of Israel,” the “Christianist leader Rick Santorum” or “Hinduist Indian politician Narendra Modi,” while use of “Islamist” has become ubiquitous. It might be an interesting exercise to hold a contest, the winner of which would be the first to find a positive mainstream media reference to “Islamist.”
The frequent linkage of the term “Islamist” to violence and denial of religious and human rights is also strongly promoted by Islamophobic groups and individuals who seek to launch rhetorical attacks on Islam and Muslims, without the public censure that would normally accompany such bigoted attacks on any other faith.
Islam-bashers routinely use the term to disingenuously claim they only hate “political” Islam, not the faith itself. Yet they fail to explain how a practicing Muslim can be active in the political arena without attracting the label “Islamist.” By not dropping or modifying use of the term, the media are making a political and religious value judgment each time it is used.
Remove anti-Muslim, discriminatory trainers and materials in U.S. military and law enforcement at all levels
Where it has not already happened, Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies should review their counter terrorism materials and remove information that is biased or inaccurate. All should adhere to the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal interagency guidelines on CVE curriculum standards, Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Training: Guidance and Best Practices. Any trainer should have either the educational or operational background to make him or her a subject matter expert.
Congress and other Federal entities that oversee training grants should ensure that federal grants to state law enforcement counterterrorism training programs do not go to anti-Muslim trainings or trainers.
As noted by the author’s of How We Train Our Cops to fear Islam, “State accreditation should be made mandatory for counterterrorism training courses—it often isn’t—and the accreditation process itself must also be toughened. There should be subject-matter experts who evaluate courses, and they should sit in on classroom sessions anonymously. If such a system of state-based oversight worked properly, then bad trainers would have their state accreditation revoked, and they would no longer be allowed to teach in the state. If states agreed to share lists of bad trainers, then the trainer would effectively be banned nationwide.”
Islamophobia is close-minded prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims.
Islamophobic acts are directed at Islam or Muslims in general. Anti-Muslim discrimination is directed at a specific individual, institution or group of individuals.
An Islamophobe is an individual who holds a closed-minded view of Islam and promotes prejudice against or hatred of Muslims.