The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Anti-Muslim Group Denounces One Professor, Defends Another

By Ryan Lenz on December 13, 2010 - 8:50 am, Posted in Anti-Muslim, Extremist Propaganda

The American Congress for Truth (ACT), an anti-Muslim group run by firebrand Brigitte Gabriel, has targeted a Muslim professor serving on a human rights board in Florida, accusing him of having ties to radical Islamic groups and serving as a “mosque operative” in city government.

After months of opposition to Parvez Ahmed’s nomination to the Human Rights Commission of Jacksonville — he was appointed earlier this year — ACT held a news conference on the steps of Jacksonville City Hall Thursday to release a DVD of edited clips of a speech Ahmed gave in October, which the group claims shows “irrefutable” evidence of Ahmed’s associations with the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islam — despite the absence of any footage speaking directly to that charge. The lack of evidence apparently didn’t trouble Randy McDaniels, the Jacksonville ACT chapter leader who called the news conference. “It’s how he says what he says. What he doesn’t say. What’s inferred and the facts we know,” McDaniels said, adding that Ahmed was a “made man in the Muslim mafia.”

Ahmed is a former national chairman of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest advocacy organization for Muslims in America. Fueling ACT’s accusations against Ahmed is the fact that CAIR was named in 2007 as an unindicted co-conspirator in charges brought against the Holy Land Foundation. The foundation is a Muslim charity that was ultimately convicted of funneling more than $12 million to Hamas, the militant Palestinian Islamist organization considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government. Charges were never brought against CAIR in the case.

Ahmed says ACT’s claims are categorically false, and that the group, whose lobbying arm is called ACT! for America, has gone too far in its efforts to sully his reputation. “They are going to make the waters so muddy that sensible people will shy away from engaging Muslims in this country. That would be such a tragedy at this time when we need more Americans to engage with Muslims, even have disagreements with them.”

The waters may already be muddied in Florida, however. ACT’s campaign to discredit Ahmed has gone on for months. Ruffians claiming to be ACT members have disrupted his public appearances, screaming that he belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood. Ahmed described being harassed at one public appearance to the point that audience members, fearing for his safety, escorted him from the room. Another eyewitness confirmed Ahmed’s account.

Last week, Jacksonville General Counsel Cindy A. Laquidara told the Florida Times-Union that the city is standing by Ahmed. “Once he’s appointed, he’s appointed,” she said. “And there is not a procedure for people to change their mind.” A message left with Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton’s assistant requesting comment was not immediately returned.

ACT’s attacks on Muslims elsewhere have moved onto the Web, where the hate-filled rhetoric has reached an incendiary level. YouTube clips show people claiming to be ACT members suggesting the Koran is best used for toilet paper and the footbaths outside mosques are better suited for urinals.

ACT officials in Florida and Oregon did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this story. But ACT! for America executive director Guy Rodgers sent an E-mail to Hatewatch on Dec. 20 disavowing any connection with the offensive anti-Muslim comments by an individual which were captured on video. However, ACT! Orlando coordinator Alan Kornman posted a comment to this blog on Dec. 17 implying that there had been a prior relationship between the organization and the individual in the video. This post-publication exchange follows this story.

Still, the campaign against Ahmed is part of a groundswell brought on by groups such as ACT and Pam Geller’s New York-based Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) whose members see themselves as footsoldiers in the so-called “anti-jihad” movement and domestic patriots on the front lines of a war on terror. Claiming nearly 300 chapters nationwide, with the largest concentrations in California, Texas and Florida, ACT representatives have pushed for legislation to prohibit courts from acknowledging Shariah or international law and asked for deeper investigations into U.S. Muslim charities. Gabriel, ACT’s founder, has written two books titled They Must Be Stopped and Because They Hate, the latter partly a memoir in which the Lebanese-born Christian claims to have the experience to judge all of Islam.

On its Web page, ACT claims without proof that “tens of thousands of Islamic militants now reside in America, operating in sleeper cells, attending our colleges and universities, even infiltrating our government.” ACT’s Web site also chastises the “purveyors of political correctness,” saying the “political Left in America denies, apologizes for, or blames America for the rise in Islamic extremism.”

Three thousand miles from Jacksonville, ACT is at work trying to save another professor’s job. Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., cancelled a scheduled class on Islam to be taught by an ACT chapter leader named Barry Sommer. The class, called “What is Islam?” was pulled from the school’s catalogue after CAIR wrote a letter of concern to administrators that Sommer would spread hateful untruths about Islam based on his association with ACT and statements he had made on his personal blog, Islam Today Oregon. Neither Lane College administrators nor Sommer responded to telephone calls and E-mails seeking comment, though Sommer has told several media outlets he is talking to the American Center for Law and Justice about possible legal action.

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said Sommer’s class would be a disservice to Muslims nationwide and stoke already-burning flames of intolerance. “Once you look at what this guy believes, it’s clear what he would have taught,” Hooper said.

In a Dec. 6 entry on his blog, Sommer wrote: “When I say that Islam wants to rule the world, I am called a hatemonger. When I say sharia [sic] law is creeping into western civil law, I am accused of demeaning a religion. When I say that Islam is a patriarchal society where men control women I am said to be a [sic] Islamophobe. My view that Islam is more political than spiritual is shouted down as being intolerant.”

Ahmed, who has no association with the controversy in Oregon, says it all comes back to respecting and tolerating difference. “It’s one thing to have a negative opinion of Islam. And somebody may not like Muslims, and that’s fine,” he says. “But to have the kind of rhetoric and the kind of tactics that ACT and Pam Geller’s group engage in is way over the top.”

In a response to this blog post, ACT! for America executive director Guy Rodgers contacted Hatewatch in an E-mail on Dec. 20 with the following comment:

“ACT! for America does not condone the statements made that were captured on video, and stated so at the time. The individual captured on video making statements such as using the Koran as toilet paper was not a representative, chapter leader or member of ACT! for America. He confirmed this with an email he sent to me on April 5, 2010, in which he wrote `I am not a member of ACT nor do I represent them…’ For any person or organization to represent otherwise is to misrepresent what occurred without any evidence to support this erroneous allegation.”

But four days earlier, the ACT! coordinator in Orlando, Alan Kornman, said in a comment posted to this blog:

“While we can not control what comes out of someone’s mouth at public events, we can control what happens to that individual relative to any future involvement with ACT For America. ACT For America has severed any and all contact with this individual since those comments were made.”

When Hatewatch brought this apparent discrepancy regarding previous relationships between the videographer and ACT!, spokesman Jameson Cunningham responded in an E-mail:

“Alan does not say he severed a “relationship” with ACT for America. He says he severed “contact” with this person; he asked the person not to show up at any future ACT! for America events. The person was not a part of ACT! – he was not a chapter leader, “representative” or member.”

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    That’s on you, pal.

  • Domenick, Anotheroneofthem

    No, but i’m absolutley certain that you’ll be able to tell us.

    Happy Holidays !

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    So Dom, can you explain to me why several Muslim countries have had female heads of state, but the US hasn’t?

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Yes Domenick, I have answers, and you apparently don’t, despite the fact that it is you making claims.

  • Domenick, Anotheroneofthem

    Your antagonistic answers are always predictable. You have an answer for everything but say nothing.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Incorrect. You say “all Islamic states” but then the best you can do is Mauritania or Iran? Were you aware that the most populated Muslim countries have elected female heads of state(you know, unlike the US), or that more Islamic countries have a ban AGAINST the headscarf than for it?

  • Domenick, Anotheroneofthem

    All Islamic states that adhere to Sharia’ah Law as their form of Juris Prudence. Mauritania or Iran for example

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Which Islamic state are you referring to?

  • Domenick, Anotheroneofthem

    The answer is, that an “Islamic State” adheres to the rule of Islamic law. That rule of law is Shari’ ah. Shari’ ah’s dictates are very clear as to the methoeds that can be used for conversion. One of which is Jihad and yes, sometimes the violent kind.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Domenick, what do you mean Muslims convert people with the “approval of the State”? What state exactly? Turkey bans any attempt to convert people to any religion. Likewise, wherever people are allowed to do missionary work, they are usually “approved” by their respective governments.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Mr. Minton knows far too much about the Islamic conspiracy; clearly he is in on it.

  • David Minton

    My interest in this response is that the SPLC refrain from being duped by CAIR and other pro-Muslim organizations with a political agenda, detrimental to Western thought and civilization, under a vaneer of Religious Tolerance. It is my hope that with proper research and understanding, that the SPLC will be able to see that these anti-western organizations are adept at using our own free thinking as well as “Freedoms” against us for their true and real goals of the advancement of Radical Islamic thought and power. This is not about Race or Tolerance. It is about power in thei eyes.

  • Domenick, Anotheroneofthem


    Your comment goes directly to the core of whats wrong with religious fundementalism, it becomes fanaticism and sometimes spills over into mainstream society, in the form of baby doctor murders, unspeakable perversions, oppression and terrorism.

    These acts are in fact, not unique to Muslims. However, what is unique to and unlike ALL other religious fanatics is, that Muslim fundementalist fanatatics, CONTINUE to convert others the way they did 1400 years ago. WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE STATE ! Therein lies the the problem and the distinguisable charecteristic between Islam and ALL other religions.

    Islam is a social, political economic ideology that uses a diety in order to perpetuate it’s existance. The oppressed are it’s followers.

  • Daniel Rosenthal

    I oppose fundamentalist ANY RELIGION. Islamic,
    Christian, or even my own (Jewish). Religious
    fundamentalists, regardless of denomimation are a bunch
    of self-righteous fanatics stuck in the past–they are
    anti-science (witness the current war on the theory of
    evolution, the unifying priciple of modern biology), anti-
    woman (women should be kept barefoot and pregnant),
    and in some cases anti-medicine (Christian Science,
    General Assembly of the Firstborn, etc.). Muslims
    should not be singled out unless we also single out
    Christian Reconstructionists (a.k.a. theonomists or
    dominionists), the Satmarer Chassidim, or the Jewish
    Defense League.

  • Jim J

    Groups like Gabriel’s, Spencer’s and Geller’s are not hate groups. They oppose an undue political power for fundamentalist Muslims. In the Jacksonville case, their opposition is entirely reasonable considering his ties to CAIR alone.

    Reasonable opposition is not hate.

  • Domenick

    How refreshing it is to see how intellegent objective comments can stimulate understanding.This is the SPLC I once knew, Not the antagonistic name calling and self serving rhetoric I’ve experienced on this public forum. However, after seeing this, it was worth it.

  • Mart Grams

    There are a number of issues that both sides are ignoring, is that this is a cultural war between two very conflicting cultures: Islam with Shariah, patriarchical rule, death to gays, stoning of Christian converts, etc. ALL of which are true statements made by Sommer. Christianity made up of “unreligious” folks spreading a misinterpretation of Christ, yet denying ideals of the West: freedom of thought, tolerance of faith, capitalism and the individual. These two cultures, Islam and the West, cannot survive coexisting on this planet. Like the Soviets said, even to the Fall, “we will bury you.” That is the sole element of Quranic law, until the last non-Muslim is converted or placed in a seconadry status (non-voting, unable to own property, et. al) the Jihad must continue. These are facts within the Quran surahs themselves.

    How do we solve an irresolvable problem? Education will not be enough, it is a conflict of values, not ideas. What is right for one, is wrong for the other. Duty for one, is insult to the other. This conflict is only 1500 years old. Freedom or submission (muslim)….irreconcilable.

  • Alan Kornman

    I am the Coordinator for ACT Orlando and I was not contacted by the SPLC to comment on the You Tube video at the UCF tabling event mentioned in this article. My statement on this issue is below.

    Myself and ACT For America condemn, denounce, and categorically reject those vile statements made by the individual on the video. While we can not control what comes out of someones mouth at public events, we can control what happens to that individual relative to any future involvement with ACT For America. ACT For America has severed any and all contact with this individual since those comments were made. Thank you.

    ACT For America members Dr. Zuhdi Jasser and Tawfiq Hamid are outspoken Muslim reformers. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser has faced personal attacks from Congressman Keith Ellison and the Council on American Islamic relations to name a few. In an gesture of tolerance and pluralism it would be magnanimous of the SPLC to shine a light on the hateful attacks Zuhdi Jasser, Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan and other Former Muslims endure often on a daily basis.

    ACT For America has advocated open dialogue with our detractors as a strategy that builds on our shared and complimentary interests and are consistent with our core American values. ACT For America since it’s inception has extended an open hand to all Muslims who wish to find common ground on strengthening the United States of America which gives each individual the freedom to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Only through dialogue and mutual respect can we hope to find common ground. It is our sincere hope that our detractors will reciprocate our gesture of goodwill so we can move forward to strengthen our community and country.

    Alan Kornman
    ACT For America
    Orlando Chapter

  • josephS

    Brigitte Gabriel has a fairly compelling background. Anyone who has read her “Because They Hate” got a clear understanding of where her distrust of Muslims comes from. She is a Christian refugee from Lebanon and the war there. So she’s seen first hand the single-minded ruthlessness of the Shiite militias. She has no sympathy for them or their view of the world, which is (and was) that any good non-Muslim is a dead one.
    What’s interesting to me is the extent to which the SPLC defends groups like CAIR as being these seemingly humble, incredulous children whom nobody could blame for anything. But in fact, anyone who pays attention to the heavy-handed rhetoric groups like CAIR utilize in their campaigns to “fight for civil rights and against Islamophobia” – anyone – will read this Hatewatch item with legitimate suspicion.

  • Mitch Beales

    It’s hard to imagine that Muslims would continue to support Spencer when those who post on his blog are treated the way Gerbil Tea was yesterday.

  • Mitch Beales

    When Spencer claims to be an Islamic scholar he is wrong on both counts. He is neither Islamic nor a scholar.

  • Domenick, Anotheroneofthem

    Mason, you’re quite right you can’t prove, or for that matter disprove the number of Spencer’s Muslim proponents.

    My estimation was based on past reference, my visual observation as to the number of Indian Muslims, who were grouped as an organization attending the last 9/11 rally and corroborating answers received from their spokesmen. And no, I didn’t get their names and telephone numbers.

    The truth of the matter is that Spencer does in fact have Citizen proponents who happen to be Muslims and who, like Spencer, hate the violence of Jihad and oppression of Shari ‘ah and not their fellow Muslims.

  • Difluoroethane

    Domenick, how do _you_ prove that the “thousands of Robert Spencer’s Muslim Proponenents (sic)?” even exist at all? I find it very hard to believe he has that many, just as I would find it hard to believe that David Duke has thousands of black proponents, that Fred Phelps has thousands of gay proponents, or that Chris Simcox has thousands of Hispanic proponents.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Well, Spencer or his supporters could be lying. Remember this is a man who publishes books where he claims to be an “Islamic scholar”, despite the fact that he has absolutely no academic background in the subject. That is a pretty brazen lie, akin to calling yourself a doctor when you never went to med school. I wouldn’t put it past him to lie about his support , if any, among Muslims.

  • Mitch Beales

    Do you have any documentation for “thousends [sic] of Robert Spencer’s Mulsim [sic] Proponenents [sic]” or is your claim as baseless (no to mention base) as those of other Islamophobes?

  • Domenick, Anotheroneofthem

    How do you account for the thousends of Robert Spencer’s Mulsim Proponenents ?

  • Difluoroethane

    This Sommer guy is from Oregon, eh? Has he been involved with the Pacifica Forum? Wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’d been hanging around with that bunch of bigots.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Robert Spencer, and Pamela Gellar, hate Muslims. Spencer is very clear about this. Anytime a Muslim points out that Muslims aren’t in fact involved in some kind of jihad for conquest of the world, he claims they are lying. It’s no different how anti-Semites would accuse Jews of terrible things in the Talmud, and then when Jews attempt to explain these allegations, it is said that they are invariably lying.

  • Domenick, Anotheroneofthem

    It is an error to accuse Pam Geller, Robert Spencer, Bridgette Gabriel, Noni Darwish Dr. Zudhi Jasser Professor Sommer other notables and the millions of our citizens, of hating Muslims

    What they and this named [sic] moron hate, is the violence of Jihad the oppression of Shari’ ah and the agenda by which it is sustained.

    What part of this statement, is not undersood.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    None of these morons seem to be interested in actually debating Muslims. Either they accuse them of being terrorists outright, or they accuse them of lying ahead of time.