Hatewatch

Values Voter Summit Provides Forum for Rabid Islamophobes

Yesterday, we posted a run-down of some of the anti-LGBT speakers who are appearing at this year’s Values Voter Summit (VVS), a gathering of social conservatives that begins tomorrow in Washington, D.C., and is attracting a number of high-level public officials from the GOP, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

In addition to the usual gay-bashers, the summit hosted by the Family Research Council (FRC) also provides a public platform for rabid Islamophobes who promote an array of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and propaganda.

Here are some of the most prominent among them:

Lt. General (Ret.) William “Jerry” Boykin is a 36-year veteran of the Army and a former U.S. deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence under Donald Rumsfeld. The Pentagon censured Boykin in 2004 after an investigation determined that he had violated internal regulations by giving several speeches at religious events while wearing full uniform. Boykin had not received clearance for remarks that included statements likening the war on terror to a battle against Satan and his claims that President George W. Bush was put in office by God, that radical Muslims hate America because of U.S. support for Israel, and that the military is recruiting a spiritual army that will draw strength from a greater power to defeat enemies. Since then, he has continued to bash Islam and has become a go-to guy for the anti-Islam right. He has claimed that Islam is not a religion and that it does not “deserve” First Amendment protections. He has stated that mosques should be banned in the United States and that “we are at war” against the threat of Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood, which he says is trying to implement Shariah law in the U.S. His history of incendiary remarks kindled enough heat recently that he withdrew from delivering a speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, held at West Point in February. A few months after that, in July, the FRC hired Boykin as executive vice president.

Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-born former Muslim, moved to the U.S. with her husband in 1978. She has since become a staple of the anti-Islam right as the founder of Arabs for Israel and a board member of Former Muslims United (FMU), a group whose board also includes “former terrorists” Walid Shoebat and Kamal Saleem. Darwish now devotes much of her time to denigrating Islam and worrying that it’s taking over America. She has said that Islam “is a poison to our society” and “should be annihilated.” She and FMU also have been involved in the campaign against a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn. “A mosque is not just a place for worship,” Darwish has said. “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.”

Frank Gaffney, one of the most prominent anti-Muslim activists in the country, once served in the Pentagon and was tapped in 1987 to be assistant secretary of defense, though the Senate did not confirm him. In 1988, he founded the Center for Security Policy, where he is still president. Once a respected though hawkish think tank, the CSP is now a petri dish for Gaffney’s anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Gaffney helped set off the anti-Shariah panic with the September 2010 release of the paranoid but popular report “Shariah, the Threat to America,” which depicted Shariah law as a global threat comparable to that posed by Soviet communism decades ago. Since then, he has seen “creeping Shariah” everywhere – even among allies. For the past two years, he has been barred from speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference because he claims that two of CPAC’s organizers (Suhail Khan and longtime Republican, anti-tax operative Grover Norquist) are agents of the Muslim Brotherhood. CPAC, Khan explained in 2011, “didn’t want to be associated with a crazy bigot.” Gaffney has claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the federal government, claimed that the TV network Al Jazeera was paying people to stage attacks and bombings during the U.S. military intervention of Iraq so it could report on them, and warned that the Muslim Brotherhood’s plan is to evoke a “civilization-jihadist process” that will erase Western culture from within. To Gaffney, this “zero hour” – when the Muslim Brotherhood will rise up here in America and implement Shariah law – is just around the corner.

Steve King, a member of Congress from Iowa, is no stranger to controversy. At the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference, he was a surprise guest on a panel organized by the group ProEnglish and hosted by Robert Vandevoort, a former leader of the white nationalist group Chicagoland Friends of the American Renaissance. One of the other panelists was Peter Brimelow, founder of the white nationalist website VDARE. King showed up to discuss his bill that would make English the official language of the U.S. King’s most recent tangle with controversy involves his support for five fellow conservative lawmakers who sent letters to several federal agencies inquiring about whether the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the government. The letters named Huma Abedin – a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – as a possible go-between. In August, King suggested that Abedin’s family is “deeply entrenched” in the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2008, he claimed that if Obama were elected president, “the radical Islamists” and Al Qaeda “will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11” because Obama’s middle name is “Hussein” and the “radical Islamists” will “read a meaning into that.”

Kamal Saleem claims to be a former Muslim terrorist who came to the U.S. to destroy it before having a change of heart and converting to Christianity. Saleem (whose real name is Khodor Shami), is founder of Koome Ministries and a popular speaker for the anti-Muslim right. He has many stories to tell, but many don’t add up. Nevertheless, he keeps spinning his conspiracy theories about Islam, many of which rival Gaffney’s. Among Saleem’s many claims are that President Obama is attempting to implement Shariah law and in 20 years, the U.S. will be a country of lost liberty; that radical Muslims are set to penetrate every level of American society; that immigrants crossing into this country include terrorists waiting for amnesty; and that Obama is a Muslim. Saleem knows this because when Obama participates in the Pledge of Allegiance, he’s not really pledging but rather is actually engaged in a Muslim prayer.