The Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs (BCFA) is scheduled to host longtime anti-Muslim activist and thought leader Daniel Pipes on January 18 at the World Trade Center Baltimore as part of its distinguished lecture series.
Pipes is slated to discuss "Islamism: What is it and Where is it Going?"
Pipes has spent the better part of three decades actively promoting anti-Muslim rhetoric. In 1990, National Review published an article of his where he claimed, “Fears of a Muslim influx have more substance than the worry about jihad. Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene."
His anti-Muslim bigotry has not waned.
In an August 2017 interview, Pipes, founder and president of the think tank Middle East Forum, has called Islam “an imperialist faith” and claimed, “Muslim immigrants want to replace existing European civilization with Islam.” In another interview last month, he lamented that Islam will soon “replace” western civilization as a result of “unfettered immigration and blind multiculturalism.”
On its website, the BCFA says it is “particularly relevant” to the city of Baltimore because, “as a major port and multi-ethnic city, [it] has special interests in international affairs in addition to those occasioned by national citizenship.”
The BCFA has a history of inviting more mainstream thinkers and commentators spanning both ends of the political spectrum to give lectures. While it appears the group invited anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney shortly after September 11, 2001, the lecture series has far from been a platform for anti-Muslim fearmongering. This seemingly makes the organization’s decision to invite Pipes somewhat of an oddity.
The BCFA’s decision to host Pipes has attracted the attention of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which issued an alert requesting Pipes be disinvited.
CAIR noted the BCFA “has a unique responsibility to make a positive contribution to our public discourse. Pipes would only contribute to misinformation about Islam and stoke bigotry against Baltimore’s Arab and Muslim community.”
In 2016, President Barack Obama visited the Islamic Society of Baltimore to discuss discrimination facing the American Muslim community and promote religious pluralism.
Pipes published a blog critiquing Obama’s mosque visit, writing, “Reasonably, non-Muslims worry that a co-worker will behead them or attack them at a party, that they'll be bombed attending a sporting event, or rammed into by planes when working at their offices.”
The Middle East Forum president also has a history of peddling fear and suspicion of mosques in America. Pipes was one of the first to peddle the unsubstantiated myth that 80 percent of American mosques are controlled by extremists. Despite the 80 percent figure being debunked on several occasions, it is still promoted within anti-Muslim circles and publications.
This was not the only time Pipes played a role in starting a rumor to malign Muslims. He had a great deal of responsibility in promoting the debunked myth that hundreds of so-called Muslim-only “no-go zones” exist in Europe. In 2015, Pipes admitted to Bloomberg Businessweek his role in starting the “no-go zone” rumor after claiming in a 2006 article that the French government had lost control of certain neighborhoods.
He told Bloomberg, “I regret having called these areas no-go zones” and admitted that there are "no European countries with no-go zones."
Pete Hoekstra, the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, was recently pressured to renege on previous comments he made promoting fictitious “no-go zones” like those circulated by Pipes. Before his appointment, Hoekstra was a prevalent figure within the anti-Muslim speaking circuit. In 2015, he appeared alongside Pipes on a panel at an event organized by SPLC-designated anti-Muslim hate group the David Horowitz Freedom Center. During the event, he told the crowd matter-of-factly that “yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”