Anti-Muslim round-up: 4/18/2018
The following is a list of activities and events of anti-Muslim organizations. Organizations listed as anti-Muslim hate groups are designated with an asterisk (*).
On March 14, an anti-Muslim group with a history of placing provocative ads engaged in the next step of their latest legal battle. The American Freedom Defense Initiative,*(AFDI) anti-Muslim extremist and AFDI President Pamela Geller, along with fellow anti-Muslim extremist and AFDI Vice President Robert Spencer, filed lawsuit against King County, Washington. The lawsuit alleges that AFDI, Geller and Spencer’s First Amendment rights were violated when, in 2013, King County rejected AFDI’s application to post ads that resembled posters produced by the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program. County officials reportedly took down the AFDI ads after receiving complaints that they were anti-Muslim. A 2015 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 9thCircuit upheld King County’s decision. Representing counsel for AFDI were anti-Muslim lawyers Robert Joseph Muise and David Yerushalmi from the American Freedom Law Center.*
On April 4, SPLC reported that John Guandolo, President of Understanding the Threat*(UTT) planned to embark on a five-day tour across five cities from April 5 through 9. The events were being organized with support from the Christian right-wing media outlet, Worldview Weekend. On April 5, Guandolo, along with Worldview Weekend’s (WVW) Brannon Howse spoke in Des Moines at the tour’s first event. Subsequent events scheduled for the April 6, 7, 8 and 9 were canceled due to a combination of outcry from local activists and, in at least one case, failure by UTT to provide adequate event insurance. The reaction by UTT was almost immediate and melodramatic. According to one tweet UTT posted, “All cities have been canceled the WVW 5 city tour. [sic] This is where we lose the war!”
On April 5 through 11 Aynaz “Anni” Cyrus, an anti-Muslim provocateur, spoke at six events in South Dakota. According to her website, the April 5 and 8 speaking engagements — in Sioux Falls and Aberdeen, respectively — were each billed as a “Private Event.” By contrast details for the April 6, April 9, April 10 and April 11 events in Rapid City, Yankton, Aberdeen and Sioux Falls were open to the public. She is scheduled to speak at additional events later this month. The April 10 and April 11 events also featured Chris Gaubatz, who until recently, was listed as the vice president of the John Guandolo-run UTT. Cyrus began the Minnesota leg of her tour on April 12, speaking in Little Falls, rounded out by appearances in St. Cloud on April 13 and Rochester on April 14. (According her website, the April 14 event required attendees to send their name and telephone number to the organizer’s email “for vetting.”) Cyrus is not shy about her anti-Muslim views. For example, in reaction to positive media coverage of U.S. fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad during the 2016 summer Olympics, she rhetorically asked in an online video if Americans are “happy we are becoming a Muslim country? Or is it that we are very happy that we are welcoming Islam and sharia to America?”
On April 5 and 6 anti-Muslim speaker, Christian pastor, and founder of Truth in Love Project(TIL)* Shahram Hadian began a packed April speaking tour in Montevideo and Duluth, Minnesota. Both speaking engagements were on the topic of “Trojan Horse of Interfaith Dialogue between Christians & Muslims.” Hadian is scheduled to deliver this same presentation throughout Montana later this month. (See below for more information.) He was also scheduled to speak on April 8 and 9 in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Pewaukee, Wisconsin, at the same venues as Guandolo. When the venues backed out due to public outcry, Hadian was forced to cancel his talks. He immediately released an online video and fundraising pitch blaming the “Islamo-Marxist-Fascist uh… oppressors in this nation,” along with the Bloomington Police Department, for the cancellations.
Local and regional groups
From May 5 to 15, Tom Trento, head of the anti-Muslim hate group The United West,* is co-organizing a trip to Israel with Fox News entertainer and former New York attorney general candidate Jeanine Pirro. Pirro has her own sordid association with anti-Muslim hate. In addition to her Israel tour partnership with Trento, Pirro has previously had anti-Muslim extremist and ACT for America* founder Brigitte Gabriel on her show defending President Trump’s “Muslim Ban.” Pirro has also hosted faux terrorism “expert” Steven Emerson, who once infamously claimed the entire UK city of Birmingham to be “totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in” — a claim Pirro did not dispute. (If fact Pirro went further in the same segment, saying, “It sounds like a Caliphate within a particular country.”) The tour also includes an “optional private dinner” with “invited guest Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.” The May 14 dinner comes at a very politically-sensitive time, on the day the U.S. Embassy moves to Jerusalem.
Local and state legislation
As yet another example of the frequent and opportunistic overlap between anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim movements, on April 4, ACT for America sent out an email congratulating supporters for successfully pushing several cities in southern California to condemn SB 54, a recently passed bill limiting the ability of state and local law enforcement agencies’ to get involved in immigration enforcement.
On March 29, the Kentucky state legislature approved SB 57, an Andy’s Law bill, clearing final legislative hurdles in the Senate. According to the bill’s profile posted on Openstates.org, the SB 57 has been delivered to the Governor’s office and is awaiting signature. Andy’s Law is a template state-level bill created by the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA)* that attempts to create a civil cause of action against a person or group of people alleged to be either directly or indirectly involved in a terrorist attack. Experts point out that it is at best redundant, and at worst consistent with other anti-Muslim legislation (such as “anti-Sharia Law” bills) that seek to demonize American Muslims.
On April 6, the Idaho legislature closed its 2018 legislative session. Among the many the bills that failed to pass was HB 419, a three times-introduced anti-Sharia bill by Idaho State Representative Eric Redman. As SPLC reported, Redman has previously worked with anti-Muslim hate groups, such as the Treasure Valley chapter of ACT for America,* as well as with Stephen Gele, a board member of the APPA.
Will Johnson, a far-right activist and founder of Unite America First is organizing an event in Dearborn, Michigan on April 21 addressing the “unconstitutionality, lawlessness, and infiltration of Sharia Law” in the United States. (Dearborn has one of the largest Middle Eastern and Muslim populations in the United States.) The event will feature a line-up of high-profile anti-Muslim speakers, including Aynaz “Anni” Cyrus, Usama Dakdok, Farrah Prudence and Sandra Solomon.