July 20, 2009
One-Way Free SpeechBy Janet Levy
On July 19th, a conference entitled "The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam" took place as scheduled at the Hilton Hotel in Oak Lawn, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. There, in the heartland of a post 9/11America, Hizb-ut Tahrir, an international organization outlawed as a terrorist group in several European and Middle East countries, sponsored sessions focusing on strategies to end free enterprise and replace it with Shari'ah law.
Hizb-ut Tahrir is no academic think-tank simply examining public issues. It is an international group reported to have over a million members, including cells in more than 40 countries. It supports the Taliban and Hamas, sanctions suicide bombing and has called for the killing of nonbelievers. It has spawned terrorists for Al Qaeda, Hamas and Jemaa Islamiya; subscribes to the mantra that "jihad has to continue till the Day of Judgment;" and endeavors to replace existing governments with a worldwide Khilafah (Caliphate) or Islamic government under Shari'ah law.
It is remarkable enough that a conference of this nature by a group that advocates the overthrow of the U.S. government actually took place in an American city. Perhaps even more disturbing is the growing number of cancellations of events and conferences that feature the opposite point of view with material and speakers that seek to educate the public about the threat of radical Islam. Increasingly, our country's prized right to freedom of speech seems to operate in only one direction, providing plenty of opportunities for our enemies to speak openly against us, yet, placing a gag over any discussion about the radical Islam threat.
Here are some disturbing recent examples.
New English Review Symposium
In December 2008, the New English Review, a non-profit organization dedicated to the defense of Western values, had scheduled and signed a contract to conduct a symposium, "Understanding the Jihad in Israel, Europe and America" at the Loew's Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Three days before the symposium was to begin, the hotel manager cancelled the event citing concerns about "the safety, welfare and security of hotel guests and employees." Subsequent investigation disclosed that the manager summarily disagreed with the politics of the event and responded to pressure from prominent Muslims and Leftists in the community. A local paper went so far as to refer to the conference speakers as "agents of intolerance."
American Library Association Panel
Just this week, the American Library Association cancelled a panel, "Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping," at the behest of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and CAIR sympathizers who objected to the participation of Islamic scholar and author Robert Spencer.
Spencer has studied Islamic doctrine for close to 30 years and quotes directly from traditional Islamic sources in his efforts to shed light on the myriad facets of the global jihad. He has led seminars on Islam and jihad for the United States Central Command, the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the U.S. intelligence community and other government organizations. Spencer is the author of eight books on Islam and the jihad and has appeared on CNN, BBC, FoxNews, PBS, MSNBC and other networks.
CAIR, which presents itself as a benign civil rights organization for American Muslims, is an unindicted co-conspirator in the successful prosecution of Muslim charity founders who illegally funneled millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant group Hamas. CAIR officials are known to have terrorist ties and the organization has actively fought to repeal the Patriot Act, eliminate military tribunals and even defended convicted terrorists. The group is well known for its pursuit of individuals who expose its links to terrorist funding and support activities. In 1994, one of CAIR's co-founders, Nihad Awad, publicly asserted that he was a Hamas supporter.
In 1998, co-founder Omar Ahmad declared, "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant." He added, "The Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
Florida Security Council Summit
In April this year, the Florida Security Council (FSC), a non-profit national security education organization, signed a contract with the Del Ray Beach Marriott to hold a Free Speech Summit at the hotel. The conference, which was to have featured Dutch parliamentarian and filmmaker, Geert Wilders, was cancelled just prior to the scheduled event due to "security concerns." Wilders has been a crusader for free speech and has spoken out about the threat of Islamic extremism resulting in numerous threats on his life and necessitating a 24-hour guard. In 2008, Wilders released "Fitna," a film about Islam featuring a series of quotations from the Koran juxtaposed with current day actions by Muslims whose behaviors are rooted in the cited Koranic passages. Members of the U.S. Congress viewed the film in March and more than one million people have seen it online.
When the alleged security concerns proved to be nonexistent, the Florida Security Council filed a suit in June against the Del Mar Marriott for breach of contract. It intends to use the discovery process to clarify the reasons behind the event cancellation.
Conservative Political Action Conference
In February 2009, a representative from the Washington, D.C.-based, Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) informed a conservative West Coast think tank that the topic of jihad was off limits at the annual event attended by 7,000 conservatives from around the country. At the previous CPAC meeting in 2008, Islamic expert Robert Spencer had been a featured speaker. But, a year later, when it was discovered that Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders would be in Washington at the time of the conference and a request was made to offer him an opportunity to speak to 2009 conference attendees, event organizers claimed that scheduling conflicts precluded their ability to include Wilders in the program.
It is critical to note that the Islamic Free Market Institute (a.k.a. Islamic Institute) was a co-sponsor of the 2009 conference. In 1999, the organization's founder, Grover Norquist, received $20,000 in donations from now-convicted terrorist Abdurahman Alamoudi. Alamoudi, the founder of the American Muslim Council, had provided chaplains for the Department of Defense and pled guilty to helping organize the assassination of Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia using money supplied by Moamar Gaddafi of Libya. In addition, Norquist's Islamic Institute was a sponsor of a 2000 anti-Israel rally at the White House in which Muslim leaders publicly expressed their support for terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
People's Truth Forum
In 2005, The Georgetown Marriott refused to host a symposium on counterterrorism sponsored by America's Truth Forum (ATF), formerly known as People's Truth Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating Americans about national security threats. The ATF hosts a website featuring articles from mainstream media sources and had planned a series of panels featuring top experts in the field of counterterrorism. ATF's conference was rejected by the Georgetown Marriott Conference Center on the grounds that the organization was too controversial, the venue was inappropriate for the topic and heightened security would be necessary to protect hotel guests. The following statement was issued by Marriott's corporate office: "Due to the high density of Muslim students on campus, we're afraid of the potential for violent protests, injured employees and damage to the facility."
Shortly thereafter, CAIR hosted its 11th Annual Banquet at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia. Not only have several CAIR officials been convicted and deported by the United States for terrorist activity, but a 2005 invited speaker, Siraj Wahhaj, is an unindicted co-conspirator in the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993. Apparently, a group with established connections to terrorism is a non-controversial organization for the Marriott Corporation.
It is unconscionable in 2009 that an acceptable forum in America today is a conference entitled, "The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam," with a goal of strategizing the demise of the bedrock of our democracy - the free enterprise system - and the replacement of our constitution with a theo-political-legal system that subjugates women, murders homosexuals, confers non-person status on non-Muslims, permits slavery and kills apostates. At the same time, attempts to discuss Islamic doctrine and educate the American public about this very threat are increasingly verboten. In many recent instances, accurate speech is being deemed inflammatory due to fear of retaliation by those who want to silence critics of Islam who engage in legitimate discussion of a serious threat to our nation.
How this threat plays out in everyday life can be illustrated by the city of Nashville, Tennessee, which provides an interesting example of the exercise of one-way free speech and the accompanying extreme accommodation of those with whom we disagree. Thanks to the largesse of the State department's Refugee Resettlement Program, which offers housing, jobs, welfare and an abundance of social services for program recipients, at least 50% of whom are Muslim, Nashville has over 20,000 Muslims from Iraq, Somalia and the Sudan. Six known mosques exist in Nashville, as does a Muslim graveyard, a madrassa, a Muslim Boy Scout troop and chapters of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Muslim Student Association and Muslim American Society. According to a local psychiatrist, the Nashville Muslim community has evidenced polygamy, child marriage, female genital mutilation and wife beating. Crimes such as drug-dealing, money-laundering, murder, rape and Medicare and grant fraud are occurring at alarming rates. Many of these behaviors are grounded in value systems that are contrary to our own, yet anyone pointing this out would be subject to accusations of "intolerance."
In this and other ways, attempts to curtail the speech and assembly of critics of Islam portends a grave threat to the First Amendment protections that are vital to preserving our cherished liberty and freedom and safeguarding us from totalitarianism and tyranny. If we are unable to speak freely and openly about the radical Islamic threat presently confronting our country while Islamists are given the freedom to gather and plot the overthrow of our system of government and spout hateful rhetoric and propaganda, an Islamic government under Shari'ah law will surely be our fate.