The Guardian - May 18, 2012
NATO protesters arrested in Chicago
raid held on terrorism charges
Three NATO protesters, arrested in a late night raid on May 16, have been charged on terrorism-related offences.
Police claim the charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device, are the result of a month-long investigation into a group they believe was making Molotov cocktails. They had already been pulled over by police last week and asked about their protest plans in a stop they posted on YouTube.
Attorneys representing the men say the charges are fabricated and aimed at intimidating activists. "We cannot say enough that we believe that these charges are absolutely … very trumped up charges," said Sarah Gelsomino of the Peoples Law Office. "Clearly in an attempt to continue this intimidation campaign on activists. Charging these people who are here to peacefully protest against Nato for terrorism, when in reality the police have been terrorising activists in Chicago, is absolutely outrageous.
"All three of these guys, interestingly, were in the car about a week ago that was stopped and harassed by the Chicago police department," Gelsomino said. "They then posted that video online in an attempt to expose that police misconduct. Each of those three are now being charged with these crimes. That's as much as we know."
The three men are all in their twenties. Two come from Florida and one from New Hampshire. They were arrested in the Bridgeport area of the City after 11pm on May 16. Chicago police dressed in black and armed with battering rams broke down doors in an apartment building, searched the units and then arrested nine protesters for allegedly making or possessing Molotov cocktails. Lawyers say it was just beer-making equipment.
"The city has so far failed to produce any evidence or the search warrant affidavit used in the raid," said Kris Hermes of the National Lawyers Guild.
When police detained the people, they also seized parts of a beer-making kit, including bottles and caps, and a cellphone, Gelsomino said.
"This is the playbook," said Gelsomino. "Shoddy police work. It's a fear campaign."
Six were released on May 18. One said he had been handcuffed for 18 hours in an "interrogation room". Others say they were never told why they were held. Police did not inform the lawyers of their whereabouts for 17 hours.
One of the released, who blogs under the name "TarheelDem", called on activists to flood Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel's official voicemail. "The whole charge is transparently bogus and meant for the media to reduce turnout to the march on Sunday (May 20).".....
CAIR - May 23, 2012
CAIR launches special Civil Rights Defense Fund
New fund a response to increase in discrimination complaints
WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/23/12 – In response to the more than 2000 discrimination cases CAIR received in the past year, we have expanded our civil rights department by hiring new attorneys and have added other staff who will monitor growing Islamophobia and the more than 54 anti-Islam bills introduced in state legislatures nationwide.
Because of this increased need, CAIR today launched a special Civil Rights Defense Fund dedicated to providing the legal resources needed to defend those Americans who suffer discrimination or are unfairly targeted merely because they are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim.
“It is important that CAIR have the resources necessary to offer legal challenges to the growing Islamophobia in our society,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. Awad cited support for CAIR’s work from Muslim community leaders and urged all those who value civil rights to give generously to the fund.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CAIR - May 24, 2012
CAIR disappointed with review of NYPD spying on NJ Muslims
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 5/24/12 - The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today said it is "disappointed" with the state attorney general's apparent approval of the New York Police Department's (NYPD) warrantless surveillance of law-abiding Muslims.
A representative of CAIR-NJ, along with other American Muslim leaders, took part in a meeting this afternoon at Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa's office in Trenton to discuss concerns about the widespread spying conducted by the NYPD on the Muslim community in New Jersey.
Other government officials participating in the meeting included representatives of the New Jersey State Police, the Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Among the topics discussed at the meeting were the status of New Jersey's review of the NYPD spying campaign, a new policy on communication with out-of-state law enforcement agencies and the establishment of a Muslim community outreach committee.
Following a three-month review, Gov. Chris Christie's administration said the NYPD did not violate New Jersey laws when it conducted surveillance of Muslim businesses, mosques and student groups.
The Associated Press, the news agency that broke the story of the NYPD spying, wrote today: "The findings by Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa, a Christie appointee asked by the governor to look into the spying, mean New Jersey Muslims have no state recourse to stop the New York Police Department from infiltrating student groups, videotaping mosque-goers or collecting their license plate numbers as they pray."
"The NYPD's blanket surveillance of every segment of the Muslim community clearly violated the constitutional rights of those who were spied on without evidence or even suspicion of wrongdoing on their part," said CAIR-NJ Chair Nadia Kahf. "We are disappointed with the outcome of the review conducted by the attorney general's office and will consider all legal options, including renewed appeals for action by the Department of Justice."
Kahf noted that CAIR-NJ participated in a similar meeting on the NYPD Muslim spying earlier this year.
Orlando Sentinel - May 24, 2012
Lingering in airplane bathroom leads to
questions from FBI for Orlando-bound Muslims
A group of Muslims was detained Wednesday at Orlando Sanford International Airport, apparently because of a misunderstanding over an Islamic cleanliness ritual, authorities said.
The captain of Allegiant flight No.625 from Allentown, Pa., radioed ahead and asked airport police to meet the plane when it landed about 8:30p.m., said Larry Dale, airport director and commander of its 11-member police force.
Members of the group were lingering in the lavatory and asked for a cup, arousing suspicion, Dale said. An FBI agent was interviewing three men late Wednesday, but it appeared that the travelers were detained because of a religious custom dictating cleanliness and that they would be released.
"In today's world, we'd rather be cautious," Dale said.
About half a dozen people and one child were traveling from Pennsylvania to Central Florida for a volleyball and badminton tournament, Dale said.
At least two of the women wore head scarves, a witness said.
A report released Thursday says an Allegiant dispatcher requested that police respond "in reference to Middle Eastern passengers." However, a woman who said she knows the travelers said they are of Indian descent.
Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, said devout Muslims customarily clean their private parts with water after using the restroom, and that is likely what members of the group were doing. The procedure is known as istinja.
"They [the airplane crew] didn't understand it, probably," Musri said. "If you didn't know the reason, you'd say, 'Why do you need the cup? Why are you taking it with you into the bathroom?'"
There was no disruption on the flight, Dale said.
"I'm glad they didn't have to divert the plane to another airport," Musri said. "Sometimes we overreact."
Mother Jones - May 24, 2012
Meet Larry Smith, Texas' Wannabe Anti-Shariah Sheriff
By Adam Serwer
Larry Smith, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent running for sheriff in Smith County, Texas, has a unique plank in his platform: He has pledged to protect this deep-red border county from the creeping menace of Islamic religious law, or Shariah.
Outside of science fiction, this Texas county—which voted for John McCain at a 70 percent clip—doesn't seem the most likely place for an Islamist takeover. After all, creeping Shariah is mostly a myth. The issue might come up in civil cases if both parties to a contract have accepted an agreement based on religious law, but the Constitution bars religious law from superseding civil law.
Despite his out-there Shariah stance, Smith has earned the endorsement of the county's local paper. And local Democrats aren't even fielding a candidate in the sheriff's race. That means next Tuesday's Republican primary—which includes four candidates for the county's top law enforcement post—will likely decide whether Smith County's next sheriff devotes time to worrying about a Shariah takeover.
Two of Smith's rivals say Shariah shouldn't be an issue in the race.
"We hear [about Shariah] on the national media, but here specifically in Smith County, Tyler, in the state of Texas, I'm not seeing that this is going to be a big problem," says Chris Green, a former game warden running in the primary. "I don't think it's gonna occur, especially here; it may in some of the more liberal states."
Another candidate, Bobby Gorman, Smith County's chief sheriff's deputy, suggested Smith was just trying to provoke a controversy over nothing. "Running for sheriff, you always want to get somebody's attention," Gorman says.
Anwar Khalifa, a local homebuilder, Muslim leader, and lifelong Republican who speaks with a slight drawl, says he was "shocked" when he heard about Smith's campaign vow. Before that moment, Khalifa says, he was "actually supporting Larry." An Egyptian immigrant who moved to Texas when he was eight, Khalifa says that Smith County is a welcoming and tolerant place, but the last few years there has been an influx of anti-Muslim speakers at local churches offering dark warnings about an Islamic takeover.
"They cloak it and say we're only talking about radical Muslims, but they don't differentiate," Khalifa says. "This is anti-Islam."
Smith's anti-Shariah pledge seems to have helped him gain at least one endorsement, from a local tea party group called Grassroots America, We the People. The group sponsored an event at a local church hosting Brigitte Gabriel, the head of ACT! for America, an organization that sees itself as defending America from "radical Islam" and according to its website, has a chapter in Smith County. Gabriel has written that Islamic terrorists are "really just very devout followers of Muhammad." According to Khalifa, Smith provided "security" for Gabriel's event. (Smith did not respond to several requests for comment.)
"Anti-Muslim grassroots organizations are the vehicles by which these talking points enter the state and local dialogue. That’s why we've been seeing it sprout up so suddenly at the local level," says Wajahat Ali, the lead author of Fear, Inc., a Center for American Progress report on anti-Muslim organizations. "The impetus behind it, though, is a movement that wants to exclude American Muslims from the same rights and freedoms that other Americans enjoy."
Khalifa says that he recently spoke to Smith, who he says apologized for his anti-Shariah pledge. "[Smith] was very cordial and apologetic," Khalifa says. But the candidate's website still sports language promising Smith will use his own money to train officers so they understand "why Sharia and international law will never be acceptable substitutes" for the Constitution.
This wasn't the first time Khalifa tried to convince a fellow Republican to soften his stance on the Shariah issue. State Rep. Leo Berman, a Republican who represents the area, introduced legislation in 2011 to ban the consideration of foreign law in Texas courts, explaining that he had heard Shariah law was being enforced in Dearborn, Michigan. (It isn't.) When Berman was preparing his legislation, Khalifa helped convince Berman to focus on "international law" rather than only Shariah.
Berman's legislation didn't survive the 2012 session of the Texas Legislature, but he says he'll introduce it again next year if reelected. Asked how he felt about Berman's legislation, Khalifa said he was happy Shariah wasn't being identified by name.....
ADC - May 24, 2012
2012 Alex Odeh Memorial Award recipients
Muna & Basem Hishmeh
Washington, DC | May 24, 2012 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is pleased to announce Muna and Basem Hishmeh as the 2012 recipients of the Alex Odeh Memorial Award. The Alex Odeh Memorial Award, named for the late ADC Southern California Regional Director who was killed in October of 1985, is presented each year to individuals demonstrating exceptional leadership, public service, and commitment to the mission of ADC and the Arab American community.
Muna and Basem Hishmeh truly exemplify the qualities for which the Alex Odeh Memorial Award was created. Their foundation, the Muna and Basem Hishmeh Foundation, was established in 2005 to support cultural organizations in the United States and Palestine. The Foundation’s goal is to break down cultural barriers through music and the arts. It seeks to enhance the lives of underprivileged youth through exposure to various artistic media by providing grants through which children can explore their creativity, artistic capabilities, and talents. Among the Foundation’s successes are its Palestinian Youth Cultural Tour and sponsorship of student musical concerts and programs.
In addition to the many accomplishments of the Foundation, Muna and Basem Hishmeh have facilitated the creation of the Arab American Scholarship Fund at the William Paterson University in New Jersey. This fund issues four $3,000 scholarships to undergraduate students of Arab descent with financial need to encourage them to become leaders in their disciplines and contribute to their community. These are just a few examples of the way in which Muna and Basem Hishmeh have shown their deep commitment to the Arab American community.
ADC warmly congratulates the couple and is proud to recognize them with this award for their contributions. Mr. and Mrs. Hishmeh will be recognized at the ADC National Convention Gala on the evening of Saturday, June 23, 2012.
Still Waiting for Justice- 26 Years Since Alex Odeh's Murder
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | October 11, 2011 – Today marks the 26th Anniversary of the murder of Alex Odeh. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) remembers Alex and continues to reinforce its demand that those responsible for his murder be brought to justice. Alex was killed on October 11, 1985, when a powerful pipe bomb exploded as he unlocked and opened the door of the ADC office in Santa Ana, California. In addition to killing Alex Odeh, the bomb injured several other victims.
Alex was ADC’s Southern California Regional Director, a published poet, a lecturer of Arabic Language and Middle East history at Coastline College in Santa Ana, and a tireless peace activist. He dedicated his life to the defense of civil liberties at home, and civil and human rights abroad. On the day of his murder, Alex was scheduled to speak at Friday prayer services at Congregation B’Nai Tzadek, a synagogue in Fountain Valley, CA. Alex was a U.S. citizen and a Palestinian Roman Catholic, who had immigrated to the U.S. in 1972. He is survived by his wife Norma and their three daughters.
The Federal Bureau of Investigationﾒs (FBIﾒs) case into Alex Odeh’s murder remains open, with a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to an arrest and conviction. However, no arrest has yet been made in spite of the fact that press reports have stated over the years that the FBI identified members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) as suspects. None of the identified JDL individuals has ever been charged or prosecuted in connection with the murder, and some have fled to Israel.
"Today we remember our former ADC Southern California regional director Alex Odeh, who was murdered twenty six years ago." said Warren David, ADC President, "His spirit lives within us as we continue to strive for peace and justice, and uphold civil rights of all Arab Americans. We shall never, never forget.
ADC and the Arab-American community are deeply troubled that the perpetrators have been at large for nearly three decades, despite all the available leads to resolving Alex’s murder. The lack of closure of Alex’s murder by the FBI and the Department of State (DOS) has been viewed as a sign that the life of an American civil rights advocate with Palestinian roots is not valued by the U.S. Government as much as other American lives. ADC demands that the FBI and DOS show good faith by redoubling genuine efforts, and allocating necessary resources for resolving, once and for all, this domestic terrorism case. The Arab-American community will not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Media Reports - May 25 2012
Kansas governor signs bill banning Sharia law
KANSAS CITY, Kansas - Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill aimed at keeping state courts and agencies from using Islamic or other non-U.S. laws when making decisions, his office said on Friday, drawing criticism from a national Muslim group.
The law has been dubbed the "sharia bill" because critics say it targets the Islamic legal code. Sharia, or Islamic law, covers all aspects of Muslim life, including religious obligations and financial dealings. Opponents of state bans say they could nullify wills or legal contracts between Muslims.
Supporters said the law will reassure foreigners in Kansas that state laws and the U.S. Constitution would protect them. Opponents said it singled out Muslims for ridicule and was unnecessary because American laws prevail on U.S. soil.
Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in an e-mail that the bill "makes it clear that Kansas courts will rely exclusively on the laws of our state and our nation when deciding cases and will not consider the laws of foreign jurisdictions."
Muslim groups urged Brownback to veto the measure, arguing it promotes discrimination. The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington denounced the Kansas law and said it is considering legal action.
"It's unfortunate the governor chose to pander to the growing Islam-phobia in our society that has led to introduction of similar unconstitutional and un-American legislation in dozens of state legislatures," Hooper said. Hooper said legislators have often referred to sharia law in supporting such legislation, but he said they take the word out of the bill to stave off legal challenges. The Kansas bill does not mention sharia.
About 20 states have considered similar legislation but the Kansas law is the only one signed in recent weeks, council spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.
Raj Bhala, a Catholic professor at KU who teaches sharia as part of international trade law, said earlier in the session that the bill could be devastating to businesses in Kansas that have contracts with multinationals.
In an attempt to protect such business dealings, Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, added language that specifies the bill only bans foreign laws that infringe on certain "fundamental liberties," including equal protection, due process, and freedom of speech and religion.
Bhala said that language might complicate things for judges, rather than clarify them.
Bills to keep foreign laws out of American courts have been introduced in dozens of states in recent years — part of an effort by a conservative think-tank called the Center for Security Policy to halt a perceived spread of Sharia.
In most states the efforts have fallen flat, with non-Muslims among the most vocal critics. Orthodox Jews fought a similar effort in Florida, saying it could threaten their marriage contracts, while a Michigan bill was opposed by the Michigan Catholic Conference, which cited its threat to canon law.
Federal courts struck down an Oklahoma law voters approved in 2010 that barred state judges from considering sharia law in making decisions. The court called the law discriminatory. [AP/Reuters]
AP/The Tennessean - May 29
Murfreesboro mosque construction stops after judge's ruling
BY TRAVIS LOLLER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A judge’s ruling has stopped construction of a Nashville suburban mosque that has been at the center of a rowdy debate for more than two years.
Chancellor Robert Corlew ruled today that proper public notice was not given for the May 2010 meeting that approved the site plan for the mosque being built near Murfreesboro, a booming city of about 100,000 people southeast of Nashville.
Corlew notes that his opinion doesn’t prevent the Rutherford County Planning Commission from reconsidering the issue and approving the mosque site plan again. The next commission meeting is scheduled for June 11.
Essam Fathy, head of the construction committee for the Islamic Center, said that there is about six weeks of work left on the building. He’s gotten no official word from the county yet on what the ruling means.
“This has all come as a big Saleh Sbenaty, a spokesman for the leadership of the mosque, said the ruling was disappointing but his group remains committed to building the Islamic center. They have been worshipping for many years at a smaller site in the community.
The mosque was one of several Muslim projects in the U.S. that hit a swell of conservative opposition around the same time as the controversy over a plan to build a Muslim community center near New York’s Ground Zero.
The opponents of the Tennessee mosque have fought for two years to stop construction. During lengthy hearings in 2010, they presented testimony that effectively put Islam on trial. A string of witnesses questioned whether Islam is a legitimate religion and promoted a theory that American Muslims want to replace the Constitution with extremist Islamic law and the mosque was a part of that plot.
The judge dismissed those allegations but held a trial on the narrower claim that the public meeting law was violated because the meeting notice wasn’t adequate. The meeting notice was published in the Murfreesboro Post, a free weekly newspaper that claims distribution to 45,000 homes in the county of more than 250,000 people.
New Southern Poverty Law Center Report Summer - 2012
SPLC profiles of top Islamophobes:
Pamela Geller, David Yerushalmi, Frank Gaffney
Frank Gaffney Jr.
Date of Birth: 1953
Location: Lessburg, VA.
For most Americans, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) evokes thoughts of a dark time in this country’s history. But Frank Gaffney Jr., the anti-Muslim movement’s most paranoid propagandist, is not most Americans. In 2011, he called on Congress to revive HUAC — this time around, to root out the Islamist operatives who, he claims, are well on their way to replacing America’s democracy with a totalitarian, Shariah-based caliphate.
Gaffney, who calls Islam “communism with a God” and has suggested that President Obama is a practicing Muslim, wasn’t always such a fringe character. He served in the Pentagon and in 1987 was nominated to serve as an assistant secretary of defense, although the Senate did not confirm him. In 1988, he founded the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a hawkish but once-respectable think tank. As recently as in 2002, a prominent British newspaper listed him with Iraq invasion cheerleaders Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle as one of the men “directing” then-President George W. Bush’s post 9/11 security doctrine.
Sometime between then and now, Gaffney seems to have snapped.
“When it is impracticable to engage in violence, Shariah-adherent Muslims are still obliged to engage in jihad through stealthy techniques or, in the words of the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘civilization jihad,’” he said in 2011. “They are doing it through influence operations, the target set of which is comprehensive — government, law enforcement, intelligence agencies, the military, penal institutions, media think tanks, political entities, academic institutions. And they are very aggressively targeting non-Muslim religious communities in the name of ecumenicalism.”
The sole evidence for this conspiracy theory is a 20-year-old document outlining a plan for such a takeover, which has since been debunked as the fantasy of a single Muslim Brotherhood member. But that doesn’t matter to Gaffney, who sees “creeping Shariah” everywhere — even in the ranks of his erstwhile allies. For the past two years, he’s been banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference due to his insistence that two of its organizers (Suhail Khan, who is Muslim, and tax-hating Republican Grover Norquist, whose wife is Palestinian-American) are Muslim Brotherhood agents. The group, Khan explained in 2011, “didn’t want to be associated with a crazy bigot.”
Yet Gaffney has hardly faded into the shadows. He’s revered in hard-line anti-Muslim circles and writes for numerous far-right periodicals. Worst of all, some politicians have bought into his beliefs — most notably, U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who has appeared on Gaffney’s radio show and publicly repeated his baseless statistics and “facts,” and who, in 2011, held his own HUAC-style hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims.
Date of Birth: 1958
Location: New York, N.Y.
Most Recent Group: Stop Islamization of America
Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement's most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She's relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims, such as that President Obama is the "love child" of Malcolm X. She makes no pretense of being learned in Islamic studies, leaving the argumentative heavy lifting to her Stop Islamization of America partner Robert Spencer. Geller has mingled comfortably with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South African racists, defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and denied the existence of Serbian concentration camps. She has taken a strong pro-Israel stance to the point of being sharply critical of Jewish liberals.
In Her Own Words
"Islam is not a race. This is an ideology. This is an extreme ideology, the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth."
— Pam Geller On Fox Business' "Follow the Money," March 10, 2011
"Obama is a third worlder and a coward. He will do nothing but beat up on our friends to appease his Islamic overlords."
— Pam Geller, AtlasShrugs.com, April 13, 2010
"Hussein [meaning President Obama] is a muhammadan. He's not insane … he wants jihad to win."
— Pam Geller, AtlasShrugs.com, April 11, 2010
"I don't think that many westernized Muslims know when they pray five times a day that they're cursing Christians and Jews five times a day. … I believe in the idea of a moderate Muslim. I do not believe in the idea of a moderate Islam."
— Pam Geller, The New York Times, Oct. 8, 2010
"Now do I see everything through the prism of Israel? No, I don't, but I do think it's a very good guide. It's a very good guide because, like I said, in the war between the civilized man and the savage, you side with the civilized man. … If you don't lay down and die for Islamic supremacism, then you're a racist anti-Muslim Islamophobic bigot. That's what we're really talking about."
– Pam Geller, The New York Times, Oct. 8, 2010
Pamela Geller spent most of the 1980s working at The New York Daily News in financial analysis, advertising and marketing. Later, she became associate publisher of The New York Observer and stayed in that position until 1994. According to one online resume, she also served as senior vice president for strategic planning and performance evaluation at Brandeis University.
Married in 1990 to Michael Oshry, Geller spent the 1990s and most of the 2000s as a well-to-do Long Island housewife. After divorcing in 2007, she mostly busied herself rearing her four children, writing blogs and posting slam poetry-style videos trashing all things liberal on her YouTube channel.
Geller and Oshry were co-owners, along with Christ Tsiropoulous, of at least two car dealerships before the Gellers divorced in 2007. That was the same year Collin Thomas, one of their salesmen, was gunned down while closing their dealership, Universal Auto World, one evening.
The investigation into the murder uncovered an alleged fraud ring. According to the New York Daily News, employees enabled "underground characters," including "known" drug dealers, to buy luxury cars using fake identities. Eleven people who worked for the dealership, including Tsiropoulous, were arrested, but Geller escaped the scandal unscathed. According to The New York Times, she received a $4 million divorce settlement, a portion of $1.8 million from the sale of the Long Island home and then a $5 million life insurance payment when Oshry died a few months after remarrying in 2008. The criminal case has not moved forward since the 2008 arrests.
In October 2010, Geller told The New York Times she was profoundly affected by the 9/11 attacks. After contributing essays to various websites that examined Muslim militancy, including Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs, she launched her own website. She named her website "Atlas Shrugs" in honor of right-wing hero and self-described objectivist author Ayn Rand, a Geller idol whose 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged celebrates pure capitalism unrestrained by government regulation or social welfare measures. The unvarnished anti-Muslim stridency of Atlas Shrugs won followers; Geller republished the 2005 cartoons of Muhammad from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, for example, when most other media demurred.
Johnson, a moderate conservative, later broke sharply with Geller, calling her an anti-Muslim "hatemonger." After Geller, who is Jewish, posted a critique of the Islamic halal practice of slaughtering animals for food in September 2010, Johnson pointed out that kosher practice is almost identical and observed, "My GOD she is stupid."
Geller began her evolution from blogger to public activist in 2007 when she joined Stop the Madrassa, a project of a group of intense anti-Muslim activists determined to block the opening of a secular public Arabic-English school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy, in Brooklyn, N.Y. The campaign was intended as an early stand in a planned nationwide movement to counteract the efforts of American Muslims to meld into American society, according to one of its leaders, prolific anti-radical Muslim polemicist Daniel Pipes. Though the school ultimately opened anyway, Stop the Madrassa's efforts to cast the school's widely admired founding principal, Dhabah "Debbie" Almontaser, as a radical extremist succeeded in pressuring her to resign.
A proposal by a New York City imam and his financier partner to renovate an abandoned building in lower Manhattan into a 13-story mosque and community center would prove to be Geller's ticket to anti-Muslim superstardom. Geller first blogged about the project, originally known as Cordoba House but later called the Park51 project, in December 2009. Four months later, she and longtime radical Muslim alarmist Robert Spencer joined forces, taking over the organization Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), then an unexciting adjunct of a Denmark-based group called Stop Islamization of Europe. One of SIOA's first projects was to purchase controversial bus ads in New York and Miami inviting Muslims to reject Islam.
In June 2010, just two months after taking over SIOA, Geller and Spencer staged a rally in Lower Manhattan to oppose the Park51 project. It drew thousands of demonstrators, and plenty of media coverage. As had been done with Almontaser, Geller and Spencer led an effort to depict the project's planners as radical extremists. They insinuated – with little to go on – that the project's financing might be tied to terrorists. They absurdly described the project as an Islamic "victory mosque" to celebrate the 9/11 attacks, modeled after Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock, though no Muslim had ever suggested such a thing. Geller and Spencer were able to build SIOA into a propaganda powerhouse that the Southern Poverty Law Center listed as an anti-Muslim hate group in 2010.
By mid-2010, the telegenic Geller had become a virtual fixture on Fox News, invited to comment not only on the supposed threat posed by Muslims and Shariah law in America but even on popular unrest in Arabic countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Through her website, Geller has promulgated some of the most bizarre conspiracy theories found on the extreme right, including claims that President Obama is the love child of Malcolm X, that Obama was once involved with a "crack whore," that his birth certificate is a forgery, that his late mother posed nude for pornographic photos, and that he was a Muslim in his youth who never renounced Islam. She has described Obama as beholden to his "Islamic overlords" and said that he wants jihad to be victorious in America. In April 2011, Geller accused Obama of withholding evidence in the then-upcoming trial of accused Fort Hood mass murderer Major Nidal Malik Hasan.
Geller uses her website to publish her most revolting insults of Muslims: She posted (and later removed) a video implying that Muslims practiced bestiality with goats and a cartoon depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammad with a pig's face (observant Muslims do not eat pork). Geller also has denied the genocide of Bosnian Muslims by Serbian forces in Srebrenica – calling it the "Srebrenica Genocide Myth," even though the Serbian government itself issued a state apology for the massacre. She wrote, "Westerners are admitting to their role in something that didn't happen, and digging their own graves."
Geller will ally with virtually any individual or movement that expresses stridently anti-Muslim sentiments, no matter how otherwise repugnant. As a result, she has frequently rubbed shoulders with elements of white radicalism. In 2009, Geller was invited to address the German far-right organization Pro Köln [Cologne], described as a successor group to the neo-fascist German League for People and Homeland. Pro Köln at the time was under investigation by the German authorities because of its defamation of foreigners and suspected violations of "human dignity." As of early 2011, Pro Köln was officially deemed a right-wing extremist group by the German authorities.
Geller is an enthusiastic fan of Dutch anti-Muslim extremist Geert Wilders. He was charged in 2009 with hate-incitement in the Netherlands, but not convicted. She invited Wilders to speak at the June 2010 "Ground Zero Mosque" rally. In June 2010, Geller spoke at an event in Paris put on by the Bloc Identitaire, which opposes race-mixing and "Islamic imperialism."
Geller invited the notorious British anti-Muslim group English Defence League (EDL) to her September 2010 anti-mosque rally in New York. The previous May, a report by the British newspaper The Guardian revealed the EDL as thugs who hold anti-Muslim protests intended to provoke violence. Because of its racism and history, the EDL's leader, Tommy Robinson, was denied entry at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and sent back to England.
Yet Geller described the EDL in May 2010 as "courageous English patriots" when the group mobilized popular anger to oppose the construction of a mosque in the town of Dudley, near Birmingham, England. "There is nothing racist, fascist, or bigoted about the EDL," she wrote. In February 2010, she wrote in her blog, "I share the E.D.L.'s goals. We need to encourage rational, reasonable groups that oppose the Islamisation of the West."
In February 2011, she spoke favorably of Soviet leader Josef Stalin's forced relocation and genocide of Chechen Muslims after World War II, arguing – wrongly – that they were allied with Adolf Hitler. Historians say Chechens were fighting to preserve their own freedom and culture.
Geller's incendiary rhetoric and readiness to deny civil freedoms and the presumption of innocence to Muslims hasn't prevented her from gaining a measure of mainstream acceptability. In late March 2011, she was even invited by the Alaska House of Representatives to testify on a proposed anti-Shariah bill.
Geller's anti-Muslim stance has also drawn the admiration of white nationalist and even neo-Nazi proponents on the extreme right – a rather remarkable feat, considering she is Jewish. She has been the subject of positive postings on racist websites such as Stormfront, VDARE, American Renaissance and the neo-Confederate League of the South.
Date of Birth: 1957
Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.
In 2007, David Yerushalmi urged the United States to declare “WAR AGAINST ISLAM and all Muslim faithful.” When that didn’t happen, he did his best to start one himself.
Yerushalmi practices what he calls “lawfare”— a multi-platform attack on Muslims’ freedom, staged by pushing anti-Shariah bills in state legislatures and filing aggressive lawsuits against supposed enemies of free expression and America’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage.
So far, he’s been disturbingly successful. At least three states have passed laws based on his model “American Laws for American Courts” legislation, created for the explicit purpose of outlawing Islamic Shariah law. More states will consider it this year. In addition to serving as general counsel to Frank Gaffney’s (see profile above) paranoiac anti-Muslim Center for Security Policy, he’s represented Pam Geller’s Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and the Koran-burning Florida pastor Terry Jones.
Yerushalmi began his campaign in 2006 by founding the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), an anti-Muslim organization devoted to promoting his theory that Islam is inherently seditious and Shariah, or Islamic religious law, is a “criminal conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government.” He equates Shariah with Islamic radicalism so totally that he advocates criminalizing virtually any personal practice compliant with Shariah — in his view, only a Muslim who fully breaks with the customs of Shariah can be considered socially tolerable. Ideally, he would outlaw Islam and deport its adherents altogether.
Muslims aren’t the only group with whom he has a bone to pick. Yerushalmi, an Orthodox Jew, also rails against liberal Jews and the “progressive elites” he says they influence. He’s described blacks as “the most murderous of peoples” and reportedly once called for undocumented immigrants to be placed in “special criminal camps,” detained for three years, and then deported.
Together with Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center, a Christian Right law firm with which he has repeatedly collaborated, Yerushalmi in early 2012 formed the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC). Touted on its website as “the first truly authentic Judeo-Christian public interest law firm,” AFLC’s declared mission is “to fight for faith and freedom by advancing and defending America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral foundation through litigation, education, and public policy program.” Within weeks of its creation, AFLC had filed a challenge to a federal health care mandate that would have required most employers to cover birth control and a “friend of the court” brief in defense of S.B.1070, Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law.
Geller, Islamophobia’s most vulgar mouthpiece, couldn’t be more thrilled. “This is great news and the dawning of a new era,” she said of Yerushalmi’s newest venture. “[G]oing on the offense against who would crush our freedoms.”