Muslim civil rights organization supports students challenging hate speech
PHILADELPHIA, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia) today expressed concern about the hostile learning environment that may result from an upcoming event at Temple University featuring a speaker who claims Islam is a "poison to a society" and others who are leaders of organizations designated as anti-Muslim hate groups and who were cited by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.
SEE: Occupy Activists to Protest Anti-Muslim Event at Temple
The April 23 "Islamic Apartheid Conference" features Nonie Darwish, a notorious Islamophobe who has stated that Islam must be "annihilated."
In a video of Darwish speaking at a protest in Florida, she states: "Islam is a poison to a society. . .Islam should be feared, and should be fought, and should be conquered, and defeated, and annihilated, and it's going to happen. Ladies and gentlemen, Islam is going to be brought down. . .Because Islam is based on lies and it's not based on the truth. I have no doubt whatsoever that Islam is going to be destroyed."
Video: Nonie Darwish Says Islam Should be 'Annihilated'
"Everyone, even haters, has a right to free speech," said CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Director and Staff Attorney Amara S. Chaudhry. "Those of us who challenge bigotry must exercise our First Amendment right to speak out against hate speech -- especially speech that may encourage others to commit violent acts."
"Hate speech should be relegated to the fringes of our society, not given a platform at a prestigious university," said CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Moein Khawaja. "We are concerned about the hostile learning environment that may be created for Muslim students and staff by the hosting of this hate event."
He said the Islamophobic speakers have a First Amendment right to express their hate-filled views, but the university has no obligation to help promote extremism, and those who seek mutual understanding also have a right to peaceful protest.
SEE: Protest Anti-Muslim Bigots at Temple University
Khawaja noted that Nonie Darwish told the New York Times: "A mosque is not just a place for worship. 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."
Video: Nonie Darwish Says Mosques are 'Where War is Started'
Across Nation, Mosque Projects Meet Opposition (NY Times)
The rally at which Darwish called for the annihilation of Islam was sponsored by the hate group Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). SIOA, which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is headed by two of the other speakers at the event, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Spencer heads yet another organization designated as a hate group by the SPLC.
SPLC: Active Anti-Muslim Groups
Geller bragged online that she uses a Quran, Islam's holy text, as a doorstop. Two hotels, one in Texas and another in Tennessee, dropped scheduled events that featured Geller as a speaker. Her hate blog was cited by the terrorist who went on a killing spree last year in Norway.
Another Hotel Turns Away Pamela Geller and Anti-Shariah Group
Geller has claimed that "Hitler and the Nazis were inspired by Islam" and that Islam "mandates" lies and deception. She has also posted images on her blog that include a fake photograph of then Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan in a Nazi uniform, another fake image of President Obama urinating on an American flag, and drawings purporting to depict Islam's Prophet Muhammad as a pig.
One image posted by Geller, headlined "Piss Be Upon Him," showed one of the controversial Danish cartoons of the prophet covered in urine. ("Piss Be Upon Him" is designed to mock the traditional phrase "Peace Be Upon Him" that Muslims use when mentioning any prophet of God.) In a 2010 blog entry, Geller posted a video claiming that Muslims engage in bestiality.
A prominent New York law firm recently canceled an event featuring Robert Spencer. The event would have promoted Spencer's claim that Islam's Prophet Muhammad may never have existed.
"Fear, Inc.," a recent report by the Center for American Progress, revealed that "[Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik] cited Robert Spencer, one of the anti-Muslim misinformation scholars we profile in this report, and his blog, Jihad Watch, 162 times in his manifesto." Breivik is currently on trial for mass murder in Norway.
SEE: Fear, Inc.
The SPLC named Spencer as part of the nation's "Anti-Muslim Inner Circle."
SEE: The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle
The independent national media watch group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) identified Spencer as one of "Islamophobia's Dirty Dozen" who systematically "spread fear, bigotry, and misinformation."
In its report, FAIR said, "By selectively ignoring inconvenient Islamic texts and commentaries, Spencer concludes that Islam is innately extremist and violent."
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.
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CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Moein Khawaja, (215) 592-0509, email@example.com; CAIR-Philadelphia Outreach & Communications Director, Rugiatu Conteh, (215) 592-0509, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations