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June 3, 2015 2

Governor Haley’s Ill-Considered Participation in Mass Prayer Rally

South Car­olina Gov­er­nor Nikki Haley is pro­mot­ing and par­tic­i­pat­ing in a June 13th Chris­t­ian prayer rally called “The Response: a call to prayer for our nation.”  She regret­tably is fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of for­mer Texas Gov­er­nor Perry who back in 2011 was a keynote speaker at sim­i­lar event bear­ing the same name and attended by 30,000.  Gov­er­nor Haley’s involve­ment in this event is not only deeply insen­si­tive to many of her con­stituents, but vio­lates the spirit if not the let­ter of the Constitution.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley

South Car­olina Gov­er­nor Nikki Haley

Accord­ing to The Response web-site,

Amer­ica is now in such a state of cri­sis … and the root is not to be found in polit­i­cal agen­das, eco­nomic dol­drums, crime rates, or ter­ror­ist threats, as many believe. Our coun­try is in cri­sis because we are a peo­ple who are no longer hon­or­ing God in our pros­per­ity or humbly call­ing on Him in our predica­ments. The Response is com­mit­ted to acti­vat­ing a return to prayer by those with con­trite hearts, to pro­vide wit­ness that the Church is tak­ing a stand for right­eous­ness and ask­ing God for His mercy on the land we love.

It fur­ther states that although “… every­one is wel­come to come and join us in prayer, the focus of the prayer will be unashamedly Chris­t­ian. The only name that will be lifted up will be the name of Jesus Christ.” ADL sup­ports every American’s right to pray and fol­low the reli­gious beliefs of his or her choos­ing, includ­ing Gov­er­nor Haley’s.  But the found­ing fathers knew that the best way to pro­tect these fun­da­men­tal rights is to make sure that our elected offi­cials and rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment would not impose one reli­gion over another or any reli­gion at all. Gov­er­nor Haley was elected to lead a reli­giously diverse con­stituency.  But her offi­cial par­tic­i­pa­tion in The Response and encour­age­ment of oth­ers to attend this event are deeply divi­sive.  It con­veys a dis­tinct mes­sage to non-Christians that they are out­siders.  Such offi­cial actions that divide Amer­i­cans along reli­gious lines are not a pro­duc­tive way to address our nation’s prob­lems. The genius of the First Amend­ment is that reli­gion in all its diver­sity has thrived in Amer­ica because gov­ern­ment is required to keep its dis­tance from it.   Gov­er­nor Haley would be wise to fol­low this essen­tial prin­ci­ple by recon­sid­er­ing her par­tic­i­pa­tion in The Response. As a 501(c )(3) non-profit orga­ni­za­tion, the Anti-Defamation League does not sup­port or oppose can­di­dates for polit­i­cal office.

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May 4, 2015 2

Garland Shooting Overshadows Anti-Muslim Event Featuring Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders

Police shot and killed two sus­pects who opened fire at a Gar­land, Texas, cen­ter host­ing a “Muham­mad Art Exhibit and Car­toon Con­test.” The Amer­i­can Free­dom Defense Ini­tia­tive (AFDI), an anti-Muslim orga­ni­za­tion headed by Pamela Geller, orga­nized the event, which fea­tured anti-Muslim Dutch Par­lia­men­tar­ian Geert Wilders as the main speaker.  Geller also heads Stop Islamiza­tion of Amer­ica, which oper­ates under the aus­pices of AFDI and seeks to rouse pub­lic fears about a vast Islamic con­spir­acy to destroy Amer­i­can values.

The shoot­ing over­shad­owed the Muham­mad car­toon con­test which AFDI billed as an event “in defense of free speech.”  AFDI asked peo­ple to sub­mit car­toons of Muham­mad and promised $10,000 to the win­ner of the con­test.  The con­test was also AFDI’s response to the ter­ror attack in Paris in which 12 peo­ple who worked for the satir­i­cal mag­a­zine Char­lie Hebdo were killed by Mus­lim ter­ror­ists angry over the depic­tion of Muham­mad in the pub­li­ca­tion.  It is also evi­dent that the con­test would incite the Mus­lim com­mu­nity and oth­ers opposed to anti-Muslim big­otry. AFDI chose to hold it at the same venue where the Mus­lim com­mu­nity recently held a “Stand With the Prophet Against Ter­ror & Hate” event.

In his speech at the car­toon con­test, Wilders asserted that “We will never allow Islam to rob us of our free­dom of speech.” He said that the con­test was held “in defi­ance of Islam” and that “depict­ing Muham­mad is an act of lib­er­a­tion.”  Wilders declared, “Let us de-Islamize our soci­eties! No more Islam, no more mosques, no more Islamic schools. It is time for our own cul­ture and heritage.”

It is no sur­prise that Gellers invited Wilders to be the keynote speaker at the car­toon con­test. Both have pro­moted an anti-Muslim agenda for years and have worked together pre­vi­ously. Like Geller, Wilders has made it his mis­sion to “warn peo­ple of the Islamiza­tion of our West­ern societies.”

The car­toon con­test was one of four events at which Wilders spoke over the past week in the United States. On April 29, two mem­bers of Con­gress, Steven King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), invited Wilders to speak at two sep­a­rate events in DC. At one of the events, a meet­ing of the Con­ser­v­a­tive Oppor­tu­nity Soci­ety, founded by for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich, Wilders com­pared Islam to Nazism and declared that the West should end all immi­gra­tion from Islamic coun­tries. The next day, Wilders spoke at a press con­fer­ence in front of the Capi­tol in Wash­ing­ton, along with Rep­re­sen­ta­tives King and Gohmert. Wilders once again spoke out against Islamic immi­gra­tion and argued that Islam has tried to sub­ju­gate the coun­tries where there is a Mus­lim majority.

Wilders brought up sim­i­lar themes in his speech at the car­toon con­test, which he deliv­ered before the shoot­ing. No mat­ter how offen­sive an event or pro­gram may be, there is no place in our com­mu­nity or our coun­try for the vio­lence that took place out­side the event. 

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April 27, 2015 12

Members of Congress Invite Anti-Muslim Bigot Geert Wilders to DC Events

Geert Wilders, the Dutch Free­dom Party leader and one of the most noto­ri­ous anti-Muslim big­ots in the world, announced that this week two Mem­bers of Con­gress will host him at events in Wash­ing­ton, DC.

Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Steve King and Louie Gohmert are report­edly help­ing pro­vide a plat­form for Wilders at two events, a break­fast spon­sored by the Con­ser­v­a­tive Oppor­tu­nity Soci­ety, founded by for­mer Speaker of the House Newt Gin­grich, and later in the day at a reception.

ADL wrote to Rep­re­sen­ta­tives King and Gohmert to make sure they know that Wilders’ rhetoric, com­par­ing the Mus­lim reli­gion itself to Nazism, crosses the bound­aries of civil­ity and reli­gious tolerance.

Wilders rou­tinely says “Islam is evil” and calls for the clos­ing down of Mus­lim schools and mosques, as he did in Novem­ber 2014 at the most recent David Horowitz Free­dom Cen­ter Restora­tion Week­end in Florida. Wilders con­sid­ers every Mus­lim an extrem­ist, stat­ing that “accord­ing to the Qur’an, there are no mod­er­ate Mus­lims.” He fur­ther claims that the fact most Mus­lims are law-abiding cit­i­zens and have no con­nec­tion to ter­ror­ism is irrel­e­vant, because Islam is an expan­sion­ist and aggres­sive ide­ol­ogy.  His pro­file as a pur­veyor of ugly anti-Muslim big­otry went global in March 2008, when Wilders released an online film called Fitna. The film sim­plis­ti­cally depicts Islam as a vio­lent reli­gion, inter­spers­ing verses from the Qur’an with footage of ter­ror­ist violence.

Even a rad­i­cally anti-Muslim law­maker like Wilders is enti­tled to express his opin­ions.  But Amer­i­cans are enti­tled to expect their elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives to avoid pro­mot­ing and legit­imiz­ing those odi­ous ideas.

Another instance of such deroga­tory and hate­ful rhetoric by Mem­bers of their cau­cus about immi­grants drew swift con­dem­na­tion by House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) and then Major­ity Leader Eric Can­tor (R–VA) as well as Judi­ciary Immi­gra­tion Sub­com­mit­tee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Speaker Boehner called on leg­is­la­tors to reject hate­ful com­ments that he said were “deeply offen­sive and wrong and said they did “not reflect the val­ues of the Amer­i­can peo­ple or the Repub­li­can Party.”

We hope Speaker Boehner and the House lead­er­ship take note of this page from their own play­book and fol­low their own exam­ple again.

Con­fronting vio­lent extrem­ism from Islamist move­ments is an urgent and seri­ous task for gov­ern­ments and law­mak­ers all over the world.

Pro­vid­ing a plat­form for the basest kind demo­niz­ing of Mus­lims, or of any faith, does lit­tle to make Amer­i­cans safer. America’s high­est ideals of reli­gious lib­erty and the need to con­front ter­ror­ism from groups like ISIS and al Qaida with real pol­icy solu­tions com­pels Con­gress to do better.

 

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