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August 25, 2016

Event in L.A. Features Who’s Who of Anti-Muslim Movement in U.S.

The American Freedom Alliance (AFA) held a conference on  “Islam and Western Civilization: Can they Co-exist?”  in Los Angeles on August 21.   The AFA claims to be “a non-political, non-partisan movement which promotes, defends and upholds Western values and ideals,” and specializes in  promulgating an Islamophobic world view.  The conference included the who’s who of the anti-Muslim movement in the United States, with recycled conspiracy theories and offensive claims about immigrants, Muslims, law enforcement officers, various US government agencies and the Pope.

Featured speakers included anti-Muslim extremists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer (the heads of the conspiracy-minded Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), in addition to other “experts” who  peddled baseless theories about a Muslim infiltration of the United States government,  and advanced offensive anti-Muslim rhetoric such as branding Muslims, and their religious law [Sharia], as affronts to American freedom.

 

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American Freedom Alliance Anti-Muslim Event

Geller widened her usual net of conspiracy theories about Muslims, Islam and Sharia law, to include  allegations against a long list of U.S. cities, social media companies and other opponents, who she claims have censored her by refusing to allow her  anti-Muslim advertising campaigns;  attacks on the FBI for the agency’s handling of the terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, when two armed men targeted the community center hosting a SIOA event– and even  insinuated that the FBI wants her dead; and she also  alleged that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is involved in an intimate relationship with her Muslim female assistant, stating they are “literally and not figuratively in bed” with each other.

In addition to Geller and Spencer, other speakers included: Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy; Stephen Coughlin, a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy; Morton Klein, Executive Director of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA); James Lyons, who promotes conspiracies about the infiltration of the US government by Islamists; Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian anti-Muslim activist;  and  Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-born anti-Muslim activist who exhorted,  “There is no such thing as Islam and radical Islam; all Islam is radical.”

The event also highlighted attacks on Khizr Khan, the father of Captain Humayan Khan, who died in Iraq while serving in the US Army. The attacks on Khan were based on allegations made by anti-Muslim extremist Walid Shoebat, who is known for promoting militant Christianity.

 

 

 

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August 11, 2016

Tunisian BDS Conference Raises Questions About Qatari Involvement

On August 4th, the Qatar-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) launched a three-day academic conference in Tunisia titled “Boycott as a Strategy to Counter Israel’s Occupation and Apartheid: Present-day Realities and Aspirations.” The conference served as a reminder of BDS activists’ efforts to expand their agenda and further their goal of delegitimizing the state of Israel, but also illuminated potential rifts within the movement.

Panelists at the BDS conference in Tunisia

Panelists at the BDS conference in Tunisia

While ACRPS claims to be an independent research institute, it appears to have strong ties to the Qatari government. This could suggest that individuals closely affiliated to the Qatari government may be interested in playing a bigger role in advancing the BDS movement.

ACRPS registration documents list Sultan Ghanim Al Kuwari, a prominent Qatari businessman, as the founder of the Center. Reportedly, Al Kuwari, who is closely affiliated with Qatar’s royal family, is also listed as the director of several Qatari international media outlets. He is also described as the person in charge of extending the reach of the Qatari soft diplomatic power under the leadership of the Emir of Qatar. Furthermore, reports from previous ACRPS events present the Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani as a regular guest of honor at many of the group’s events.

The Qatari connection could raise the hackles of BDS activists who are skeptical of Qatar’s foreign policy positions, and are concerned that the country’s involvement would transform the grassroots movement into a ‘state branding’ project. On the first day of the conference, members of the Tunisian BDS chapter disrupted the session and protested against what they consider as the Qatari government’s connection. They also protested against the director of the ACRPS, Azmi Beshara, because he served as a member of the Israeli Knesset in the past, which the activists consider as an act of treason. An earlier statement on the official Facebook page of the Tunisian chapter of the BDS movement called fora boycott of the conference because the ACRPS and the conference itself “are sponsored by the Qatari government” which, according to the Tunisian chapter, is “one of the Arab governments most active in normalization with Israel.”

This BDS conference was built on a series of previous events hosted by the ACRPS and focused on questions about the objectives of the BDS movement and the role of the Arab states, émigré communities, and Palestinians. One speaker, Osama Abu Irshaid, the National Policy Director of American Muslims for Palestine, said “it is a must to transform the BDS movement into a system and a framework that will go beyond only boycotting corporations that support Israel to the de-legitimization of Israel as well.” ACRPS issued a paper supporting Irshaid’s goals.

Other speakers at the conference included Max Blumenthal, a prominent anti-Israel blogger, Peter Slezak, the co- founder of the Australian-based Independent Australian Jewish Voices, and Richard Falk, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

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August 9, 2016

Oregon Police Save Woman Held Hostage by Armed White Supremacist

A SWAT team with the Gladstone Police Department in Northwestern Oregon rescued a woman being held hostage by a barricaded white supremacist following a shootout with police.jeffreygiddingstattoos

The incident began on August 8, 2016, when Jeffrey Carl Giddings, a convicted felon and career criminal, fled on a bicycle from an officer who was attempting to stop him for a traffic violation.

A short time later, Giddings allegedly opened fire on a police sergeant who had located him in the parking lot of a Subway restaurant.  The sergeant was struck in his ballistic vest and is reportedly in excellent condition.

Giddings then took a woman hostage and barricaded himself in the Subway.  A responding SWAT team tried to negotiate with Giddings, but he made demands and refused to give up.  Fearing for the hostage’s safety, the SWAT team shot Giddings and saved the woman. Giddings suffered a non-life threatening injury and was taken to the hospital.

Giddings’ face and body are covered in tattoos.  Many of them are symbols used by white supremacists including the words “Aryan Pride”, a Celtic Cross and “16/23,” a numerical code for PW or “peckerwood.”  Additionally, Giddings has IPS tattoos on both his neck and collarbone area which is the acronym for the Insane Peckerwood Syndicate, a white supremacist prison gang with members in Oregon and Washington.

This is the second shootout in the United States between police and domestic extremists this month, and the ninth so far this year.

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