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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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July 26, 2013 0

ADL Commends Legislators For Taking Stand Against Rep. Steve King’s Demonizing Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Those who have fol­lowed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King’s (R–IA) habit of demo­niz­ing immi­grants as crim­i­nals may not have been sur­prised when he told a jour­nal­ist last week that “there are 100 Mex­i­can immi­grants, with calves the size of can­taloupes, smug­gling drugs for every DREAMer valedictorian.”  steve-king

This fol­lows a long his­tory of deroga­tory and hate­ful anti-immigrant rhetoric by King and oth­ers who pre­fer to obstruct progress toward a leg­isla­tive solu­tion that could actu­ally address the seri­ous prob­lem of America’s bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem. ADL sent a let­ter to Rep. King today urg­ing him to retract his offen­sive state­ments and to refrain from using incen­di­ary and inap­pro­pri­ate language.

Despite wide­spread crit­i­cism for his offen­sive com­ments on immi­grant chil­dren, Rep. King insisted again on June 25on the House floor that undoc­u­mented immi­grant chil­dren are often drug mules who carry ille­gal sub­stances across the bor­der from Mexico.

There was a swift and tar­geted con­dem­na­tion that fol­lowed from the top House lead­ers, as well as other key play­ers in the immi­gra­tion con­ver­sa­tion, includ­ing the House Judi­ciary Immi­gra­tion Sub­com­mit­tee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) and Major­ity Leader Eric Can­tor (R–VA) stepped up to con­demn the remarks imme­di­ately. The Speaker called on leg­is­la­tors to reject hate­ful com­ments that he said were “deeply offen­sive and wrong.” Can­tor, the second-ranking House Repub­li­can, said: “I strongly dis­agree with his char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the chil­dren of immi­grants and find the com­ments inexcusable.”

At Speaker John Boehner’s weekly press brief­ing yes­ter­day, he again con­demned Rep. King’s remarks within the first minute of the brief­ing – unprompted and force­fully saying:

“I want to be clear: There is no place in this debate for hate­ful or igno­rant com­ments from elected offi­cials. Ear­lier this week, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King made com­ments that, I think were deeply offen­sive and wrong. What he said does not reflect the val­ues of the Amer­i­can peo­ple or the Repub­li­can Party. We all need to do our work in a con­struc­tive, open, and respect­ful way.”

ADL has con­sis­tently called on polit­i­cal lead­ers and can­di­dates to speak out against intol­er­ant and dehu­man­iz­ing rhetoric. In let­ters to Reps. Boehner and Can­tor ADL com­mended their lead­er­ship in pub­licly reject­ing such rhetoric. ADL hopes other leg­is­la­tors will fol­low.  The let­ters noted that “poli­cies adopted in the halls of gov­ern­ment, and the tenor and rhetoric used to debate them, directly impact the lives of immi­grants and all minor­ity groups, regard­less of their immi­gra­tion status.” 

The task of fix­ing America’s bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem is urgent and seri­ous and demo­niz­ing immi­grants does lit­tle to advance con­struc­tive solu­tions.  It mer­its a respect­ful pol­icy con­ver­sa­tion that upholds America’s best ideals of ensur­ing dig­nity for all and that hon­ors America’s her­itage as a nation of immigrants. 

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