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Press Advisory: Triangle Interfaith Community to Protest Anti-Muslim Talk Tonight (10/18)

Members of the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia will stage a protest outside of Extraordinary Ventures Event Center at 200 S Elliott Rd in Chapel Hill from 6-8PM tonight during a talk by an anti-Muslim speaker, Diana West.

Diane West was invited to speak as part of the ICON (Issues Confronting Our Nation) lecture series. West has written in favor of profiling Muslims (source, 6/13/13) and characterized Muslim immigration to the US as an “invasion by alien hordes” (source, 8/26/15).

Organizers expect 30 protestors with signs and chants outside the event.

This protest follows a letter written to Extraordinary Ventures last week which requested that EV not host the lecture. The letter was signed by eight community organizations and individuals including prominent faith leaders from across the Triangle. In response, EV posted to its facebook page, “We stand by the right of free speech while at the same time appreciating your concerns… We only rent space to the public. As such, we cannot and do not discriminate by refusing to rent space to people we may disagree with.”

In contrast, the letter characterizes West’s positions as hate speech, noting, “There is a dramatic rise in attacks against Muslims as a result of hate speech and institutional Islamophobia. Muslims, and people perceived as Muslims, are attacked and murdered throughout the country.” On February 10, 2015, three Muslim students were shot to death in Chapel Hill, and police have investigated their murder as an anti-Muslim hate crime.

Protestors will call on EV to cancel this and all future ICON lectures, while noting that they appreciate EV’s mission to provide services for autistic and developmentally challenged youth, and as a venue for community events.

Organizations who signed the letter include the Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East, Black Workers for Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle NC, the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, Muslims for Social Justice, Triangle May Day Unity Coalition, Triangle SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), and Witness for Peace Southeast. The letter was also signed by Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, whose two daughters and son-in-law were killed in the Chapel Hill shooting last year.


Manzoor Cheema

Diana West to Speak in Chapel Hill

Diana West Invited to Speak at ICON event in Chapel Hill

Triangle based organization ICON (Issues Confronting Our Nation) organizes regular talks by anti-Muslim and anti-immigrants speakers. They will invite conservative speaker Diana West to Chapel Hill on October 18th at 7pm at Extraordinary Ventures located at 200 S Elliott Rd. in Chapel Hill, NC.

Who is Diana West? (courtesy of the Center for New Community)

Diana West is a controversial, anti-Muslim author and columnist with ties to the greater organized Islamophobia movement, both in the United States and internationally. West regularly purports that Muslims are a “fifth column” in the United States who, like the Communists of old, are actively working to infiltrate the U.S. government and other cultural institutions with hopes of overthrowing them from within. She regularly advocates the religion of Islam is incompatible and antithetical to Western values. Her two books, Death of Grownup and American Betrayal, serve as a base for her Joseph McCarthy-esque conspiracy theories.

West’s bigotry and paranoia, however, is not exclusive to Muslims. It also extends to Latino immigrants and refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East. She also regularly derides “multiculturalism,” once calling it a “Messianic cult.” West has made it clear she is no fan of so-called “political correctness,” a topic she will be discussing at length during the upcoming ICON series event. In the name of being politically incorrect, West has advocated for the ongoing surveillance of Muslim communities and for Muslim houses of worship to be shut down. She is also a proponent of Donald Trump’s controversial and arguably unconstitutional ban on Muslim immigration into the U.S.

In fact, West has taken a hardline nativist stance against all immigration from non-Western countries. She has previously claimed immigrants from Latin America are leading to the “Hispanization” of the U.S. and accused our country of admitting “diseased aliens for Central America.”

She has also lamented that “non-assimilable” refugees from the Islamic world are “being imposed on communities across the country.”

Embraced by controversial, racist figures

West’s rants and writings have helped her gain access and acceptance among various far-right and white nationalist figures. She is a weekly guest on “Secure Freedom Radio,” a radio program headed by notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy. She has also received a reward from Gaffney’s outfit for her works. Additionally, she contributed t a conspiratorial publication spearheaded by Gaffney and his group titled Shariah: The Threat to America.

In 2015, West was a featured speaker at a Writers’ Workshop event organized by white nationalist publishing house The Social Contract Press. The annual workshop is the brainchild of eugenist and founder of the organized anti-immigrant movement, John Tanton. West’s work has also been upheld by the virulently anti-immigrant, a website founded by notorious white nationalist Peter Brimelow.

West also keeps ties with international anti-Muslim figures. Most notably being far-right Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders. In 2014, West came out in support of Wilders during a time when members of his political party were deflecting after the parliamentarian led supporters in an anti-Moroccan immigrant chant during a campaign rally, a spectacle some spectacle some have hyperbolically claimed was akin to to Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels’ famous 1943 speech. West said she saw nothing wrong with the chants because “Moroccans top the charts in criminality” and in “social dependence.” She later defended Wilders by posing the question: “Is it ‘racism’ to oppose the demographic obliteration of a nation clearly underway?”

Diana West in her own words:

“We are watching Islam purifying to its most basic element with Islamic State’s actions. We are looking at Islam activated, weaponized, deployed.” (source, 2/4/15)

“The goals of Islam are quite similar to the goals of communism. As interms of ideologies they stack up with many similarities as terms of the totalitarian nature, the collectivism nature, the global reach. The notion of one world, all people are the same, global government, no borders.” (source, 6/17/13)

“It doesn’t matter what country they (immigrants) come from or what religion they are or what language they speak, they are different, they are strangers. And when you have such large masses of people coming in as foreigners, there can be no nation. There can only be accommodation of people who will need all kinds of services, all kinds of training, all kinds of welfare, etcetera.” (source, 1/13/16)

“If our leaders really wanted to prevent ‘another 9/11, they would have long ago admitted the obvious: that the world of Islam, from its terrorists to its kings, is engaged in the latest historical cycle of jihad to extend the reach of Islamic law (Shariah). They would have decided that ‘profiling’ isn’t worse than terrorism. They would have halted Islamic immigration not only to stop more jihad cells from forming but also to prevent Constitution-endangering, pro-Shariah demographics from forming, too.” (source, 6/13/13)

“I think that what we are both reacting to is … the normalcy of his [Donal Trump’s] reaction to a crisis. He reacts, even though he’s an extraordinary human being that is in a category by himself for all manner of reasons, he is reacting like a normal person would react to the loss of a border, to the invasion by alien hordes, to this destruction of America as a sovereign nation, and I think that what we see happening…” (source, 8/26/15)

“What’s happening in Europe is happening here, we have a similar immigration phenomenon coming up from Latin America, primarily, and … many others from across the world coming across our borderless southern flank. But this is the same thing we’re seeing with the immigration coming into Europe. This is the destruction of the West, this is the population replacement of the West by the rest of the world, by what we call the Third World, by the Middle East, by Islam, by Africa, by South America, this is all happening and it needs to be understood in a totality.” (source, 11/25/15)

This is essentially the attack, the twin attack of multiculturalism — which, of course, is a form of Marxism — overlaying with the Islamic incursions by demographics. And I think this has to be understood as a demographic war, which we can take to our own shores, not necessarily completely in Muslim demographics, but just the entire immigration tsunami we are experiencing that includes many people from Islamic countries, from the Middle East and elsewhere, but also huge masses from the rest of the world, primarily Mexico and South America, Central America. (source, 4/15/16)

More About Diana West
West is a conservative columnist and co-Vice President of the International Free Press Society (IFPS), a self-described “international advocacy group for free speech,” which in reality is nothing more than a coalition against all things Islam. Just as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer unleash hateful, anti-Muslim-and-Islam blog posts under the auspices of defending the First Amendment, IFPS does as well. Video from that recent conference reveals West proclaiming, “We’re not going to make any friends in Islam.”
Unsurprisingly, (Frank) Gaffney shares West’s opinions and—guess what—he’s on IFPS’s Advisory Board.

West’s collaboration with anti-Muslim and nativist forces
West is a long-time activist within the so-called “counter-jihad” movement serving as both the Vice President of the International Free Press Society – a coalition of anti-Muslim journalists and bloggers – and the Washington Correspondent for Lars Hedegaard’s weekly newspaper Dispatch International. Additionally, West often collaborates with Frank Gaffney by serving as a frequent guest on his radio program and co-writing the conspiratorial CSP publication Shariah: The Threat to America with Gaffney and other anti-Muslim extremists, including Tom Trento and John Guandolo.

West’s anti-immigrant remarks
During the July 9 (2014) episode of his radio program, Gaffney invited his colleague and fellow Islamophobe, Diana West, to push the theory that these (migrant) children are part of the Democrat’s grand scheme to import voters and usher in the “socialization of America.” In order to support such a claim, West told Gaffney many of these children coming into the country come from “big government” countries, and thus, they would be more likely vote for Democrats. West further supports this by citing certain polls that claim three out of four Hispanics are more likely to for big government, which runs counter to Republicans views of having limited government interference.

As a result of this exposed plot, West was adamant against these children receiving refugee status. She warned this was “not simply a humanitarian response, but a political assault using children from other countries to destroy the population of this country.”

West’s comments may sound extreme, but they represent the quintessential fears expressed by navitists. They continue to fear immigrants will transform the country, turn it into something unrecognizable and further challenge their entrenched and misguided beliefs of what it means to be American.

Video of Diana West creating paranoia of Muslim taking over the country


ICON series background

The ICON (Issues Confronting Our Nation) continues to invite controversial and problematic individuals to speak at its events. Some of which include:

Roy Beck, the president of the anti-immigrant grassroots organization NumbersUSA. In March 2016, Beck wrote in an article that current immigration policies to the U.S. have created “enabling pools” where criminals and terrorists “can easily swim out of sight of the authorities.” Previous events Beck has spoken at include a meeting of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a notorious white nationalist organization.

James “Jim” Simpson, a conservative author and speaker who works closely with anti-Muslim groups like the Center for Security Policy. Simpson has taken a hardline stance against Muslim immigrants and refugees coming in the nation. He previously accused liberals of being in support refugee resettlement and immigration policies so that they can “destroy the culture” and “create a huge pool of voters” that they can use to institute “despotic governments.” Simpson recently published a book where he claims the political left are trying to “erase” America with immigrants through “mass migration.”

In May 2017, Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the anti-immigrant think tank the Center for Immigration Studies, is scheduled to speak on the impact of mass migration into the U.S. Krikorian has previously called Muslims a “vicious people” and once suggested that 9/11 is a Muslim holiday. In a 2015 op-ed, Krikorian stated, “[r]elocating refugees from the Middle East to the U.S. is morally wrong.”





Response to Massacre in Orlando

Statement on Orlando Massacre from Salma Mirza, a queer Muslim who is a member of Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI) and Muslims for Social Justice

I am heartbroken about this attack on my community, as most of those killed were LGBTQ people of color. The flyer for the event was of Black and Latina trans women and we have a national climate that targets these communities.

As a queer Muslim, I watched the story unfold in shock and grief. I’ve been dancing in those clubs. My friends have been in those clubs. It could have been any one of us. Those clubs are one of the few places we can feel free. As I’ve been trying to process and grieve this tragedy, I see Donald Trump using this tragedy to renew his call for a ban on Muslims. Before the bodies have been taken out of the building, before all their loved ones have been contacted, it’s already been used to justify hatred against Muslims. The killing of my people is being used to justify the killing of my people.

I am horrified that this tragedy is being used to call for restrictions of the civil liberties of Muslims. While the Muslim community may need to struggle with homophobia, so too does our country. In the first 10 weeks of 2016, over 200 pieces of anti-LGBT legislation were introduced in 34 states. The day after HB2 passed, I got arrested in front of the Governor’s mansion with other queer and trans people fighting that attack on our community. As my queer Tennessean friend Thomas Walker said, the queer people of color trapped in Pulse hid in whatever bathroom they thought they were most likely to survive in, not whichever one matched their birth certificate. The right-wing is passing bills attacking trans people in bathrooms while trans people hid from their killer in the Pulse bathroom to try and survive. There was a white guy that they caught in LA on his way to LA Pride with guns and ammo and bomb-making equipment. Like him, Omar Mateen was an American. Donald Trump may say he’s foreign-born, but he was born in New York. He was a fan of the NYPD. He is a home-grown criminal. America as a whole needs to struggle with hatred and fear of LGBTQ people.

Mateen was a domestic abuser, like another killer, George Zimmerman. Despite this, he had no criminal record. As we’ve seen in the Stanford rape case, toxic masculinity is an American problem. He was born and socialized in America. He internalized these lessons.

Mass shootings are an American problem, not an “over there” problem. There have been 136 instances of mass shooting in 2016 alone. More than 400,000 people have died from gun violence in the past 10 years. The overwhelming majority of shooting deaths in the United States are committed by non-Muslims. This is an American problem, when shooters like Omar Mateen have access to buying assault style rifles. No one should have access to buy these guns that are often used in mass shootings. We need common sense gun control in this country.

At Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI), we believe in building an intersectional movement to fight all forms of oppression – homophobia, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, attacks on workers, attacks on immigrants and all other oppressions. Hatred will win only if we are divided by fear. We want to build a powerful movement based on love and liberation for all people. We call upon people from all backgrounds to join our network and help us build a more loving and just community.
Salma-Mirza-1-by-Matthew-Lenard(From left) Noah Rubin-Blose, Salma Mirza and Jade Brooks, during a protest against House Bill 2 in front on North Carolina Executive Mansion on March 24, 2016.
Photo by Matthew Lenard




Islamophobia Stories Around the World

Islamophobia related stories around the world

Stories in 2016:

– Protestors March Down Cedar Avenue to Combat Islamophobia. CBS Minnesota. 2/20/16.
Excerpt: “Minnesota has the highest population of Somalis in the country, making Islamophobia a reality for many of them.
“I hear a lot of Islamophobic remarks in some of my family circles, or some friend groups,” said Janna Burger, Des Moines.
“It’s an issue people don’t really know about, and don’t understand what they’re fearing,” said one protester.”

Macalester participates in college based anti-Islamophobia webinar. The Mac Weekly 2/19/16.
Excerpt: “Throughout the presentation, several poll questions were asked as part of the slideshow.
The first asked was, “What issues re[garding] Islamophobia or other biases are most pressing on your campus?” The options offered were 1) specific incidents on campus or in the community; 2) general tone or attitudes toward religious minority communities; 3) threats or acts of violence; and 4) reactions to national or international events. Participants at Macalester acknowledged both #2 and #4 as prevalent, but #2 ultimately won out.”
““Like combating any form of oppression, it’ll require active participation by everyone in the community,” Mudragada said in an email later. “Fear coupled with lack of understanding spreads Islamophobia. As the webinar mentioned, it’s important to educate (some schools do Islam 101 sessions) and provide spaces for dialogue and understanding. I also believe joining the Allies Project sponsored by the Department of Multicultural Life provides skills and knowledge in building a safer and supportive community for all identities.”

The Entanglement of Islamophobia and anti-Black Violence. Huffington Post. 2/18/16.
Excerpt: “So why should non-Black Muslims care about racism and anti-Black violence? Because the very marginalizations that Muslims are feeling today in the era of Trump – the everyday racism, bullying, violent attacks – are part of the larger institutional processes that keep non-Whites at the periphery. Because Islamophobia is yet another aspect of structural oppression – oppression of Blacks, Latinos, women, disabled people, sexual minorities, etc.
Islamophobia, therefore, can never be understood – let alone addressed – if we do not understand how systemic oppression works.”

– Islamophobia and hate groups rise at alarming rate. The Arab American News. 2/18/16
Excerpt: “The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has released its annual Year in Hate report and the data depicts a country with extraordinary political and racial tensions.
The Year in Hate report released this week shows a rise in hate groups in America for the first time since 2010. The SPLC noted that anti-Muslim sentiments were at the forefront of documented hate crimes across the country.
Anti-government “patriot” groups, classified as armed militias, and others inspired by conspiracy theories have also seen an uptick in the last year.
In the report, the SPLC accounts for 892 active hate groups in the U.S. That number is up 14 percent from 2014, when there were 784.”
“The SPLC noted that there are anti-Muslim groups who have huge pull in the political field.

The Center for Security Policy and ACT! for America, two grassroots organizations, have been listed as anti-Islamic hate groups by the SPLC this year.
ACT! for America, the nation’s largest non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization, says its mission statement is devoted to promoting national security and defeating Islamic terrorism. The organization has more than 280,000 members in the U.S.
What’s even more eye-opening — the organization is run by Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese woman who claims “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.”
The Center for Security Policy also has a similar mission statement — to pioneer the organization, management and direction of public policy coalitions in order to promote national security.
At the beginning of the year, both organizations held events in states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that were attended by Trump and other Republican presidential candidates, including Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.
“If you look at these two orgs, one thing that’s extremely problematic is that they sit high with elected officials,” Piggott said. “In 2015, they held major events that took place at the beginning of an election cycle. It’s a good example of the mainstreaming of hate.””

Raisig Confident Children in a Time of Microagressions and Islamophobia. 2/17/16.
Excerpt: “And there is a silver lining to all this: The chance to make our children more aware of social justice issues beyond their own. I am an Arab Muslim Canadian mother of Canadian and American children, and in my personal experience, there’s nothing like being on the receiving end of racism to blow open your mind to how it works and what it feels like. For example, there are strong similarities between the way in which Black Muslims face discrimination within the Muslim community from non-Black Muslims, and how Muslims today face discrimination from the wider society.
Now that the Muslim community as a whole is coping with prejudice, segments within the group have become aware of how they exclude one another. Another example is recognizing that while many North American Arabs/Muslims engage in activism to support Palestine, our support of Native Americans — on whose land we live today — is minimal. The current Islamophobic and anti-Arab climate demands that we draw on the full range of our experiences to work towards social justice for all.”

Brother’s slaying spurs SF doctor to speak against Islamophobia. San Francisco Chronicle. 2/14/16.
Excerpt: “In the view of Muslim leaders and many others, Barakat has become a powerful and badly needed voice for the community since the slaying of her brother, who was a 23-year-old dental student at the University of North Carolina, as well as his wife, 21-year-old Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Abu-Salha.”
““I don’t need to theorize or bring metaphorical analogies on how this is a real thing,” she said. “I just need to point to that picture: These people lived, I knew them, and I loved them, this is what they were doing, and this is what happened to them because of Islamophobic rhetoric.””

The Disturbing Rise of Islamophobia in America. Think Progress. 2/10/16
Excerpt: “In the last three months alone, ThinkProgress has found at least sixty-five incidents in which Muslims throughout the country have been subject to shootings, personal assaults, harassment, and attacks on their houses of worship. In one particularly horrifying incident in Grand Rapids, Michigan, an armed robber shot a store clerk in the face after calling him a “terrorist” and demanding money.”

Islamophobia and the election: It’s not just Trump. Mondoweiss. 2/10/16
Excerpt: ” The narrative that is being driven by many politicians and mainstream media outlets however, is that mosques are responsible for radicalization. Part of the reason that Trump, Cruz, Rubio are advancing this narrative ties into the fact that they’re being advised by one of the Islamophobia Industry’s foremost wingnuts: Frank Gaffney. Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy is responsible for advancing conspiracy theories, such as “all Muslims in public-life are Muslim Brotherhood operatives,” and that “80% of America’s mosques are radicalized.” 

– Palumbo H.S. students loudly say ‘No!’ to Islamophobia (Jan 14, 2016)

Muslims at South Philly school gather to commiserate, educate and share stories (Jan 12, 2016)