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.