(ATLANTA, GA, 10/3/19) – The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today expressed support for an investigation into the Towns County Sheriff, the Towns County Republican Party, and anti-Muslim extremist Chris Gaubatz after they reportedly banned the media from attending an anti-Muslim event held at a government facility open to the public.
Last week, the Towns County Republican Party banned a reporter from the north Georgia news outlet Fetch Your News from attending the event. The event's featured speaker, anti-Muslim extremist Chris Gaubatz, allegedly made the decision to deny media access with approval from Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton.
Fetch Your News has described the incident as “deliberate suppression of freedom of the press set forth by an elected official sworn to uphold the Constitution," and reported that the incident is under investigation by state authorities.
The incident marked the second time that Gaubatz, a Virginia resident, had visited Towns County to teach anti-Muslim bigotry to local residents. He spoke at a Towns County Republican Party event about "Islam, Jihad and Sharia Law" in March 2019. Sheriff Clinton introduced him at the start of that event.
In a statement, CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:
"The Towns County Republican Party should have never hosted an event featuring anti-Muslim extremist Chris Gaubatz, nor should the Sheriff's office have permitted him to ban the media from entering a government facility. This was not only wrong, but illegal.
"We support the ongoing investigation into this incident. Anyone who violated the law in an attempt to conceal Mr. Gaubatz's vile bigotry from public view should face appropriate legal and disciplinary action.
"In the meantime, Sheriff Chris Clinton and the Towns County Republican Party must stop endangering Georgia residents by embracing far-right extremists. Hate speech leads to hate crimes. Just as no one should learn about Judaism from a neo-Nazi, no one should learn about Islam from an anti-Muslim bigot.
"If Sheriff Clinton and the local GOP want to learn about Muslim Americans and our faith, we would be happy to engage in a frank but friendly conversation, and arrange a visit to one of Georgia's 83 Muslim houses of worship."
BACKGROUNDER ON CHRIS GAUBATZ:
Gaubatz is a self-declared expert on Islam who has no degrees or other formal education related to Islam. Gaubatz has served as the vice president of Understanding the Threat, an anti-Muslim hate group founded by disgraced ex-FBI agent John Guandalo.
Among other anti-Muslim remarks made over the years, Gaubatz has tweeted, “When you understand the threat, you understand that there is no such thing as 'radical islam', just islam.,” using the hashtag “#IslamIsTheProblem.”
Chris Gaubatz's father, Iraq War conspiracy theorist Dave Gaubatz, recently pretended to be a Muslim, visited mosques in Savannah, and accused them of being training bases for terrorists.
Chris Gaubatz has also falsely claimed that there are Muslim “no-go zones” in Minnesota, accused Muslim-Americans former Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and claimed that “the global Islamic movement” had infiltrated the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Gaubatz first gained recognition within anti-Muslim circles for posing as a Muslim convert and interning at the national office of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a failed effort to tie the civil rights group to terrorism.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell, 404-419-6390, email@example.com; CAIR-Georgia Staff Attorney Murtaza Khwaja, 404-419-6390, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com