(MIAMI, FL, 4/16/10) — The South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFL) today announced that Miami-Dade Transit is dropping bus advertisements sponsored by an anti-Islam hate group.
CAIR-SFL asked that the ads, produced by the hate group Stop the Islamization of America, be dropped because they promote bigotry and may fuel discrimination against ordinary Florida Muslims.
SEE: Miami-Dade Transit Says It Will Remove ‘Offensive’ Bus Ads (Miami Herald)
“We believe Miami-Dade Transit did the right thing in dropping this campaign of hatred and intolerance,” said CAIR-SFL Executive Director Muhammed Malik. “The advertisement’s reference to apostasy is merely a smoke-screen for the promotion of anti-Islam bigotry and the attempted marginalization of American Muslims.”
He said Stop the Islamization of America’s leaders, Pam Geller and Robert Spencer, are considered by many Muslims to be among the nation’s most vicious Islamophobes.
On her personal blog, Geller has written of President Obama: “[O]ne thing is for sure: Hussein is a muhammadan [sic].”
Geller has been vocal in her criticism of the black population in South Africa and seemingly supportive of the slain South African apartheid leader Eugene Terre’blanche. Following Terre’blanche’s recent murder, Geller wrote: “All I see in South Africa is Black supremacism. Terreblanche [sic] may have been a white supremacist, but he’s the dead one.”
Her blog has in the past features categories such as “Advancing Islamic Lies,” “Islam 2008: Religion of Barbarism” and “Slavery: An Arab custom.” She was recently involved in a Florida conference that invited extremist anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders to speak.
In one 2009 blog post, Geller wrote in reference to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad: “And frankly I find the whole new’Abrahamic’ narrative really galling. 1,400 years ago some maniaic [sic] decided to spin the origin ofa 5,767 year old religion to advance their own evil end and said it was Ishmael that Abraham was to kill and now it’s taken as…..gospel? Puhleeeze.”
She also claims Muslim groups “control information and how it is processed at senior levels of the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, and the various branches of the military.”
Geller has even been criticized by other Islamophobes for her extremism and for supporting far-right fascist groups in Europe. In fact, Stop the Islamization of America is an outgrowth of a similar group in Europe that seeks to block the construction of mosques on that continent. Stop the Islamization of Europe also “considers Islamophobia to be the height of common sense” and claims that Islam “considers lying to be not only acceptable, but obligatory.”
Robert Spencer has also been criticized for the extremism exhibited on his personal anti-Muslim web site “Jihad Watch,” which recently compared Muslims to Nazis. Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald wrote: “When I see thousands of people in a mosque, I am put in mind not of a gathering at St. Peter’s, but rather, of a Nuremberg Rally, a horizontal collective affair, rather than vertical, with the prostration itself performing, or signifying, blind obedience of the kind that, at the real Nuremberg, is signified by the heil-hitlering salute of thousands, yelling in unison, and saluting, and re-saluting.” [Spencer refused to repudiate those statements.]
Fitzgerald also wrote on that hate site: “Only one group, only one belief-system, distinguishes itself by appearing incapable of fitting in. And that is Muslims, and Islam…if one really knew what Islam contained…then how could any decent person remain a Muslim?” He also recommended that western nations be “Islam-proofed the way a house is child-proofed.”
One then right-wing critic wrote of Spencer’s blog: “His website has descended into a true hate site at this point, dominated by extreme, bigoted commenters who regularly advocate genocide and mass murder of Muslims.” [That writer has since broken with the far-right, in part because of pervasive anti-Islam bigotry its proponents often exhibit.]
In 2007, Spencer spoke at a so-called “Counterjihad Brussels” conference in Belgium attended by those with links to far-right parties such as Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang (Belgium) and Ted Ekeroth of Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden). Both parties have been accused of either having a racist platform, a neo-Nazi past or having links to neo-Nazis and other racists.
“The bus ads are part of a growing ‘Islamophobia machine’ nationwide that must be challenged by Americans of all faiths,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.
He noted that CAIR has long held that religious decisions should be matters of personal choice, not a cause for state intervention. According to CAIR’s position statement on Islam and apostasy: “Faith imposed by force is not true belief, but coercion. Islam has no need to compel belief in its divine truth.”
Awad also said that the FBI has been asked to investigate allegations that another Florida-based hate group has been harassing members of that state’s Muslim community.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
– END –
CONTACT: CAIR-SFL Executive Director Muhammed Malik, 305-761-6843, 954-272-0490, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787 or 202-341-4171, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org