The Department of Justice (DOJ) and its allies, the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Southern Poverty Law Center, are on the defensive after thousands of people turned out in Tennessee on Tuesday night to protest a scheme to censor criticism of Islam.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a key component of a network of Muslim Brotherhood organizations in the U.S., called the turnout a “mob” and praised the Obama/Holder Justice Department for standing up to local residents.
CAIR said “a large group of protesters heckled and interrupted speeches by Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Tennessee, and by Kenneth Moore, FBI special agent in charge of the Eastern Tennessee District.”
In fact, the DOJ had provoked the reaction by announcing beforehand that people using the Internet to criticize Muslims might be prosecuted for civil rights violations and that the meeting on “public discourse in a free society” in Tennessee would examine this alleged problem.
Killian had announced in advance that he would address “how civil rights can be violated by those who post inflammatory documents targeted at Muslims on social media.”
In order to explain how the censorship campaign would work, Killian and the local FBI agent, Kenneth Moore, had worked with the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) to schedule the event at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center in Manchester, Tennessee, on the night of June 4.
The center was completely filled, however, and hundreds more had to rally outside, where Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who co-founded Stop Islamization of Nations (SION), spoke to the crowd. Videos show Geller and Spencer rallying the people on behalf of freedom of expression.
“I talked with many of the people who had driven hours to get to the rally—a farmer and his son, an orthodox Jewish family, World War II veterans and many more,” said James Lafferty, chairman of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force (VAST), who was on the scene. “They all said the same thing—the Justice Department is trying to curtail free speech by promising increased scrutiny of any Internet posts which mention Islam.”
He said the angry reactions inside the conference center followed “a heavy dose of jihadist propaganda by the AMAC folks.”
He explained, “A long video about Islam in Shelbyville, Tennessee, followed the usual B movie story line—Muslims come to town, ignorant locals react badly. Muslims demonstrate that they are honorable and just, ignorant locals and Muslims are now the best of friends and there is a lesson here for anyone else who doubts Islam’s noble intentions.”
He said the film footage of a few angry people at the June 4 event “gave the stereotypical ‘angry mob’ scenario for the hostile media,” but that Killian’s presentation was itself “very condescending and provocative” because of the implication that local residents had no right to complain about the spread of radical Islam in their state.
An Islamic Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee features “Strong Islamic studies,” a term that implies Sharia, or Islamic law.
Lafferty said it was entirely predictable that when Killian mentioned the name of the Attorney General, Eric Holder, who is neck-deep in several scandals, people in the audience booed. “Every mention of Holder had the same effect,” he noted.
Killian’s speech, Lafferty said, was that “Muslims are misunderstood and they are no different than you or me” and any criticism of Islam is “hate-mongering and bigotry.”
“The biggest story of the event was the crowd,” Lafferty said. While some people were angry and animated in their reactions to Killian’s lecture on “hate crimes,” he said there was intimate knowledge of Islamic practices and that when Muslim speakers at the podium with Killian talked about Islam as a peaceful religion which valued good citizenship, people interrupted with the word “takiya,” a reference to the Islamic concept of deception.
However, CAIR and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) insisted that local residents, as well as Geller and Spencer, were at fault for reacting to the DOJ campaign against the First Amendment. This became the story line of much of the coverage of the event.
The SPLC works hand-in-glove with the Obama/Holder Justice Department, smearing opponents of radical Islam as “Islamophobes.”
But Lafferty of VAST said the focus was “that a special meeting was being conducted to talk about the Department of Justice’s commitment to protect the rights of one religious group—Islam.”
Lafferty and others question why the Justice Department has singled out Muslims for special protection and that such a practice reflects adherence to Sharia, or Islamic law, over and above American law and the Constitution.
He noted that the DOJ based this meeting on the fact that a local Tennessee politician had posted a stupid gag on Facebook about targeting Muslims, and that the incident was “being used as the pushing off point for Justice to scrutinize every statement about Islam on the Internet.”
“Both Pamela Geller and the incomparable Robert Spencer spoke brilliantly about free speech and the threat posed to it by government suppression,” Lafferty said.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.