Some of the world’s most infamous Islamophobes gathered in New York City on Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, to attend a “Freedom Rally” sponsored by Stop Islamization of America and the American Freedom Defense Initiative.
Activists and politicians from as far away as Israel, Canada, Denmark, and Germany were in attendance. Two of America’s most recognized Islamophobes, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Pamela Geller of Stop Islamization of America, acted as the MCs for the event.
Around 300 activists were in attendance, many sporting blatantly racist and/or Islamophobic signs. One woman held an orange sign that read, “Read the Koran, Mohammand Was A Terrorist!” Another read (pictured left), “INDIFEL Today! INFIDEL Tomorrow! Infidel Forever! Allah Can Kiss My Ass!” According to one report of the event, one woman who was interviewed stated, “the Muslims rape girls, we have to make it safe for our kids.” Another member of the crowd stated that if Muslims do not leave the United States, their continued presence here will “start a civil war.”
Also at the event was ill-famed pastor Terry Jones, who has written the following in one of his books: “The world is facing a great danger, which, if it is not stopped, will sooner or later be a threat to freedom in all nations and specifically to the United States. This danger is the growing religion of Islam.” Also in the crowd was a member of the English Defense League (EDL), an extreme-right Islamophobic group based in the United Kingdom.
Birds of a feather, as they say. Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller both claim they aren’t extremists, but their words and work certainly seem to attract and to motivate extremists. Along with the EDL, Spencer and Geller were monumental influences on Ander Behring Breivik.
The rhetoric spewed from the event’s myriad speakers was equal to, if not worse than, the rhetoric coming from the mouths and scrawled on the signs of the event’s attendees:
- The sister of one victim of the 9/11 attacks took to the stage and stated, “There’s no way the people who are building the mosque can guarantee that some people who attend the mosque will [not] be proud of the terrorist attacks.”
- The leader of the Danish group Stop the Islamization of Denmark stated, “We owe it to the victims to stop Islamic law wherever it appears.”
- The head of the far-right German Freedom Party, Rene Stadtkewitz, also spoke, but his assistant took over because Stadtkewitz was feeling ill. His assistant, reading from Stadtkewitz’s speech claimed that “Islam is a totalitarian ideology.” He also stated that, “The Koran demands violence and the killing of non Muslims.”
- Ezra Levant, a Canadian anti-Islam activist, also spoke. Levant’s magazine Western Standard was the only Canadian media outlet to publish the Danish Islamophobic cartoons which caused a massive uproar throughout the Muslim world.
- Joyce Kauffman, a radio host from Florida, also took the stage. Kauffman has attended the anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) events in the past. During her speech, Kauffman called Pamela Geller a “warrior princess.”
There were many other speakers at the event, and all of them spoke along a spectrum of anti-Muslim bigotry exemplified by the speakers mentioned above.
The 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks should have been a time for Americans of all walks of life to come together, to mourn, and to remember one of the darkest days in American history. Instead, groups like Stop Islamization of America decided to organize a rally in an attempt to isolate other people simply because of their religious beliefs.
This “Freedom Rally,” a mockery of America’s belief in the freedom to practice religion, had absolutely nothing to do with liberty, neither in theory or practice. This rally was about nothing more than the sad praxis of Muslim bashing.