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Islamophobes & Nativists Use 9/11 to Push Bigoted Agenda

Imagine 2050 Staff • Sep 16, 2013

As the nation solemnly remembered the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, prominent nativists used the twelfth anniversary of those horrific events as a platform to further their bigoted agenda and provoke hatred towards minority communities.

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, founders of the Islamophobic American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), held a press conference near Ground Zero to express their ire towards the September 11 memorial and museum,  and to perpetuate their hatred of Muslims and Islam.

Pamela Geller

However, the duo suffered a couple of setbacks. The turnout was low and AFDI was denied a permit for the rally, forcing  them to address the thin crowd without the aid of a microphone. This prompted the speakers to become visibly frustrated, having to shout their message to those in attendance in ineffective attempt to overcome the city noise surrounding them.

In Florida, Tom Trento of The United West used his allotted time to go on a 30-minute anti-Muslim tirade while speaking at 9/11 memorial ceremony.  The audience of about 500 people, including schoolchildren, found themselves listening to Trento go on a lengthy diatribe alleging that Islam is in a constant war against the west and that Muslims seek to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia law.

“I’m not talking about radical Islam or moderate Islam. I’m talking about all Islam,” he told the crowd.  “Their goal is to get every single one of us to convert to Islam. And they won’t stop until we do.”After the event, Trento and members of his organization were seen distributing anti-Muslim propaganda including various books and DVDs. After a local newspaper covered the event, rightly reporting on Trento’s demonization of Muslims and Islam, he reasserted his position in an email to supporters saying, “To some media and elected officials you would have thought I was Satan incarnate because I indicted ‘Islam’ as the source of jihad warfare.”

Also in Florida, Pastor Terry Jones was scheduled to burn nearly 3,000 Korans in a public park located in the city of Mulberry. However, after failing to obtain proper permits for the event, Jones was arrested before he could burn the Muslim holy books.

Despite lacking the proper permits, Jones drove his truck to the planned event site, towing a barbecue-style grill full of kerosene-soaked Korans – prompting police to arresthim and confiscate the materials.  He was issued a felony charge for unlawful conveyance of fuel, a misdemeanor for unlawful open-carry of a firearm, and was held overnight in county jail.

William Gheen

Exploiting the anniversary of a national tragedy to advance a nativist agenda was not limited to members of the organized Islamophobia movement, unfortunately. William Gheen, president of the anti-immigrant group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, sent an email to supporters stating, “The illegals are trying to hijack the cockpit of America’s government!”  He then urged them to use 9/11 as a rallying point to bombard “pro-amnesty supporters” using social media and by calling government offices.

After being scrutinized by various media publications, Gheen refused to redact or apologize for his comments. Instead, he sent another email to subscribers reaffirming his stance. “ALIPAC being hit by opposition anti aircraft fire tells us we are over the correct targets!” Gheen wrote.

These events show that nativist groups – even in the face of tragedy – will stop at nothing to advance their bigoted and intolerant agendas. Whether or not they are effective in their efforts, the Islamophobia movement, as well as the anti-immigrant movement’s blatant and disrespectful actions must continue to be acknowledged and recognized as a threat to the collective healing and peace that so many other Americans are working towards.

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