Nativism Watch

Prominent anti-Muslim organizations earn ‘hate group’ designation in new report

Imagine2050 Staff • Feb 17, 2016
Gabriel. Gaffney and Horowitz
Gabriel. Gaffney and Horowitz

On Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual report detailing the number of hate groups and other extremist organizations operating in the United States. Among those listed are three of the most notorious anti-Muslim groups in the country.

SPLC Hate and ExtremismAccording to Heidi Beirich, the director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, the number of hate groups operating in the United States went up from 784 in 2014 to 892 in 2015, a 14 percent increase.

The report also notes a 42 percent increase in anti-Muslim groups since last year. This year’s report lists 34 active anti-Muslim groups. And for the first time, that list of hate groups includes ACT! for America, Frank Gaffney’s Center For Security Policy, and the David Horowitz Freedom Center, three of the leading groups comprising the organized anti-Muslim movement.

Mark Potok, who serves as editor-in-chief of SPLC’s Intelligence Report, said the report documents and reflects hate speech and activism “to an extent not we have seen in decades.”

2015 was a year of “enormous rage” among extremists.

One of the sources of this rage, Potok explained, is the dramatic “demographic changes” happening in the United States, leading to the imminent “loss of a white majority,” projected to happen in 2043. This, of course, is causing anxiety among various nativist and white nationalist groups who seek to stave off a multicultural society and instead keep the dominant culture in power.

He said another source of rage coincides with a “very high number of [Muslim] immigrants and refugees” who are already living in or are expected to be resettled within the country.

ACT! for America, one of the groups newly listed in the report, is both driving and responding to this rage. ACT! for America is the nation’s largest anti-Muslim grassroots organization in the United States. It is headed by Brigitte Gabriel, who has said “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.”

The group uses its networks of chapters across the country to lobby for discriminatory policies including model anti-Shariah laws known as American Laws for American Courts. As of late, the group has focused its attention on obstructing humane refugee resettlement programs because those seeking asylum happen to be Muslim. 

Potok added that SPLC is not expecting anti-Muslim sentiment to lessen anytime soon, citing the exploitation of terrorist groups like ISIS and politicians who are mainstreaming fear and prejudice of Muslims. Late last year, real estate mogul and politician Donald Trump cited a shoddy poll commissioned by the Center for Security Policy (CSP) — an anti-Muslim think tank headed by Frank Gaffney that made SPLC’s list — to justify a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Frank Gaffney, along with Gabriel, is a leading figurehead within the organized anti-Muslim movement. Gaffney, a former Reagan-administration official, is notorious for using CSP research to peddle anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and falsehoods.

Gaffney claims Muslims are using “stealth jihad” as a tactic to infiltrate the U.S. government to subvert it from within and replace it with a “Shariah-adherent” one. Gaffney is also known for bringing together notorious anti-immigrant figures and white nationalists through his radio program “Secure Freedom Radio” and various events sponsored by his group.

A third anti-Muslim group classified as a hate group for the first time in this report is the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Named after its founder David Horowitz, it is a foundation that sponsors and funds numerous far-right populist and anti-Muslim platforms including FrontPage Magazine, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch blog, and Ben Shapiro’s Truth Revolt project. The Freedom Center is also responsible for funding campaigns to counter the so-called liberal and Islamic bias in the media and on college campuses nationwide.

SPLC’s Potok warned that his organization is projecting an increase in violence against Muslims, citing recent FBI hate crime statistics. According to Potok, “It’s going to “get worse, not better.”

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