News & Politics

Year in Review: Anti-Muslim movement, extreme but not fringe

Anu Joshi • Dec 24, 2015
Brigitte Gabriel (left) is the founder and president of the anti-Muslim grassroots organization ACT! for America. She is shown here at the Stop Iran Rally in Washington, D.C., on September 9, 2015.
Brigitte Gabriel (left) is the founder and president of the anti-Muslim grassroots organization ACT! for America. She is shown here at the Stop Iran Rally in Washington, D.C., on September 9, 2015.

From attacks on refugee rights to armed protests in front of mosques, anti-Muslim activists were busy in 2015 and found acceptance in the mainstream. Take a look at our top posts from this year to revisit some of these moments and how civil rights activists fought back. Also, don’t miss our review of anti-immigrant activity in 2015.

Armed protests planned across the country in front of mosques; communities push back

This map details all of the protests planned for the “Global Rally for Humanity” in October 2015.

October – CNC broke the story on a series of protests scheduled for the weekend of October 9 in front of mosques and other public places. A Facebook page titled “Global Rally for Humanity” says “humanity is attacked daily by radical Islam” and called for protests in “every country at every Mosque.” The page encouraged “patriots” around the country to set up events  in their own town with Facebook pages, telling organizers to “[r]emember to do your homework and find a local mosque in your area.”

Our map of the planned protests went viral and quickly racked more than half a million views.

News of the rallies prompted the broader community to respond quickly and with force, and the rallies proved to be largely a bust. Using #HateUnchecked, supporters from around the world (about 2.7 million Twitter users) used social media to explore and discuss what happens when we don’t actively work to counter hatred—in it’s many forms.

After Paris, ACT! for America ramps up attacks on refugees

The Huffington Post highlighted the support around the country for Muslim communities targeted with threats of armed protests.

November – ACT! for America spent much of 2015 bolstering its assault on refugee rights. This campaign included a new working group to undermine local and state resettlement efforts, supporting federal legislation to block resettlement, featuring resettlement as a key issue at their national conference and taking their cues from anti-refugee activists including Ann Corcoran and Frank Gaffney. After the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris this year, ACT! seized on the moment and used the tragedy to uplift their existing work and place the blame on Syrian refugees seeking safety in the United States. This move came despite the knowledge that the suspects in Paris were European nationals. Unfortunately, such scapegoating has been a part of ACT!’s agenda from its earliest days.

Anti-Muslim group Center for Security Policy hosts rally in D.C. with Trump and Cruz

September – Even before Trump cited the bogus poll conducted by the anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy in his call to ban Muslims from entering the United States, these two were busy working together to stoke anti-Muslim fervor. One such example is the anti-Iran nuclear deal rally held on the National Mall in September of this year.

In addition to Trump and Cruz, Brigitte Gabriel, co-founder and president of grassroots anti-Muslim group ACT! for America, spoke near the end of the rally when the crowd had significantly thinned. Gabriel proclaimed, “President Obama, [our founding fathers and great generals] are all rolling in their graves in shame that America is represented by you, a weakling, a coward, and an incompetent.”

Disgraced former FBI official John Guandolo takes his anti-Muslim training to Colorado

August – John Guandolo, the former FBI agent turned anti-Muslim conspiracist, took his three-day law enforcement training seminar to Denver, Colorado this past August. Guandolo is the same former FBI agent who claimed the CIA director is a secret Muslim operative and said in 2011 that Muslims in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.”

Fortunately, Guandolo was unable to convince local law enforcement to participate (thanks in part to work by CAIR), lamenting on Twitter that a Denver police chief sent a detective to his training to identify any officers who may have been in attendance.

Texas lawmaker kicks off 2015 with anti-Muslim state legislation

January – Texas State Rep. Dan Flynn introduced a bill, HB 670, to keep state courts from recognizing Shariah law, signaling a renewed commitment in 2015 to anti-Muslim bigotry. Although the bill did not specifically mention Shariah and, like other similar efforts, purports to protect Texans from foreign laws, the measure is based on model legislation American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) authored by anti-Muslim lawyer and activist David Yerushalmi.

Flynn argued this type of legislation is needed because there is an attack on “Judeo Christian heritage we covet and aim to protect” and that the American people must “wake up and recognize the Spiritual Warfare raging in America.”

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