According to the anti-Muslim group Act! For America's website, founder Brigitte Gabriel will be the guest speaker for Tea Party events at the end of July in Little Falls and Mankato:
Meet Brigitte-Little Falls, MN
7:00pm Monday, July 29, 2013
Little Falls Community High School
1001 5th Avenue SE
Little Falls, MN 56345
This event is sponsored by The Central Minnesota Tea Party Patriots. A $5 donation is requested at the door. Please RSVP your number of attendees to email@example.com using “7/29 Event” as the subject.
Meet Brigitte-Mankato, MN
7:00pm Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Mankato City Center
101 East Main Street
Mankato, MN 56001
This event is sponsored by The Southern Minnesota Tea Party. Free and open to the public. For more information, please call 507-469-5779 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
. . . Gabriel will speak on the rise of Islamic radicalism in your community and in our nation. Her story of survival as a persecuted Christian living in a bomb shelter for 7 years will have you captivated and inspired. She will share how the events of 9/11 compelled her to start ACT! for America, the largest national security grassroots organization in the U.S.
This is a must attend lecture about what is happening around our country and what we can do about it.
This isn't the first time Gabriel has spoken in Minnesota. She appeared at a June 12, 2011 "Honor Israel: speaker Brigitte Gabriel" event at Mac Hammond's Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park. In the audience? North Star Tea Party Patriot and future Minnesota state Cindy Pugh (R-Chanhassen) who had her photograph with Gabriel posted on the wall of Lynne Torgeson for Congress 2012 Facebook page (above).
Torgeson ran as an small-i Independent in CD5 in 2010, receiving 3.74 percent of the vote to Congressman Keith Ellison's 67.69 percent. Much of her campaign message obsessed on Ellison's Muslim faith, and she returned to this theme in her bid for Republican endorsement in 2012, calling Ellison a "radical Islamist," and other such malarkey.
Pugh, too, is no stranger to controversy over her attitudes toward Muslims. After examining her now-more-private Facebook profile in June 2012, City Pages Blotter reported that Cindy Pugh, candidate for state rep., compares Muslim women to garbage bags. Her defenders in the CP comment section insisted she was attacking the dress code rather than those wearing traditional Islamic garb, although the photo to which Pugh was drawn does suggest a visual metaphor, since the woman and child are walking between black trash bags.
Later, at a November 19, 2012 SW Metro Tea Party meeting in Chanhassen assessing the election under the topic, "Where Do We Go From Here," the new state rep from a redder-than-red district fretted about Islamists, as Bluestem reported in Cindy Pugh warns Tea Party about threat of illiterate, disengaged & lazy voters--and Muslims:
. . .Cindy Pugh has optimism despite the election. Cindy listed the threats we face: (1) An illiterate, disengaged and lazy electorate. (2) The physical size and scope of our government. (3) The media. (4) The progressive movement – on both sides of the aisle. (5) The infiltration of the Muslim brotherhood.
Cindy encouraged us to bounce right back, be proud of 2010, to wake up as many people as possible. What we can do: (1) Set sights on 2014 with confidence. (2) Focus locally. The campaign starts now. Promote freedom and liberty. (3) Arm ourselves with knowledge … definition of terms, the treaties in which the Senate may vote away our sovereignty, Agenda 21. (4) Look into the other side’s narrative – what their talking points are. (5) Look into the Social Studies Standards at Education Liberty Watch and how our history is being rewritten in textbooks. (6) Pay attention to what the coalition of 57 Muslim nations is doing to promote law through the UN.
With that list, it shouldn't be surprising that she'd been keeping company with Torgerson and Gabriel.
Who is "Radical Islamophobe" Brigitte Gabriel?
Just a week after Gabriel's 2011 frolic in Brooklyn Park with Torgerson and Pugh, journalist Franklin Lamb reported in an article for Counterpunch From South Lebanon and Long Island with Hate:
Hanan is the Islamophobic Lebanese woman, Hanan Qahwaji, who as a child lived in the South Lebanon village of Marjayoun overlooking the Lebanon-Palestine border during three years of the on-again off-again Lebanese Civil War before she became an Israeli collaborator and fled to Israel. Hanan, repackaged as “Rachael”, soon quickly landed a job with Israeli TV and specialized in telling stories about how Muslims terrorized her and her Christian neighbors.
Later, repackaged as “Nour Semaan”, a name she still sometimes uses, Hanan tells American audiences that she became a Middle East “anchor” in Israel. Forgetting to mention that her job was with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, working to spread his politically conservative, Pentecostal faith in the Middle East which includes Robertson’s vision of rapture and how righteous Jews will all convert when Jesus comes again. The others will burn in Hell according to the Pentecostals. Hanan is sometimes known as, Nour Semaan, Rachael Cohen, “Dark Angel” and more recently, Bridgitte Gabriel, founder of the anti-Islam Zionist hate group “Act! For America”.
Several curiosities emerge in the "Brigitte Gabriel"story. Lamb is sharp-tongued, but not alone in pointing out that the Lebanese Civil War wasn't a "jihadist" conflict:
Gabriel frequently tells interviewers that “[F]or my first ten years I led a charmed and privileged life. All that came to an end when a jihadist religious war, declared by the Muslims against the Christians, [?] tore my country and my life apart. It was a war that the world did not understand.”
What is obvious to the many Lebanese who view Hanan with contempt for misrepresenting and besmirching their country (not to mention her open letter to Israel during the July 2006 war, which she read frequently on TV shows urging Israel to keep bombing Lebanon despite their already killing of more than 1,300 civilians) is that it was a war that Gabriel did not understand. The intermittent civil war was not characterized by anything remotely resembling a Muslim “Jihad”. Some Muslims actually fought with Israel and with the Christian Militia. Moreover, the Palestinian organizations were secular nationalists and not remotely Jihadists; plus many were also Christians, while other fighters were communists, Nasserites, and non-religious westerners. Although many combatants were Muslim, perhaps 35 per cent were not. And their fight was with Israel; it was not a religious crusade against Christians. Gabriel’s fundraising speeches among largely uninformed right wing Republican audiences in which she claims she was the target of a religious crusade against Christians are patent nonsense.
What are the problems with her claims?
Other critics raise issues with her message rather than her nativity story. The Anti-Defamation League noted in its 2011 Backgrounder at ACT! for America:
ACT! for America is an organization dedicated to combating what it describes as "the threat of radical Islam" to the safety of Americans and to democracy. ACT! promotes the idea that Islam is a backward and seditious political ideology and that Muslim immigration to the U.S. must end.
The organization was launched in 2007 and is constructed around the persona of its founder and president, Brigitte Gabriel, who came to the U.S. in 1989. Gabriel's personal story of growing up Christian in Lebanon and as "a survivor of Islamic terror" is featured prominently in ACT!'s publications and is often cited in speeches by its leadership.
In her writings and public appearances, Gabriel often portrays Islam as a threat. In her book They Must Be Stopped; Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It, she wrote, "It is not yet politically correct to talk about a religious war. But this is exactly what we are facing: a religious war declared by devout Muslims….It's not radical Islam. It's what Islam is at its core."
Gabriel claims that 20 percent of all Muslims support a radical form of Islam that justifies suicide terrorism and works for the establishment of a global totalitarian Islamic state. She further claims that "tens of thousands of Islamic militants now reside in America operating in sleeper cells, attending our colleges and universities, even infiltrating our government.
Gabriel's views are in line with a growing field of groups that use community concerns about Islamic extremism to stoke fear toward the Muslim community at large. Among other groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda are Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE). . . .
Though its leaders have denied being motivated by bigotry against Muslims, the group often argues against the distinction between radical and mainstream Islam. ACT! posted to its Web site an article titled "Stop Muslim immigration to the United States" which directs readers to a online petition calling for a moratorium on immigration from Muslim countries. The article, which is still available on ACT!'s Web site, explains: "WE HAVE NO way of determining which Muslims subscribe to pure Islam. The reason this matters is that pure Islam is seditious…We should stop all immigration into free countries by Muslims while we can." . . .
Read the entire piece at the ADL's website. In the Southern Poverty Law Center's Fall 2011 Intelligence Report article, Acting Out, the SPLC staff wrote:
Since ACT started in 2007 in the spare bedroom of founder Brigitte Gabriel’s home, the group has eagerly tapped into a groundswell of anti-Muslim rage and done what it could to fan the flames. It claims to have an astounding 180,000 members organized into 573 chapters across the nation, with more coming on monthly. By far, the largest chapters are here, in Tennessee, which ACT leadership calls the “tip of the spear.” Chapter members have successfully lobbied the state to pass two bills: one prohibiting courts from recognizing Islamic Shariah, or religious law, a largely symbolic piece of legislation; and another giving the state greater say in how political refugees are resettled. The group has also taken on the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tenn., a frequent lightning rod of anti-Muslim sentiment.
Gabriel, who is closely aligned with the American political right on many fronts, has repeatedly made statements that conflate all Muslims with terrorists. (“Islamic terrorists … are really just very devout followers of Muhammad,” she wrote in 2006. “They are following his example and doing exactly what the Koran teaches and their mullahs exhort them to do.”) She angered a Jewish audience in a 2004 speech in which she reportedly referred to Arabs as “barbarians,” prompting a public apology from her hosts. The New York Times Magazine has described her as a “radical Islamophobe,” and even a publicist for one of her books cheerfully called her views “extreme.” [link added]
But this summer, in response to several critical news reports, ACT tried to whitewash many of those statements. “ACT! for America does not believe, nor advocate, that all Muslims are engaged in stealth jihad. ACT! for America does not believe, nor advocate, that all Muslims ‘must be stopped,’” said a statement distributed via E-mail in July. “The mission of ACT! for America is to combat the ideology of radical Islam and those who advocate it.”
That’s not the way Gabriel usually sounds. For her, it seems clear, the problem is not “radical” Islam — the problem is Islam itself.
Check out the entire piece at the Southern Poverty Law Center. In an extended report, The Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism, Right Wing Watch notes:
But no claim is too outlandish for anti-Muslim activists.
Gabriel of ACT! for America argues that public schools are secretly converting students to Islam. “What they’re doing is literally brainwashing our students to prepare them to turn against our own soldiers and our own military and government by basically feeding them the talking points of al-Qaeda,” Gabriel wrote last year. When ACT! for America chapter leader Rich Swier claimed that world history textbooks that discuss Islam are “anti-American,” ACT! for America wondered, “Is your child’s classroom becoming a recruiting ground for Islam?” In September, the Texas State Board of Education passed a resolution declaring that “pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias has tainted some past Texas Social Studies textbooks.” Rick Joyner of The Oak Initiative tells parents that textbooks are sneakily eliminating mention of the Founding Fathers and replacing them with Muslims.
Check out the playbook at Right Wing Watch. In the August 2011 report, Fear, Inc.,The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, the Center for American Progress observed that Gabriel was part of a small group that pushed anti-Muslim sentiment:
Together, this core group of deeply intertwined individuals and organizations manufacture and exaggerate threats of “creeping Sharia,” Islamic domination of the West, and purported obligatory calls to violence against all non-Muslims by the Quran.
This network of hate is not a new presence in the United States. Indeed, its ability to organize, coordinate, and disseminate its ideology through grassroots organizations increased dramatically over the past 10 years. Furthermore, its ability to influence politicians’ talking points and wedge issues for the upcoming 2012 elections has mainstreamed what was once considered fringe, extremist rhetoric.
And it all starts with the money flowing from a select group of foundations. A small group of foundations and wealthy donors are the lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America, providing critical funding to a clutch of right-wing think tanks that peddle hate and fear of Muslims and Islam—in the form of books, reports, websites, blogs, and carefully crafted talking points that anti-Islam grassroots organizations and some right-wing religious groups use as propaganda for their constituency.
Some of these foundations and wealthy donors also provide direct funding to anti-Islam grassroots groups. . . .
Learn about these points in the report. Chapter 3 of Fear Inc. takes note of Gabriel (footnotes in the pdf file online):
Called a “radical Islamophobe” by The New York Times,5 Gabriel travels the country giving talks about how she endured persecution in Lebanon as a Christian at the hands of radical Muslim terrorists.6 She says that Americans must unite to “defeat radical Islam,” and explains that any tolerance toward the religion will allowfor the destruction of Western society.7 She is promoted as a valuable insider andexpert on radical Islam due to her “first-hand account of her experiences in the opening salvos of Islamic Jihad towards the Western world in the Middle East.”8 Much of her rhetoric is riddled with crude bigotry.
For instance, she routinely says that every “practicing Muslim who believes in the teaching of the Quran cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”9 The fight against “radical Islam” for Gabriel apparently includes all Arabs as well. At a 2004 Duke University counterterrorism speakout, she explained the difference between Arabs (and Muslims) and Israelis: “It’s barbarism versus civilization. It’s democracy versus dictatorship. It’s goodness versus evil.”10
Gabriel informed the Christians United for Israel convention audience in 2007 that Arabs and Muslims “have no soul. They are dead set on killing and destruction. And in the name of something they call ‘Allah’ which is very different from the God we believe.”11 Blending her personal story with anecdotes about the dangers of Islamic terror, Gabriel is a favorite of conservative conferences, Fox News, and Tea Party rallies. In this capacity, she validates the Islamophobia network’s manufactured fears and hate campaign directed against Muslims. And she validates and repeats the anti-Muslim memes promoted by Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer, such as “President Obama was born into the Islamic faith,”12 radical Muslims have “infiltrated” our government and “are being radicalized in radical mosques,”13 and that Muslims engage in taqiyya,14 which she describes as religiously mandated lying. She bases this last charge on the Center for Security Policy’s inaccurate definition of the Arabic word.
ACLU: debunking the phantoms of sharia in American courts
Finally, it's likely that Gabriel's going to do some shrieking about creeping sharia. Bluestem recommends the American Civil Liberty Union's report Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical "Sharia Threat" to Our Judicial System for those curious about that.
For another overview, check out the Council of American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) backgrounder, CAIR Islamophobia Backgrounder: ACT! for America and 'Brigitte Gabriel' and for a look at the political ambitions of the movement, Politico's Anti-Islamic groups go mainstream is a start.
Location, location, location
Bluestem is curious about the choice of locations for Gabriel's two appearances in Minnesota. Morrison County is in Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District; Little Falls is home to fewer than 10,000 people. The nearest significant Muslim population is St. Cloud, where a samll but robust community of Somali-Americans dwell.
Mankato is many times larger, at nearly 40,000 people, and the First CD is home to Muslim communities in Rochester (Minnesota's third largest city), Faribault, Owatonna and Mankato, where an Islamic Center opened in April 2012. Owatonna's mosque has been vandalized repeatedly in the last year. Will Gabriel's rantings to the local tea party members improve life in southern Minnesota--for anyone?
Meanwhile, no word on how the Alexandria area tea party's prayer offensive to convert George Soros to Christianity is going.
Screenshots: Top: Gabriel (center) and Cindy Pugh (right); Bottom: The Central Minnesota Tea Party invitation.
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