This past weekend, I spoke at an event hosted by the Arab American Institute and some local groups in Dearborn, Michigan. The purpose of the event was to counter Pamela Geller’s so-called Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference, named for a young Michigan woman tragically allegedly murdered by her father. Geller calls it an honor killing, because that suits her political purposes in deeming Islam an inherently violent religion that discriminates against women. The local prosecutor says it was not an honor killing, and the young woman’s family has protested the exploitation of her name for Geller’s Islamophobic ends.
Two Arab American Institute staffers, Omar Baddar and Omar Tewfik, tried to get into Geller’s conference (along with some young Muslim women, who Geller claims she is protecting). Baddar and Tewfik brought a video camera along, and Baddar narrates the whole thing, including how Geller’s staff and security detail barred them from entering, telling Baddar he’s on a “no-enter list”; the police later are summoned to escort the perfectly calm and peaceful Muslims out of the hotel. (AAI’s event, in contrast, was open to the public and required no registration or fee.)
The whole video is worth watching to understand the paranoid lengths Geller’s staff engages in to avoid having actual Muslims attend her conference. And what kind of person does attend the conference? The AAI staffers interviewed one attendee who who declared that Muslims who want to put “America under the yoke of Islam” are “enemies of America.” (He guesses that this might be about 20 or 40 percent of American Muslims, and says he also considers President Obama to be one of these “enemies of America.”)