Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Frank Gaffney Is Behind New Anti-Muslim Interfaith Group

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Frank Gaffney Is Behind New Anti-Muslim Interfaith Group

Article excerpt

THE DAY BEFORE Donald Trump's inauguration, a new interfaith coalition of clergy announced their launch with a press conference urging the new president to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Such a designation might allow the government to expand its surveillance and targeting of American Muslims. Early the following week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced legislation calling on the State Department to report to Congress on "the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization."

Urging a crackdown on American Muslims seems more like the policy arena inhabited by anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney, who helped advise Cruz's presidential campaign. Gaffney's baseless accusations about the Muslim Brotherhood have included claims that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, antitax activist Grover Norquist, and former George W. Bush appointee Suhail Khan were part of a vast plot to infiltrate the U.S. government.

As it turns out, similarities to Gaffney's brand of anti-Muslim advocacy aren't just a coincidence. The group, Faith Leaders for America, was apparently started by Gaffney's organization, the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a fact the coalition never acknowledges on its website or press releases.

LobeLog reviewed domain name registration filings for the group and found that, despite an apparent effort to anonymize the registration, Center for Security Policy staffmembers Adam Savit and Christine Brim submitted the initial registration.

When contacted about CSP's ownership of the group's domain name and potential involvement in the interfaith coalition's work, Gaffney acknowledged to LobeLog that his group was playing a behind- the-scenes role in shaping the group's work. Gaffney said:

The Center for Security has provided some initial administrative support and counsel to the informal Faith Leaders for America coalition, and may continue to do so if asked by the Faith Leaders.

Indeed, the group's positions have consistently fallen in line with Gaffney's laser focus on promoting conspiracy theories about Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government reframed in the context of an interfaith movement (the group includes one rabbi and no imams). In a prayer delivered at the group's press conference, Jerry Johnson, president of National Religious Broadcasters, said:

President-Elect Trump, tomorrow you will become the president of the United States. We, Faith Leaders for America, want you to know you have our prayerful support as you begin to counter jihad and protect Americans from Islamic terrorism.

When you label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, we support you.

When you call Islamic terrorism what it is, Islamic extremism, we support you.

When you stop the mass importation of unvetted immigrants from areas that harbor, train, and send out jihadists, we support you.

When you require appropriate extreme vetting for those who do enter the USA from these same areas, we support you.

In other words, President-Elect Trump, we've got your back. Some religious leaders falsely contend that these actions would violate religious freedom. Actually, we know these steps are proper, legal, and necessary to protect our First Amendment freedoms of religion, speech, press, and assembly.

Indeed, singling out a single religious group for scrutiny, as Trump appears to be doing with his executive order excluding refugees from Muslim-majority countries, has been challenged in court as a violation of religious freedom. …

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