By Jeffrey Imm
March 23, 2009 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Imagine facing the overwhelming odds of fighting for equality in Islamic supremacist Saudi Arabia or in the 1960s-era white supremacist Mississippi.
These were the same odds faced by a handful of activists in challengingthe estimated 600 supporters of the Islamic Saudi Academy at NorthernVirginia's Fairfax County Planning Commission on the night of March 18,2009. Many hundreds of the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) supporters woreprinted name tag badges reading "I Support ISA," includingISA's logocontaining the emblemof Saudi Arabian government with its two crossed swords.
This is the same Saudi government that a few weeks ago theU.S.State Department condemned for its "significant human rightsproblems" in denying basic freedoms and human rights to men, women, andnon-Muslims, and the same Saudi government whose courts recentlysentenced a 75 year old woman to 40 lashes for "mingling" with men,and whose courts recentlysentenced a pregnant gang-rape victim to 100 lashes for "adultery."
The meeting of the Fairfax County Government Planning Commission was toconsider a special exemption to a zoning regulation to allow for thebuilding of an expansion to the Islamic Saudi Academy in Fairfax,Virginia. The Fairfax County government has beenleasing space for the existing Saudi Academy facilities for yearsnow. As a suburb of Washington DC, Fairfax, Virginia is slightly morethan 20 miles away from our nation's capital. The Islamic Saudi Academyhas been frequently criticized for itsreported use of textbooks promoting hate and violence, itsformer students associated withjihadplots,reports of negligence on reporting female child sex abuse, andISA's former valedictorianconvicted of joining Al-Qaeda and plotting to assassinate thepresident.
At the government public meeting, the Fairfax County government boardauditorium was packed by Islamic Saudi Academy supporters beyondcapacity with dozens standing in the aisles and corridors, as it soughtto show its clout to Northern Virginia's Fairfax government. It was anevent that most Fairfax residents were unaware of, but the SaudiArabian-backed institution's supporters were well organized todemonstrate their power in Virginia. Andrea Lafferty, one of the fewspeakers to challenge the Islamic Saudi Academy was nearly ushered outwith the overflow crowd of Islamic Saudi Academy supporters, until shefought to have a seat in the audience.
As Islamic Saudi Academy's attorney Lynn Strobel presented their case totheFairfax County Planning Commission, she emphasized the publicsupport of her clients seeking the expansion of this Islamicsupremacist, Wahhabist-based institution. In a dramatic move todemonstrate their power, Lynn Strobel turned to audience and asked thesupporters of the Islamic Saudi Academy to rise. In the auditoriumpacked with individuals wearing printed badges"I Support ISA,"virtually EVERY person stood up.
While the Islamic Saudi Academy's attorney and their speakers weretreated courteously and with respect, those in opposition to the IslamicSaudi Academy were treated very differently.
The bullying mob of Islamic Saudi Academy supporters was frequentlyallowed to disrupt the tiny number willing to speak against the IslamicSaudi Academy's planned expansion in Fairfax County. Several speakerschallenging this expansion were loudly booed and laughed at -- until theFairfax commission chairmanPeterMurphy (as this was being captured on video) would eventually callfor order.
While most of the activists challenging the Islamic Saudi Academyaddressed typical zoning issues like traffic and local conservationissues, they also addressed the challenge to human rights in extendingland use for an institution with adocumentedhistoryoftextbooks promoting hatred and intolerance, and whose leaders andstudents have been linked tocovering up female child sex abuse andterrorismplots.One commissioner criticized such activists for addressing such humanrights and human security issues as "people there who obviously had anagenda."
The first public speaker was Traditional Values Coalition'sJamesLafferty. After addressing typical zoning issues and explaining hisfamiliarity with the existing ISA Academy, James Lafferty addressed hisconcerns aboutISAteachings and the impact on the community. He stated that hisconcern has been that the repeated reports about ISA teachings indicatethat they are anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-semitic. Tounderscore their intolerance, the bullying mob of 600 ISA supportersloudly booed, shouted down, and laughed at his comments. (Minutesearlier, ISA attorney Lynn Strobel attested to how ISA "promotes respectand mutual understanding" between Muslims and others.)
James Lafferty was not the only heckled speaker at the governmentmeeting. His wife,AndreaLafferty, was also booed and laughed at as she spoke about herconcerns by the crowd - once again showing the type of "respect andmutual understanding" that the ISA supporters are seeking to expand.Andrea Lafferty expressed her concerns about how the land use would beused to promote supremacist ideologies, emphasizing her concerns aboutthe Saudi Academy's promotion of Sharia law, the history of textbookscalling for intolerance and hate, the incomplete translation of recentallegedlyrevisedtextbooks, and the potential for promoting violent behavior. As thecrowd of ISA supporters mockingly laughed at her concerns, AndreaLafferty expressed her concerns about the conflict between the Americancommitment to human rights and Islamic supremacism's suppression ofwomen and others, summarizing her thoughts as "the Statue of Liberty hasa torch in her hand, not a rock." She challenged the Fairfax officialsnot to be cowardly on this issue and to consider the land use issuesassociated with such human rights and freedoms. However, FairfaxPlanning Commissioner ChairmanPeterMurphy was only concerned about challenging methods of flierdistribution to alert residents to this meeting.
The meeting that started at 8:15 PM lasted late into the night,continuing well past midnight into the early hours of the morning, with35 public speakers, many of which were apparently signed up in acoordinated effort by the Islamic Saudi Academy earlier in the week, asspeakers supporting the ISA would state that they had been asked by ISAofficials to speak at the meeting.
Other activists who spoke at the Fairfax County meeting included:
-- Denise Lee, ACT forAmerica - who challenged land use issues for the ISA expansionincluding traffic patters, water issues, and property values - but thenaddressed thedocumentedissues of theintolerance and hate reported in the ISA textbooks and thecover-up by a school official over sexual abuse of a 5 year old girlthat was an ISA student.
-- Christine Brim, Senior Vice President,Center forSecurity Policy - who addressed the history of how ISA hasoverpromised and failed to live up to its commitments in the past on theexisting facility. Christine pointed out that given this history, thecommission should be concerned about new information yet to be disclosedby ISA.
-- Faith McDonnell, international human rights activist withThe Institute onReligion and Democracy - who pointed out how a Christian school wasdenied similar zoning exceptions in the same area, and who addressed herexperience in dealing with international human rights as to how Islamicsupremacist ideologies oppress and threaten those who seek freedom ofconscience and religion. Faith also challenged the Fairfax CountyPlanning Commission that enabling the teaching of such supremacism doesnot come without consequences, and that the Planning Commission would beaccountable for what happens as a result.
-- Myself - Jeffrey Imm, Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) organization -addressingthe need for considering theVirginia Human Rights Actin government decisions and land use, and relating my past experiencesin seeing business and land use to promote white supremacism in the1960's Virginia. Irelated myexperiences in seeing such segregationist, "white clientele only"businesses in Virginia and stated that there is no difference betweenbusinesses promoting racial supremacism from "religious" supremacism interms of supremacism defying our inalienable human rights of equalityand liberty. Iurged theplanning commission to consider how injurious it would be to promote thebullying nature of supremacist ideologies in Virginia businesses - amonga people whose responsible for equality and liberty is their firstpriority.
The numerous ISA supporters who spoke at the Fairfax Planning Commissionmeeting were not heckled, booed at, or shouted down. One ISA supporter,Abdul Rahman, told the commission that the ISA expansion must be grantedbecause "America needs Islam." Another ISA supporter called for the ISAexpansion to "teach our children in our traditions." One of the very fewwomen ISA supporters not wearing a hijab or a niqab (among the hundredsthat did), Angela Jrab also spoke to the planning commission on busingissues and the perspective of women at ISA. In response to thoseconcerned about the long history of Saudi and Islamic supremacistoppression of women, Angela Jrab spoke as a supporter of the ISAexpansion. Angela Jrab told the planning commission that her Muslimhusband did not discriminate against women, nor did ISA, as her companywas allowed to manage security for the ISA facilities. Unlike the cold,angry, or "off topic" reaction of planning commissioners to thosespeakers concerned about Islamic supremacist and Wahhabist ideology'soppression of women, Fairfax PlanningCommissioner Earl Flanagan warmly thanked Angela Jrab for her "mosthelpful presentation" (which well exceeded her time limit), stating thathe was certain PlanningChairmanPeter Murphy would agree with him. This was the overall pattern inthe planning commission's reactions to those who spoke. For the mostpart, those who spoke against the ISA expansion were either ignored,confronted, or grilled - even when bringing up what seemed reasonablesafety and land issues. Those who spoke in favor of the ISA expansionwere routinely appreciated by the planning commission.
During one of the few breaks in the heated meeting due to theoverflowing crowd of ISA supporters, several of those who sought tospeak out against the ISA were cornered and confronted by some ISAsupporters. These ISA supporters denied all of the reports by theAssociated Press, theWashington Post,other media, andU.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. These ISAsupporters told activists that theWashington Post and other reports of ISA textbooks calling for jihadand calling Jews apes and Christians pigs - were all lies. These ISAsupporters said that theU.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom's reportcriticizing ISA textbooks stating that it is permissible for Muslims tokill coverts from Islam and adulterers - was a lie. They said reports offormer ISA valedictorian Ahmed Omar Abu Ali,convicted in federal court of joining Al-Qaeda and plotting toassassinate President Bush - were a lie. They said that FBI reports thatformer ISA student Mohammed El-Yacoubi wascarrying asuicide note with what it believed was planned to be asuicide bombing attack in Israel - were a lie. According to theseISA supporters, all of the reports about the problems with ISA arenothing but lies. In this exchange, one woman ISA supporter shouted out"it is all lies" and then after discovering that one of the corneredrights activists was a Christian, stated that "the Jews killed yourJesus." Later the same woman ISA supporter reiterated that ISA does notsupport hate.
In Virginia, while a bullying mob declared "I Support ISA," you shouldknow that there were fearless activists who clearly sent the messagethat "We Support USA," and theinalienable human rights of equality and liberty inherent inAmerica's identity.
But citizens concerned about the spread ofIslamic supremacists' threat to equality and liberty must not ignorehow vastly outnumbered such activists were and continue to be inrepresenting us in public events and before government agencies. The sixactivists speaking out against the Islamic supremacist nature of theIslamic Saudi Academy were outnumbered by the estimated 600 ISAsupporters by nearly 100 to one. This is not the first or the last suchpublic event where the larger consensus on equality and liberty needsgreater representation.
Clearly when supporters of Islamic supremacist institutions publiclydemonstrate that they can outnumber their opposition by such vastnumbers, such supporters will become further emboldened and confident intheir ability to influence government agencies, laws, and legislature.In the Washington DC metropolitan area, and around the nation, it is notenough to commiserate privately over our concerns aboutIslamic supremacism, or to think that "preaching to the choir" onshared Internet blogs and via email is really accomplishing anything.
Those who believe that we can win victories for freedom by merelymarching in place and reassuring ourselves -- need to wake up. If we arenot willing to get out in public to defend equality and liberty ascitizen activists, we can be certain that there will be plenty of otherssupporting institutions and ideologies that do not respect equality andliberty who will act in public. Those who supportideologies against equality and liberty will continue to persuade themedia, the government, and your neighbors -- that they represent the majority of public opinion. We cannot expect courage from ourgovernment, if we don't see courage from the public they represent.
Will you let them win? Or will you do something about it?
Defending equality and liberty is inconvenient. It takes time andcommitment. It costs you money. It interferes with your life. Butequality and liberty cannot be taken for granted, with the forces ofsupremacism that are on the march, not just in Northern Virginia, butaround the nation and the world. When you consider how inconvenient itis to challenge supremacism, think about what your life would be likewithout equality and liberty. Think about what type of future and legacywe would leave for the children and future generations. Good intentionsare never enough. Being responsible for equality and liberty means thatyour action is needed now.
To help in the activist focus on issues challenging equality andliberty, our organization "Responsiblefor Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.)" atrealcourage.org haslisted future eventswhere we are publicly challenging supremacism. Take the time to look forsuch events, and seewhere you can get involved with R.E.A.L. orother activist organizations,such as ACT for America.
The next time you are concerned about the growth of Islamic supremacismin foreign lands, never forget that those who seek to challenge equalityand liberty are right here today in America too.
Remember those like the "Fairfax 600" that publicly supported an Islamicsupremacist institution in Virginia. They are convinced that you aren'twilling to publicly challenge them. They are convinced that thosesupporting equality and liberty either don't care or are too afraid.
But those of us responsible for equality and liberty will Fear NoEvil.
Join Us Today.
Jeffrey Imm is a 25-veteran of the U.S. Federal government, who has worked for the FBI, DHS, and TSA. For more of his writing please visit United States Action and Responsibility for Equality and Liberty [R.E.A.L]
©2009 Jeffrey Imm. All rights reserved.