Trump’s resort cancels hosting of anti-Muslim group following backlash

25th Oct 2019
Trump’s resort cancels hosting of anti-Muslim group following backlash

President Donald Trump aboard Marine One at his resort Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
(Photo: White House/ Joyce N Boghosian)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Officials at Donald Trump’s Florida-based retreat were forced to cancel hosting a gala dinner for “the largest anti-Muslim group in America” following a backlash from several civil rights groups.

‘ACT! for America’ booked Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach for its $1,500-a-head banquet on November 7, with the conservative author Michelle Malkin as a keynote speaker.

But after accusations from civil rights advocacy groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) and the Council on Islamic American Relations (CAIR), that the President was “profiting from bigotry”, the Trump Organisation abruptly pulled the plug on the event on October 5.

An unnamed Trump spokesperson confirmed to the New York Times that the dinner “will absolutely not be taking place at Mar-a-Lago.”

On October 7, ACT’s Lebanese Christian Founder and Chair, Hanah Kahwagi Tudor (who goes by the pseudonym Brigitte Gabriel), confirmed the gala’s cancellation “While we are disappointed in the decision made by the Trump Organisation attorneys, we do not blame President Trump or the Trump family,” said Gabriel. Gabriel has argued that “America is at stage two Islamic Cancer.”

During a 2007 lecture, Gabriel gave to the Defense Department’s Joint Forces Staff College as part a course on Islam. She reportedly told military and national security personnel that Muslims should be prohibited from serving in public office based on their faith.

“If a Muslim who has – who is – a practising Muslim, who believes the word of the Qur’an to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day – this practising Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Qur’an, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”

Gabriel also claimed that she had a standing meeting at the White House every week after reports documented her meeting with Trump and his staff during his campaign and time in office. “We have a president that likes us, President Trump,” she said.

Wilfredo Ruiz, Communications Director for CAIR’S Florida chapter, welcomed the cancellation. “ACT! is a group that believes Islam is a cancer on America, they have no place in a civilized society,” he said. “It’s a hate group operating on the fringes of society stepping up to use the president’s Florida residence as a platform.”

CAIR’S National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, said: “No individual, organisation or public official should profit from bigotry. [We] urge other potential venues nationwide to consider the group’s history of Islamophobia and associations with white supremacist and racist organisations.”

An ACT! spokesperson suggested negative media attention played a role in the decision. “Regrettably, the Trump attorneys in New York caved to the Left’s bullying tactics and made a decision to cancel our event within hours of [news] articles coming out,” claimed a spokesman.

The spokesperson added that the media had “falsely,” claimed the organisation was a hate group. In a statement to the Guardian, Malkin attacked “a chilling ‘cancer culture’ campaign being waged against patriotic journalists and activists – and apparently not even Mar-a-Lago is a safe space.”

“The SPLC and CAIR seek to silence and eliminate political opponents by redefining criticism of their agenda and tactics as ‘hate,’” she said. ACT!’s website claims it is the nation’s “largest and most influential national security grassroots advocacy organisation”, with more than a million members. Its mission statement asserts:

“Anyone who traffics in prejudice, or advocates violence in any way towards anyone does not speak on behalf of ACT! for America.” Yet the SPLC has branded ACT! “the largest anti-Muslim group in America”, which organised a controversial and often violent nationwide series of Marches against Sharia in 2017 that attracted neo-Nazi and other extremist sympathisers.”

Trump made more than $22 million (£17 million) from Mar-a-Lago in 2018, Federal disclosures showed, raising ethics concerns. It represented a $3 million drop in revenue from the previous year but was still a healthy personal profit from a property the president likes to call his “southern White House.”

 

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