The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has demanded that Young America's Foundation "cancel the scheduled session, or else take steps to ensure that false and defamatory statements are not issued" during Robert Spencer's scheduled 4 p.m. lecture today on "The Truth about the Council on American-Islamic Relations."
"You should be aware that Mr. Spencer, a well-known purveyor of hatred and bigotry against Muslims, has a history of false and defamatory statements," wrote attorney Joseph E. Sandler to YAFRon Robinson. "Several of those statements have falsely accused CAIR of activity that would constitute a federal criminal offense." CAIR's lawyers, Sandler, Reiff & Young, P.C., are a D.C.-based firm specializing in "campaign finance and election law and the formation and operation of non-profit organizations."
When asked about the First Amendment implications of CAIR's demands, YAF spokesman Jason Mattera said that "CAIR's actions demonstrate blatant contempt for academic inquiry and free speech." Concluded Sandler's letter to YAF: "Our clients have instructed us to pursue every available and appropriate legal remedy to redress any false and defamatory statements that are made at the session," seemingly indicating the threat of legal action.
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The council has taken great pains to cast itself as a moderate organization willing to speak out against Islamic terrorism. But, as Spencer sees it, CAIR "always seems to be on the opposing side of anti-terror efforts." Staking his case largely on the council's reluctance to accept the St. Petersburg Declaration, which called for – among other things – the abolition of honor killings, for national government to "reject Sharia Law and fatwas," and "state-sanctioned religion," Spencer contends CAIR as a false moderate in the Islamic community. Spencer dubbed the declaration "the most comprehensive and forthright statement of Islamic reform anyone has yet managed to come up with." In a March 2007 article on its website, CAIR wrote off the "Great Pretenders" of the
CAIR's tactic of threatening legal action against those who critique it publicly — or who critique its faith — is nothing new. Spencer previously detailed CAIR's "War on National Review", in which the organization pressured National Review and the Conservative Book Service to apologize for featuring titles it deemed controversial. And in that case, CAIR won. Not only did the book service pull The Life of Mohammed, but also Serge Trifkovic's Sword of the Prophet, condemning the latter as "virulently Islamophobic."
Will CAIR have the same luck in forcing YAF to pull Spencer from the National Conservative Student Conference? "Absolutely not," claims Mattera. "In fact, we will invite more people to see him."