MPAC Submits Court Doc in Support of Islamic Society of Boston's Libel Lawsuit

March 1, 2007

The Muslim Public Affairs Council yesterday filed a "friend of the court" memo in a lawsuit filed by the Islamic Society of Boston claiming that the Boston Herald, TV station Fox 25 and 15 other individuals -- including Islamophobe Steve Emerson -- created a media conspiracy to prevent it from building a new mosque and cultural center.

SEE: MPAC "Friend of the Court" Brief  for Islamic Society of Boston

"Scare tactics used by the defendants against the Islamic Society of Boston and its constituents only serve to further endorse the ongoing erosion of Americans' civil liberties," the amicus ("friend of the court") brief states. "MPAC believes that the Islamic Society of Boston has been the target of a smear campaign which strives to undermine and disrupt their Constitutional rights to assemble freely to worship as they choose. This effort on behalf of the defendants is a challenge to American Muslims in a campaign to hinder the integration of the American Muslim community into mainstream American society."

The Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) is building a 70,000-square-foot mosque -- the largest in New England -- on a property it purchased from the city in May 2003. After the groundbreaking, a series of investigative articles appeared in the Boston Herald and a number of broadcast new stories appeared on Fox 25 asserting that members of the ISB had links to terrorist groups. The ISB denounced all the claims, calling them false and defamatory.

The lawsuit claims that the 17 defendants waged a media war against the project by releasing information that connected current and former members of the Islamic Society of Boston to fundamentalist terror organizations. These allegations, the Islamic Society of Boston claims, resulted in a substantial decrease in donations for the cultural center, which remains unfinished. Eight of the defendants in the lawsuit are news media organizations or individuals.

The amicus brief submitted by MPAC reads, in part:

    "In order to enhance the security of our country, it is necessary to expose the vocal minority of Americans who continue to exploit the tragedy of September 11 to advance their pre-existing anti-Muslim agenda. Among that group is defendant in this case, Steven Emerson. MPAC believes it is important for this court to be aware of Emerson's long and vitriolic track record of hate and bias against American Muslims. MPAC has presented a case study on Emerson entitled 'Counterproductive Counterterrorism: How Anti-Islamic Rhetoric Impedes America's Homeland Security' with the purpose of arguing on behalf of the vital voice of American Muslims to be included within counterterrorism discourse. Emerson's approach may perhaps best be summarized in his own words: 'Are they all terrorists? No, but the odds are they would participate in a terrorist activity if called upon'...."

    "Emerson's analysis is reminiscent of many groups in America's past that have worked for the exclusion of one minority group or another. It is a simple goal of disallowing American Muslims the inalienable rights of self-definition and participation in normal American public affairs. In the same historically relevant tone of hate that others accused Jews and Catholics of disloyalty to America, Emerson accuses American Muslims of being duplicitous. While they may publicly denounce terrorism, Emerson asserts, American Muslim leaders simultaneously support international terrorist groups. Emerson's agenda to discredit active Muslim organizations that are successfully integrating their constituencies into the American pluralism is not helping defend America. His campaign was created to frighten away both the Muslim community from supporting its organizations, as well as public officials from recognizing them...."

The Islamic Society of Boston offered to stop the lawsuit if the defendants would agree to private mediation in March 2006. The defense counsel refused this option.



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