Keeping up with William W. Baker and the Islamists
by Daniel Pipes
I give some history about the ties between a neo-Nazi named William W. Baker and a variety of Islamist institutions at "Canadian Islamists Host a Neo-Nazi." (And for a weblog entry devoted to the CAIR-Baker connection, see "CAIR Promotes and Hosts William W. Baker, Neo-Nazi.") The story did not end in January 2004, when that was written, but continues to evolve, so I will provide occasional updates, as needed, here.
To begin with, as part of part of a series of events planned by the Muslim Student Association of Western Michigan University ("which we hope will help build bridges between the many religions of the world"), William W. Baker will be speaking on "Islam and Christianity: Coalition or Collision?" on March 11 on the campus. (March 9, 2004)
March 20, 2004 update: The Kalamazoo Gazette reports today that William W. Baker spoke to an audience of 400 at Western Michigan University's Muslim Students Association on March 11. The news item contains two points of interest: (1) Outside the venue, "a small group of students protested Baker's appearance, citing that he is associated with neo-Nazi and anti-Israeli groups. They objected that their tuition is helping to fund student organizations that sponsor such speakers." (2) Baker "began his 33-year career as a peacemaker after he was taken hostage by 11 men of the Hezbollah who blindfolded him and aimed their AK-47s at him. For three days, he and his captors talked about justice, oppression, innocence and guilt. He also pointed out to them that terrorism is not sanctioned by Quran or Islam." All very interesting, but Hezbollah did not exist in 1971, nor for more than another decade. So either Baker is engaging in some Walter Mitty-like fantasies or the unnamed journalist at the Kalamazoo Gazette got it wrong. Either explanation is cause for concern but I suspect the former explanation is the right one.
April 2, 2004 update: Florida Atlantic University, an institution that has shown a past weakness when dealing with radical Islam, as I have documented here and here, almost hosted William W. Baker tomorrow. Baker and members of his "Christians and Muslims for Peace" were invited to speak at FAU by the university's Muslim Student Organization, reports the Boca Raton News; unbelievably, Baker was billed by FAU's Student Government Association as a "Noble Peace Prize Nominee." But the event will not take place due to protests by local Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Committee. As Bill Gralnick of the AJC put it: "This is a guy who is making a living being the white spokesperson for Muslim extremists. He gets to say what he wants and the Muslims get to have a non-Muslim say what they want." Once again, FAU is falling down in its responsibilities. Aileen Izquierdo, FAU's director of communications, portrays the non-event on April 3 as a postponement, not a cancellation ("The students hosting this event did not have enough time to fully organize the event properly"), and insists that Baker may yet speak at the university.
April 9, 2005 update: News from Boca Raton, courtesy of MilitantIslamMonitor.org: "Assadiq Islamic Educational Foundation Invites All Muslim Community to Celebrate the Birthday of the Last Messenger of God" at the Boca Raton Marriott on April 30, free admission for all. The top of the program is guest speaker "Dr." William Baker. The program states that "From Grand crystal cathedral in Los Angeles - California. Dr. Baker is one of the most outstanding figures in the Christian world. Set back relax and enjoy his understanding of Islam." The guests of honor will include the mayors of Boca Raton and Coral Springs, as well as the "educative chairman of CAIR," whoever that is. It is old hat for Islamists to sponsor Baker; but it would be scandalous for the mayors to endorse Baker's presence. To protest their doing so, contact either or both mayors.
April 11, 2005 update: I posted the contact information for both mayors at the end of the above entry, but took these down that after being forwarded the following e-mails, first from Boca Raton:
April 12, 2005 update: And then from Coral Springs:
Comment: This story has a happy ending; it also reveals how the Islamists work. Now, the next step is for activists to get the Marriott hotel to cancel out the event at which Baker is scheduled to appear.
April 16, 2005 update: The Boca Raton News provides additional information on the mayors fiasco. Turns out that Steven Abrams of Boca Raton called the Assadiq Islamic Education Foundation on April 14 to protest. In response, reporter Sean Salai writes, "he received a telephone message in broken English claiming that none of the event's 2,000 printed invitations included his name when they were mailed out." Abrams then added, colorfully, about William Baker, the event's featured speaker:
May 1, 2005 update: The April 30 event celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed did take place, including William W. Baker but minus the mayors. When asked why he did not cancel the meeting, Assadiq Islamic Educational Foundation's head, Sayed Mohammad Jawad Al-Qazwini, said (in a paraphrase provided by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel) that "he did not know about Baker's controversial past when he invited Baker. He considered canceling but decided against it with the understanding that Baker speak only about religion."
To which, Art Teitelbaum, southern area director of the Anti-Defamation League, replied, "This Assadiq organization is a case study of those who choose not to see. Shame on them for providing a platform for a peddler of anti-Semitism. A skunk who doesn't stink on a given day is still a skunk." And Bill Gralnick, southeast regional director of the American Jewish Committee, added that the Assadiq Foundation's leaders "seem to think they've solved the problem if he doesn't talk about Israeli-Palestinian relations, but they haven't. It's like inviting Hitler to talk about architecture during the Holocaust." Outside the hotel, a group carried signs reading, "Hate is Hate. Nazi or Muslim."
We were not supposed to know what happened there, what with both the public and the press being excluded, but thanks to a report at MilitantIslamMonitor.org, we in fact do. Written by Emily Emerson, "Controversial Bill Baker Tells Boca Crowd 9-11 Hijackers Weren't Muslims" vividly recounts Baker's talk.
The whole talk was laced with this imbalanced approach – comparing actual Christian behavior to Islamic ideals.
Other highlights included Baker's praise for Muammar al-Qadhafi and high praise for the late grand mufti of Syria. He claims to have debated Samuel Huntington in Greece, traveled illegally to Kashmir, and freely practiced Christianity in Saudi Arabia.
Contrary to Al-Qazwini's assertion, then, Baker clearly did more than "speak only about religion."
May 10, 2005 update: In an interview with the Palm Beach Post, Mohammad Jawad Al-Qazwini is unrepentant about his invitation to Baker.
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