Jeffrey Imm (a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Federal government, with work for the FBI, DHS, and TSA) provides first-hand testimony at "Virginia: Bullying Mob Packs Govt Meeting in Support of Islamic Supremacist Institution" of what took place yesterday at a Fairfax County Planning Commission meeting. The topic was a possible exemption of the Islamic Saudi Academy from a zoning regulation so it could build an expansion of the school. According to Imm's estimate, 600 supporters of the ISA turned up wearing printed badges reading "I Support ISA" with the ISA logo and the Saudi Arabian emblem.
At the government public meeting, the Fairfax County government board auditorium was packed by Islamic Saudi Academy supporters beyond capacity with dozens standing in the aisles and corridors, as it sought to show its clout to Northern Virginia's Fairfax government. It was an event that most Fairfax residents were unaware of, but the Saudi Arabian-backed institution's supporters were well organized to demonstrate their power in Virginia. …
The Islamic Saudi Academy logo.
As Islamic Saudi Academy's attorney Lynn Strobel presented their case to the Fairfax County Planning Commission, she emphasized the public support of her clients seeking the expansion of this Islamic supremacist, Wahhabist-based institution. In a dramatic move to demonstrate their power, Lynn Strobel turned to audience and asked the supporters of the Islamic Saudi Academy to rise. In the auditorium packed with individuals wearing printed badges "I Support ISA," virtually EVERY person stood up.
It gets worse:
The bullying mob of Islamic Saudi Academy supporters was frequently allowed to disrupt the tiny number willing to speak against the Islamic Saudi Academy's planned expansion in Fairfax County. Several speakers challenging this expansion were loudly booed and laughed at. … During one of the few breaks in the heated meeting due to the overflowing crowd of ISA supporters, several of those who sought to speak out against the ISA were cornered and confronted by some ISA supporters.
Emblem of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This frightening experience has future implications: "Clearly when supporters of Islamic supremacist institutions publicly demonstrate that they can outnumber their opposition by such vast numbers, such supporters will become further emboldened and confident in their ability to influence government agencies, laws, and legislature." We who wish to resist those institutions carry a heavy burden, Imm concludes:
Those who believe that we can win victories for freedom by merely marching in place and reassuring ourselves—need to wake up. If we are not willing to get out in public to defend equality and liberty as citizen activists, we can be certain that there will be plenty of others supporting institutions and ideologies that do not respect equality and liberty who will act in public. Those who support ideologies against equality and liberty will continue to persuade the media, the government, and your neighbors—that they represent the majority of public opinion.
Comment: This reminds me of an event at the University of Toronto in 2003, at which students had to sign a political statement before they could attend; for details, see my weblog entry, "Let's Import Middle Eastern Ideas of 'Free Speech' to the Campus." In both cases, one sees a railroading of Western ways by Middle East extremists and the authorities simply standing by, letting it happen. As Imms argues, citizen activists must fill in the gap and protect our ways. (March 19, 2009)
Mar. 23, 2009 update: Interesting to compare Imm's account of the county planning commission with the one today in the Washington Post by Sandhya Somashekhar, "Attacks on School's Teachings Drown Out Traffic Concerns." Somashekhar makes no mention of the 100-to-1 ratio of ISA supporters to opponents and the attendant tensions, but focuses on the title's theme that the nature of the ISA got more attention than the usual neighborhood planning issues of traffic and parking. She gives away her politics when writing about ISA that it "has been the subject of intense scrutiny, in part because of unfounded anti-Arab suspicions but also because of course material that troubled some elected leaders."
Students at the Islamic Saudi Academy.
Feb. 5, 2014 update: For another raucus local meeting, see a report by James Nord, "DFL caucus in Minneapolis' Cedar-Riverside ends in chaos." An excerpt:
Emotions had been running high more than an hour before the scheduled 7 p.m. start and escalated even more by caucus time in the Cedar-Riverside Somali stronghold. The cause of the uproar was the strong feelings among backers of longtime Rep. Phyllis Kahn and her challenger, Minneapolis School Board Member Mohamud Noor, who has strong support in the Somali community. A large number of Noor supporters had congregated at the community building more than an hour early. Shortly after, an argument over procedures broke out between the Kahn and Noor supporters. Staff at the center called in the police.
Related Topics: Muslims in the United States, Saudi Arabia, US policy
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