Muslim groups, Hispanic advocates, gays aim to shut down Maryland conservative conference

Kenneth Timmerman President, Foundation for Democracy in Iran
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Saqib Ali, a former Democratic member of the Maryland state legislature, aims to shut down a planned conference hosted by the Maryland Conservative Action (MDCAN) on Saturday, charging that speakers include “the nation’s leading Islamophobes.”

An open letter spearheaded by Ali has attracted the official endorsements of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Islamic Society of Annapolis, CASA de Maryland and Equality Maryland, a group that promotes gay marriage.

“Unfortunately, instead of inviting legitimate conservative speakers, MDCAN has instead chosen speakers who are well-known conspiracy theorists, McCarthyites, racists and anti-Muslim fanatics,” Ali wrote.

The letter, spearheaded by a well-known Maryland Democratic party activist, also takes aim at Republican lawmakers who have agreed to address the conference, asking them to “strongly reconsider” their decision to participate.

The MDCAN conference will open Saturday morning at the DoubleTree hotel in Annapolis with a panel titled, “Is Sharia Law Coming to Maryland?”

Presenters will include Center for Security Policy founder Frank Gaffney, former U.S. Rep. Fred Grandy and his wife Catherine, and former FBI executive John Guandolo, who leads training classes in Shariah law for state and local law enforcement officials.

Until this year, Grandy was co-host of a morning talk show on WMAL, the ABC Radio affiliate in Washington, D.C. He left the station after his wife, a frequent on-air guest, made controversial remarks about Islamist ideology, and about what she said was a threat to the United States from Shariah law. Grandy later said WMAL’s management forced his wife off the air, prompting his resignation.

“My wife and I have used our program over the last several months to warn about the spread of radical Islam at home and abroad,” Grandy told Accuracy in Media on March 3. “Last week, Catherine (known on the show as Mrs. Fred) delivered a very tough indictment against stealth jihad, and for her efforts she was told she was off the show. I then told management without Mrs. Fred at the microphone, I could not remain either and have resigned effective this morning.”

Conference organizers in Maryland told The Daily Caller that approximately 150 people have confirmed their plans to attend the Annapolis event. (RELATED: Islamic group joins with Occupy Wall Street)

Mr. Ali’s open letter described Gaffney as “one of the nation’s leading Islamophobes,” and criticized the Grandys for “actively promot[ing] the idea that American Muslims are trying to secretly subvert the Constitution by implementing ‘Creeping Shariah.’”

“Actually, I was not surprised to see this effort by Mr. Ali, because he tried to shut down a similar event hosted by the Chevy Chase Republican Women’s Club at which the Grandys were speaking last month,” MDCAN treasurer Ann Corcoran told TheDC. Corcoran is one of the Annapolis event’s organizers.

Ali threatened to picket the Chevy Chase Republican Women’s Club event if the organizers refused to cave in to his demands, but the sold-out event went ahead as planned. No picketers showed up.

“This is standard operating procedure for CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood front groups,” Gaffney told TheDC in a discussion about the letter. “They are trying to impose what are known as Shariah blasphemy laws, whereby anyone who says anything critical about Islam, no matter how true, is to be silenced. It is actually a capital offense.”

CAIR and other Muslim groups used similar tactics to convince the Hyatt hotel in Sugarland, Texas to cancel a tea party event on October 18. Author Pamela Geller, a vocal critic of Islamist movements, was scheduled to speak at that event.

Pressure from CAIR and its allies caused the hotel to cancel the event just hours before it was supposed to be held, forcing the organizers to rent another conference room at the last minute.

And on Monday the Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. reportedly confirmed that it would not honor a contract to host another conservative conference, this one organized by the Shariah Action Network. The event was scheduled for Nov. 11 and had already provided the hotel with more than $8,000 in deposits.

Gaffney, Geller, and Grandy were scheduled to speak at the Nashville event. On her blog, Geller wrote, “We are currently awaiting the written notification of the cancellation.”

Ali says he has sent his latest letter to the DoubleTree hotel in Annapolis, and has left telephone messages — so far without any response. “I’m wondering why they would take an active roll in advancing bigotry,” he told The Daily Caller on Monday.

“This is just exactly the same as if the Ku Klux Klan is coming to town and the Double-Tree hotel decided to host them,” Ali said. “To say that Muslim-Americans are trying to subvert the U.S. constitution through Sharia law is ridiculous and is just a way to set up anti-Muslim bigotry.”

“It’s absolutely false,” Ali claimed, that CAIR, MPAC and other Muslim groups are promoting Shariah law in America. “There is no evidence of that whatsoever.”

Gaffney isn’t convinced. “Sadly the United States government is acceding increasingly to such demands,” he told the DC. “This is becoming an epidemic of Shariah blasphemy enforcement by hotel chains. It’s all the more reason why this conference must go forward. It is indeed the time to call out Shariah promoters, and I hope to do it myself.”

Ali said he had read “parts” of the Center for Security Policy’s report, “Shariah: the Threat to America,” and found it to be “factually incorrect.”

“Somebody who says the Republican Party has been infiltrated by Muslims, that Grover Norquist is a Muslim somehow, pushing Islamic Shariah, is bigotry.”

Ali would not reveal whether he and his supporters intended to picket the Annapolis event on Saturday.

This article was edited after publication to clarify that Mrs. Catherine Grandy was not an employee of WMAL radio, but a guest on the show her husband co-hosted until March 2011.