Companies Cuts Ties with Anti-Muslim Hate Group Following Pressure from Interfaith Community
Campaign victory proves local communities can resist Trump’s anti-Muslim agenda.
Washington, D.C., January 17, 2017 – A coalition of interfaith leaders and organizations, spearheaded by Jewish Voice for Peace, DC-Metro, has won a major victory in its campaign against an anti-Muslim hate group. The Clarion Project, listed its offices at 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, just two blocks from the White House in a building owned by real estate giant Tishman Speyer. In December, JVP DC-Metro and nearly 30 interfaith clergy leaders launched a campaign to declare Tishman Speyer’s Pennsylvania Avenue building a hate free zone, and sent a letter to corporate executives in D.C. and New York City calling for the eviction of the hate group. Less than one month later, the clergy and JVP DC-Metro have won their campaign and Clarion Project’s office contract has been terminated.
The turning point in the campaign came when JVP DC-Metro partnered with leaders from the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church Virginia. The Islamic and Jewish organizations collaborated to challenge a major Tishman Speyer development project that was before the Fairfax County Planning Commission. Last week, the Commission was set to unanimously approve the project, until representatives from Dar Al-Hijrah and JVP testified about Tishman Speyer’s ties to the Clarion Project.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), recognized as the nation’s leading authority on hate groups, has exposed Clarion for its pernicious brand of extremism and hate espoused against Muslim communities and the Islamic faith. SPLC has announced that it will officially designate The Clarion Project as a hate group in 2017. One of Clarion’s films, “The Third Jihad,” was described in a New York Times editorial as a “hate-filled film about Muslims” loaded with “noxious and dangerous stereotyping.” In the past few months, SPLC has reported a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes. It has been widely believed this is linked to President-elect Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigrants, a registry to track Muslims, and increased surveillance of community mosques. Frank Gaffney, an anti-Muslim extremist who is advising the Trump transition team has served on The Clarion Project Advisory Board.
Colin Christopher, Deputy Director for Government Affairs at Dar-Al-Hijrah, told the Fairfax commissioners how community members were impacted by the hate and bigotry promoted by Clarion. He said, “Multi-million dollar hate groups like the Clarion Project have maliciously smeared our faith and community for years, and the recent election results are a partial result of people believing these false narratives. Small children in schools are bearing the brunt of Islamophobia in this country and it needs to end. Tishman Speyer eventually did the right thing, and I expect more companies to follow suit in the months and years ahead. This was just round one.”
Alison Glick, coordinator of JVP DC-Metro, said at the hearing, “If Tishman Speyer is going to keep doing business with Clarion, then Fairfax County should stop doing business with Tishman Speyer.” About the campaign victory she added, “We’re pleased that Tishman Speyer chose to honor its corporate social responsibility principles. We know that anti-Muslim hate is not new in our country. The difference now is that the purveyors of this hate will be at the center of U.S. government power as of Jan. 20. Our victory shows that grassroots campaigns can not only stop them from normalizing such bigotry but also roll back the damage they’ve already done.”
While the Fairfax planning commissioners voted to approve the development project, two commissioners abstained in response to the public testimony about the Clarion Project. Others expressed deep concern over the rise of Islamophobia and Tishman Speyer’s failure to respond to the clergy’s letter.
Opposing anti-Jewish, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim bigotry and oppression in both Israel/Palestine and the U.S. is a core element of JVP’s mission. Three years ago, JVP started the Network Against Islamophobia to work with community groups to challenge attacks on the Muslim community and to fight Islamophobia. The decision by JVP’s DC-Metro Chapter to challenge the Clarion Project grew out of the chapter’s work with the Network.