West meets with head of anti-Muslim group ACT! for America
U.S. Rep. Allen West, R- Fort Lauderdale, never one to shy away from controversy, appears to be coordinating with a highly controversial anti-Muslim group, judging by a recent article posted online by West himself. The piece, which West wrote for the conservative blog Red County, detailed what he calls “the most eventful weeks of [his] life.”
From visiting a Fort Lauderdale elementary school to visiting with constituuents to discuss a renewed focus and political strategy to ”move forward in 2011,” West had a seemingly busy week. But perhaps the most interesting portion of West’s week was a meeting in Washington, D.C., with a notoriously controversial figure:
First on my agenda once I got back in the office, was a meeting with the incredible Brigitte Gabriel, President and CEO of ACT! for America. This woman is fully charged and focused and determined to secure the safety of her country.
Touted on ACT!’s website as “one of the leading terrorism experts in the world,” Gabriel has long made headlines for her outspoken views on Islam. The New York Times Magazine caught heat for calling her a “radical islamaphobe” in the preface to an interview, but Gabriel’s views are unarguably extreme. She was once quoted by the Australian Jewish News as saying that “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.” During a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, Gabriel addressed rumors of Presiden’t Obama’s Muslim background, saying that she could not “speak to what God he prays to in his private space,” but that ”all the signs show that he has a very soft spot for the Islamic world.” Gabriel is no stranger to Florida politics, either. In August 2010, she was one of several keynote speakers (others included Marco Rubio) at an Emerald Coast Tea Party rally.
ACT! made a splash in Jacksonville in the summer of 2010 after its members verbally renounced the appointment of Muslim Professor Dr. Parvez Ahmed, to the Human Rights Commission. Shortly after the group penned a 20-page report accusing him of having ties to Islamic-extremist groups, an area mosque was pipe-bombed. Though no one was hurt, and no suspects were ever identified, many thought that the timing was more than mere coincidence.
In late November, the group renewed its call to oust Ahmed from the Commission, even going so far as to release a avideo purportedly proving his radical ties. The video itself did little more than show ACT! supporters bombarding Ahmed with accusations during an event at which he spoke in Clay County.
West himself came under fire in early February after a confrontation with the head of the Miami chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who accused the Republican Representative of continually “demonizing” and “insulting” the Islamic religion. He also appeared recently on the South Florida-based program The Shalom Show and said that Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim member of Congress, represents the “antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”