Federal Government Authorizes Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to Censor “Anti-Islam” Speech; Lawsuit Filed

3320334677Center for Security Policy, July 13, 2016:

Today, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) under the First Amendment.

Section 230 provides immunity from lawsuits to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, thereby permitting these social media giants to engage in government-sanctioned censorship and discriminatory business practices free from legal challenge.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Jihad Watch.

As alleged in the lawsuit, Geller and Spencer, along with the organizations they run, are often subject to censorship and discrimination by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube because of Geller’s and Spencer’s beliefs and views, which Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube consider expression that is offensive to Muslims.

Such discrimination, which is largely religion-based in that these California businesses are favoring adherents of Islam over those who are not, is prohibited in many states, but particularly in California by the state’s anti-discrimination law, which is broadly construed to prohibit all forms of discrimination.  However, because of the immunity granted by the federal government, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are free to engage in their otherwise unlawful, discriminatory practices.

As set forth in the lawsuit, Section 230 of the CDA immunizes businesses such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from civil liability for any action taken to “restrict access to or availability of material that” that they “consider to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

Robert Muise, AFLC co-founder and senior counsel, issued the following statement:

“Section 230 of the CDA confers broad powers of censorship upon Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube officials, who can silence constitutionally protected speech and engage in discriminatory business practices with impunity by virtue of this power conferred by the federal government in violation of the First Amendment.”

Muise went on to explain:

“Section 230 is a federal statute that alters the legal relations between our clients and Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, resulting in the withdrawal from our clients of legal protections against private acts.  Consequently, per U.S. Supreme Court precedent, state action lies in our clients’ challenge under the First Amendment.”

David Yerushalmi, AFLC co-founder and senior counsel, added:

“Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have notoriously censored speech that they deem critical of Islam, thereby effectively enforcing blasphemy laws here in the United States with the assistance of the federal government.”

Yerushalmi concluded:

“It has been the top agenda item of Islamic supremacists to impose such standards on the West.  Its leading proponents are the Muslim Brotherhood’s network of Islamist activist groups in the West and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which co-sponsored, with support from Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton, a U.N. resolution which called on all nations to ban speech that could promote mere hostility to Islam.  Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are falling in line, and we seek to stop this assault on our First Amendment freedoms.”

AFLC Co-Founders and Senior Counsel Robert J. Muise and David Yerushalmi, along with the plaintiffs in this case, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, will hold a Press Call from 2:00-2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13.  To access this press conference call, dial (641) 715-3655 and enter code 111815.

Also see:

Café Countersuit Accuses Muslim Women of ‘Civilizational Jihad’

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Breitbart, by Adelle Nazarian, June 24, 2016:

The attorney representing the Muslim owner of a popular Orange County café is countersuing a group of Muslim women who initially sued her business for anti-Muslim discrimination. The counter-suit accuses the group of waging “civilizational jihad” and trespassing.

According to the UK Guardian, David Yerushalmi of the Los Angeles-based American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), the lawyer representing Urth Caffé in Laguna Beach and café owner Jilla Berkman alleged that the initial lawsuit was part of a wider “civilizational jihad” being waged by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which aims “to weaken western civilization”. Further, Yerushalmi reportedly said the women’s discrimination suit was a form of “extortion”, calling the lawyers representing the seven female Muslim plaintiffs “ambulance chasers.”

The seven women, six of whom wore hijabs (a traditional head covering required under Sharia law and in most Muslim countries) claimed that they were asked to leave before they finished eating at the café, and suggested the owner called the police on them due to Islamophobia. However, the restaurant has a stated 45-minute time limit per table and Yerushalmi argued that his client said the women “were loud and abusive to the Urth Caffe employees and refused to give up their table per the stated policy.” Berkman personally authorized one of her employees to call the police on the women.

“That night, as every Friday night, a large number of young people, including a majority of whom are Muslim and of Arab descent, make up the base of Urth Caffe’s customers,” Yerushalmi wrote. “Not surprisingly, many of these customers are women wearing hijabs. None of these other Muslim women were asked to leave.”

Mohammad Tajsar, one of the attorneys representing the Muslim women, had painted the incident as just he latest in a series of hate crimes against Muslims in the area.

Yerushalmi pointed out in the initial case that “the lead plaintiff in the frivolous lawsuit is Sara Farsakh, a college-age activist for Palestinian causes who self-promotes her involvement in radical organizations, at least one of which calls for the destruction of Israel.” He also noted that “the organization behind the scenes organizing this fraudulent lawsuit is CAIR.”

(CAIR has been declared a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates and was named by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas-funding operation.)

Yet CAIR’s Executive Director in Los Angeles, Hussam Ayloush, told the Guardian that contrary to Yerushalmi’s allegations, his organization was not involved with the Urth Caffé case. He blasted Yerushalmi in an interview with the Guardian‘s Nicky Woolf, saying “if anyone had any doubts about what happened on that day, those doubts are eliminated by the fact that the owners of Urth Caffé decided to retain David Yerushalmi. There are 1.2 million attorneys in America, and for them to choose the most hateful, the most bigoted attorney, tells a lot about the values that Urth Caffe’s owners hold.”

CAIR has often had a hand in representing Muslims in troubling situations. For example, they helped the families of San Bernardino terrorists Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. a

As for the claims of Islamophobia against Yerushalmi, he issued the following statement to the Guardian:

I represent Muslim Americans, running from jihad and seeking asylum. If you want to say I’m an anti-jihad lawyer, you’re 100% right. Am I anti-Sharia? Yes, I am. Am I anti-Muslim? Not if he doesn’t have a gun in his hand shooting at me.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz

CAIR Targets Private Citizens in Michigan for Opposing Construction of Islamic Center

cair_michigan_borderjpg_a1303223f31e4345.pngThe American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) is representing seven private citizens who were issued harassing subpoenas by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) because they publicly expressed their opposition to the construction of an Islamic center in their neighborhood in Pittsfield Township, Michigan.

In 2012, the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor (MCA) requested that the Township rezone a parcel of land to build an Islamic School and community center.  The Township denied the request, citing infrastructure and traffic concerns.  Nevertheless, CAIR, which bills itself as “America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization,” filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Township on behalf of the MCA, alleging that the denial of the MCA’s rezoning application violated the Islamic group’s constitutional and statutory rights.

The MCA’s rezoning request was opposed by a group of Township residents who live in the neighborhood of the proposed construction.  The residents expressed concerns about the traffic congestion that would be caused by the construction of a school and community center in their neighborhood.  Pursuant to their rights protected by the First Amendment, these private citizens circulated and submitted to their elected Township officials a petition expressing their opposition to the rezoning and several of them spoke out at public hearings held by the Township to discuss the matter.  As a result, CAIR served harassing subpoenas on a number of these citizens, demanding that they produce private emails and other documents, and in some cases, appear for a deposition.

Indeed, AFLC is representing a husband and wife who came home one day to find several papers jammed in the crack of the front door of their home.  The papers included subpoenas demanding the production of personal emails and other documents and a subpoena commanding the wife to appear at a deposition.

In response to CAIR’s discovery requests, AFLC filed a motion to “quash” and for a protective order in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, arguing that CAIR’s discovery demands were harassing, irrelevant, and oppressive.  As stated in AFLC’s memorandum in support of its motion:

As a private citizen and resident of the Township, [AFLC’s client] has a fundamental right to publicly express to her elected officials her opposition to Plaintiff’s proposal, which will personally impact her by increasing traffic in her neighborhood.  [AFLC’s client] had no authority whatsoever to either grant or deny Plaintiff’s rezoning application—she is a private citizen, not a public official.  Her personal views, whether expressed to the Township, Township officials, or her neighbors, are not remotely relevant in this litigation.

Robert Muise, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented:

“There is no doubt that CAIR – a sharia-adherent Islamist group that notoriously uses the legal system to silence any opposition to its nefarious agenda – is abusing the discovery process to retaliate against and intimidate private citizens who dared to publicly express their opposition to the Islamic center.  AFLC is quite familiar with CAIR’s bullying tactics, which is why it is important that we defend these private citizens’ constitutional rights.”

David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented:

“CAIR’s discovery demands plainly infringe upon precious First Amendment liberties and the paramount right of a private citizen to publicly express her opinions to elected representatives on matters that affect her and her community.  On a broader level, CAIR’s decision to browbeat these ordinary Americans clearly shows the pervasiveness of sharia-adherent Islam and its ‘civilizational jihad’ within our borders.  Needless to say, if CAIR wishes to persecute Americans through the legal system, they’ll have to contend with us.”

CAIR, a self-described Muslim public interest law firm, was previously named as a Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas front group by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the federal criminal trial and conviction of a terrorist funding cell organized around one of the largest Muslim charities, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF).  HLF raised funds for violent jihad on behalf of Hamas, and top CAIR officials were part of the conspiracy.  As a result, the FBI publicly announced that it has terminated any outreach activities with the national organization.

 

First Amendment v. Sharia: Sixth Circuit Asked to Overturn Federal Court Decision that Condoned “Benghazi-like” Attack on Christians

-1408495185AFLC:

Cincinnati, Ohio (July 8, 2013) — The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), a national nonprofit Judeo-Christian law firm, filed its opening brief on Friday in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, asking the court to overturn a lower court’s dismissal of a civil rights lawsuit brought by several Christian evangelists who were violently attacked by a hostile mob of Muslims while preaching at an Arab festival last year in Dearborn, Michigan, which has the largest Muslim population in the United States.  Video of the Muslim assault went viral on YouTube.

AFLC had filed the lawsuit in September 2012 on behalf of the Christians against Wayne County, the Wayne County Sheriff, and two Wayne County Deputy Chiefs for not only refusing to protect the Christians from the attack but also for threatening to arrest the Christians for disorderly conduct if they did not halt their speech activity and immediately leave the festival area.

This past May, Federal Judge Patrick J. Duggan, sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, granted Wayne County’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the lawsuit.  In his ruling, Judge Duggan stated that “the actual demonstration of violence here provided the requisite justification for [the Wayne County sheriffs’] intervention, even if the officials acted as they did because of the effect the speech had on the crowd.”

In its opening brief in the Sixth Circuit, AFLC argues that “liberty is at an end if a police officer may without warrant arrest, not the person threatening violence, but those who are its likely victims merely because the person arrested is engaging in conduct which, though peaceful and legally and constitutionally protected, is deemed offensive and provocative . . . .  Indeed, the district court’s decision compels private citizens who engage in . . . constitutionally protected conduct to surrender their fundamental right to freedom of speech to mob rule because violence now serves as a lawful justification for the government to suppress a speaker’s unpopular message.  As a result, the district court’s decision rewards and thus encourages violence as a legitimate means of suppressing unpopular speech—an outcome squarely at odds with the First Amendment.”

Robert Muise, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented: “The district court’s ruling is an unprecedented blow to the First Amendment.  Indeed, the fact that the court’s decision rewards and thus encourages violence as a legitimate means of suppressing unpopular speech jeopardizes the constitutional safeguards that our Founding Fathers fought so hard to establish.”

David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented, “In light of the ongoing Muslim violence around the world, particularly against Christians in Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere, this ruling effectively empowers Muslims in America to engage in violence to silence Christian speech that they deem offensive.  And pursuant to this ruling, it is perfectly justified for law enforcement officials to respond to such violence by arresting the Christian speakers for engaging in disorderly conduct instead of apprehending the violent Muslims.  The ramifications of this ruling are ominous, which is why the appellate court must overturn it.”

Muslim Claiming “Defamation” Dismisses Lawsuit against National Security Experts Who Exposed His Ties to Terrorism

UnknownAFLC:

A former “Multicultural Relations” officer at the Ohio Department of Homeland Security (OHS) who was fired for falsifying his background filed a notice today in Ohio state court, dismissing his “defamation” lawsuit filed against several national security experts for publishing reports about his role as a former high-ranking official in the Jordanian government and his ties to terrorist organizations.  The notice came in response to a motion filed on behalf of the security experts by the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), which argued that the lawsuit lacked merit and should be dismissed by the court.

Omar Alomari, a Muslim who emigrated from Jordan in 1978, claimed that the experts cast him in a “false light” by publishing false statements about him and, as a result of the statements, tortiously interfered with a business relationship by causing him to be fired.

AFLC filed its motion to dismiss on May 28 on behalf of Todd Alan Sheets, Stephen Coughlin, John Guandolo, and Patrick Poole, who specialize on the Muslim Brotherhood and the sharia-driven threat of stealth jihad to America.  AFLC is representing the experts along with local co-counsel David W.T. Carroll of Carroll, Ucker & Hemmer, LLC.

In its motion to dismiss, AFLC argued that Alomari’s allegations lack the requisite elements to sustain either cause of action.  Moreover, the facts demonstrate that the OHS terminated Alomari because he falsified his background and covered up an illicit relationship he had with a student while he was teaching at a local community college.

David Yerushalmi, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of AFLC, commented: “It is likely that Alomari folded his hand so he can re-file this case with another lawyer, perhaps with a Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas lawyer from CAIR.  Under Ohio law, it appears that this option still remains.  Nonetheless, the writing is on the wall for Mr. Alomari.  If he wants to re-file this frivolous action, then the American Freedom Law Center is prepared – like always – to fight back against this form of Islamist ‘lawfare,’ which is nothing more than an attack on the constitutional rights of Americans who speak out against sharia-adherent Islam.”

The Center for American Progress’ Willful Blindness

images (76)By Andrew E. Harrod:

The Center for American Progress (CAP) unveiled its report Foreign Law Bans: Legal Uncertainties and Practical Problems at a May 16, 2013, event at CAP’s Washington, DC, headquarters.  CAP’s analysts are unconcerned by the influence of sharia and other foreign laws in America.

CAP’s event and report opposed state-level legislative efforts across the United States to implement versions of the American Law for American Courts (ALAC) model law of the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA).  The text of this law voids any foreign legal decision not respecting the “same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the U.S. and [State] Constitutions.”  Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee have adopted such laws.

Stephen M. Gelé, a Louisiana lawyer active in his state’s adoption of ALAC, explored its rationale at Breitbart.  Gelé analyzed six appellate cases reviewing trial court decisions with varying results based upon troubling elements of sharia.  Gelé drew upon 50 state court appellate cases involving sharia law documented in a Center for Security Policy (CSP) study.

Contradicting CAP arguments that existing law negated sharia’s influence on the American judiciary, Gelé cautioned that “some appellate opinions, and almost all trial court judgments, are not widely published.” “Many, if not most, trial court decisions applying sharia” underwent no appeal, a process costing $10,000-50,000 in divorce and child custody cases.  Regardless, “women and children should not be forced to play legal Russian roulette” with courts “applying legal doctrines, including sharia, inconsistent with American constitutional rights and public policy.”

Similar concerns prompted me at the end of the CAP panel (mark 1:13 on the online video) to ask about any “seepage” of sharia norms into American free speech jurisprudence.  As referenced by me, in recent years several American incidents involving Islam and free speech have been deeply disturbing.  An October 2011 assault by a Muslim immigrant upon an atheist mocking Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in a Pennsylvania parade, for example, led to a district court judge dismissing clearly documented criminal charges amidst his discussion of Islamic prohibitions on blasphemy.

Another concern is so-called “libel tourism” in which various Muslim individuals have sought libel judgments against American authors in foreign jurisdictions not possessing America’s strict free speech safeguards.  In response, the APPA, the Middle East Forum’s (MEF) Legal Project (LP), and others have promoted “Rachel’s Law,” named for Rachel Ehrenfeld after being found guilty in a British court for libelously accusing a Saudi prince of funding terrorism.  Now in effect at the federal level and in several states, such laws prevent the enforcement of foreign libel judgments not respecting American free speech standards.  As indicated by me in my question, Rachel’s Law parallels the analysis of ALAC with respect to the single issue of libel, and ALAC would make any specific Rachel’s Law unnecessary.

David Yerushalmi, derided in the CAP report as the key “anti-Islam” activist behind the foreign law bans, meanwhile, has taken on along with his colleague Robert Muise at the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) several cases defending free speech involving Islam.  AFLC, for example, defeated breaching the peace charges brought against four Christians who distributed religious literature to Muslims at a 2010 Dearborn, Michigan, Arab festival.  In a civil rights suit against Dearborn city officials, AFLC later obtained a settlement including a city apology for the arrest and prosecution.  AFLC is similarly currently litigating another case involving the very same Dearborn Arab festival in 2012 and proselytizing Christians.

Intricate legal concerns involving posited unintended consequences from foreign law bans dominated the CAP panel and report.  As a matter of principle, however, CAP and its allied panelists seemed to recognize no threat in sharia, as the recorded response to my question shows.  Report coauthor Faiza Patel from the Brennan Center for Justice, for example, discussed the judicial “Void as against Public Policy Rule” previously cited by the panel and the CAP report such that any free speech infringement “would be kicked out.”  Yet as this article indicates,this rule, in the words of the APPA, is often unavailing “because state legislatures have generally not been explicit about what their public policy is relative to foreign laws.”

Read more at American Thinker

Federal Judge Orders New York MTA to Display Pro-Israel/Anti-Jihad Bus Advertisement

American Freedom Law Center

Yesterday, Federal Judge Paul A. Engelmayer, sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, issued a final ruling, striking down the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York’s (MTA) “no-demeaning speech” restriction and ordering the MTA to display a pro-Israel/anti-jihad bus advertisement submitted by the Freedom Defense Initiative (FDI).  The federal judge’s order converted an earlier preliminary injunction into a permanent injunction, and it declared that the MTA speech regulation violated the First Amendment right to free speech.  The judge also awarded FDI nominal damages. The ruling was an unambiguous victory for the American Freedom Law Center(AFLC), which won on every issue presented to the court.

In September 2011, the MTA had refused to run the advertisement because it claimed that it violated the MTA’s policy against displaying “images or information that demean an individual or group of individuals on account of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.”
As a result of the MTA’s refusal to run the advertisement, AFLC filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the bus advertisement’s sponsors – FDI, Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer – challenging the speech restriction.  On July 20, 2012, the court issued a preliminary injunction, ruling that the MTA’s speech restriction violated the First Amendment.  However, the court granted the MTA 30 days to attempt to cure the violation by amending its “no-demeaning” regulation.
The ruling was a stinging rebuke to the MTA and its General Counsel, James Henly, who personally appeared in court yesterday, not only because the MTA had asked the judge not to enter a final judgment until after the appellate court ruled on the preliminary injunction, but also because it had asked the judge to extend his stay of the injunction’s enforcement until September 27, 2012 – the date of the MTA’s next scheduled Board meeting – to allow the MTA additional time to decide what to do.  While the judge granted the MTA an additional two-week stay until September 12 to appeal his rulings, the judge noted that the MTA had not made out a case that it deserves such a stay beyond that period because the MTA’s General Counsel informed the court that the MTA Board had not met even once to discuss the judge’s previous warnings that he would not extend the stay.  The judge’s frustration with the MTA’s cavalier attitude about both the ongoing First Amendment violation and its failure to properly protect the “public interest” was evident in the court’s opinion and order issued yesterday.  The judge went so far as to order the MTA General Counsel to personally provide the MTA Board with the court’s ruling “so as to ensure that the Board is fully informed of the potential consequences of MTA’s decision” to do nothing, something the General Counsel would have had a duty to do without the judge’s order.
David Yerushalmi, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of AFLC, commented: “Judge Engelmayer deserves praise for his ruling, not only because he authored a 14-page opinion on the very day of the hearing, but also because he has consistently and in the highest traditions of his judicial office applied the law to the facts and preserved for all New Yorkers their liberty to speak on political issues, even when the government, in this case the MTA, wanted to suppress our clients’ speech because it violates the PC-code that Israel may be publicly attacked but not the savages who murder innocent Jewish women and children.”
The specific advertisement, which sparked the controversy, states, “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man.  Support Israel.  Defeat Jihad.”

This advertisement was offered as a direct response to an anti-Israel advertisement that was displayed on MTA property by a pro-Palestine group.  The MTA approved the anti-Israel advertisement, which portrayed the Palestinians as being on the side of “peace and justice.”  However, the MTA rejected FDI’s advertisement, claiming that it violated its “no-demeaning” speech restriction.

Robert Muise, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of AFLC, commented: “The judge’s ruling illustrates why the American Freedom Law Center represents clients like FDI, Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer.  There is an expression, ‘speaking truth to power.’  This is the intrinsic and extrinsic value of our Constitution, and indeed it is the bedrock of our unique and exceptional political system.  Our clients spoke truth to power, and the MTA thought its power was unbridled.  Even after the judge granted the MTA’s request for a 30-day stay to ‘cure’ its unconstitutional speech restriction, the MTA did nothing and walked into court yesterday asking the judge to allow it to continue to do nothing for some undetermined period of time while it continued to violate our clients’ free speech rights.  Judge Engelmayer responded, in effect, ‘Enough is enough.  The Constitution trumps your state power.’  That is what makes America what it is.”

The judge and the parties agreed that the court would entertain FDI’s request for attorney’s fees, which the MTA must pay under the relevant federal statute, after the appeal process concludes.