Friday, March 4, 2011

Two Anti-Sharia Advocates Vie for Position of Fear-Monger in Chief During Protests at White House

Protests outside the White House yesterday showcased the two nominal figureheads of the anti-Sharia movement in the United States. In response to a proposed rally by British Sharia advocate and media provocateur Anjem Choudary, anti-Sharia aficionados Frank Gaffney and Terry Jones each showed up with a group of followers in order to stage a counter protest. Although Choudary's event was postponed, the counter-protesters seized the opportunity to get in some good chanting, and also to witness the first in-person showdown between Gaffney and Jones, arguably two of the most high-profile anti-Sharia advocates in the country. Gaffney heads the American Center for Security Policy, and has been in the news recently for pushing the idea that last months CPAC conference was infiltrated by agents from the Muslim Brotherhood. Jones, a pastor at a Florida-based church listed as a hate group by the SPLC for it's anti-gay and anti-Muslim activities, gained international media attention last year for his proposed International Burn a Koran Day.

Apparently, Gaffney's and Jones' groups arrived unaware of one another's presence, and were soon squabbling over prime protesting turf (which in this case happened to be a park bench). Despite their ostensibly similar goals in protesting Choudary's rally, the tiff over territory exposed some underlying ideological divides between the two groups. From a TPM interview with a member of Gaffney's group:
"It's a difference of approach, and some of it is territorial. One is more comprehensive and professional -- he's got his whole group behind him -- whereas Terry just has his biker crew. One is more intellectual, the other is more agitated. One is based on patriotism and constitutional law, the other is based on theology."
The video below contains highlights from the protest, including a painfully ironic line from Gaffney, who proclaims "We are trying to prevent the ultimate form of hate-mongering from taking hold in this country." The video also contains footage of a Muslim man praying in front of the White House while surrounded by a circle of protesters chanting inanities like "USA, USA" and one man's pseudo-patriotic word salad of "Welcome to capitalism. It's here to stay. Gotta love it. Starbucks. Capitalism, free market, United States." The praying man is shown drinking what appears to be a Starbucks coffee.

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