Confronting Islamism in the United States is not something one person or single community can do alone. Protecting the public square from the forces of religious authoritarianism and antisemitism requires a coalition of people willing to stand firm in the face of hostility and intimidation. It requires leaders getting out of their comfort zone, connecting with activists from other communities to broadcast a very direct message to those who promote Islamism in the U.S: Religious authoritarianism and hostility have no place in our communities.
Fortunately, I had the honor of witnessing this process unfold on Saturday, March 19, 2022, when a group of 50 people, mostly members of South Florida’s Jewish and Hindu communities, gathered to protest outside the first annual conference organized by the South Florida Muslim Federation (SFMF).
SFMF, an umbrella group for many of South Florida’s Islamist institutions, had invited Khalid Griggs, whose antisemitic proclivities are well known, to speak at the event.
In response, I used my status as founder of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative (JKSI) to reach out to the Kashmir Hindu Foundation (KHF) and the Middle East Forum (MEF) to organize a protest that took place outside the Marriott Heron Bay, in Coral Springs, Florida, where SFMF was holding its conference.
One goal of the protest was to educate passersby about Khalid Griggs, promoted by SFMF as a “human rights leader.”
He is no such thing. As I have documented elsewhere, Griggs, a black Muslim convert, has used social media to spread propaganda glorifying Adolf Hitler, promote the notion that America is “owned and controlled” by Jews, and has posted material calling for the destruction of Israel (“Zionism”).
Griggs is also the national Vice President of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), an Islamist group with ties to extremists in South Asia. For 30-plus years, ICNA has affiliated with a Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, who was convicted in 2013 by a court in Bangladesh for the murders of numerous individuals during the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. The Middle East Forum has reported that ICNA’s international aid branch, Helping Hand for Relief and Development, has organized events with Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, the charitable wing of the Pakistani terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The protestors also highlighted the status of Izhar Khan as the main speaker of the SFMF conference youth session. Khan is the imam of Masjid Jamaat al-Mumineem (MJAM) in Margate, Florida, which promotes various texts in an online library that respectively label Jews and Christians enemies of Islam, endorse death penalties for gays and legitimize domestic violence against women.
Another text in the mosque’s library declares, “The Hindus and Jews were (and still, are) worshippers of Mammon. Both of them have been mercenary nations, notorious for their greed.”
And yet another text in the library, Islam: The Misunderstood Religion is written by Muhammad Qutb, the younger brother of Sayyid Qutb, described in the Smithsonian in 2006 as a “theoretician of violent jihad.” Muhammad Qutb published his brother Sayyid’s books after his death at the hand of the Egyptian government and according to Paul Berman, was one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “most distinguished intellectuals.” As it turns out, “Osama bin Laden would be one of Muhammad Qutb’s students,” Berman reports.
Our speakers exposed the backgrounds of SFMF’s presenters. The speakers included me, 850 WFTL conservative radio talk show hostess Joyce Kaufman (no relation), KHF founding director Deepak Ganju, SaveTheWest.com founding director Dr. Kenneth Abramowitz, and Kashmiri activist Vijay Kaul.
Additionally, two young girls, Sheyjar Kaul and Sanvi Kaul, spoke movingly about how their families had been displaced by Islamists in Kashmir and how they longed to return to their cultural homeland.
Joyce Kaufman spoke about the Marriott and its ongoing tolerance of Muslim extremism.
“When we wanted to have an event at the Marriott 15 years ago, when we were going to host Geert Wilders and a number of people who wanted to speak out against radical Islam, the Marriott canceled us at the last minute and said we couldn’t do the event there, and since then I’ve watched them allow radical Islamists to host event after event,” she said. “And it seems pretty obnoxious to me that the Marriott has become the preferred destination for radical Islam.”
She continued, “For those of you who think [this is] much ado about nothing, [that] every group of people has a right to have a representative organization for them, the problem with the organizations that will be meeting here today [is that] they have a very illegitimate agenda, and it’s comprised of eliminating Israel and wreaking havoc on just about every other country they gain any political foothold [in].”
I called out Griggs, providing details about his hateful posts on social media.
“One of this conference’s main speakers, Khalid Griggs has used social media to spread propaganda glorifying Adolf Hitler,” I said. “In October 2018, Griggs posted a photograph on his Facebook page depicting Hitler with his arm around Olympian Jesse Owens, both of the men with big smiles on their faces. It was a doctored photo and a hoax. During the Olympics, Hitler refused to shake Owens’ hand, solely because he was black… The photo that Griggs posted was not just a hoax. It was made to make Hitler appear good and decent, when in truth, Hitler was a monster, who devastated the lives of tens of millions…”
I continued, “Griggs, as well, used his social media to support the notion that America is ‘owned and controlled’ by Jews, and he posted material calling for the destruction of Israel — or what his post referred to as ‘the destruction of Zionism.’ … Shame on the Muslim Federation for bringing this anti-Semite to Florida. And shame on Marriott Heron Bay for allowing such a disgrace to step foot in its hotel.”
Deepak Ganju, who, along with his family, was displaced from Kashmir by Islamists, himself, spoke passionately about the situation in Kashmir.
“People saw what happened in Jammu and Kashmir, in 1989-90, and how radical Islamists threw all the Kashmiri Hindus out of that place, and this has been continuing for the last 32 years,” he said. “We are gathered here, because one of the speakers in the background [points towards the Marriott] is connected with Islamists and also the terrorist organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. Everybody knows, in 2003, 24 Hindus were massacred in Pulwama District [of Kashmir] by the terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba, so we have to know our enemy, as Joyce said, and until we know our enemy, we cannot do anything.”
Kenneth Abramowitz, spoke about the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness affirmed in the Declaration of Independence. During his talk, Abramowitz was interrupted by an angry conference attendee who was clearly disconcerted by our presence outside his event. But just as SFMF and its associates exercise their First Amendment right to publicly spew their hate, we exercise the same right to publicly condemn it.
Our protest was intended to expose and draw attention to SFMF’s Islamist agenda and send the message to the organization and its supporters that their bigotry and extremism is unwelcome in our community and that concerned citizens in South Florida will push back against Islamism in their public square.
It’s a message more people need to hear and, with coalitions like the one we formed in March, they will hear it.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.