“The only news is that it’s no longer news that a Republican lawmaker spews anti-Muslim bigotry,” said Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Hooper was referring to the fact that state Senator Kevin Grantham, a Cañon City Republican, recently said he saw merit in a proposal put forward by lightning-rod Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders that lawmakers should ban any future mosque construction in the state.
“You have to understand the scene,” Hooper told the Colorado Independent. “The theory in these anti-Muslim circles is that Islam is not a religion, that it’s a political ideology, so U.S. laws protecting the expression of religion don’t apply.
“Wilders is not a ‘controversial figure,’” Hooper said. “He’s a straight-up bigot. There’s no controversy about it. Yet he’s invited everywhere. He’s on Fox with Hannity. It’s sad but it’s not news that Republicans [like Grantham] embrace him.”
Wilders appeared as a featured speaker at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver last week. Wilders has long campaigned to ban immigration from Muslim countries to the Netherlands and to outlaw mosque building in the country. He has compared the Koran with Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and has lobbied to have the book banned in the Netherlands.
“If we do not stop the Islamization, we will lose everything: our identity, our culture, our democratic constitutional state, our freedom, and our civilization,” Wilders told the Summit crowd.
Wilders was introduced by former Colorado Senate President John Andrews, who now heads Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute, the sponsor of the Summit. Andrews told the crowd of roughly 1,000 that Islam posed an “existential threat” to the United States.
Grantham said he agreed with Wilders that mosques are not primarily religious buildings.
“Mosques are not churches like we would think of churches,” he told the Colorado Statesman. “[Muslims] think of mosques more as a foothold into a society, as a foothold into a community, more in the cultural and in the nationalistic sense. Our churches — we don’t feel that way, they’re places of worship, and mosques are simply not that, and we need to take that into account when approving construction of those.”
Hooper said it’s laughable to put stock in what lawmakers like Grantham say about Islam. It would be better to ignore such comments, he said, if they weren’t so harmful.
“Where do they get the information?” he asked. “It’s this perfect storm of Islamophobia. The Tea Party voters watching the population of the United States change. White people becoming a minority. You see it in the absurd accusations that President Obama is a Muslim.
“It’s not American, that way of seeing. It’s so harmful to relations among people of different faiths.”