The Hyatt Hotels Corp. wouldn’t be breaking any laws if it refused to host an anti-Muslim hate group’s annual conference at one of its hotels, a leading American Muslim civil rights group said in a statement Thursday.
As HuffPost first reported, the hate group Act for America is scheduled to hold its annual conference at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Virginia, on Sept. 4 and 5. A spokesman for that hotel told HuffPost earlier that it “does not unlawfully discriminate against groups who wish to hold lawful meetings at the hotel.”
In a statement Thursday, the civil rights group Muslim Advocates accused Hyatt Hotels of “misrepresenting the law,” saying there are no Virginia or federal statutes that require Hyatt to host a group like Act for America.
“It’s deeply troubling that a major company like Hyatt would so grossly misstate its civil rights obligations,” said Scott Simpson, the public advocacy director for Muslim Advocates. “Hyatt is trying to turn civil rights law on its head in order to justify hosting a group dedicated to advancing bigotry. While Airbnb and other major hotel chains have declined to host events by hate groups, Hyatt is making an active choice to associate with this ideology.”
Muslim Advocates pointed to how other major hospitality companies — including Hilton, Airbnb, Sofitel (owned by AccorHotels) and the Willard Hotel (owned by IHG) — have refused to host white supremacist groups at their properties.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, which monitor extremist groups, describe Act for America as the country’s largest anti-Muslim group. The SPLC labels Act for America a hate group.
Hyatt Hotels did not respond to a request for comment on how it would be unlawful for it to cancel on Act for America. Nor did it respond to a request for comment on whether it would host other hateful groups, such as white supremacist organizations.
“Hyatt claims to champion diversity and inclusion and all we are asking is that the company re-examine its own stated values and conclude that there will be no room for hate at Hyatt,” Simpson said in the statement. “If they choose to move forward, Hyatt Regency employees and guests should be aware that their hotel is enabling hate.”
Muslim Advocates launched a “No Room for Hate” petition on Thursday, calling on Hyatt Hotels to cancel on Act for America.
The group’s pressure on Hyatt comes amid major American tech companies’ grappling with their responsibilities and hosting hateful individuals and groups on their platforms. This week, Apple, Facebook, Spotify and YouTube banned content by Infowars, a news website that spreads deplorable conspiracy theories and lies.
Act for America, which exaggeratedly claims a membership of 750,000, refers to itself as the “NRA of national security” but spends most of its time pushing baseless anti-Muslim conspiracy theories on the American public. It has, more than any other group, promoted the debunked idea that Muslims in America are secretly engaged in creeping Sharia, working to subvert the U.S. Constitution in order to institute an Islamic state.
Last year, Act for America held March Against Sharia rallies across the U.S. — thinly veiled anti-Muslim protests that attracted an assortment of bigots, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and armed anti-government militia members.
The group’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, once stated that Muslims are a “natural threat to civilized people of the world, particularly Western society.” She said, incorrectly, that “practicing Muslims, who believes in the teachings of the Quran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”
“The difference, my friends, between Israel and the Arab world is the difference between civilization and barbarism,” she told a crowd at a Christians United for Israel conference in 2007. “It’s the difference between goodness and evil. And this is what we’re witnessing in the Arabic world. They have no soul! They are dead set on killing and destruction.”