NATIONAL

TO HEIL WITH MUSLIMS

White supremacists are courting an unlikely ally: the Islamic community

NANCY MACDONALD July 24 2006
NATIONAL

TO HEIL WITH MUSLIMS

White supremacists are courting an unlikely ally: the Islamic community

NANCY MACDONALD July 24 2006

TO HEIL WITH MUSLIMS

NATIONAL

White supremacists are courting an unlikely ally: the Islamic community

NANCY MACDONALD

Ontario MPP Kathleen Wynne’s invitation to speak at the conference “Christians-Muslims Relationships in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective” came from a constituent she knew well. The event, hosted by the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, sounded promising. “I’m very interested in interfaith dialogue, between Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jews, all of us,” says Wynne. She agreed to participate. Official invitations were sent out, with Wynne’s name as well as that of keynote speaker William Baker. Then Wynne got a call tipping her off about Baker. He had written the anti-Israel book Theft of a Nation, and once chaired the U.S. Populist Party, which nominated former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke as its candidate in the 1988 presidential race. An occasional lecturer at the Crystal Cathedral—the California mega-church from which televangelist Robert Schuller broadcasts the Hour ofPower— Baker resigned in 2002 after his neo-Nazi ties were publicized.

Wynne acted quickly. She refused to share the stage with Baker. He was dropped from the conference, to be held on July 16. Another Toronto event at which Baker was to speak this month—the 18th Annual Islamic Dawah Conference—appeared to follow suit.

But why was a man with suspected neoNazi ties booked to speak at two Muslim conferences in the first place? The events were par for the course for Baker, who founded the group Christians And Muslims for Peace (CAMP), and has been touring American campuses, meeting with Muslim student groups. According to CAMP’s website, topics include “the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Kashmir, and U.S. Foreign Policy and Islam.”

Baker isn’t the lone example of the radi-

cal right attempting community outreach among Muslims. In fact, experts point to a developing alliance between Muslim extremists and neo-Nazis, and the far right isn’t denying it. “U.S. Nazis don’t consider Islamic people the enemy,” says August Kreis, head of Aryan Nations, a neo-Nazi group based in Lexington, S.C. “We want them to join us.” It’s a bizarre coalition, and underlying the newfound rapport is the adage,

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Both count as their chief antagonists the Jewish people, the state of Israel, and the U.S. government.

In Toronto, Tarek Fatah, communications director for the Muslim Canadian Congress, was first to sound the alarm about Baker within his community. Fatah had heard Baker speak at a U.S. mosque and was “appalled.”

“It was the whole notion that there’s a conspiracy against Muslims, and Muslims should face up,” he says.

He counts Baker among the pretenders who “act as though they’re friends of the Muslim community, but come from the Christian

‘U.S. NAZIS DON’T CONSIDER ISLAMIC PEOPLE THE ENEMY,’ SAYS ONE. ‘WE WANT THEM TO JOIN US.’

right and use the community to propagate their own point of view.”

But Tanweer Zaman, secretary and treasurer of the Forum for Social Studies—the host of the Islamic Dawah conference—says

Baker, who recently visited Sudan, simply wanted to share his experiences. Zaman says the speech was titled “Can Christians and Muslims live together?”

In his defence, Baker, now 66, has said he quit the Populist Party due to the infiltration of racists. He says he had no knowledge of the 1984 platform, which included a call to repeal the section of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits segregation in public places. But the party was started by Willis Carto, the dean of U.S. antiSemitism and founder of the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review. And the platform was introduced at a convention Baker chaired.

In any case, George Michael, a professor with the University of Virginia’s College at Wise who studies the convergence of militant Islam and the extreme right, sees greater cause for alarm elsewhere. Revisionist history has found an outlet in parts of the Middle East—as have Klan proselytizers like Duke, who in 2002 presented a lecture in Bahrain on “Israeli Involvement in September 11.” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has called the Holocaust “a myth.” So has Muhammad Mehdi Akef, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In March, Syrian President Bashar Assad told PBS, “If you ask many people in the region, they would say the West exaggerated the Holocaust.”

Still, rhetoric aside, there’s little to indicate any real operational alliances, says Mark Potok, intelligence director for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, a watchdog that monitors organized hate. “When all is said and done, for American neo-Nazis, Muslims are, quote, ‘mud people.’ It’s hard to get beyond that.” At the end of the day, the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy. “Last night,” says Kreis, “I spent two hours talking to a Palestinian, out of Canada, and yes, I’d invite him into my home.” He pauses, then adds: “As long as he doesn’t try to marry my daughter.” M