Counter-Islamophobia Project

U.S. Islamophobia Network

Islamophobic Organizations

Middle East Forum

Overview

Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum (MEF) is a Philadelphia-based anti-Islam hate group. Pipes has criticized the “different standards of hygiene” and “strange foods” of “brown-skinned peoples.” He believes Islam “has nothing functional to offer” and that simply teaching the Arabic language to students is a means to “promote radical Islam.” He falsely claims black converts to Islam hold prejudiced views, advanced the conspiracy theory that former President Obama was a Muslim who enforced Islamic law, and claims to have originated the disproven idea of “no-go zones” in Europe.

Pipes supported the internment of native born American citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II. His 2003 nomination to the board of the United States Institute of Peace failed after Senators raised concerns with his anti-Islam writings, and belief that the “enfranchisement of American Muslims” threatened other religious minorities.

The Middle East Forum provides financial support to groups known for promoting Islamophobia. Daniel Pipes profits off the hate and bigotry promoted by his organization, collecting a salary of $325,000 in 2015. In 2016, MEF attempted to host a conference alleging that routine requests for workplace accommodations from Muslims were “aggressive demands” with “severe consequences.”

Full Profile

Founder Daniel Pipes Criticized the “Different Standards of Hygiene” of “Brown-Skinned Peoples”

Throughout his career, Daniel Pipes has exhibited a troubling bigotry toward Muslims and Islam. As early as 1983, even an otherwise positive Washington Post book review published on December 11 noted that Pipes displays "a disturbing hostility to contemporary Muslims...he professes respect for Muslims but is frequently contemptuous of them."

Pipes has built on that contempt, later writing, “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene,” and goes on to say that “Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”

Of Islam, Pipes has said, “This religion would seem to have nothing functional to offer.” However, Islam has inspired its adherents to make significant contributions to science, mathematics, medicine, architecture, music, literature, and other spheres. 

Regarding education, Pipes claims that simply teaching the Arabic language is a means to “promote radical Islam” and that a school that does so “would become a training ground for Islamist extremism.”

Pipes has falsely claimed that “…black converts [to Islam] tend to hold vehemently anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic attitudes.”

Pipes has also written about former U.S. President Obama’s supposed ties to Islam, saying “Obama was an irregularly practicing Muslim.” Pipes also speculates that “he is now what Islamic law calls a murtadd (apostate), an ex-Muslim converted to another religion who must be executed.”

He additionally accuses President Obama of having “enforced Islamic law, a precedent that could lead to other forms of compulsory Sharia compliance.”

Daniel Pipes Claims to have Originated the Disproven Idea of “No-Go Zones” in Europe

Pipes is a proponent of the mythology of Muslim-controlled “no-go zones” in parts of major cities across Europe. In fact, Pipes “believes he was the first person to refer to disadvantaged French neighborhoods as no-go zones.”

In the Washington Times in 2015, Pipes changed his language to “partial” no-go zones, writing that “Partial no-go zones in majority-Muslim areas are a part of the urban landscape… they are no-go zones in the sense that representatives of the state — police especially… — can only enter with massed power for temporary periods of time.” Pipes allegations are contradicted by numerous other sources who find “no evidence of extremist takeover of areas in Europe or the United States.”

He was finally forced to acknowledge that Muslim communities and neighborhoods “are unthreatening, routine places.” 

Daniel Pipes Supported the Internment of Native-Born American Citizens of Japanese Ancestry During World War II

He has endorsed Japanese internment camps, at one point saying, “Yes, I do support the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II.” The U.S. government acknowledged the injustice of the internment in 1988. Historians have noted the German Americans were not subjected to similar internment. The racial nature of the internment decision is reflected in parallel episodes such as one story of German POWs eating in a Texas railroad depot while black GI’s were compelled to go to the back of the facility for service.

MEF Funds other Islamophobic Groups

According to its IRS tax filings, MEF has provided financial support to groups including the following:

  • Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy received close to half a million dollars over 7 years. Among Gaffney’s many conspiracy theories is the odd belief that a crescent, sometimes seen as a symbol of Islam, in a 2011 U.S. military badge was a sign of an impending Muslim takeover of the U.S. Gaffney wrote, “They seem to fit an increasingly obvious and worrying pattern of official U.S. submission to Islam and the theo-political-legal program the latter’s authorities call Shariah. What could be code-breaking evidence of the latter explanation is to be found in the newly-disclosed redesign of the Missile Defense Agency Logo.”
  • Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism received nearly $1.5 million over 7 years. Getting the facts wrong has been Emerson’s trademark. His 2015 claim of no-go zones resulted in Fox News issuing a public apology for the claim and the UK Prime minister calling him a “complete idiot.” After terrorists bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013, Emerson alleged that based on “certain classified information” he was “privy to,” he was confident that the bomber was a Saudi national who was at the time in custody. The bombers turned out to be of Chechen descent. Emerson said the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing had “Middle East traits.” The bombers turned out to be Americans. In 1996, Emerson claimed TWA Flight 800 was brought down by “not a missile, but a bomb.” The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the cause of the tragedy was vapor in a fuel tank, a tragic accident rather than a deliberate bombing.

MEF Thinks Routine Requests for Workplace Accommodations from Muslims are “Aggressive Demands”

In 2016, the Middle East Forum attempted to organize a conference that would have presented routine accommodation of Islamic practices in the workplace as “aggressive demands” for special treatment with potential “severe consequences.” After mainstream speakers withdrew from the event it was canceled.

U.S. Senators Raised Concerns with Pipes's Anti-Islam Writings, and Belief that the “Enfranchisement of American Muslims” Threatened Other Religious Minorities

President George W. Bush nominated Pipes to the board of directors of the US Institute of Peace in 2003. A number of U.S. Senators spoke out against the nomination citing Pipes’ anti-Muslim statements. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) pointed out Pipes belief that “diplomacy rarely ends conflicts” was inconsistent with USIP’s mission. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) also cited Pipes’ belief that Muslim participation in the U.S. political process threatened people of the Jewish faith. Harkin quoted Pipes’ saying, "[The] increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims...will present true dangers to American Jews.

Pipes was eventually appointed to a partial term of just 18 months, since the Republican-controlled Senate was unwilling to vote him into a full 4-year term. The appointment, which took place during a Congressional recess to avoid the failed vote Pipes would have received, “outraged Democratic senators, American Muslims and Arabs, liberal Jews and a large portion of the academic community, who say his opinions are not conducive to peace."

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