Boston Islamic Center Sues Propagandists
- ISLAMIC SOCIETY EXPANDS LIBEL SUIT
Charles Radin, Boston Globe, 11/1/05
Leaders of the Islamic Society of Boston broadened their defamation
suit yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court to add conspiracy charges
against a group of journalists and scholars who the Muslim leaders
allege sought to ruin the reputations of the society and its leaders
and prevent construction of a major mosque in Boston.
The suit expanded upon and incorporated two previously filed lawsuits
-- the first brought in February against WFXT-TV (Channel 25), and the
second in May against Channel 25 and the Boston Herald. In those
earlier suits, leaders of the Islamic Society charged that reports
broadcast and published in 2003 and 2004 defamed them by falsely
linking them to Islamic terrorist groups.
Yesterday's filing alleged that several nonprofit advocacy groups,
individuals, and reporters, acting out of alleged bias against
Muslims, conspired to defame the society and its leaders.
Among newly named defendants:
Steven Emerson, a Washington-based writer, and his organization, The
Investigative Project Inc.;
William R. Sapers, a member of the Board of Trustees of Roxbury
The David Project Inc., a Boston-based group that focuses on issues
related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and its director of education,
Citizens for Peace and Tolerance, a Cambridge-based group that has
questioned whether the leaders of the mosque project were moderate
Muslims; its president, Boston College political science professor
Dennis Hale; and its director, Steven A. Cohen.
The Islamic Society of Boston is the city-designated developer of a
$22 million mosque, which is under construction on land next to
Roxbury Community College.
The suit alleges that Sapers initially attempted to undermine the
project by damaging the Islamic Society's relations with the college
through unfounded statements to officials of the college that the
society's leaders were associated with Muslim terrorist organizations.
After that effort failed, the plaintiffs allege, Sapers then turned to
Emerson for assistance ''in an effort to manufacture any negative
story he could come up with to support the effort to undermine the
Emerson, a former CNN correspondent who in the mid-1990s won numerous
investigative journalism awards for his documentary ''Jihad in
America," was, by the time Sapers sought him out in 2002, ''widely
regarded as a discredited, biased, self-proclaimed 'expert' on radical
Islam . . . with a known agenda against Muslims," the suit charges.
Through the first half of 2003, Emerson and Sapers worked together to
raise questions about the mosque leadership, the suit asserts. Then
the two began a series of communications with the Herald, in
particular with reporter Jonathan Wells, aimed at ''publishing false
and defamatory statements about the ISB and its leadership in an
effort to undermine the ISB and its project," the suit states.
Sapers, Emerson, and Wells -- later joined by Kolodner of the David
Project and officers of Citizens for Peace and Tolerance -- were
''engaged in a coordinated effort to undermine the project" of
building the mosque, the suit said.
In response to the lawsuit, Charles Jacobs, president of the David
Project, said in a statement yesterday that the organization would
contest the charges and expected the conspiracy allegations ''will be
found factually and legally frivolous and will be dismissed."
Herald spokeswoman Gwen Gage said: ''The Herald stands behind its
reporting on this story, and we will continue to pursue news stories
with the fairness and thoroughness our readers expect."
Wells, who now works for WFXT, FOX25, referred questions to the
station, which said in a statement: ''The complaint . . . contains
highly inflammatory and false allegations. . . ."
Both Sapers and Hale said they had not seen the charges. Emerson did
not return a call requesting comment.
For more background information on The David Project, a Zionist
organization which is involved in human trafficking in Sudan see:
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