In 2012, residents in Pittsfield Township, Michigan objected to the increased traffic and other intrusions that would have descended upon their quiet neighborhood with the construction of a massive new Muslim community center and school. But after residents spoke out publicly at a zoning meeting, a Muslim advocacy group is now harassing local citizens with subpoenas, demands to reveal private communications, and lawsuits.
In a classic example of “lawfare”–using the law as a weapon– the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), headed by executive director and founder Nihad Awad (pictured) is singling out individual Pittsfield residents whom the Muslim group identified as having spoken during the public comments segment of a local zoning board meeting.
After the religious center’s request for a building permit was denied back in 2012, CAIR filed a federal civil rights lawsuit and is now harassing these citizens with subpoenas demanding that they appear in depositions and hand over personal email communications on the matter.
The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) is coming to the aide of several Pittsfield residents who want to be left alone.
One woman being represented by AFLC says her personal opinions expressed during the process back in 2012 should have no bearing on the lawsuit. The woman, AFLC said, “had no authority whatsoever to either grant or deny [the Muslim center’s] rezoning application–she is a private citizen, not a public official. Her personal views, whether expressed to the Township, Township officials, or her neighbors, are not remotely relevant in this litigation.”
Robert Muise, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, continued saying:
“There is no doubt that CAIR–a sharia-adherent Islamist group that notoriously uses the legal system to silence any opposition to its nefarious agenda – is abusing the discovery process to retaliate against and intimidate private citizens who dared to publicly express their opposition to the Islamic center. AFLC is quite familiar with CAIR’s bullying tactics, which is why it is important that we defend these private citizens’ constitutional rights.”
The AFLC says that it seems clear that with its actions CAIR intends to intimidate citizens from making any negative comments about things that Muslims want to do, not just in Michigan, but anywhere private citizens make public comments.
“CAIR’s discovery demands plainly infringe upon precious First Amendment liberties and the paramount right of a private citizen to publicly express her opinions to elected representatives on matters that affect her and her community,” David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel said.
“On a broader level, CAIR’s decision to browbeat these ordinary Americans clearly shows the pervasiveness of sharia-adherent Islam and its ‘civilizational jihad’ within our borders. Needless to say, if CAIR wishes to persecute Americans through the legal system, they’ll have to contend with us,” Yerushalmi continued.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.