Americans for Peace and Tolerance
|Type||501(c)(3) non-profit organization|
|Region served||United States|
|Main organ||Board of Directors (Jacobs, Dennis Hale, and Ahmed Subhy Mansour)|
Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) is a Boston, Massachusetts, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to exposing Islamic extremism. Its website states its purpose is to "promot[e] peaceful coexistence in an ethnically diverse America by educating the American public about the need for a moderate political leadership that supports tolerance and core American values in communities across the nation." Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston, has said APT has spread "lies and half-truths in order to attack and marginalize much of the local Muslim community and many of its institutions." It has been a prominent critic of the construction of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.
APT was founded by political activist Charles Jacobs, Boston College political science professor Dennis Hale, and Egyptian exilee and Islamist Ahmed Subhy Mansour. All serve on the group's Board of Directors.
Opposition to Islamic Society of Boston
APT has been a major critic of the Islamic Society of Boston, and of the construction in 2009, in the city's Roxbury neighborhood, of the $15.6 million Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, which includes a mosque. APT asserts that the group is directed and controlled by extremist leaders and contributors. The Islamic Society of Boston rejected the charges. Yusufi Vali, its executive director, described APT and founder Jacobs as anti-Muslim activists whose purpose is to spread "lies and half-truths in order to attack and marginalize much of the local Muslim community and many of its institutions."
In a 2009 op-ed, the APT's Hale and Jacobs wrote that the new Islamic Center was "paid for largely by the Saudis, and run by what federal authorities describe as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood." They added that "it is way past time for sensible citizens to demand answers to questions about the leaders of the new Islamic Center in Roxbury." Vali replied that the vast majority of construction donors were U.S. based, and added that "no donations were accepted if the donor wanted to have any decision-making influence (even if benign)."
Others supported construction of the new building and defended the Islamic Society of Boston. Boston mayor Thomas Menino defended the Islamic Center, stating that religious extremism was not unique to Muslims. William A. Graham, dean of Harvard Divinity School said fear of the Islamic Center of Boston was "highly exaggerated." The mosque opened despite APT's protests.
Following the April, 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, Jacobs renewed his argument that the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center and its affiliated mosques in Cambridge and Roxbury are tied to extremists. In a USA Today article, he stated, "...[T]his mosque has a curriculum that radicalizes people. Other people have been radicalized there." Jacobs, according to a Boston Globe news report, believes the ultimate goal of groups such as the Islamic Society "is to radicalize American Muslims and, eventually, to establish an Islamic society ruled by strict Sharia law."
Muslim leaders in Boston and allies in other faith communities stated that Jacobs’s charges were both false and hurtful toward their communities. Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center executive director Vali stated, “Our [mosque] is completely open to the community, and we want people to come and see the work we are doing. What they’ll see is we are welcoming to neighbors ...” Vali added that in the past Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino have visited the mosque, “because everyone realizes these allegations [by Jacobs] are not at all connected to who we are.”
Opposition to Guantanamo Bay detainee resettlement to Newton, Massachusetts
In January 2010, two Newton, Massachusetts aldermen sponsored a resolution to bring a Guantanamo Bay detainee cleared of wrongdoing to the city. The resolution stated, "Newton's history of supporting human rights makes it fitting that our community provide safe resettlement to a man who has been unjustly imprisoned by the government at Guantanamo Bay." Jacobs said that allowing Guantanamo Bay detainees into the U.S. is dangerous, adding: "To say that one belongs to a charity ring of that group [Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group with which the detainee was affiliated], is like saying that one only belonged to the part of the Ku Klux Klan that organized bake sales." After the resolution failed, Jacobs stated, "We want [aldermen] Steve Linsky and Ted Hess-Mahan to apologize, and to go for sensitivity training, or resign. If they do not apologize, we will consider forming a movement to recall them."
Accusations of bias in Newton Public Schools curriculum
In October 2013, APT took out newspaper ads in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Newton TAB, Boston Metro, and Jewish Advocate alleging the presence of anti-Israeli materials being incorporated into the Newton Public Schools curriculum. Related claims of regulatory noncompliance brought by Newton residents had been investigated and dismissed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education one month earlier. The ads criticized school superintendent David Fleischman and school committee chair Matt Hills and called on the city to remove "hateful education materials from their curricula," which APT alleged "demonize Israel and America while glorifying Islam." Hills responded to the accusations in November 2013, calling them a "pure distortion of the facts." Fleischman responded, "Parents have access to their kids’ curriculum materials, and they trust our teachers. Our work speaks for itself." The Anti-Defamation League and clergy at Newton temples Emanuel and Shalom also denounced the ads.
- Solomont, E.B., "Boston area Jews split on Tamir. Russian emigrants demand Israeli envoy's recall, while mainstream groups support him," The Jerusalem Post, August 11, 2009, accessed February 2, 2010
- "Mission and About Us". Americans for Peace and Tolerance. November 20, 2008. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
- Dorell, Oren (April 25, 2013). "Mosque that Boston suspects attended has radical ties". USA Today.
- Paulson, Michael, "At mosque opening, tensions permeate interfaith gathering", The Boston Globe, June 28, 2009, accessed February 2, 2010
- Hale, Dennis; Jacobs, Charles (July 5, 2009). "Leaders are extremist". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
- Paulson, Michael (June 25, 2009). "A call to prayer, a long quest fulfilled; Celebration follows years of controversy". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
- "Controversial mosque opens despite protest", The Jewish Advocate, July 3, 2009, accessed February 2, 2010
- Boston Muslims gather, saddened and shaken By Lisa Wangsness and Meghan E. Irons, Boston Globe, April 27, 2013.
- Alderman wants Guantanamo detainee to come to Newton, by Kathleen Burge, Boston.com, January 13, 2010
- Maroon, Annie, "Guantanamo detainee's move to Newton dropped after residents oppose", The Daily Free Press, January 25, 2010, accessed February 2, 2010
- Castello, Caitlin, "Newton residents demand an apology from aldermen," The Boston Globe, January 20, 2010, February 2, 2010
- "How to inflame the Jews of Newton, Massachusetts," The Jerusalem Post, January 28, 2010, accessed February 2, 2010
- Jacobson, Judie (October 30, 2013). "Ads blast Newton Mass., schools over anti-Israel texts". Jewish Ledger.
- "State dismisses claim against Newton Public Schools history curriculum". Wicked Local Newton. October 29, 2013.
- JTA (October 24, 2013). "Boston Suburb of Newton Accused of Demonizing Israel in Classroom Materials". The Forward.
- Allen, Evan (November 7, 2013). "State affirms school curriculum after protests". The Boston Globe.