Americans for Peace and Tolerance
|Type||501(c)(3) non-profit organization|
|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 "promoting 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."
APT was founded by Charles Jacobs, Boston College political science professor Dennis Hale, and Egyptian exile and Muslim dissident Ahmed Subhy Mansour. Jacobs was previously the co-founder of the American Anti-Slavery Group in 1993, and the David Project in 2004. Hale specializes in American political thought and public administration. Mansour is a Muslim dissident who describes himself as neither Sunni nor Shia. He was fired from Al Azhar University in Cairo for his views and now lives in exile in the United States. Members of his sect, the Quranists, reject hadith on theological grounds. All serve on the group's Board of Directors. APT has been at the forefront of criticizing Islamist extremism in the Boston area and nationally.
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.
In 2007 Islamic Society of Boston had dropped a defamation lawsuit filed against the David Project and other groups, over revelations that the city of Boston had sold land to the mosque at far below market value. The mosque’s fundraiser, who oversaw the land sale, was Mohammad Ali-Salaam, Deputy Directory of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
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." Mosque leader Yusuf 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)."
Boston mayor Thomas Menino defended the Islamic Center, as did William A. Graham, dean of Harvard Divinity School, who 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. Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev both worshipped at the Cambridge mosque. In a USA Today article, Jacobs stated, "...[T]his mosque has a curriculum that radicalizes people. Other people have been radicalized there."
The Cambridge mosque’s first president, Abdulrahman Alamoudi, was convicted in a 2004 Libyan backed plot to kill a Saudi prince. Other mosque attendees involved in terror-related offenses include Tarek Mehanna, convicted for a plot to shoot up a shopping mall. Mehanna’s co-conspirator Ahmad Abousamra, son of Abdul-Badi Abousamra, former vice president of the Muslim American Society Boston, fled to Syria. He is currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List. Leaders of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center have rejected the allegations of radical activities.
Losing Our Sons
In 2012 APT released a documentary film, Losing Our Sons, which details the 2009 murder of US Army Private William Long by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, born Carlos Leon Bledsoe, in a drive-by shooting in Little Rock, Arkansas. The shooting also wounded Private Quinton Ezeagwula. The film details Bledsoe’s Islamic radicalization, including time spent in Yemen and his claims to have been working on behalf of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and the US Government’s refusal to classify Long’s murder as an act of terrorism.
Massachusetts Islamists and Terror Plots
APT produced a short video of discussing arrest and conviction of Tarek Mehanna, a Sudbury, Massachusetts resident accused of planning to machine gun shoppers at a New England mall. Mehanna was convicted in 2011 of giving material support to terrorism, including Al Qaeda, and conspiracy to make false statements to the FBI. His conviction was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 2014. The APT film highlights the role of the Internet in radicalizing Mehanna.
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 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." In response, APT Director Charles 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, noting the presence of anti-Israeli materials being incorporated into the Newton Public Schools curriculum. The school system’s use of the ‘Arab World Studies Notebook’ was sharply criticized, including claims that Muslims had discovered America in 889. The source had been criticized earlier by the American Jewish Committee for its proselytizing approach to Islam, and by Native American groups for other claims, including that Muslims become chiefs of Algonquin tribes in the 17th century.
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 synagogues Temple Emanuel and Temple Shalom also denounced the ads. A 2014 analysis by the independent research group Verity Educate, however, noted numerous instances of inaccuracies and overt bias in the Newton materials.
- "Mission and About Us". Americans for Peace and Tolerance. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
- Paulson, Michael (June 28, 2009). "At mosque opening, tensions permeate interfaith gathering". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
- Hale, Dennis; Jacobs, Charles (July 5, 2009). "Leaders are extremist". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
- Solomont, E. B. (August 11, 2009). "Boston area Jews split on Tamir. Russian emigrants demand Israeli envoy's recall, while mainstream groups support him". Jerusalem Post.
- 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.
- Dorell, Oren (April 25, 2013). "Mosque that Boston suspects attended has radical ties". USA Today. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
- "Controversial mosque opens despite protest", The Jewish Advocate, July 3, 2009, accessed February 2, 2010
- "Most Wanted Terrorists". FBI. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
- "Losing Our Sons".
- 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.
- "Propaganda, Proselytizing, and Public Education: A Critique of the Arab World Studies Notebook" (PDF). American Jewish Committee. February 2005. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
- "Textbook on Arabs removes blunder". Washington Times. April 16, 2004.
- Allen, Evan (November 7, 2013). "State affirms school curriculum after protests". Boston Globe.
- "Boston Suburb of Newton Accused of Demonizing Israel in Classroom Materials". Forward. October 24, 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
- "Newton – Middle East Report Request Form". Verity Educate. Retrieved 29 August 2015.