(CHICAGO, IL, 7/12/09) The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced that Robert Spencer, one of the nation’s leading Islam-bashers, will not speak tomorrow at the annual conference of the American Library Association (ALA) following intervention by CAIR and the withdrawal of the other scheduled panelists in protest.
Librarians from across the country had contacted the ALA questioning the appropriateness of inviting Spencer to speak on a panel titled “Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping” because of his history of intolerant views. The other speakers invited to join the panel declined to attend after hearing of Spencer’s scheduled participation and the failure of ALA to appropriately address the situation.
SEE ALSO: Library Group Panelists Withdraw Over Role of Islam-Basher
The ALA canceled the panel discussion Saturday. In a statement, Myra Appel, Chair of the ALA’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Roundtable (EMIERT), said in part:
“We believe that the panel on ‘Perspectives on Islam: Beyond the Stereotyping’ and other like sessions are important to the profession, and we invite members of the ALA to join with us in future discussions as we continue to explore the many issues related to cultural diversity and multiculturalism.”
SEE: ALA Conference 2009: Organization Behind Islam Panel Issues Statement
“We thank all those who stood up for tolerance and mutual understanding to challenge Robert Spencer’s Islamophobic views,” said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, who had written to the ALA questioning why an anti-Islam bigot was invited to a panel on dispelling stereotypes about Islam.
SEE: CAIR-Chicago Asks Library Group to Drop Anti-Muslim Bigot From Panel
The panelists, who were not informed by the ALA that Spencer would be speaking, were informed for the first time by a whistleblower a few days ago.
“It is a shame the panel could not be held. The ALA has yet to acknowledge and apologize for blundering this important panel despite letters sent by the panelists, concerned librarians, CAIR, and a Chicago coalition of over 50 Muslim organizations,” Rehab said.
“The ALA is an organization that communities ought to celebrate. For this to happen, ALA decision makers must engage legitimate community representatives in future endeavors that directly affect their communities.”
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CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil rights group, which has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to promote justice, enhance the understanding of Islam, and empower American Muslims.
CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, 312.212.1520; or 202.870.0016; Reem Rahman, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: email@example.com, 312.212.1520