Showdown over Sharia at conservative conference

You may recall the spat within the US Right back in January when mad Frank Gaffney, who has played a leading role in the promotion of anti-Sharia paranoia in the United States, claimed that the Conservative Political Action Conference had been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood with the assistance of right-wingers like anti-tax campaigner Grover Norquist.

Over at Religion Dispatches Sarah Posner reports on a discussion panel at this weekend’s Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington which featured a confrontation between Frank Gaffney and another conservative, Marshall Breger, who has been critical of Gaffney’s anti-Sharia scaremongering. Posner writes:

Ironically enough, the panel followed one on alleged anti-evangelical bigotry, though few if any seemed to grasp that irony, with the possible exception of Breger. He led off, reiterating his position that shari’ah is not the threat some of his fellow conservatives assert. The moderator, neo-conservative conspiracy theorist Kenneth Timmerman, cut Breger off when he tried to defend himself against Gaffney. Gaffney, who insisted that even conservatives fail to understand the threat of a political, legal, and military takeover by shari’ah, at one point shouted “Rubbish!” in reaction to Breger. Gaffney’s fear-mongering knows no bounds, as he asserted that “if we don’t wake up, we will soon be like Britain . . . or even Saudi Arabia.” He had support on the panel, too, with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Erik Stakelback calling him “the Paul Revere of calling out the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The audience was clearly in Gaffney’s camp, with murmurs of approval and even amens. One woman said she was from Minnesota, where “we practically have a Muslim state,” and fretted that Rep. Keith Ellison, who is a Muslim, adopted a Scandanavian name to mask his Muslim identity. She asked about something she’d “heard” about a “Muslim flag” being raised over the White House; Gaffney affirmed her paranoia, saying, “it is certainly possible we’d have a Muslim flag flying over the White House.” After laying into others in the conservative movement and accusing Norquist of being a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer, Gaffney expressed hope that the Faith and Freedom Coalition would “take up the fight against shari’ah.”

Posner spoke to Marshall Breger afterwards. He accused US conservative leaders of not “clamping down on extremists on their side”, adding: “They should be saying it’s not American to oppose an entire religion.”