PHILADELPHIA – The Texas Court of Appeals for the Second District on June 25, 2009, dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by several Dallas-area Muslim organizations against Joe Kaufman, an investigative journalist for Front Page Magazine, the founder of Americans Against Hate, and a client of the Middle East Forum's Legal Project.
The case concerns an article by Kaufman published on September 28, 2007, at FrontPageMag.com, "Fanatic Muslim Family Day" in which he alerted readers to a forthcoming event, "Muslim Family Day," at the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park hosted by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Islamic Association of North Texas (IANT). Kaufman called ICNA "a radical Muslim organization that has physical ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and financial ties to Hamas" and stated that, "ICNA has also been involved in the financing of Al-Qaeda." On October 14, 2007 Kaufman led a lawful and peaceful protest against ICNA outside the amusement park.
Seven Dallas-area Muslim groups responded by filing a lawsuit and restraining order against Mr. Kaufman – despite his article not even mentioning them and his telling the court he had "no knowledge that the majority of the entities even existed."
In dismissing the lawsuit on appeal, the Court agreed with Kaufman that:
There is simply no indication to a reasonable reader of Kaufman's article that "those involved" meant the sponsors of the event other than ICNA or IANT, because the article did not inform the reader that there were any such other sponsors.
In his press release, Kaufman, who received financial assistance from the Middle East Forum's Legal Project, said that the case against him was "entirely frivolous" from the start, and that the dismissal represents a victory for freedom of speech. Indeed, the Court noted "the inherent public concern in the terrorism issues he reports and opines on."
Reacting to the dismissal, Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes said, "It is reassuring to see so obvious an instance of a predatory lawsuit rejected by the court. But it is equally dismaying to note that an appellate court had to reverse the trial judge's mishandling of the case, at considerable cost to Joe Kaufman and to freedom of expression about Islamism and terrorism."
Legal Project director Brooke Goldstein, a practicing attorney, stated that "The case against Kaufman exemplifies how, despite First Amendment protections, American citizens are targeted with lawsuits designed to punish public dialogue about radical Islam and terrorist financing. I am thrilled that the appellate judge recognized the absurdity of the plaintiffs' claims and that Kaufman can continue writing without legal distractions. True justice, however, requires the plaintiffs to cover Kaufman's legal fees."
The Legal Project, an activity of the Middle East Forum, is dedicated to legally and financially assisting parties wrongfully sued for speaking out against radical Islam, terrorism and its sources of financing.
For more information, contact Brooke Goldstein