PHILADELPHIA, PA – January 8, 2024 – Islamists at the South Florida Muslim Federation (SFMF) will need to find another venue to host their Conference & Bazaar after the Marriott Coral Springs Hotel & Convention Center aborted their two-day event on Jan. 12-13 due to "significant undesirable interest."
This action followed the Middle East Forum's grassroots advocacy initiative, MEF Action, publishing an exposé of SFMF's conference. The report galvanized residents in Parkland and Coral Springs to take a stand and launch a petition. Business leaders and public officials threatened to terminate their relationships with the Marriott if the event proceeded as scheduled. These pressures convinced the hotel to rescind its contract with SFMF.
Billed as a "family-focused conference," the convention planned to assemble the region's Islamist mosques, charities, and political advocacy groups. Booked nearly a year in advance, the event was impressive in scale, with hundreds of expected attendees, including a handful of elected Florida officials, and thirty registered vendors.
SFMF leaders and speakers responded to the Oct. 7 massacre of Israeli civilians by voicing support for Hamas and promoting "resistance in all its forms" against Israel. The event was to feature a "Gaza" poetry contest and a youth seminar titled "Finding Hope from Our Past," which focused on the Islamic "conquests ... of Jerusalem."
SFMF's thirty-two-member organizations include: the Darul Uloom Institute, which has served as a place of worship for multiple Al Qaeda-linked terrorists; the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, whose founders are linked to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad; and Helping Hand for Relief and Development, an Islamist charity that has openly partnered with Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist organization responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Other scheduled speakers included social media influencer Yasemin Kanar, who recently repeated conspiracies about Jews controlling Hollywood and "promoting pedophilia," and activist Lobna Mulla, who has glorified masked Hamas terrorists.
Local activist Joe Kaufman, founder of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative, represented MEF in a meeting with Marriott Coral Springs general manager Mark Cherry. Kaufman and a delegation of community leaders met with Cherry on Dec. 29 to share their concerns about SFMF and its lineup of guest speakers.
"While we encourage and support free speech, it is our opinion that this type of rhetoric encourages violence against Jews," said Douglas Eaton, chairman of the Parkland Chamber of Commerce. Eaton told MEF that if the Marriott Coral Springs reschedules with SFMF, the Chamber of Commerce would cease doing business with the hotel.
In its response to the cancelation, SFMF denounced MEF's efforts as an "Islamophobic campaign" that "shamelessly defamed the entire South Florida Muslim community." Not surprisingly, it did not address the specific problems outlined by the Forum.
The Marriott's decision comes as hotel chains around the country have canceled events hosted by radical anti-Israel groups with connections to Hamas. Marriott-franchised locations in Virginia and Arizona have previously canceled CAIR fundraisers.
However, in contrast to those cases, when hotel spokespersons pointed to unspecified "threats" and "violent acts around the world," Marriott Coral Springs cited "significant undesirable interest" in booking the SFMF conference. That marks a major improvement in candor.
"The community said 'no' to bigotry and extremism, and 'no' to groups that advocate for violence and terrorism," said Benjamin Baird, director of MEF Action.
"Corporate hotel chains must adopt policies that blacklist groups promoting terrorism or embracing violent ideologies," says MEF Director Gregg Roman. "MEF will continue to challenge those that do not."
Launched in 2023, MEF Action is a grassroots organizing project that builds public support for MEF policy recommendations. Visit the MEF Action Center to receive action alerts and participate in campaigns.
The Middle East Forum, a non-profit organization, promotes American interests in the Middle East and protects Western civilization from Islamism. It does so through a combination of original ideas, focused activism, and funding allies. For more information, visit www.meforum.org.
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