October 28, 2009
CAIR official disrupts free speech conference, ejected by Capitol Hill police
An intern for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was ejected today from a conference held at the US Capitol Visitors Center Congressional Auditorium after behaving in a threatening manner and repeatedly violating conference rules by attempting to record conference speakers who have been the subject of death threats by Muslims. The CAIR official, Iyad Awadallah of Boca Raton, Florida, was ejected from the conference and escorted from the premise by Capitol Hill police.
Awadallah showed up at the International Legal Conference on Freedom of Speech and Religion this morning sponsored by the International Free Press Society and the Liberty Legal Project International and immediately began videotaping the proceedings. He was approached by conference officials who told him that the conference registration (which was free and open to the public) required that no recordings or photographs would be allowed because of safety concerns for some of the conference speakers. He was also spotted videotaping the conference registration table to record the names of conference attendees and speakers, which conference organizers were concerned would be used to threaten and intimidate the attendees. He claimed to be a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University conducting research for his thesis rather than an agent provocateur sent by a terrorist front group.
After Awadallah was warned that video and audio recordings were prohibited, he again turned on his video recorder and placed it on the floor to audio record the session. US Capitol police were contacted, and the CAIR intern was removed from the event. Awadallah was inside the auditorium less than 10 minutes and was ejected just before a speech by US Senator Jim DeMint.
Within the hour, CAIR issued a press release and an editorial by CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad attacking the conference and making accusations about the speakers. The press release claimed that Awadallah was told by one conference participant that “we want to cut their [Muslims’] necks off.” However, Awadallah entered the auditorium during one of the sessions and never had the opportunity to speak with any of the conference attendees.
The CAIR press release also made false representations about the supposed remarks of one of today’s scheduled speakers, Pamela Geller of Atlasshrugs.com. There is one problem, however, with CAIR’s version of events – Geller had already left town and didn’t speak at the conference today.
Unfortunately for CAIR, sending a hapless intern to take on a group of high-powered international free speech lawyers may not have been the smartest move. Maybe next time they won’t send a boy to do a man’s job.