They’re suing “a group of journalists and scholars who the Muslim leaders allege sought to ruin the reputations of the society and its leaders and prevent construction of a major mosque in Boston.” The discovery process should be most interesting indeed. I am glad to see Charles Jacobs saying that he will not be intimidated, because that is just what this suit, and so many others like it, tries to do. “Islamic Society expands libel suit,” from the Boston Globe, with thanks to MB:
Leaders of the Islamic Society of Boston broadened their defamation suit yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court to add conspiracy charges against a group of journalists and scholars who the Muslim leaders allege sought to ruin the reputations of the society and its leaders and prevent construction of a major mosque in Boston.
The suit expanded upon and incorporated two previously filed lawsuits — the first brought in February against WFXT-TV (Channel 25), and the second in May against Channel 25 and the Boston Herald. In those earlier suits, leaders of the Islamic Society charged that reports broadcast and published in 2003 and 2004 defamed them by falsely linking them to Islamic terrorist groups.
Yesterday’s filing alleged that several nonprofit advocacy groups, individuals, and reporters, acting out of alleged bias against Muslims, conspired to defame the society and its leaders.
Among newly named defendants:
Steven Emerson, a Washington-based writer, and his organization, The Investigative Project Inc.;
William R. Sapers, a member of the Board of Trustees of Roxbury Community College;
The David Project Inc., a Boston-based group that focuses on issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and its director of education, Anna Kolodner;
Citizens for Peace and Tolerance, a Cambridge-based group that has questioned whether the leaders of the mosque project were moderate Muslims; its president, Boston College political science professor Dennis Hale; and its director, Steven A. Cohen.
The Islamic Society of Boston is the city-designated developer of a $22 million mosque, which is under construction on land next to Roxbury Community College.
And here is a statement from the David Project:
Statement on the Islamic Society of Boston Lawsuit Against The David Project
The following is the statement of The David Project, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote a fair and honest discussion of the Middle East conflict, in response to the lawsuit that has been initiated against it and against one of its employees today by the Islamic Society of Boston:
There is a serious body of well-documented evidence that various individuals who have been affiliated and directly involved with the Islamic Society of Boston (“ISB”) have defended acts of terrorism, and have publicly engaged in the worst sort of anti-Semitic and other hate speech. The David Project is one of many organizations and citizens that have asked questions about that very troubling evidence, and that have sought answers to those questions.
It would have been hoped that the ISB would provide those answers. Instead, the ISB has chosen a different course, one apparently designed not only to avoid answering those questions but to stop people from asking them.
Backed by what appears to be unlimited financial support from unknown funders, the ISB has initiated a lawsuit against citizens and organizations that had the temerity to raise concerns that the ISB and others would prefer not to have raised. The ISB lawsuit apparently seeks to punish those citizens and organizations for raising these issues, and to discourage others from doing so.
The ISB lawsuit is an ugly and obvious attempt to bully American citizens into not exercising their fundamental First Amendment rights: the right to engage in free speech, the right to express views to governmental bodies about important public policy issues, and the right to communicate with other citizens. The ISB appears to hope that in forcing these citizens to spend many tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees defending themselves, it will frighten others out of exercising their own First Amendment rights, which all Americans hold dear.
“No one who cares about the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to express concerns, to ask questions and to comment on issues of public policy, can view the ISB lawsuit as anything other than an assault on the First Amendment”, said the President of The David Project, Dr. Charles Jacobs. “We do not intend to be intimidated, and do not believe others will be.”
The David Project expects that the Massachusetts courts will find that the ISB claims against it and one of its employees will be found to be factually and legally frivolous, and will be dismissed. In the meantime, it will refrain from commenting directly on the lawsuit. Inquiries should be directed to its counsel, Jeffrey Robbins, at Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo P.C., at 617-542-6000.