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Brigitte Gabriel (Arabic: بريجيت غابرييل; born Hanan Qahwaji, 21 October 1964) is a Lebanese-American conservative author, anti-Islam activist, and founder of the anti-Muslim group ACT! for America.
Brigitte Gabriel speaking in 2016
October 21, 1964
|Residence||Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.|
|Nationality||Lebanese and American|
|Other names||Nour Semaan|
(alternative nom de plume)
|Occupation||Author, political activist, lecturer, journalist|
|Website||American Congress for Truth, ACT! for America|
Brigitte Gabriel was born in the Marjeyoun District of Lebanon to a Maronite Christian couple, a first and only child after over twenty years of marriage. She says that during the Lebanese Civil War, Islamic militants launched an assault on a Lebanese military base near her family's house and destroyed her home. Gabriel, who was ten years old at the time, was injured by shrapnel in the attack. She says that she and her parents were forced to live underground in all that remained, an 8-by-10-foot (2.4 by 3.0 m) bomb shelter for seven years, with only a small kerosene heater, no sanitary systems, no electricity or running water, and little food. She says she had to crawl in a roadside ditch to a spring for water to evade Muslim snipers.
At one point in the spring of 1978, a bomb explosion caused her and her parents to become trapped in the shelter for two days. They were eventually rescued by three Christian militia fighters, one of whom befriended Gabriel but was later killed by a land mine.
Gabriel wrote that in 1978 a stranger warned her family of an impending attack by the Islamic militias on all Christians. She says that her life was saved when the Israeli army invaded Lebanon in Operation Litani. Later, when her mother was seriously injured and taken to an Israeli hospital, Gabriel was surprised by the humanity shown by the Israelis, in contrast to the constant propaganda against the Jews she saw as a child. She said of her experience:
I was amazed that the Israelis were providing medical treatment to Palestinian and Muslim gunmen...These Palestinians and Muslims were sworn, mortal enemies, dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of Jews. Yet, Israeli doctors and nurses worked feverishly to save their lives. Each patient was treated solely according to the nature of his or her injury. The doctor treated my mother before he treated an Israeli soldier lying next to her because her injury was more severe than his. The Israelis did not see religion, political affiliation, or nationality. They saw only people in need, and they helped.
Using the pseudonym Nour Semaan, Gabriel was a news anchor for World News, an Arabic-language evening news broadcast of Middle East Television, which "was then run by Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network to spread his politically conservative, Pentecostal faith in the Middle East." The broadcasts covered Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Gabriel reported on the Israeli withdrawal from central Lebanon, the Israeli Security Zone (occupied South Lebanon), and the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza. She moved to Israel before emigrating in 1989 to the United States.
ACT! for America
Her organization, ACT! for America, has been described by The New York Times as drawing "on three rather religious and partisan streams in American politics: evangelical Christian conservatives, hard-line defenders of Israel (both Jews and Christians) and Tea Party Republicans " and as anti-Islamic. According to The Washington Post, the organization "touted as its “first accomplishment” its 2008 campaign to shut down a Minnesota Islamic school."
Opinions on Islam
In 2009, Gabriel stated Islam "promotes intolerance and violence", and that "Moderate Muslims must organize and engage those enlightened, educated and westernized Muslims in the community to begin a dialogue to discuss the possibility of reform in Islam just as Christianity and Judaism have been reformed." She says that there is a "cancer called Islamofascism" that permeates a Muslim world in which "extreme is mainstream." In June 2014, Gabriel said that "The radicals are estimated to be between 15 to 25 percent" worldwide. In an interview with The Australian Jewish News, she stated that "A practising Muslim who upholds the tenets of the Koran -- it's not that simple -- a practising Muslim who goes to mosque every Friday, prays five times a day, and who believes that the Koran is the word of God, and who believes that Mohammed is the perfect man and [four inaudible words] is a radical Muslim."
Regarding the two-state solution, Gabriel states: "Forcing Israel to accept a two-state solution is not going to work unless the Palestinians first are forced to clean up their act and eliminate hatred from their schoolbooks, teach tolerance to their people, and preach acceptance of Israel and the Jews as a neighbor."
Iran–Israel proxy conflict
In a speech at a conference sponsored by the UN Permanent Mission of Palau and the Aja Eze Foundation, Gabriel said that she viewed Israel as the vanguard in the world's fight against Islamic Terrorism, equating Israel's fight against Hamas and Hezbollah with the World's fight against the Islamic State.
Liberal opinion editor Michael Young of NOW Lebanon and Franklin Lamb of Al-Ahram Weekly claimed that Gabriel over-simplifies the conflict in South Lebanon as a Muslim war against the Christians. Lamb alleged that she lived relatively normally during the Lebanese Civil War; Young, by contrast, described Gabriel's account of her experiences as "overdone" and described her persona and campaign as a "con act."
The Southern Poverty Law Center claimed that ACT! for America as "the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in the country," and the Council on American-Islamic Relations has described it as "one of the main sources of growing anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation". According to The Guardian, the organization has been "widely identified as anti-Muslim".
According to Peter Beinart of The Atlantic, "the organization has condemned cities with large Muslim populations for serving halal food in public schools. In 2013, its Houston chapter urged members to “protest” food companies that certify their meat as compliant with Islamic dietary law. ACT! for America tries to dissuade Jews and Christians from conducting interfaith dialogue with Muslims. And in state after state, it has lobbied state legislatures and school boards to purge textbooks of references that create “an inaccurate comparison between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.”"
According to Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times, Gabriel "presents a portrait of Islam so thoroughly bent on destruction and domination that it is unrecognizable to those who study or practice the religion." Goodstein says that Gabriel "insists that she is singling out only “radical Islam” or Muslim “extremists” — not the vast majority of Muslims or their faith. And yet, in her speeches and her two books, she leaves the opposite impression."
BuzzFeed News described her as "the most influential leader in America’s increasingly influential anti-Islam lobby." The Washington Post describes her two books as "alarmist tracts about Islam." Peter Beinart of The Atlantic describes her as "America's most prominent anti-Muslim activist."
Stephen Lee, a publicist at St. Martin's Press for Gabriel's second book, has called her views "extreme", and Deborah Solomon of The New York Times Magazine, who interviewed Gabriel in August 2008, described her as a "radical Islamophobe". According to Clark Hoyt from The New York Times, over 250 people wrote in to protest that label in the days that followed. Hussein Ibish, a Senior Resident Scholar at The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said that her "agenda is pure unadulterated hatred" and that she has "a pathological hatred of Muslims and other Arabs". Gabriel disputes the charge, and has said that she does not believe that all Muslims are the problem.
Controversy at speaking engagements
When Gabriel was invited to speak as part of a lecture series organized by Duke University's Jewish community in October 2004, many in attendance were angered by her referring to Arabs as "barbarians." The Freeman Centre for Jewish Life at Duke University later apologized for her comments. Following her speech at women's campaign event for the Jewish Federation of Ottawa (JFO) in November 2008, many in attendance registered their protests, leading Mitchell Bellman, president and CEO of the JFO, to write a letter in which he acknowledged that Gabriel made, "unacceptable gross generalizations of Arabs and Muslims," distancing his organization from her views.
In 2007 at the Christians United for Israel annual conference, Gabriel delivered a speech that included the following:
The difference, my friends, between Israel and the Arab world is the difference between civilization and barbarism. It's the difference between good and evil [applause]... this is what we're witnessing in the Arabic world, They have no soul, they are dead set on killing and destruction. And in the name of something they call "Allah" which is very different from the God we believe... [applause] because our God is the God of love.
This speech was characterized by journalist Bruce Wilson as being "hate speech" and stated that Brigitte Gabriel "paints a wide swath of humanity as subhuman", comparing her speech to Goebbel's propaganda. In March 2011 while being interviewed by Eliot Spitzer on CNN, Gabriel defended the speech, saying "I was talking about how Palestinian mothers are encouraging their children to go out and blow themselves up to smithereens just to kill Christians and Jews. And it was in that context that I – that I contrasted the difference between Israel and the Arabic world, was the difference between democracy and barbarism."
- Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America, New York City, New York, United States: St. Martin's Press, 2006, ISBN 0-312-35837-7
- They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It, New York City, New York, United States: St. Martin's Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-312-38363-3
- "Brigitte Gabriel, Greg Krentzman, Moti Kahana, Leo Melamed Special Temple Of The Arts Yom Kippur Guests". The Beverly Hills Courier. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
Brigitte Gabriel—Born in Lebanon, Virginia Beach-based Gabriel is the founder and president of ACT for America, the nation’s largest non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots national security organization with 300,000 members and more than 1,000 chapters around the country focused on education, engaging and mobilizing citizens and elected officials to impact legislative outcomes to protect America.
- Goodstein, 1=Laurie (7 March 2011). "Drawing U.S. Crowds With Anti-Islam Message". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
- "The dark angel Gabriel" (Commentary). NOW News. Mercury Media. 3 November 2011.
- Beinart, Peter (2018-03-15). "Mike Pompeo's Allies on the Anti-Muslim Right". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
- "Mike Pompeo, Trump's pick to replace Tillerson, has long worried Muslim advocates".
- "Muslim lawmakers call on senators to oppose Pompeo confirmation, citing record".
- Obeidallah, Dean (2018-03-13). "Mike Pompeo's Disturbingly Consistent Friendships with Anti-Muslim Bigots". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
- Gabriel 2006, p. 4
- Gabriel 2006, p. 29
- Deena Yellin (25 June 2009). "An inside ally". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- Gabriel 2006, p. 44
- Brigitte Gabriel Heritage Foundation speech, YouTube, 18 October 2006
- Gabriel 2006, pp. 49–50
- Debra Rubin (7 November 2016). "Lebanese Christian expert on terrorism to help honor her IDF saviors". NJJN.
- Gabriel 2006, p. 51
- Gabriel 2006, p. 67
- "Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America". Heritage Live – Events. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
Brigitte Gabriel lost her childhood to militant Islam.– speaker profile from lecture series
- Gabriel 2006, p. 77
- Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson (March 2, 2015). "Brigitte Gabriel: A Remarkable Fighter For Israel".
- Gabriel 2006, p. 95
- Lamb, Franklin (6–12 March 2008), "Lost from Lebanon", Al-Ahram (887 ed.), Cairo, archived from the original on 6 August 2009, retrieved 10 February 2010
- Michael Young (11 March 2011). "The Dark angel Gabriel". NOW Lebanon.
- Beinart, Peter. "America's Most Prominent Anti-Muslim Activist Is Welcome at the White House". The Atlantic. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Protests by an anti-Islamic alt-right group are moving online after Boston counterprotest". Newsweek. 22 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
- "Despite Earlier Denials, The White House Now Says An Anti-Muslim Leader Had A Meeting There". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "US's largest anti-Muslim group cancels 67 rallies after seeing size of anti-fascist crowd in Boston". The Independent. 22 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
- "How a series of fringe anti-Muslim conspiracy theories went mainstream — via Donald Trump". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "FrontPageMagazine.com". Symposium: Homegrown Jihadis. FrontPage Magazine. Retrieved 9 May 2009. Symposium held in January 2009.
- "Trump's security picks deepen Muslim worries about an anti-Islamic White House". Washington Post. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- LaCasse, Alexander (13 January 2015). "How many Muslim extremists are there? Just the facts, please". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- Byers, Dylan (17 June 2014). "Dana Milbank's Heritage disaster". On Media, where politics meets press. Politico.com. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
- "The world according to Brigitte Gabriel (June 6, 2007)". 7 September 2007. Archived from the original on 7 September 2007.
- "UN houses, but does not sponsor, anti-Semitism conference". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Who is the Real Brigitte Gabriel?". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- Tucker, Neely; Tucker, Neely (1 October 2015). "Among Republicans, polls show, fear of Islam is always on 'high simmer'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- Beckett, Lois (21 March 2017). "Leader of group widely identified as anti-Muslim meets with White House". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Brigitte Gabriel Wants You To Fight Islam". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
- Hoyt, Clark (21 August 2008). "A Radical Islamophobe?". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
- Sucharov, Mira (18 December 2009). "Use the anti-Semitism test". Jewish Independent. Archived from the original on 19 October 2010.
- "Anti-Islamic groups go mainstream". POLITICO. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- Bruce Wilson (15 August 2007). "McCain and Lieberman Frolic At CUFI's Festival Of Hate". Talk2Action. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
- CNN.com Transcripts (8 March 2011). "Brigitte Gabriel's Anti-Islam Message on Radical Muslims". CNN. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Brigitte Gabriel|
- American Congress For Truth website
- Presentation to the Heritage Foundation
- "Polarized points of view"[permanent dead link], National Post
- Brigitte Gabriel's article about her lecture in Memphis: Muslims Muzzling Memphis