HomeCommunity IssuesHyatt Hotel in Virginia Refuses to Cancel Anti-Muslim Conference

Hyatt Hotel in Virginia Refuses to Cancel Anti-Muslim Conference

Hyatt Crystal CityOn September 4th and 5th, the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel — located in Arlington, Virginia — will be hosting the Act For America (ACT) conference that will celebrate their 10 year anniversary.

ACT is considered the largest anti-Muslim hate group in the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. They currently boast 750,000 members.

The organization’s mission, according to their Twitter page, is to promote national security and defeat terrorism. Their mission, however, is rooted in anti-Muslim sentiment and bigotry, perceiving Muslims in America as a threat to national security.

ACT is notoriously known for delivering Islamophobic conspiracy theories to the public.

Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of the organization, claims that the entire Muslim American population is secretly involved in a nefarious political agenda to overthrow the U.S. government and to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia law — according to Carbonated TV.

Gabriel also portrays all Muslims as potential terrorists, stating in a 2007 interview that “Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim. She has also stated that “practicing Muslims, who believes in the teachings of the Quran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America” — reports the Huffington Post.

Adding to Gabriel’s promotion of bigotry, ACT held dozens of March Against Sharia rallies across the country, which attracted a diverse array of hate groups. Neo-nazis, White supremacists, and armed anti-government militia members — according to the Huffington Post.

The Hyatt refuses to comply with demands from Muslim American advocacy and civil rights group to cancel the event.

Derrick Morrow, the Vice President and spokesman of the Hyatt Crystal City Hotel, claims that the conference will be held because it “does not unlawfully discriminate against groups who wish to hold lawful meetings at the hotel” — according to the Huffington Post.

The Huffington Post, alongside a number of media outlets, interpret his statement as a misrepresentation of civil rights law.

Morrow’s statement implies that it is illegal to refuse organizations, regardless of their political beliefs, from holding conferences at his establishment.

Civil rights organizations have taken action to debunk Morrow’s statement. Muslim Advocates, an organization that counters Muslim hate in America, claims that there are no laws in Virginia and on the federal level that require the Hyatt to host events by organizations like ACT.

In response to Morrow’s statement, Scott Simpson, the public advocacy director for Muslim Advocates, states that “It’s deeply troubling that a major company like Hyatt would so grossly misstate its civil rights obligations. Hyatt is trying to turn civil rights law on its head in order to justify hosting a group dedicated to advancing bigotry” — according to Simpson’s press release.

Muslim Advocates further counters Morrow’s claim by mentioning that major hospitality companies such as Airbnb and Hilton have refused to host White supremacists and members of other hate groups.

The DCist reports that the Hyatt will continue to host the conference, despite increasing pressure to cancel, to pay homage to the First Amendment right to free speech.

In an email to the DCist, another spokesperson for the Hyatt writes that “We believe Hyatt hotels have a responsibility to continue providing a forum for people to respectfully and peacefully exercise their first amendment right to free speech, so long as in doing so they do not endanger any of our guests or colleagues”.  

Furthermore, the spokesperson claims that “Hyatt has made the decision not to discriminate against groups who meet peacefully simply because we disagree with their messaging or because their values are different than ours.”

Muslim Advocates invites civil rights organizations, stakeholders, and concerned citizens to sign a petition to stop the Hyatt from holding the conference.

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