National Islamic group calls on Lt. Gov. Forest to skip Charlotte event

A national Islamic group is calling on North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest to cancel his appearance next week at a Charlotte event the group says features “Islamophobic” speakers.

Forest, a Republican, is scheduled to appear at the event sponsored by the American Renewal Project on Oct. 3 and 4. The event is billed as “a complimentary private gathering of NC church and ministry leaders.”

In addition to Forest, speakers include William Federer and E.W. Jackson. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Federer an “anti-Muslim activist.” Last year The Hill newspaper said Jackson spoke about the arrival of new Muslim members of Congress.

“The floor of Congress is now going to look like an Islamic republic,” he said. “We are a Judeo-Christian country.”

“By sharing the stage with anti-Muslim speakers, the lieutenant governor would legitimize the bigoted views espoused by the speakers and delegitimize the Republican Party’s claim of supporting religious freedom for all,” Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Robert McCaw said in a statement.

Forest is a GOP candidate for governor hoping to challenge Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

“It is not controversial to speak to church leaders about doing good in their communities,” said Andrew Dunn, campaign spokesman. “It says a lot about today’s media that they choose to take their lead from discredited organizations like CAIR without digging into their background.”

The Anti-Defamation League has called CAIR an anti-Israel group. Critics have linked it to international terrorism, which CAIR has denied.

Forest’s mother, former U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte, often found herself at odds with local Muslims. She once accused CAIR of planting spies by trying to get Muslim interns hired in congressional offices

In 2009 she wrote a foreword to “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Seeking to Islamize America.” The book accused CAIR of supporting international jihad.

Jim Morrill, who grew up near Chicago, covers state and local politics. He’s worked at the Observer since 1981 and taught courses on North Carolina politics at UNC Charlotte and Davidson College. To subscribe to The Observer, go to: www.charlotteobserver.com/jim.