I’m happy to yield the floor to my friends at South Dakota Voices for Peace to handle fact-checking the out-of-state anti-Islam speaker coming back to Aberdeen tomorrow (and making extra stops to bother folks in Rapid City and Watertown, apparently with failed U.S. House candidate Neal Tapio’s help) to further stir the local bigots:
Once again, South Dakota allies of ACT! for America, the largest anti-Muslim, anti- refugee and anti-immigrant grassroots organization in the United States, with an active chapter in Rapid City, are working together to tour Aynaz Anni Cyrus through rural parts of South Dakota. Hosted by Sen. Neal Tapio (R-Watertown), she is scheduled to attend Midwest Bible Camp, Main Hall (Watertown) Monday Sept 17, Northern State University (Aberdeen), Sept 18, and Landmark Community Church (Rapid City), Sept 20. Cyrus is a “former Muslim” and is listed as an Islamophobic provocateur for the blatantly bigoted message she spreads by drawing in crowds to hear her compelling childhood story of being sold as a child bride.
Some of Cyrus’ defamatory and inflammatory statements documented on YouTube, include titles like “To Be Raped Under Islam” and “The Solution to Stop Islam” which state:
- “I can promise you Islam cannot coexist with anything else, especially our Constitution…therefore they need to convert everyone or kill everyone or the nonbeliever for their goal to be achieved. So they are coming into our country to invade our country like they Europe right now. It’s basically an invasion…. These people are Muslim.”
- “Rape is part of Islam.”
- “When there is a mosque built in any area . . .it’s a sign of conquest… and represents 1,200 areas lost to Sharia.”
- “Islam is definitely at war against humanity.”
- “The reason for the existence of a woman in Islam is that she’s the seducer.”
In April 2018, Lori Miller, SDVFP board member, attended the Cyrus event and reported, “An audience member asked what the “halal” symbol on the yogurt she purchased at Costco meant. Cyrus responded, it means that 5% of the proceeds are going towards supporting a mosque and terrorism groups. Cyrus told the audience member she should find a new favorite yogurt.”
This is inflammatory, fear mongering and false. “Halal” in the culinary context means that there is no pork gelatin in the yogurts and both Jews practicing kosher and Muslims who eat halal can consume that product. Dannon and Chiobani are some of these brands and do not donate proceeds to fund terrorism.
“If true, Cyrus’ story is compelling but also opportunistic. The industry that fuels the flame of instilling fear of Muslims, immigrants and refugees is a $57 Million dollar industry and she reaps the benefits of this. She says she is a human rights activist, but as we are witnessing thousands of domestic violence victims present themselves at the US border seeking asylum, Cyrus has said nothing to protect these survivors. Attorney Jeff Sessions has announced the basic end for domestic violence survivors’ opportunity to apply for asylum, Cyrus has said nothing against this policy, yet she benefited from being able to seek asylum herself! And child brides are a rampant issue in the United States, with over 207,468 such marriages from 2010-2015. The majority of child brides are girls and from conservative Christian communities. Does she advocate for child brides in the US or blame Christianity for child rape in these marriages like she blames an entire religion for what she endured? Of course not. That is what makes her talks hateful and not really about human rights,“ emphasized executive director Taneeza Islam.
South Dakota Voices for Peace has reached out to the Muslim community in Aberdeen and Northern State University where the Tuesday, September 18, event will take place to ask that they assure the Muslim students, faculty, and staff on campus that bullying and threatening activities have no place on their campus.
“As Americans we hold dear the tenet of the First Amendment and free speech on public campuses, however protected hate speech has severe negative impact on the targeted population of this event and we, allies and people of conscience must assure our targeted communities are protected from harm,” emphasized Islam.
Exercising their First Amendment rights, Brown County Progressives for Change are organizing a peaceful protest outside the event on Northern State University’s Campus on Tuesday, September 18, at 6:30PM. Details can be found on their Facebook page.
If anyone is directly and negatively impacted by these events we encourage them to report issues to South Dakota Voices for Peace
South Dakota Voices for Peace’s mission is to empower South Dakotans with accurate information to fight Islamophobia and anti-immigrant bigotry in order to nurture informed, inclusive, and civically engaged communities[South Dakota Voices for Peace, press release, 2018.09.17].