A group of Islamic organizations has lost another battle in its “lawfare” against freedom of speech across the nation with the rejection by the Texas Supreme Court of a demand that it review the writings of an Internet journalist.
The state’s highest court rejected a petition submitted by the Muslims to review a ruling from the 2nd District Court of Appeals that dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought against Internet journalist Joe Kaufman.
As WND reported, Kaufman wrote an article for the online FrontPage Magazine exposing terrorist connections in two American Muslim groups. He then was sued by a swarm of Islamic interests, none of which were even mentioned in the article.
The lawsuit technique is called by some “legal jihad” or “Islamist lawfare.” The Thomas More Law Center, which is representing Kaufman in the lawsuit, explained Muslim advocates are using the strategy to bully online journalists into silence.
“It is gratifying to see a courageous citizen like Joe Kaufman withstand the legal intimidation of a well-financed lawsuit aimed at shutting down his right to speak out against the threats of radical Islam,” said Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center.
Madhi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Freedom Foundation, a political arm of the Muslim American Society in Dallas, called on his audience to “lawyer up” and fund additional cases, Thompson explained.
The case against Kaufman is an example of Muslim groups using American laws and its legal system to silence critics and promote the Islamic agenda in America, said Thompson.
A similar case has been filed over the publication of the book “Muslim Mafia,” which documents exhaustively Islamic subversion of America through the Council on American-Islamic Relations and related groups spawned by the international Muslim Brotherhood, the parent organization of al-Qaida and Hamas.
The book is the product of a daring six-month undercover operation by three young investigators who served as CAIR interns.
In the Texas dispute, the Thomas More Law Center has worked with Texas attorney Thomas S. Brandon Jr. and Los Angeles attorneys William Becker Jr. and Manuel S. Klausner.
As WND reported, Kaufman’s troubles began in 2007 when he wrote the article criticizing two Islamic groups for hosting a “Muslim Family Day” at Six Flags over Texas, a Dallas-area amusement park. The Islamic Circle of North America and the Islamic Association of North Texas, Kaufman revealed, funneled money to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and al-Qaida.
“While using images of cartoon characters and sponsoring events at amusement parks may seem innocuous, the danger that the Islamic Circle of North America poses to the United States, Canada and others is clear,” Kaufman wrote. “As a faction of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization looks to impose Islam on Western society, and as a donor to a terrorist organization, the group is a willing participant in the act of violence.”
And while neither the ICNA nor the IANT claimed libel, seven other Muslim organizations – the Islamic Society of Arlington, Texas, Islamic Center of Irving, DFW Islamic Educational Center, Inc., Dar Elsalam Islamic Center, Al Hedayah Islamic Center, Islamic Association of Tarrant County and Muslim American Society of Dallas – cried foul, bringing the defamation suit against Kaufman.
Thompson described the legal claims as “frivolous” and said it is “an example of the legal jihad being waged by radical Islamic organizations throughout our nation.”
“These lawsuits are aimed at stifling the free speech rights of Americans who dare to expose their agenda. They intentionally file lawsuits to intimidate reporters who seek to expose their agenda. By making it costly to defend against their lawsuits, they hope journalists will refrain from writing about the threat to our nation,” he said.
The organizations suing Kaufman also asked the court to deny him certain legal protections granted to traditional journalists, claiming that as an Internet writer, his right to seek a quick and inexpensive dismissal of the case didn’t apply.
The case set up a battle, not only between Islamic advocates and opponents who question their political connections, but also between organizations in the burgeoning field of Internet journalism that often investigate stories the mainstream media ignores.
A ruling from a three-judge panel of the Texas Second Court of Appeals found that not only did the Muslim organizations have no basis for claiming defamation – since Kaufman didn’t name or point to them in his article – it also declared online journalists merit the same status and legal protections their more traditional media peers enjoy.
The opinion of the court, written by Justice Terrie Livingston, overturned a lower court’s denial of Kaufmann’s motion to dismiss the libel claim before a time-consuming and expensive trial.
Listing seven different reasons for the court’s decision, Justice Livingston wrote, “We conclude that an Internet author’s status as a member of the electronic media should be adjudged by the same principles that courts should use to determine the author’s status under more traditional media.”
Furthermore, the court ruled, the Muslim organizations’ contention that an Internet author could “never” qualify as a member of the media “would make as little sense as an inverse rule that a print author (such as someone distributing their own photocopied musings) would always qualify as such.”
The full appellate court also affirmed the decision. The Texas Supreme Court’s decision means it’s the third straight strike for the plaintiffs in the case. Thomas More said the only remaining appellate option left appears to be a claim submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.