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Another anti-Muslim group wants to hold event at Trump’s Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago

An anti-Muslim group is planning to hold a private event at President Donald Trump’s private club, Mar-a-Lago, getting a permit only days before the Trump Organization canceled another such hate group’s plans to hold a gala there.

The Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based think tank whose founder erroneously called former President Barack Obama a Muslim, received a permit from the City of Palm Beach on Oct. 4, city officials said. The group wants to hold its event on Nov. 23, the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

It received the permit two days before the Trump Organization said the anti-Muslim group ACT for America would “absolutely not” be allowed to hold its annual gala at the Palm Beach club. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated ACT as a “hate group.”

ACT for America was advertising tickets on its website for the Mar-a-Lago gala, with seats starting at $1,500. The Trump Organization’s statement about the group not having its gala there came after the Miami Herald had published a story about the event.

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Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based think tank that has espoused anti-Muslim views. Miami Herald file photo, 1998

On Thursday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, called on the Trump Organization to cancel the Center for Security Policy event.

“The Trump Organization made the right decision to cancel a previous event hosted by an anti-Muslim hate group, and we call them to do so again,” said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw in a statement. “The President of the United States should not profit from a group that makes its money by demonizing an entire faith and whose founder traffics in widely-debunked conspiracy theories, including that former President Obama is Muslim and that mosques want to destroy western civilization from within.”

CAIR also said that Frank Gaffney, the center’s founder, still heads the organization, but the center’s current president and CEO Fred Fleitz said Thursday that is not true. The center’s website features numerous posts by Gaffney, including one posted on Wednesday, headlined, “LeBron’s Priceless Endorsement of Chinese Repression.”

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The Anti-Defamation League said Gaffney has promoted “a number of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories,” including the claim the U.S. government has been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the Center for Security Policy as a hate group.

“The Center for Security Policy has gone from a respected hawkish think tank focused on foreign affairs to a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States,” the SPLC said on its website.

Fleitz told the Miami Herald that while the center has “talked about radical Islam,” calling it anti-Muslim “is just not true.”

Fleitz said the SPLC has been “widely discredited” and that it is a “far-left organization that smears conservative groups.”

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to an email and a telephone call seeking comment.

Miami Herald Real Time Reporter Devoun Cetoute covers breaking news, Florida theme parks and general assignment. He attends the University of Florida and grew up in Miami. Theme parks are on his mind in and out of the office.
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