THE MANAGER OF A PROMINENT Nashville hotel cancelled a contract with a conservative foundation to hold a conference this weekend on radical Islam, apparently after learning that the group would feature a keynote address by controversial Dutch parliamentarian and filmmaker, Geert Wilders.
Muslim groups succeeded in preventing Wilders from screening "Fitna," his 15-minute movie on radical Islam, in the House of Lords this February, on claims it was insulting to Muslims, and dogged him during a recent U.S. tour as well.
Thomas A. Negri, managing director of Loew's Vanderbilt Hotel and Office complex in Nashville, told Newsmax on Wednesday that he had taken the extraordinary step of cancelling the conference at the last minute "for the health, safety and well-being of our guests and employees." Negri refused to say why he felt the conference would adversely affect the "health, safety and well-being" of the hotel's guests and employees, except to refer to the website of the New English Review, the group organizing the conference.
The website features articles that warn about radical Islam written by activists, journalists and scholars, including former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, and former Muslim scholar, Ibn Warraq.
One article, written by a retired U.S. army intelligence officer, Jerome Gordon, warns of the growing problems caused by the recent influence of several thousand Somali Muslim refugees who have come to work for a nearby Tysons Food plant to replace illegal Hispanic meat packers.
Negri appeared at a 2003 pro-immigration event on the same dias with a well-known Somali warlord, Gordon told Newsmax. In a written statement to the conference organizers, Negri said that the hotel had "not received any information related to a specific security threat concerning this event," and declined to provide any justification for cancelling it at the last minute. One of the conference organizers told Newsmax on Wednesday that the group was considering a lawsuit against Negri and the Loew's hotel chain for "unlawful breach of contract."
Negri also serves on the board of advisors of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, TIRRC, an activist group that states its mission "is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice" and "defend their rights." The group boasts of having helped to defeat an "English only" amendment this January that would have required all Nashville government communications to be in English.
Earlier this month, the group won an award from the Migration Policy Institute, which is funded by grants form the J.M. Kaplan Fund, a left-wing group that also funds the ACLU, the Tides Foundation, the Tides Center, the Sierra Club, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other left-wing causes.
The award singles out TIRRC for its "Welcoming Tennessee Initiative," to "foster constructive public dialogue on immigration within the state."
When asked if he objected to Geert Wilders appearance at the conference, Negri refused to comment. In a recent interview with FoxNews, Wilders complained that Europe "has pampered" Muslim immigrants. "If you want to come and stay here, that's okay, but only if you adhere to our values, our principles, our laws... and our constitution," he said. "With all the tolerance we are having, we are also tolerant to the intolerant."