Published October 25, 2011
A group dedicated to keeping strict Muslim law, known as Shariah, from being established in the United States had its conference venue canceled after the hotel raised safety concerns.
The Tennessee Freedom Coalition was set to meet Nov. 11 at the Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. The group called the 300-person event the Preserving Freedom conference, and said it was the first of its kind in the nation that tackled the topic of “Islamization of America,” according to the group’s website.
Although the hotel received the deposit last week, management promptly returned the money after learning that two controversial speakers planned to attend the event.
“Our decision has nothing to do about the conference’s content,” Steve Eckley, the senior vice president of hotels for Amerimar Enterprises, the hotel’s parent company. “This has to do with the security of our staff and clients.”
Eckley said the hotel has received a plethora of discouraging phone calls and emails about authors Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer addressing the conference. The two are known for their strong views of the threat of the spread of Shariah throughout the U.S.
The group bristled at the hotel’s decision and said the move symbolizes Shariah’s threat to free speech, The Tennessean reported.
“I feel the Hutton is now under Shariah law,” Lou Ann Zelenik, a member of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition, told the paper.
The hotel’s decision was reportedly praised by the Islamic Center of Nashville, which said the conference would have promoted bigotry.
“We can just hope they don’t keep spewing hatred against Muslims,” Amir Arain, a spokesman from the mosque, told the paper.
The chairman of the Preserving Freedom conference told the paper that organizers are scouting for a new venue, but so far, no luck. Conference organizers are considering legal action against the hotel for breach for contract.