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Hate Group Concerns Dominate Public Hearing for Woodland Park Parcel

by Dave Emke — January 23, 2017 at 2:45 pm 53 Comments

Woodland Park Project

Concerns over the ties between real estate company Tishman Speyer and an anti-Muslim hate group dominated discussion during a recent public hearing about property development near the Herndon Metro.

Those concerns now appear to be a thing of the past, however, as the company has ended its business with The Clarion Project. The decision came last week following pressure from the interfaith community, some of which was seen during the Woodland Park hearing.

Tishman Speyer owns the property, located to the west of Monroe Street and south of the Dulles Toll Road, that is up for discussion. It also leased D.C. office space to The Clarion Project, a group that has created and distributed a number of anti-Muslim films and other materials, until it severed the contract last week.

The Clarion Project is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Speakers at the Jan. 11 public hearing included Colin Christopher, the deputy director of government affairs for Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church. Christopher said his mosque wanted the planning commission to delay the vote and take a stand against Tishman Speyer, who he said had to that point refused to address its relationship with The Clarion Project.

“If you don’t think this is a big deal, I’d like you to imagine hundreds of people and faith leaders — maybe from your church or synagogue or mosque — at the next meeting, standing in front of the bulldozers with the local news documenting what’s going on,” Christopher said. “We have that power and we will use it if we have to.”

Christopher said Islamophobia is gaining momentum in the United States and it is the responsibility of citizens and government officials to fight it. His words were echoed by Jeanne Trabulsi, a teacher from Arlington who followed him to the podium.

“Tishman Speyer has chosen to ignore clergy and other citizens who have reached out and who are concerned that allowing a hate group to exist and function in our midst is corrosive to our sense of well-being and to the well-being of others,” she said. “I ask that the board postpone approval of this project until Tishman Speyer becomes a good global citizen.”

Alison Glick, of the DC-Metro chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, also addressed the commission in support of the Muslim community. She said her group had protested at the Pennsylvania Avenue office building in December and 30 interfaith clergy had sent a letter to Tishman Speyer asking them to evict The Clarion Project.

“We want you to know that we understand how important this development project is,” Glick told the planning commission about the Woodland Park Parcel. “But the relationship that we have with the Muslim community… is also important.”

On Jan. 17, the Jewish Voice for Peace said the testimony at the Woodland Park Parcel public hearing was what forced Tishman Speyer’s hand to make its decision regarding The Clarion Group.

“The turning point in the campaign came when JVP DC-Metro partnered with leaders from the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia. The Islamic and Jewish organizations collaborated to challenge a major Tishman Speyer development project that was before the Fairfax County Planning Commission. Last week, the Commission was set to unanimously approve the project, until representatives from Dar Al-Hijrah and JVP testified about Tishman Speyer’s ties to the Clarion Project.”

All commissioners who voted on the project did recommend it for approval, but two commissioners — Karen Keys-Gamarra (Sully) and Janyce Hedetniemi (At-Large) — decided to abstain because of the testimony. Commissioner Frank de la Fe, of the Hunter Mill District, explained that what the speakers was asking was outside the purview of the commission.

“I sympathize and empathize with what I heard. Our nation is going through what I would call some difficult times,” de la Fe said. “But we are here to make land use decisions based on what is good for the county as far as the land use process. I think this application meets those requirements.”

The 31.69-acre property, proposed for residential/mixed-use development, is being planned to house 74 single-family attached homes, 90 two-over-two stacked townhomes, 515 multifamily dwelling units within two buildings, and two office buildings, including 580,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to hold a hearing on the project Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 3:30 p.m.

  • Mike M

    Funny, but this group doesn’t call itself a “hate group.” In fact, it seems only the local snowflakes call it a hate group. Are we not a politically diverse and tolerant community? No worries. I know the answer.

    http://www.clarionproject.org/

    • Annie

      Come on, Mike. Nazis donn’t consider themselves a hate group either.

    • Roger out and over

      Just add it to your resume, young man, you will do well.

  • Scout

    Keep us up to date on the protest – I will be there – checkout the watchlist of hate groups on Southern Poverty Law Center – they don’t make this stuff up.

    • Mike M

      SPLC is often wrong. They are in the business of finding hate and they have been known to find it where it ain’t. They are a desperate remnant of their functional past.

  • Virginia Harlow

    Why no link to Clarion Project so folks can judge for themselves ? http://www.clarionproject.org/

    Check it out. See any lies?

    • Adrian Havill
      • Virginia Harlow

        So,where is the hate?

        • Adrian Havill

          So, look at their website where everything is a thinly disguised attack on Islam. Look at the people named. Frank Gaffney, for example, is a mentally disturbed Islamaphobe.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Gaffney

          • The Constitutionalist

            What I see, and take this with a grain of salt, because I’m clearly a deplorable bigotrist, is them speaking out and shining the spotlight on Islamic extremism/radical Islam, same as everyone else, including the majority of Muslims.

            You can’t cite Wikipedia as proof for your agenda. You can literally change anything you want in Wikipedia to fit your narrative.

            I can go to the addition page and make 2+2=5 and cite it to everyone that I know and it just still wouldn’t be true.

          • Guest

            If everyone you know included the 20+ cited sources illuminating Gaffney’s conspiracy theories, then 2+2=5 would be worth a second look. But it doesn’t. You’re conservative. He’s a wingnut.

          • Adrian Havill

            So, here’s one from Georgetown University that can’t be tinkered with.
            http://bridge.georgetown.edu/do-42-million-muslims-really-support-isis/
            There are dozens more. Clarion exists only to spread hate towards a certain religion and there are plenty of rich haters who will send them money to get them closer to their goal.

          • The Constitutionalist

            Sure, I’m not disagreeing with you on every point you make, but they are not targeting the religion of Islam. They are targeting radical Islam.

            The article you posted, I read it, along with the article it evaluates, argues against the way they polled their numbers. Which is funny, because it’s the exact same way we poll our numbers here in the USA.

            Until you’ve spent time in the middle east, you don’t really know how much support for these groups there really is.

            It isn’t something that you’ll hear or see on the MSM here. But to many Arabs, the mentioned terror groups have provided some inkling of stability and infrastructure that they just don’t want or get from us.

            To me and the majority of people with my background, much of what Clarion posts isn’t that hard to believe.

            But in reality, none of that fits the American rhetoric and it isn’t what we want to hear.

            Regardless, it’s not really on topic. The company in mention ended its relationship with The Clarion Project. What they are really protesting now is the development of their community and unused land.

          • Mike M

            You know their goal? Is it on their website? or is it a secret goal that only you know. Maybe you should have a drink with Frankie G.

          • Adrian Havill

            And perhaps you should have a drink with Ms. Harlow to discuss, in her words, “the true nature of Islam.” She seems to know their goal. Have fun.

          • Mike M

            You dodged the question.

          • Adrian Havill

            No more time to trifle with fools.

          • The Constitutionalist

            What do you know, another immature lashing from the wonderful party of peace and tolerance. I try to have an intelligent conversation with you, but watching you interact with your peers… well, it makes me realize that it just isn’t possible, is it?

          • Adrian Havill

            So, here’s one from Georgetown University that can’t be tinkered with.
            http://bridge.georgetown.edu/do-42-million-muslims-really-support-isis/

          • Mike M

            “Mentally disturbed.”
            “Hate group.”
            Can’t you snowflakes get beyond name-calling?

      • Mike M

        You point? How are they a hate group?

  • Greg

    As if there is any doubt this project will be approved…

  • John Higgins

    The Planning Commission would do well to consult the U.S. Constitution (hint, look for the First Amendment) before allowing the content of private speech to influence a governmental decision. It’s fine for individuals and groups to protest a company’s decision as to whom they lease office space. In fact, it might be the right thing to do. But that should be kept out of government decision-making.
    What exquisite irony that groups advocating tolerance would ask Fairfax County to allow viewpoint-based speech to be a factor in a governmental decision.
    For those who really appreciate irony, this article comes on the heels of the Women’s March. A hundred years ago, Evelyn Beatrice Hall gave us a lofty quote (often mis-attributed to Voltaire): “I disapprove of what you say and I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Ms. Hall would be tearing hair out from beneath her knitted cap.

    • Guest

      The First Amendment protects your right to speak. The government cannot interfere with your speech or (in most cases) arrest you afterward. It doesn’t protect you from business decisions based on that speech.

      Ms. Hall’s quote applies. They were free to speak.

      The paradox of intolerance is neither new nor ironic. Societies have a right to exercise self-preservation.

      • Mike M

        So, our existence was at stake? Thanks for clarifying. I missed that part on the Clarion website.

        • Guest

          Funny! But preserving social norms is a continuous process. It doesn’t require an existential threat.

          • Mike M

            So, your beliefs are social norms which must be preserved against any other beliefs, including the belief that Islamic extremism is bad news? Got it.

          • Guest

            Beliefs of the society as a whole, including defense of one of its religions painted with an extremely broad brush. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify for those like you.

          • Mike M

            Islamic extremism is real. 9-11 happened and it wasn’t the star chamber’s doing. OK. So, go back and look at that website and tell me where they “paint with a broad brush.”

            Quran 4:34

            Men are in charge of women by what Allah has given one over the
            other and what they spend from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom
            you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist],
            forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you
            [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

          • Guest

            The Clarion Group targets all Muslims through its films and continuous speaker-driven promotion of conspiracy theories.

            I’d be equally critical of an organization that draped its public facing website in moderate language but equated all Catholics to old school IRA.

          • Mike M

            But you are wrong. You offered no evidence. They cite their films all over their website. Be specific. I can be specific about the Quran, by the way.

          • Guest

            You ignored links in this article’s discussion but noticed the films? Okay. Evidence is immediately viewable in those films, which clearly and directly state that muslim residents and mosques are participating in a “cultural jihad” infiltrating the USA.

            Here’s a specific link.

          • Mike M

            Tis a fact. In fact, they use the voice of Muslim scholars who corroborate. So, no, they are not broadbrushing Islam. Just making objective observations. It’s pretty straightforward. Why are you so unable to handle facts that you don’t like? I mean they have video from right here in the US.

          • Guest

            So you didn’t recognize fallacy of composition in their film, and you’ve also ignored source links posted earlier. I shouldn’t be surprised.

          • Mike M

            Your earlier links demonstrate nothing. Be specific in where Clarion is wrong? Where are they attacking all Islam? Be specific. So far you are just name calling and pointing to others who do the same.

          • Guest

            They’re all in citations. Of course you don’t just read the Wikipedia article. Follow the linked sources.

            Ryan Mauro falsely reported Islamic extremists in Oak Brook, Illinois.

            The Clarion Project claimed a video uploaded to their Youtube account in 2013 showed a radical sect training in upstate New York, a claim refuted by the FBI and local police, and covered in some depth in this news report.

            Reports come out about training camps in the USA with no evidence in support. They’re neighborhoods and rec centers. Films show a mosque in Generic Hometown, then scary footage. No connections proven. No documents showing financial links. Only fear-mongering that any given mosque is hiding radicals.

            For what it’s worth, you’ve led me to watch plenty of disturbing or at least really poorly produced video, so I’ve definitely changed my mind about one thing: Adobe After Effects should have a waiting period.

          • Mike M

            The ChicTrib is a leftist rag. Increasingly, leftists means apologist for terror. Did you see the protests in DC. Edging closer. They good news is that if general violence breaks out, . . . well. Sorry, but you need to do better if you want to prove that this organization is smearing all Islam. That was the point made above.

          • Guest

            I believe in awareness of legitimate threats. These distractions are a detriment to already overloaded investigations. Maybe you’d like a red state opinion of similar “compounds”?

            So does the FBI believe that there’s a Islamic compound stockpiling weapons in Alaska?

            Staci Feger-Pellessier, the FBI’s spokeswoman in Alaska, responded with a one word email: “No.”

            You’re so deep in denial about Clarion’s motivation and methods, you may as well start asking for the birth certificate.

          • Mike M

            You are saying the FBI disagreed with these people once therefore they should not be allowed to set up shop in our area? I call non sequitur. You are also assuming the The FBI knows all and will tell all they know. Other law enforcement agencies and courts have debunked the SPLC on some of the allegations they pursued. Would you and the politically correct religious alliance oppose them? We know the answer. This is all about trying to ban people with views other than your own. You are also saying they may have been wrong about a view therefore they are attacking all Islam? That is non-sequitur if not highly suspect.

            CBS? Isn’t that where 60 minutes lives?

            Again, Clarion has Muslim contributors.

          • Guest

            What ignorant strawmen you’re attacking! You also have no opposing facts, so you attack the messenger.

            I’ve linked statements from federal and state law enforcement (including FBI in AK and NY) showing the Clarion Project’s consistently wrong when they attack Muslim orgs and communities inside the USA. Clarion seems well organized, funded, and published, so instead of an isolated instance of being wrong, it’s likely that they’re deliberately malicious.

            I could accept that my premise is wrong and Clarion Project is either incompetent or consistently misinformed. But what a waste of funding that would be!

          • Mike M

            So they have no right to set up house here? SPLC has been uninformed. And they do not attack the Muslim community in general I just don’t see it in anything they produced. Those were the issues.

      • John Higgins

        I fear, dear Guest, you missed my point. It is fine for people to speak out against a business, to boycott it, to denounce it publicly. I have no quarrel with those voicing opposition to Tishman Speyer because they lease space to The Clarion Group. Apart from boundaries of libel and slander, the groups may say what they wish to whomever. The same is true for The Clarion Group

        But a government (here, Fairfax County) cannot take a decision because they approve or disapprove of what The Clarion Group stands for or publishes, much less the Group’s landlord. That would be so clearly unconstitutional it’s not worth debating. And, if it is true that two commissioners to abstained on this basis, shame on them.

        • Guest

          I disagree with you re: abstention. Generally speaking, a coerced vote is not democratic. A commissioner voting against the project based on the described testimony would have been a problem. Abstaining from the vote in response to the testimony is wholly valid — and, you may note, also a form of speech.

          • Greg

            Wrong. They should do the job they are there to do or resign.

          • Guest

            Wrong. That is their job, including the option to not vote. If you don’t like it, here are the bylaws. I recommend §§ 10-101(2)(D) and 12-101 Have fun.

  • Virginia Harlow

    Anyone who tries to expose the true nature of Islam is listed on SPLC hate group list. One can only wonder what they don’t want us to know or think about. This is an attempt to get government to silence voices speaking truth.

    • Bob

      Give me a break Ginny, you probably don’t even know a single Muslim personally.

  • Virginia Harlow

    If the Catholic Church were petitioning the county and dictating who they shouldn’t do business with, they’d be laughed right out of the hearing.

  • cRAzy

    Just for the record, Tishman Speyer was the company that wanted to throw out all the low-income residents of Lake Anne Fellowship House so they could re-develop it for their own highly profitable purposes. Fortunately, Supervisor Hudgins blocked that greedy, selfish move.

    They really don’t care what they do or who they do business with as long as they make a huge profit.

    • Greg

      True, but the property (and all of Lake Anne) sit festering away. And don’t forget that Hudgins spent tens of millions of our tax dollars on her charettes and failed renovation plans. The county now owns the Crescent and we get $0 tax dollars on it while paying all of the ever-increasing RA assessments on it.

  • 30yearsinreston

    Turn the Lake WhitecElephant into a mosque

    • Arielle in NoVA

      Not sure I’ve seen many mosques with lake views, but it would make a lovely wedding/special event venue.

  • TheKingJAK

    Well, two things stand out to me here:

    1. The SPLC is largely a joke. We have for too long now allowed them to be the single arbiter of what defines a “Hate group”.

    2. Dar Al-Hijrah should be on any list which includes “Hate groups”. Even within the Islamic community they have a shady reputation, as they should, because Anwar Al-Awlaki was an Imam there, and the 9/11 hijackers were worshippers in the same mosque.

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