IMPACT: Brigitte Gabriel is the founder and head of ACT for America, a prominent anti-Muslim group. Having met with staff in the Trump administration, she has said her group has a “direct line” to the White House.
Brigitte Gabriel is the founder and chairman of ACT for America, an advocacy group founded in 2007 “to establish a means for all American citizens to provide a collective voice for the democratic values of Western civilization and against the threat of radical Islam.”
Gabriel’s group, ACT for America, claims dozens of chapters across the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) considers it the largest anti-Muslim hate group in the United States. The Center for American Progress (CAP) identifies Gabriel as a leading activist in the “Islamophobia network.” ACT advocated the banning of Sharia and has warned of “infiltration” of the Muslim Brotherhood into American institutions.
Gabriel has been described as “the most influential leader in America’s increasingly influential anti-Islam lobby,” and is frequent public speaker. She is the author of two New York Times bestselling books, Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America and They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It.
In a 2011 New York Times, religion reporter Laurie Goodstein reported that Gabriel “insists that she is singling out only ‘radical Islam’ or Muslim ‘extremists’ — not the vast majority of Muslims or their faith. And yet, in her speeches and her two books, she leaves the opposite impression.” In They Must Be Stopped, Gabriel writes, “…We must realize that the portent behind the terrorist attacks is the purest form of what the Prophet Mohammed created. It’s not radical Islam. It’s what Islam is at its core.” Goodstein observed that Gabriel “presents a portrait of Islam so thoroughly bent on destruction and domination that it is unrecognizable to those who study or practice the religion.”
Gabriel received much media attention after an exchange with Saba Ahmed, then a law student and now Executive Director of the Republican Muslim Coalition, at the Heritage Foundation. In the exchange, Gabriel called the “peaceful majority” of Muslims “irrelevant” and gave voice to an unsubstantiated claim that 15 to 25 percent of Muslims are “radicals” “dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization.”
Gabriel also claims that Muslim refugees have turned Europe into “Eurabia” and wrote that the United States is facing “a religious war declared by devout Muslims,” a group she called “the most obvious threat.”
Though she lacks expertise on topics like terrorism, she is often called upon by Fox News to provide expert commentary. CAP considers Gabriel one of numerous Islamophobia “validators,” a group of “individuals who claim inside knowledge about the realities of radical Islam” not because of their expertise but because they are of Middle Eastern descent. Critics have called Gabriel a “native informant” and claim that her personal story of being a “survivor of Islamic terror” is embellished.
Historians and critics have also challenged Gabriel’s portrayal of the Lebanese civil war. In her book Because They Hate she describes the conflict as “a religious war, declared by the Muslims against the Christians.” Yvonne Haddad, Professor of the History of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Georgetown University, says Gabriel’s characterization of the war as simply Muslim aggression against Christians and Jews is not historically accurate.
In February 2016 during the presidential campaign, Gabriel met Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort where her group says she gave a national security briefing. After Trump was elected, she celebrated her group’s “direct line” to the White House through advisor Walid Phares and administration appointees with connections to ACT. She met with White House staff in March 2017.
Last Updated March 30, 2017