A bnw portrait with a blue overlay with a backdrop of off white described by text in gray and warm red

David Horowitz

Factsheet: David Horowitz & the Freedom Center

Published on 12 September 2017

IMPACT: Through his anti-Muslim group, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, David Horowitz has become a leading voice promoting conspiracy theories and falsified information about Muslims, the ‘Left,’ African Americans, and other communities. The Center funds and gives a platform to a wide array of other anti-Muslim organizations and has direct connections to the Trump administration.

David Horowitz is an American conservative writer, and founder of multiple organizations including the conservative think-tank, David Horowitz Freedom Center, and online publication, Frontpage Magazine. A former Marxist, Horowitz now rejects liberal and progressive ideas and has made a career out of criticizing the left and arguing universities function as leftist “indoctrination” centers.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has called David Horowitz the “godfather of the anti-Muslim movement.” His center has financed and supported a number of anti-Muslim speakers including Robert Spencer and his website Jihad Watch, Daniel Pipes, and Pamela Geller. A 2011 report by the Center for American Progress cited Horowitz as a key funder of anti-Muslim organizations.  

FrontPage Magazine, edited by Horowitz, hosts columns from Frank Gaffney, Brigitte Gabriel, Nonie Darwish, and Walid Phares, whom the Center for American Progress has identified as key voices in the “Islamophobia network.” SPLC has accused FrontPage Magazine of becoming “the premier financier of radical anti-Muslim extremism.”

In 2011, SPLC identified Horowitz as one of 10 people in the United States’ “Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.” In 2016, SPLC included him on their list of “anti-Muslim extremists.” The Jewish non-governmental organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), has denounced Horowitz’s for his work stating he “promotes anti-Muslim views and features events with anti-Muslim activists.”

In 2007, the Freedom Center’s Terrorism Awareness Project, led by now-White House advisor Stephen Miller, a then-mentee of Horowitz, launched “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.”  The campaign aimed to make college “students aware of the Islamic jihad and the terrorist threat, and to mobilize support for the defense of American and the civilization of the West.”  Horowitz selected about 100 campuses to launch the project, working with student representatives and arranging for anti-Muslim speakers to speak during the week. The project ran ads in several campus newspapers across the country, titled “What Americans Need to Know About Jihad,” stating “Jihad is a war against Christians.”

The center, which Horowitz calls a “battle-tank,” hosts “Restoration Weekend,” a retreat every year featuring prominent far-right, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim activists. Attendees of the center’s previous retreats have included Dutch politician Geert Wilders who advocates banning the Qur’an in the Netherlands and claims that “Islam is not a religion, it’s an ideology, the ideology of a retarded culture;” former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton who endorsed the views of anti-Muslim activists Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller; and former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, who sees an “existential war” between the West and “radical Islam.”

Horowitz wields influence with the current White House administration. According to the Washington Post, Steven Bannon was a close ally of Horowitz, who reportedly considered Horowitz for a role in his proposed documentary warning about an Islamic takeover in the U.S. Following the election of Donald Trump, Horowitz expressed his happiness with the victory and read aloud a list of names of people in the administration who supported the Freedom Center, including Bannon, Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway, Horowitz’s “protegeStephen Miller, and Jeff Sessions, who has praised Horowitz by calling him a man he “admires” and a “brilliant individual.” Horowitz exclaimed “the center has a big stake in the administration.”

After 9/11, Horowitz called for “profiling” of “potential terrorists” by focusing on “Islamic” and “Palestinian” people.

During a 2004 lecture at Georgetown University, Horowitz argued the “American Left” was in an alliance with “Radical Islam,” a claim commonly echoed by anti-Muslim groups.  He criticized Georgetown University, calling it “a treacherous player in the fifth column left,” and claimed Georgetown’s “Middle Eastern studies department” has “spent years throwing smokescreen over terrorist groups.” During the lecture Horowitz wrongfully equated Islamic law to violence, explaining the rationale behind the ‘War on Terror’ (which as of 2016 has resulted in the deaths of a at least 1.3 million people), stating it was an effort to “democratize the entire Muslim world…ruled by Quranic law, who cut the heads off people who lie or who say bad words.”

In 2008, Horowitz said, “There is a movement for a second Holocaust of the Jews that is being supported on this campus by the Muslim Student Association!” and referred to the Palestinian keffiyeh, a common Arab head covering, as a symbol of terrorism. Horowitz has targeted university Muslim Student Associations, claiming they have links with Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda and Hamas. Horowitz (like other anti-Muslim groups) considers the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization and has supported congressional legislation to designate it as such.

In 2007, Horowitz published a piece in Columbia University’s Spectator stating that public opinion polls made a widely disputed claim that “between 150 million and 750 million Muslims support a holy war against Christians, Jews and other Muslims.” In 2010, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Horowitz compared “Islamists” to Nazis, stating “Islamists are worse than the Nazis, because even the Nazis did not tell the world that they want to exterminate the Jews.”

In 2008, at University of California, Santa Barbara, Horowitz stated that “[Islamo-fascism] is a movement within Islam,” and that this movement had “to do with a reading of the Koran that calls for a world-wide Muslim Empire with a caliphate based in Iran.”

In 2015, the David Horowitz Freedom Center was the largest donor to Geert Wilders’ far right Dutch Freedom Party (PVV). The party’s 11-point manifesto begins with a plan to “de-Islamize” the Netherlands.

On August 21, 2018, Horowitz tweeted that he had been locked out of his twitter account for a day, for “violating our [Twitter’s] rules against hateful conduct.” An article in FrontPage Magazine claimed Horowitz had been “censored” for a tweet that said “Islam has conducted a 1500 year war against Christians and Jews,” among other things. After 24 hours, Twitter unlocked Horowitz’s account and apologized, saying “it looks like we made an error.”

Last updated September 7, 2017