Urgent Concern: Cancellation of South Florida Muslim Federation Conference
Dear General Manager Mark Cherry, Vice President Larry Cooper, and CEO Anthony Capuano
As the CEO of Emgage, a leading national civic engagement organization for Muslim Americans, I am writing to express our profound concern and disappointment regarding the recent decision to cancel a contract with the South Florida Muslim Federation for a family-focused conference scheduled on January 12th and January 13th, 2024, at the Coral Springs Marriott. This event was also scheduled to feature local elected officials who would speak and engage with our community.
Our organization is committed to combating hate in all its forms. We find the circumstances surrounding this cancellation deeply troubling, as it is evident it was fueled by fear and misinformation, prompting serious questions about the values upheld by Marriott International. The decision made by the Coral Springs Marriott seems to yield to a campaign orchestrated by the Middle East Forum, a designated hate group as identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which shamelessly defamed the entire South Florida Muslim community as “Hamas Sympathizers.”
It is troubling to witness the Coral Springs Marriott becoming entangled in this misinformation campaign, ultimately dehumanizing the Muslim American community. Labeling Muslims as “Hamas sympathizers” is Islamophobic as it unjustly generalizes an entire religious community. This stereotype perpetuates a harmful association between Muslims and terrorism, contributing to prejudice and discrimination. Such language not only misrepresents the diverse beliefs within the Muslim community but also fuels a climate of hostility and intolerance.
The rationale provided for this cancellation cited ‘significant undesirable interest,’ implying a surrender to fear rather than a commitment to combat discrimination and prejudice. The South Florida Muslim Federation represents a diverse community with a laudable history of community service, striving to foster understanding, address social issues, and engage in cultural exchange. The canceled conference was a manifestation of these values, bringing together the local Muslim American community to share knowledge, address social problems, and promote unity.
I strongly urge Marriott International to issue an apology for its decision and take a firm stance against Islamophobia, all forms of discrimination, and misinformation. By canceling the event, Marriott risks aligning with the hateful agenda of a group that has consistently targeted the Muslim American community for over 15 years. I sincerely hope that Marriott International reevaluates its position, embraces inclusivity, and reinstates its commitment to hosting events that foster understanding and unity.
I believe that a company of Marriott International’s stature has the capacity to rectify this situation and demonstrate unwavering dedication to fostering an environment free from Islamophobia and hate in all of its forms.