Southfield, MI–Civil rights leader and Navy veteran Dawud Walid, is the recent target of Britain First’s attempt to defame Islam and Muslims. Britain First is a UK-based far right-wing group.
Walid is Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI). He also served in the United States Navy, earning two United States Navy & Marine Corp Achievement medals. Britain First refers to itself as a patriotic resistance, and says, “We will restore Christianity as the bedrock and foundation of our national life as it has been for the last one thousand years.”
On March 5th, the group posted a photo on their Facebook page of Walid, attending a protest, and holding a sign that read: “Boycott bigotry and kill all non-Muslims”.
Many activists groups within the UK were quickly able to find out that the image was fabricated and taken from CAIR’s own website. The original photo was actually taken by a local Detroit Newspaper that was covering this rally, showing how local Muslims and Christians come together against hate and racism. In that original image, Walid’s sign read, “Boycott bigotry,” with a logo for the American Way underneath, the group of local Christian clergy that organized the rally. After the photo-shopped version of the photo was posted, Walid received many hate messages and death threats. One posted directly on Britain First’s Facebook page saying that Walid needed to be killed. “Those comments were made online … openly,” Walid said.
From there, other anti-Muslim groups used the fake photo-shopped photo to their advantage. One of these groups being the Ashley Church of England, whose been trying to block the construction of a mosque in England. They added to the defamation of Walid’s character by falsely saying that he has four wives and 16 children.
“Anti-Muslim hate is on the rise in the West,” said Walid, who added, “My sincere advice is that this is the time for a Muslims in the west to have moral courage and to be even more public about Islam and what we believe, not trying to hide and play it safe. Groups like Britain First and other anti-Muslim groups in America, it’s their goals to try to intimidate us.”
The Britain First post was shared over 2,000 times since it’s been posted last week. Walid then posted the original photo, along with this comment on Britain First’s own Facebook page; “Far Right Wing Christian political party Britain First has defamed me online. Thankfully, some nice ladies and gents in Britain, who are not Muslims, contacted me about this and have my back.
“I reported Britain First and the death threats that came along with their post to the British authorities. As the Qur’an says, there are those from the People of the Book who enjoin right and forbid evil.”
Since Walid is considered to be a public figure, the defaming of character laws are a bit more loose than they would be for a private individual.
This is the case with every public figure, from President Barack Obama to lesser-known figures. Though Walid advises that for those who are not considered public figures, and are defamed like this, should look into taking immediate legal actions.
CAIR-MI a chapter of America’s largest advocacy and civil liberties organization for Muslims. Walid is a preacher of Islamic faith delivering sermons at Islamic centers across America and is a political blogger for the Detroit News. He has spoken at more than 30 institutions of higher learning about Islam and interfaith dialogue.
Walid is also featured in the 2012 book “All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim” and is quoted as an expert in 10 additional books and academic dissertations.