Specter Fails To Show At Free Speech Conference Under Pressure From Islamist Group

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Posted: May 19, 2009 1:31 PM
Sen. Arlen Specter was set to give the opening address today at a conference on free speech addressing the prosecution of speech that is considered "hateful" abroad but is given First Amendment protections here in the U.S.  This scenario most readily applies to journalists, scholars and activists who publicly speak out or write critical material against radical Islam, such as the well-publicized case against Rachel Ehrenfeld over her work exposing al-Qaeda operative Khalid bin Mahfouz.

Specter canceled shortly before the opening of the conference after the Council on American-Islamic Relations circulated a petition in his home state that criticized his participation. The conference, "Libel Lawfare: Silencing Criticism of Radical Islam" is "inaccurate, inflammatory and agenda-driven" according to CAIR Philadelphia Executive Director Justin Peyton.
We strongly support free speech and other First Amendment rights, but believe the senator's appearance at this event would have legitimized views not shared by the majority of Pennsylvanians of all faiths.
In other words, speaking out against unfair application of free speech laws — and radical Islamic terrorists — is suddenly contrary to the views of most Pennsylvanians.

Specter, in true form, told conference organizers that he had a "scheduling conference."