Nashville hotel backs out of anti-Sharia conference
Nashville's Hutton Hotel is described by its management as a place where "four-star luxury adopts a stylish and accommodating new spirit."
That accommodating spirit apparently doesn't extend to conservative Americans concerned about the spread of Sharia, or Islamic law.
According to the Nashville Tennessean, the Hutton Hotel has backed out of an agreement to host a November conference called "The Constitution or Sharia: A Freedom Conference," billed as "the first true national conference on Sharia and the Islamization of America sponsored by major freedom oriented organizations!"
The paper reports that the hotel received complaints about the event from members of the public and other hotel clients. Owners said they weren't aware of the conference's main topic until recently.
"If this group had let us know what kind of program they were planning and who was involved, we wouldn't have booked it," Steve Eckley, a senior vice president with Amerimar Enterprises, the hotel owner, told reporter Bob Smietana.
Discomfort over the presence of Muslims in Tennessee flared up most prominently of late in Murfreesboro, about 45 minutes away, where opposition to the expansion of a local mosque received national media attention, including coverage of arson at the construction site and a spray-painted message reading "Not Welcome."
In more-cosmopolitan Nashville, the planned conference is sponsored by a group called the Sharia Awareness Action Network. Speakers were to include Pamela Geller, an activist blogger whose Atlas Shrugs website is dedicated to the "Islamization" of America.
On their site, conference organizers said the hotel cited "threats" in canceling the event.
"We are following a dual track of legal action and seeking a new venue," the site says, vowing that the event would be held "one way or the other."
— Richard Fausset in Atlanta
Photo: The Nashville skyline. Credit: Mark Humphrey / Associated Press