Should a hotel chain make a judgment on the groups that hold conferences at one of its properties?
That is the question that was raised this week after the world’s largest hotel chain, Marriott International, announced it won’t cancel a conference next month for what critics say is an anti-Muslim hate group.
The Bethesda, Md., hospitality company with about 6,000 hotels worldwide said it will allow a conference next month at an Arlington, Va., hotel for a self-described grass-roots security organization known as ACT for America.
“We are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and function space,” a Marriott spokesman said. “Acceptance of business does not indicate support or endorsement of any group or individual.”
Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy group, and the Southern Poverty Law Center both describe ACT as an extremist anti-Muslim hate group. Muslim Advocates wrote to Marriott’s chief executive, Arne Sorenson, urging the company to cancel the Oct. 2-3 gathering.
ACT denies being a hate group and instead says it is advocating to protect the U.S. from terrorists and their supporters. The Washington-based organization was founded in 2007 by Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese-born Christian immigrant who has appeared on Fox News as a commentator.
The group, which claims 750,000 members, has supported President Trump’s restrictions on refugees and travel from Muslim-majority countries. It organized protests throughout the country this summer against sharia law, which the group says is incompatible with Western culture.
In an online video promoting the October conference, Gabriel warns “The leftist Islamic coalition is raging war against the rule of law and against you and me. That’s why I need you by my side as we descend on Washington, DC.”
Although Marriott said it does not make a judgment on groups who use Marriott hotels, the Washington Dulles Marriott hotel was one of three hotels that in 2010 canceled a contract to host a conference of a white nationalist group, American Resistance.
A Marriott spokesman declined to comment on the 2010 cancellation, saying he didn’t have sufficient information on it.
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