A conservative Christian group has chosen South Carolina as its launching point to promote a new documentary warning of the dangers of radical Islam.
The Virginia-based Christian Action Network is putting up billboards today in Columbia and Orangeburg with the message: "Islam Rising -- Be Warned." Plans for four additional billboards are in the works.
Martin Mawyer, the group's president, said they chose South Carolina for the promotion because the state is home to Holy Islamville, a Muslim village in York founded by Sheikh Mubarik Ali Gilani.
Villagers say the settlement is a peaceful place of introspection and worship that welcomes people of all faiths. But Mawyer and other critics suspect the 34-acre village serves as a radical Islamic training ground stocked with weapons and cloaked in secrecy. Mawyer's group featured Islamville in a 2009 documentary, "Homegrown Jihad," which alleged the village and other Gilani compounds are terrorist training camps.
The new film, "Islam Rising: Geert Wilders' Warning to the West," focuses on purported gains radical Islam has made in Europe. Wilders is a Dutch parliament member being prosecuted for alleged hate speech for his criticism of Islam.
Mawyer said his group is trying to arrange a screening of "Islam Rising" and "Homegrown Jihad" in York. At the event, he hopes to debate York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant, who maintains that law enforcement has found no signs of criminal activity at Islamville.
Lt. Mike Baker, public information officer for the York County Sheriff's Office, said his department had no information on Mawyer's plans and could offer no comment.
Ali Rashid, an Islamville elder, also declined to comment on the group's efforts. He and other Gilani followers repeatedly have denied ties to terrorism and denounced the Christian Action Networks' claims as lies.