A Muslim comedian filed a defamation lawsuit against a white supremacist website on Wednesday morning, claiming the website fabricated tweets of his to paint him as a supporter of terrorists.
The complaint alleges a Daily Stormer article named Dean Obeidallah, a Daily Beast columnist, as the mastermind behind the May bombing in Manchester, describing Obeidallah as a terrorist who advocates for violence against non-Muslims and called on President Donald Trump to “declare whites the real terrorists.”
Daily Stormer publisher Andrew B. Anglin and ten anonymous people who republished the article are named as defendants in the lawsuit filed by Obeidallah in an Ohio federal court. Anglin has not responded to the lawsuit.
“Defendants took numerous steps, including mixing fact with falsehood, in an effort to create confusion and convince readers that the entirety of the Article is, in fact, true,” the complaint said.
Daily Stormer allegedly doctored tweets that appeared to be from Obeidallah’s account where he admits responsibility for the Manchester attack and describe an eternal paradise awaiting the bomber. The complaint also alleges the Daily Stormer article said Obeidallah was on the run from law enforcement and had fled to Syria.
Obeidallah said he believes the Daily Stormer article was written after he published an article on The Daily Beast titled “Will Donald Trump Ever Say the Words ‘White Supremacist Terrorism?’”
“Even though I mentioned neither The Daily Stormer nor Anglin in my article, Anglin came after me. And he did so in a way that was jaw dropping,” Obeidallah said. “Right wing publications have come after me for years for everything from my progressive views to the fact I’m Muslim—that’s par for the course. But I had never, ever seen anything like this.”
Daily Stormer was kicked off web hosting services run by GoDaddy and Google last week and will be moving to the dark web, where it doesn’t have to rely on a domain registrar. The site is also responsible for publishing an article mocking Heather Heyer, who was killed by a white nationalist in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday.
The Daily Stormer article about Obeidallah also allegedly encouraged readers to “go confront” him and incited violent threats against him.
“Dean better pray he dies of natural causes before we get there,” one commenter wrote. “Hey Dean, look down this barrel and verify if my gun is clear a like a good terrorist, would ya?” another said.
Obeidallah fears for his security and suffers emotional distress as a result of the article, the lawsuit claims.
According to the complaint, Daily Stormer is in the top 200 most visited sites in the United States with 3.18 million visits during the months the article was on the site. It brands itself as a news organization willing to “the job other news websites won’t do,” yet the complaint says it intentionally disseminated false information that has damaged Obeidallah’s reputation.
“No one deserves to be defamed and threatened online by a racist neo-Nazi mob simply for expressing your ideas and beliefs,” Obeidallah said in a press release. “I’m hopeful that this lawsuit will ensure there is accountability for the victims of these types of defamatory lies and harassment.”