Citing safety concerns and the potential for campus violence, the Georgetown Marriott Conference Center turned down a conservative group’s request last month to host a forum on counter-terrorism efforts

“That was strictly a business decision on our part,” Patrick Hardy, Georgetown Marriott’s sales manager, said. “We reserve the right to turn down individuals … out of concern for the safety of hotel staff, guests and the surrounding community.”

The We the People’s Truth Forum, the group that requested the Marriott symposium, called the decision “appeasement” in a statement on its Web site.

“They concluded allegedly from viewing our Web site . that their location was not an appropriate venue for this type of event,” WPTF President Jeffrey Epstein said. “I was not offered the sources employed to render this decision.”

WPTF, a group that focuses on issues of Middle East terrorism, attempts to warn its Internet readers of a “radical-Islamist threat” from violent Muslim organizations. According to the group’s Web site, it “hosts informative seminars and publishes a Web site and newsletter on controversial topics of national security.”

WPTF describes itself on its Web site as a “non-partisan, fact-based organization whose mission is to educate the American people on controversial topics of national security.”

“According to Mr. Patrick Hardy, who identified himself as the sales manager for the Georgetown Marriott, my organization was too controversial for them,” Epstein said.

Marriott executives, however, said that the decision was based on concerns that the forum could provoke protests in the area that could escalate into violence.

“We reserve the right to not accept business if we feel it puts our guests, our employees, our hotels and our surrounding communities at any kind of risk,” said Roger Conner, vice president of communications for Marriott International, Inc. “In this case, based on those concerns, we decided to not accept the business.”

Conner added that “our hotels function like a public facility, [but] they are privately owned and operated.” He said that the decision whether or not to accept WPTF’s request was made by Georgetown Marriott’s management.

Epstein criticized Marriott’s reason for canceling the conference, which he said was primarily due to fear that Muslim students would be incited to riot by WPTF’s position.

“Since Islam is a religion of peace, the fear of violent protests wasn’t factored into the equation,” he said. “Besides, why should anyone fear rioting from an educated student at Georgetown?”

Saad Omar, vice president of the Muslim Student Association, said that “every opinion has the right to have a forum on campus.”

He also said that he saw “no security concerns for the hotel” and that any demonstration that might result from the conference would be restrained and unlikely to turn into rioting. He added that he has not seen a tendency toward rioting in the student body.

Epstein said that he had “assembled a panel of globally recognized, counter-terrorism experts to speak at this ground-breaking event.”

The conference would have been called “Defining the Roots of Terrorism.”

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