What you need to know:
- American billionaire and Obama supporter George Soros has been accused of playing a role in sparking violence in Kenya in 2008
A top conservative commentator in the United States has accused an American billionaire donor of helping instigate the post-election violence in Kenya.
Glenn Beck, a talk-radio host known for his hostility toward President Obama, told his legions of listeners on Thursday that a leading contributor to Mr Obama’s Democratic Party had “interfered in Kenya in 2007 in the elections”.
Mr Beck further accused the donor, George Soros, of having “played a role in creating complete chaos” in Kenya.
Mr Beck pointed his audience to an article on his website that charges Mr Soros and his foundation, the Open Society Institute, with having “destabilised and overturned governments in several countries”.
According to the article, Mr Soros’ institute followed a detailed strategy that resulted in a regime change in Yugoslavia in 2000, Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004.
“Compelling evidence indicates that Soros may have employed a similar strategy in Kenya, but with far more gruesome results,” writes the article’s author, conservative activist Richard Poe.
Mr Poe has co-written a book claiming that 1960s-era activists have conspired with Mr Soros to take control of Mr Obama’s Democratic Party and steer it toward radical goals.
The attack launched by Mr Beck and Mr Poe is the latest in which opponents of Mr Obama use associations with Kenya to directly or indirectly discredit the president.
A recent book claims, for example, that the United States is being governed in accordance with the “anti-colonialist” views of Mr Obama’s Kenyan father.
A set of Obama-haters known as “birthers” have meanwhile repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that Mr Obama was born in Kenya and is thus barred by the US Constitution from serving as president.
The alleged effort to subvert Kenya’s government is said to have been orchestrated by Mr Soros’ Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, established in Nairobi in 2004.
Binaifer Nowrojee, the Initiative’s director, says “our work is to promote open society, democratic governance, human rights and free speech”. She added that the foundation “did not have any role in the violence”.
Radio-host Beck has been broadcasting a series of attacks on Mr Soros in the past week. A US-based Jewish civil rights group responded with outrage to one of Mr Beck’s diatribes that described Mr Soros as “a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to death camps”.
In reality, Mr Soros, 80, fled the communist takeover of his native Hungary in the 1940s. He emigrated to the US in 1956 and went on to make billions of dollars as a Wall Street investment wizard. He has given away much of his fortune to organisations that support democracy.
Mr Beck is a fervent supporter of the Tea Party groups that have opposed almost all of Mr Obama’s initiatives. Mr Beck has accused the president of being “a racist,” saying Mr Obama has “a deep-seated hatred for white people”.