Tuesday, November 1, 2011

GOP Hillsborough court clerk candidate's letter declares Islam is 'not a religion'

By Jodie Tillman, Times Staff Writer 
In Print: Tuesday, November 1, 2011

TAMPA — A Republican candidate for Hillsborough Clerk of Circuit Court on Monday fired off a letter saying Islam is "not a religion" but a theocracy that is "totalitarian and littered with human rights violations."
Scott D. Barrish, a 35-year-old private security officer who previously ran unsuccessfully for the Hillsborough School Board, sent the letter to the Council of American-Islamic Relations. He signed it as a member of the Hillsborough County Republican Party's executive committee.
"Your efforts in espousing Islam in America and Florida will not succeed," Barrish wrote. "This is us vs. you. In the great words of the late President Ronald Reagan, 'I win, you lose!' "...
But the Florida chapter of CAIR used Barrish's letter in a press statement Monday.
"It is imperative that Republican Party leaders at the state and national levels repudiate these bigoted comments and take concrete steps to challenge the growing perception that the GOP is not a big tent party that welcomes Muslims," said Tampa executive director Hassan Shibly.
Deborah Cox-Roush, the Hills­borough GOP executive director, had not seen Barrish's e-mail until a reporter sent it to her. "He's not speaking on behalf of the party," she said. She said he should not have invoked the Hills­borough GOP executive committee in his letter....

Shibly, the CAIR official, said Barrish's message exposes his arrogance.
"To get an idea of how outrageous his e-mail is, just replace the word 'Islam' with any other faith and think how we would react if a politician issued a statement in their official capacity on any other faith," he said.

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