Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Community Unites with CAIR Against Hate at Hillsborough County School Board

Anti-Muslim Extremists Defeated at School Board
Diverse interfaith coalition stands united in solidarity with Muslim community

Dozens of diverse community members of many faiths attended yesterday's school board meeting to request the school board not to give in to censorship by banning advocacy groups at the request of anti-Muslim extremists. 

The board agreed that there is no place for censorship in America and that the current policies which permit teachers to invite qualified speakers to schools do not need to be changed. Those pushing for censorship claim that their problem was only with CAIR, not Islam, however, their statements caught on video shows that they really wished to attack Islam and Muslims as a wholeTheir attack on CAIR was simply because CAIR is the largest Muslim civil rights organization.

Nonetheless, dozens of community members came out to oppose the hate and show solidarity with the Muslim communityWatch this touching video of supporters from previous meetings and read the news articles of the community's victory below:

Despite weeks of lobbying by anti-Muslim groups, the Hillsborough County School Board has chosen not to change the county's school policy on public speakers. Supporters of the Islamic advocacy group CAIR are declaring it a win for civil rights.

After being accused of discrimination, one of [the anti-Muslim protesters] Kathy Brown, said discrimination isn't always a bad thing. Her reason drew laughs from the 25 or so CAIR supporters.... 
The decision, which came without a vote, was a blow to those who have rallied against the Council on American-Islamic Relations for weeks at multiple school board meetings.

"I consider it a victory for the community," said Hassan Shibly, executive director of the local CAIR group, whose presentation to a Steinbrenner High School world history class last year later drew objections.

"I think the issue is over," Shibly added. "If they want to keep hating, that's fine."...
Board member April Griffin talked about how many different groups come to the United States for the freedoms the country offers.

"People come to this nation because we offer something to them that many other countries don't offer. We have something that no other nation in the world was founded on," Griffin said. "I will stand up to anybody who tries to change it."

Larry Golbom, one of the speakers who addressed the board, urged the members to do nothing.

"The solidarity and intolerance I saw at the last meeting truly astonished me," Golbom said. "I was frightened by what I saw. I witnessed a mob mentality in my community. Don't succumb to fear. Our leaders can't be afraid of what is right."

Dozens of people spoke to school board members in favor and against the policy, which has been questioned by a group concerned that one Muslim organization speaking in classrooms was linked to terrorism.

But the executive director of the group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations,has refuted that claim, calling it outrageous, and the school board seems to agree.

"The more people that our students hear from, the more real it makes the world to them," board member April Griffin said. "They need to have those conversations. I want more speakers in the classroom.

CAIR Director Hassan Shibly with Supporters in Red
CAIR director Hassan Shibly surrounded with supporters in red at the school board meeting

...Others said they feared Islamic leaders were trying to subvert the Constitution and impose sharia law.

But the crowd Tuesday consisted primarily of Shibly's supporters. They dressed in red - the color usually worn by anti-CAIR speakers to board meetings.

"Eliminating religious speakers will limit children's life experiences," said Chaikirah Johnson, who has a daughter at Blake High School. "Would you censor her, or tell her not to come to class or come to your public school, because she's Muslim?"...
Bay News 9

 CAIR thanks the interfaith and civil rights community for standing in solidarity against the forces of hate!

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