CAIR Advocates, Opponents Rally at Hillsborough County School District

The rally was organized by Hillsborough County conservative groups to protest the school board's policy permitting groups such as CAIR to speak at public schools.

A rally intended to protest the Hillsborough County School Board’s policy to allow organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations to speak at public schools drew demonstrators on both sides of the controversy to the steps of the Hillsborough County School District headquarters in Tampa on Sept. 11.

The rally was part of a daylong 9/11 remembrance organized by conservative groups including the Community Issues Council, the Education Coalition, the Tampa 912, the Tampa Tea Party and the Pinellas Patriots. The group kicked off the remembrance with a prayer vigil at Joe Chillura Park in downtown Tampa and then headed over to the school district for the CAIR protest.

There, they were met by a crowd of CAIR members and supporters brandishing signs accusing the conservative groups of racism, restricting free speech and establishing an environment of hate.

“I think it’s ridiculous what they’re trying to do,” said Sulphur Springs resident Brittany Hallmark. “Everybody has a right to speak. They’re sending a bigoted message.”

The controversy stems from a presentation that Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Tampa CAIR chapter, made to a world history class at Steinbrenner High School last year. Upon learning about the presentation, Brandon resident and school board candidate Terry Kemple appealed to the Hillsborough County School Board in April to adopt more stringent policies on who it allows to speak to students, asserting that CAIR is linked to terrorism.

CAIR denies any link to terrorism. Its website says it is an organization created to challenge "stereotypes of Islam and Muslims" and provide "an Islamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public.”

The school board upheld its policy on speakers in the schools.

"It’s important for our students to be exposed to diverse viewpoints," said school board chairwoman Candy Olson, noting that the board didn't take the issue lightly.

"The board had a long workshop and many of us did our own research," said Olson. "After that workshop, we distributed guidelines for teachers concerning speakers, including a guide on religious speakers."

She said the guidelines made it clear that the teacher must follow these guidelines when recruiting a speaker and that the teacher must be in the classroom at all times.

"Speakers have a great value in engaging students. I've had students tell me the Holocaust was nothing but names and dates until a survivor spoke to them and showed them his tattoo," said Olson. "I’m concerned about teachers being reluctant to have speakers in to enrich students. And I don’t believe a student can be indoctrinated in an hour or two hours."

On Tuesday, Kemple said he wasn’t surprised by the turnout of CAIR supporters at the protest rally.

“I expected them to make a showing today,” he said. However, he said the Community Issues Council and other groups are not going to back down on the issue.

“We’ve been at this for eight months now,” he said. “This issue is not going away. The school board can’t keep burying its head in the sand.”

But residents like Michael Freincle of Brandon fear a policy banning CAIR from speaking in schools will lead to a prohibition of other religious and cultural groups.

“I’m Jewish and I’m American,” said Freincle. “And, as an American, who benefits from religious pluralism, I’m here to stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters. They’re not trying to convert students. I think sharing cultures and other topics of knowledge can benefit students.”

University of South Florida student Estefania Galvis agreed. A member of Students for a Democratic Society and Tampa Against the War on Terror, she said she and fellow students attending the rally felt compelled to stand up for the Muslim community.

“9/11 should be a day of remembrance,” she said. “Not a day to spread hate. We want to spread a message of peace.”

Jeff Lukens September 13, 2012 at 04:49 PM
The FBI says CAIR has terrorist ties. CAIR refuses to denounce Hamas. With the events in Egypt and Libya that have happened in the past 48 hours (on the anniversary of 9/11 no less), we should at least be wary about this situation. There are other peaceful Islamic groups that we can turn to accomplish the same function of introducing that culture to our high school students. The school board is closed to all of this because of their overriding sense of political correctness. Every time this issue is brought before them, they dig in deeper into their intransigence. All we can do now is to vote them out. This is one reason why I support Terry Kemple for Hillsborough School Board.
George Gould September 13, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Thank you for inserting a little levity into this discussion, Jeff! it was getting a tad too serious. "The FBI says CAIR has terrorist ties." ROTFLMAO That is hilarious.!
Daryl Dixon September 13, 2012 at 06:04 PM
They probably thought "wow that flag is huge...must be a lot of history buffs around here...what's for lunch?"
Daryl Dixon September 13, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Ssssssshhhhh nobody tell George……on August 7, 2007, a FBI agent testified at the Holy Land Foundation trial that CAIR was "listed as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee", that it had received money from the Foundation, and that co-founders Awad and Omar Ahmad were "listed as individual members of the Brotherhood Palestine Committee in America." CAIR, Council on American Islamic Relations…Islam is a religion, stop saying CAIR is not a religious organization to them (yes I said them) there is no speration, I personally believe it is a front group for the PLO and the Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah but that is just my opinion and I won’t cloud the issue at hand with facts. If they allow CAIR in the schools they should allow EVERY other religious organization, up to and including the church of the flying spaghetti monster, to speak. Hey wasn’t Sami Al-Arian who pled guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to contribute services to or for the benefit of the Palestine Islamic Jihad, the Chairman of the Board of the Islamic Academy of Florida (IAF)…weren’t they a “hey we are Muslim do not fear us group” too?
George Gould September 13, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Isn't the FBI part of the Federal Government? Are you telling me the Federal Government never lies to us?
Shawn Hicks September 14, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I can find no evidence that "the FBI says CAIR has terrorist ties." The FBI appears to have investigated them along with a number of other organizations after 9/11. The FBI does not currently list them as having ties to terrorists. Wikipedia has a pretty deep file on them with a reasonable set of sources for further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_on_American%E2%80%93Islamic_Relations
Shawn Hicks September 14, 2012 at 01:25 PM
WikiPedia again: "In 2007 the organization was named, along with 245 others, by U.S. Federal prosecutors in a list of unindicted co-conspirators and/or joint venturers in a Hamas funding case involving the Holy Land Foundation,[3] which caused the FBI to cease working with CAIR outside of criminal investigations due to its designation.[4][5][6] A federal appeals court removed the label for all parties and sealed the list on October 20, 2010, ruling the designation was the result of "simply an untested allegation of the Government, made in anticipation of a possible evidentiary dispute that never came to pass." [7][8][9][10] " When I read people's opinions about groups like CAIR, I substitute Christian nouns and adjectives and consider if the same statement could be said about the current dominant religion in the USA. If so, I move on.
Jeff Lukens September 14, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Wikipidia is not a reliable place to document stuff. Try this site from 2007: http://counterterrorismblog.org/2007/08/cair_identified_by_the_fbi_as.php In testimony Tuesday, FBI Agent Lara Burns reported before the jury in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was listed as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee, right alongside HLF, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), and the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR). Agent Burns further testified that CAIR received money from HLF - a claim that NihadAwad blatantly denied in a congressional testimony in September of 2003. Burns also said that both Omar Ahmed and Nihad Awad, CAIR co-founders who today serve as CAIR’s chairman emeritus and executive director, respectively, were also listed as individual members the Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee in America. Awad and Ahmed are further connected to the Palestine Committee based on their positions as president and public relations director of the IAP, a Hamas front group that was responsible for the dissemination of propaganda, and has since been closed down as aresult of a multi-million dollar civil judgment in a trial involving the murder of an American teenager by HAMAS terrorists. It goes on.....
Jeff Lukens September 14, 2012 at 07:13 PM
More interesting reading.... http://www.investigativeproject.org/695/cair-trains-fbi-agents-as-new-report-cites-links-to-terror
Jeff Lukens September 14, 2012 at 07:20 PM
http://www.investigativeproject.org/3579/similar-to-fbi-cutoff-doj-urged-to-sever-ties From the report: At a May 10th House of Representatives meeting, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was urged to officially sever ties with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), as reported by The Daily Caller. Citing CAIR's designation as UNINDICTED CO-CONSPIRATOR in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, The Committee Report of Fiscal Year 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriates Bill urges Attorney General Eric Holder to wholly disengage with CAIR. THINK ABOUT IT. DO WE WANT THESE GUYS IN OUR SCHOOLS TALKING TO OUR CHILDREN? SHOULDN’T THERE BE AT LEAST SOME CURIOSITY ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE UP TO? HILLSBOROUGH SCHOOLS SCREEN EVERY OUTSIDE GROUP THAT COMES INTO OUR SCHOOLS … EXCEPT CAIR? WHAT’S UP WITH THAT? COULD IT BE THAT THEY ARE CONTRIBUTING TO BOARD MEMBER’S CAMPAIGNS? WHO KNOWS, THEY JUST NEED TO STAY AWAY FROM OUR CHILDREN.
George Gould September 14, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Hmm... all those CAPS! I've heard that the use of CAPS indicates shouting on the internet. Is that so? If so, why are you shouting? You really need to get a grip, Jeff. I find hysterical shouting quite amusing but I'm not sure everyone does. Your mention of the possibility of CAIR contributing to School Board Members' campaigns leads me to believe that the real reason you have a hard-on for CAIR is not that they're some kind of existential threat to anyone or anything but that they didn't make a contribution to some group like... oh, say... the Alafia Republican Club. I'll bet that would change your attitude toward CAIR. It would, wouldn't it Jeff? Just between you and me. Those guys from CAIR just haven't learned the American way... you have to pay off both sides to insure cooperation. That's the way prostitution works in America.
JS September 14, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Georgie Porgie pudding and pie, Kissed the Cair group and made them cry, When the Mullah came out to play, Georgie Porgies head rolled away.
George Gould September 14, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Ah, JW. Early release from middle school today?. I love being able to count on you for your cutting edge analysis.
Jeff Lukens September 14, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Georgie, I just wanted to thank you for drawing so much attention to this article in the Patch. What would otherwise go largely unnoticed, by your inflaming the issue, we are now up to 34 comments and counting. The Patch is sure to notice this and spread this article to other locations around Hillsborough and the rest of Florida. The more people that hear about this shocking issue just prior to the election, the better. This is advertisement that only money from CAIR to school board members can buy. You are a patriot my friend! ;-)
George Gould September 14, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Georgie???? LMAO. No one other than mental midgets like JW have called me that since before I went to Vietnam in 1968. OK then Jeffie. I'm glad to be of assistance. Obviously I don't really give a rat's ass either way whether CAIR or anybody else visits the schools. I'm just in it for the entertainment value. I enjoy watching you guys wrap yourselves around the axle trying to prove that CAIR is an existential threat to the United States and CAIR wildly insisting they're just misunderstood. As usual the truth is probably somewhere in between but, hell, this is politics. What does truth have to do with that?
Jeff Lukens September 14, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Georgie, You said, "Obviously I don't really give a rat's ass either way whether CAIR or anybody else visits the schools." There is nothing else I can add to that. You said it all my friend! ;-)
George Gould September 14, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Then again Jeff, I'm not trying to appear serious. You are - or maybe you're not - you are supporting Terry Kemple and and that is one strange guy. I think I might rather leave a kid alone with a Catholic priest than with him. So go at it, Jeff. You and Hassan Shibly have fun. Try to play nice with each other. Thanks for the entertainment.
Jeff Lukens September 14, 2012 at 10:54 PM
So Georgie, you take an issue that people are deeply concerned about and you get your kicks by mocking it. Gee, If you don't take what kids are exposed to in school seriously, you must not be a very nice guy. That surely is not kind or compassionate like you libs pretend to be. ;-)
George Gould September 14, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Couldn't hold yourself back, could you Jeff? People who are "deeply concerned" never can. Sooner or later they descend into name calling. I never said I was a very nice guy. And I don't pretend to be anything - I just see things as they are and I comment on them. I care not whether you're liberal or conservative or what you believe. I find people being "deeply concerned" amusing. If that offends you, so be it. BTW - I am most definitely NOT a liberal. I find them to be just as ridiculous, if not more so, than I find conservatives.
Jeff Lukens September 14, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Georgie, just wondering, do you have any kids of your own. Yes, I know, they are probably grown by now. Did you care (no pun) about them when they were in school? If so, why would mock those of us who are concerned about our kids? Did you "pretend" to be a parent?
George Gould September 15, 2012 at 12:18 AM
As a matter of fact, Jeff. I have four children and yes, they are all grown. Of course, I cared about them. That is why I taught them to question everything and everyone, to include me. I wanted them to be exposed to the widest range of ideas so that they could detect bullshit and so that they could and would stand up to people who tried to pass off bullshit as truth. Kids can be very perceptive. They can see through pretense. When they get exposed to an idea which you find offensive, talk to them afterwards. If it's a matter of values which differ from what you've taught them, you'll find that far more often than not, they'll come down on your side. If they don't, then maybe you'll find that they were able to see something that you hadn't considered. Sometimes you'll find that it was you who was full of crap and you'll change. I guess what I'm saying is to have faith in your kids. If you've taught them well, they'll do OK.
Jeff Lukens September 15, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Bravo George. That is the first time you have stated something worthy of this discussion. I like what you say. To summarize the issue about CAIR: CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, where it was listed as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee. CAIR co-founders, Omar Ahmed and Nihad Awad, are connected to Islamic Association for Palestine IAP, a Hamas front group that was responsible for the dissemination of propaganda. We must ask ourselves whether it is appropriate to have organizations like CAIR that condone murder speaking to students in our schools. Jihad can take many forms. There is armed conflict and then there in the peaceful deception of your enemy. We know that a tenant of the Quran is that it is okay to lie to your enemy. They consider the USA and our Bill of Rights their enemy. I believe CAIR is planting the seeds of “peaceful deception” to our youth by appearing to be benign and friendly when their intention is eventual domination. This is why I think CAIR must be banned from our schools. If I taught a class under the Serve Program on the US Constitution and I have to undergo a background check to make sure I am not a criminal or pedophile or whatever. Why don’t they screen CAIR that same way? Could it be that they will be disqualified and that would be politically incorrect? That is why this issue is important.
George Gould September 15, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Actually, Jeff, everything I’ve stated in our exchanges has been worthy of this discussion. It’s just that you didn’t what to hear what I was saying and that’s OK. As far as your summary of the issue with CAIR goes, it’s what I would expect you to say and I have no doubt you believe every word of it. I would imagine Hassan Shibly’s summary of the issue would be somewhat at odds with yours and that he would likewise believe every word of his summary. Where lies the truth? As I said before, it most likely falls somewhere between your competing versions. Life just usually works that way. So how am I to decide between you two? You’re both native-born American citizens from the rust belt as am I. You’re both educated as am I. You’re both men of faith – here you both lose me – I am an agnostic. So how do I decide? I let you guys fight it out while I sit back with a beer and some popcorn and enjoy the entertainment. May the best bullshit win!
Frank Wuco September 15, 2012 at 02:57 AM
You just LOVE to argue, don't you George? The Village Sourpuss... the guy who always sits in the back of the town hall meetings and complains about "a pot hole here... the need for a stop sign there." Then, when the pothole is filled, you argue that the engineers were morons for using asphalt instead of concrete, or some such thing. I have yet to see you make a point, but man do you love to argue, don't you? I've even seen you argue about someone using all caps to spell your name. I would agree with you, but you'd probably argue about that. You love this, don't you George. There's an expression in psychology for your style of communication; for how "all over the place" your logic train is. It's called "word salad." No need to respond, George. Quite frankly, you're boring.
Jeff Lukens September 15, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Don't confuse faith and a political organization. CAIR is not so much about the belief in Islam as it is about achieving political goals. CAIR is a political organization.
George Gould September 15, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Lighten up, Francis. I'm not the one peddling the bullshit. You are. Of course, I have no vested interest in "proving" to the world that those powerful Muslims are an existential threat to the United States. If they're not, that might put a real crimp in the consulting business. Give me a break.
George Gould September 15, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Jeff, all religious organizations are political organizations. Religion is politics by other means.
UNST3RBLICH September 17, 2012 at 06:28 PM
For shame, you still not using proper grammar or being able to form proper sentences. It really detracts from whatever point you're attempting to make.
Shannon Coughlin September 17, 2012 at 10:18 PM
George rules!
George Gould September 17, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Thank you Shannon but please don't say that. I wouldn't want to live in any place that let me rule.


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