Local media has reported that the former national chairman of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been confirmed as a member of the Jacksonville, Florida Human Rights Commission. According to a report in the Florida Time Union:
Ending three weeks of controversial back-and-forth, University of North Florida finance professor Parvez Ahmed was confirmed to the city’s Human Rights Commission Tuesday night. The City Council vote was 13-6, but it came after a half-hour of debate that included a line of questioning from Councilman Don Redman that produced gasps from the audience, concern from one of the city’s top attorneys and sharp rebukes from his fellow council members. After the vote, Ahmed said he was grateful Mayor John Peyton continued to support him through all the accusations and that a majority of council members voted to confirm him. “That bodes very well for the future of the city that the city could handle controversy and at the end the day, as messy as the process was, the outcome was exactly what the city needed,” he said. As discussion on the nomination began, Redman called Ahmed, who is Muslim, to the podium and asked him to “say a prayer to your God.” The comment elicited an audible, negative reaction from the audience and Ahmed refused to comply, saying it had no relevance to his nomination to the commission. At the same time, Chief Deputy General Counsel Cindy Laquidara rushed to the podium to reign in Redman, asking to speak with him privately before he continued. Instead, Redman changed his approach, asking Ahmed if he was offended by Redman’s opening prayer, in which he referenced Jesus. Ahmed again questioned the relevance of the question, but he said Christian prayers did not bother him. “People do have the right to pray according to their faith and according to their beliefs,” he said…..Councilman Clay Yarborough, who at first voted in favor of Ahmed’s nomination in the Rules Committee but reversed himself when the committee voted again last week, read a long statement about why he changed his mind. He said he was given reason to pause because four U.S. representatives asked the attorney general to look into relationship between the Council on American-Islamic Relations, of which Ahmed was once a board member and national chairman, and terrorism….The campaign against Ahmed was led by the anti-radical Muslim group ACT! for America. Randy McDaniels, leader of the Jacksonville chapter, expressed his disappointment after the vote. “This is a bad move,” McDaniels said during the public comment period. “It’s an embarrassment to our community, and the country is watching.”
A previous post discussed Dr. Ahmed’s resignation from CAIR noting that despite Dr. Parvez’s professed desire to not “sound anti-American”, throughout his tenure at CAIR the organization consistently portrayed U.S. anti-terror efforts as directed against the Muslim community itself. As an organization, CAIR has suffered damage to its reputation of late when court documents released in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial revealed that the organization was part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas infrastructure in the U.S. As a previous post has discussed, some of these documents indicated that current CAIR leaders were present at a 1993 meeting in Philadelphia held by senior leaders of Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation, and the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP). Dr. Ahmed subsequently denied that CAIR or its current or former leaders had any ties to Hamas, blaming the concept on pro-Israel supporters and called the meeting “an open meeting of Palestinian activists who came together to discuss the Oslo peace accords and their struggle to gain a homeland.” CAIR had its origins in the U.S. Hamas infrastructure and has, throughout the life of the organization, been associated with fundamentalism, anti-Semitism, and support for terrorism.