Friday, November 10, 2006

Congress critter blasts CAIR-Tampa director.

Culture: This is the backstory as Bedier tries to disavow trying to stifle someone's speech.

BROOKSVILLE — U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite has jumped into the fray created by Tom and Mary Ann Hogan’s recent comments about the Islamic faith. The Brooksville Republican, fresh off her re-election victory to District 5, fired off a two-page letter Thursday to Ahmed Bedier, executive director of the Tampa Chapter of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), defending the Hogans’ right to free speech and suggesting that Bedier should resign. “Mrs. Hogan expressed in her statements the views of many of my constituents, and while they do not encourage harmony in the community, they should demonstrate to you how many United States citizens perceive your faith,” Brown-Waite wrote. “Your area of concern should not be focused on the statements of the Hogans, but rather upon the actions of many in your community who created these beliefs.” Brown-Waite sent the 1,100-word letter in response to a letter Bedier sent Nov. 3 calling for Brown-Waite to condemn the Hogans for what he called “anti-Muslim statements” his organization found “deeply disturbing” and “bigoted.” “With the election only a few days away, we are concerned about your close relationship to Mr. and Mrs. Hogan and encourage you to disassociate yourself from their hateful comments,” Bedier wrote, citing news stories in which Tom Hogan was described as “an ardent Brown-Waite backer” who flew to Washington, D.C. for Brown-Waite’s swearing-in ceremonies after she was first elected in 2002. “As the only Congress-woman representing Hernando County, we call on you to send a clear message that hatred and bigotry by GOP leaders will not be tolerated,” Bedier wrote, reminding Brown-Waite that Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida GOP chairwoman Carol Jean Jordan condemned the Hogans’ comments. “Florida is waiting to hear where you stand on this issue,” he wrote. In her letter to newspaper editors last month, Mary Ann Hogan called Islam “a hateful, frightening religion.” Her husband, a co-founder of the county Republican Executive Committee, came out in support of the comments. Bush had appointed him to a vacant County Commission seat in August. “The stated goal of the Islamic faith is to kill us, the ‘infidels,’” Mary Ann Hogan wrote. She penned the note to criticize the county for using personnel and equipment to assist a recent Ramadan festival at a local mosque. Brown-Waite, in her letter to Bedier, praised the Hogans for standing firm in the face of criticism and calls to apologize. “Mr. and Mrs. Hogan have shown tremendous fortitude by resisting the pressures of your group to retract their statements,” she wrote. “I am sorry that Jeb Bush and Carol Jean Jordan from the Republican Party were so quick to also forget that we have freedom of speech and that the Hogans were made to feel that they are the ones who were in the wrong.”
Bedier then comes with this out of the CAIR victim woe is me gimmick.
Reached Thursday afternoon, Bedier said he was “getting over the shock” from Brown-Waite’s letter. CAIR was not trying to stifle the Hogans’ free speech, he said. “We didn’t say shut them up or don’t talk to them, we just wanted to make sure (elected officials) didn’t share the same views,” he said.
But on October 31st, Bedier had this to say.
The Hogans are widely considered the first couple of Hernando County’s Republican Party, and both have helped lead the party since the 1960s. Their comments earned wide condemnation Tuesday from political colleagues. Local Muslim leaders reacted with shock and dismay, with one Islamic advocacy group saying it will call for Hogan’s ouster from the County Commission. “We’re deeply concerned about the hateful and racist nature of these comments,” said Ahmed Bedier, executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, promising to call on Gov. Jeb Bush to remove Hogan from office.
CAIR-FLorida put out a press release on November 1st.
In a letter to Gov. Jeb Bush, CAIR-TAMPA's Executive Director Ahmed Bedier wrote: [Our organization finds the Hogans' comments deeply disturbing. Certainly, the comments are bigoted. We call upon you and other elected officials to repudiate the ignorant anti-Muslim comments made by Mr. and Mrs. Hogan. We also call upon you as the chief executive in the State of Florida and head of the GOP in the state to send a strong message to the public that such hate and bigotry have no place in our society by removing Mr. Hogan from the Hernando County Commission. We believe that his bias is not representative of the values held dear in Florida and America.] Bedier said that his group is also calling upon the Hernando County Commission to vote to censure Commissioner Tom Hogan at their next commission meeting.
I would think this would be trying to shut them up and don't talk to them requirement. This is the S.O.P of CAIR when statements are made they disagree with and if Jeb would follow thru on it, they would make even more demands from the local GOP party and county commisioners to soothe hurt feelings. Brown-Waite didn't stop there with Bedier.
Bedier questioned the timing of Brown-Waite’s response, pointing out that busy people such as both gubernatorial candidates Jim Davis and Charlie Crist had time to draft a letter condemning the Hogans’ words within a day or two after the news broke. Nowhere in her letter, he said, did Brown-Waite do the same. “She was so courageous to send it after she was elected,” he said. “If she had such strong convictions, she could have sent this letter on Friday of last week, like everybody else. It just shows how low people are willing to go to score cheap political points.” Brown-Waite, in turn, called Bedier “cowardly” for sending his letter last Friday, “when he knew I was out campaigning all weekend and Monday and Tuesday,” she said. She bristled when asked Thursday if she supported the content of the Hogans’ letter and raised her voice as she recalled the event in the doctor’s home. “What about the content of his speech to me, attacking my religion?” she said. “He’s not going to get away with it.

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