TAMPA: The conflict over allowing Hamas-linked CAIR speakers into schools erupts on 9/11 anniversary

Anti-CAIR protesters face off with pro-Hamas left wing ‘dhimmis’ over allowing terror-linked Muslim group CAIR (Council on Anti-American Islamic Relations) to speak to students in Hillsborough school district.

CL Tampa Bay (H/T Henry P)  After a 9/11 prayer vigil Tuesday morning, opponents of radical Islam and about 30 supporters gathered for a news conference outside the school district’s downtown headquarters. They were met by an equally sized and equally vocal group of left-wing demonstrators who objected to their message.

Carrying signs that said “Free Speech,” “No Hate Today” and “I love angry white people,” they shouted down the panel of speakers who had been invited by School Board candidate Terry Kemple, a conservative Christian leader in eastern Hillsborough.

Liberal activists crowded the area just minutes before a press conference hosted by Terry Kemple and a dozen other speakers. Kemple, a candidate for the school board this fall, has led the campaign against allowing members of the Council on American Islamic Relations to speak in the schools, after Hassan Shibly from the Tampa branch of the group spoke at Steinbrenner High last year.

But moments before their press conference was to take place, about two dozen activists who had gathered at Lykes Gaslight Park several blocks away assembled to confront the anti-CAIR speakers, chanting “No fear, no hate!” and setting off about ten minutes of angry and intense exchanges between members of the two groups.

“This is what happens when the Left doesn’t like what we’ve got to say,” said Dr. Richard Swier to local activist Kelly Benjamin, who replied, “No, no, no. This is what happens when the Right tries to discriminate against people in this country.”

“Are you bullying us!” Swier then called out, then looked at a peace sign and asked if it was “an anti-Christian symbol.” Various other angry exchanges with people pressed up against each other continued for several minutes until the formal news conference began. Speakers included current School Board member Stacy White, who said no group has an inherent right to speak in Hillsborough classrooms.

White is the sole member of the current board who also wants CAIR banned. He said, “It would not be unconstitutional for this board to enact a clear policy on guest speakers,” saying a carefully crafted conscientious policy could protect school kids from “radicalism, propaganda and indoctrination by groups who wish to advance such an agenda under the guise of diversity and tolerance.” Although Kemple and others are ostensibly calling for CAIR members to be barred from speaking in the schools, charges made at the press conference went far beyond that request.

Tampa 9/12 member and former Democratic Congressional candidate Tim Curtis rejected accusations that he was a racist or bigot for calling out Islam. “It is the goal of CAIR to replace our Constitution and implement Sharia law as the supreme law of the land.” He then went on to denounce how women are treated under Sharia law.

The opposition to allowing CAIR in Hillsborough County classrooms goes back well over a year. The CAIR critics cling to the fact that the Muslim civil rights organization was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case in 2008 as proof that the group is affiliated with terrorist organizations.

Charles Jacobs from Boston spent his five minutes at the microphone trashing Hasan Shibly, claiming he used to be Facebook friends with Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad.

Fans of cable news might have recognized Frank Gaffney from the Center for Security Policy based in Washington D.C. The neo-conservative blasted the activists as “working with or certainly of the service of people seeking to deny us freedom of speech. That is at the core of what they call Sharia.”

Jim Lafferty with “Stop the Islamization of America” said he’d rather have his kids spend a weekend with a “motorcycle gang than spend five minutes with the people of CAIR.” He called the activists supporting CAIR part of the “same old ‘Blame America First’ crowd of liberals who have now sided with our enemies.”


Among the activists who crashed the press conference was Michael Long, who was living in Westchester, New York on the day of the attacks. He said he was disappointed but not surprised by the anti-CAIR rally.

“It’s not unique to Terry Kemple. It’s been a large thing since September 11 in the right wing community to take what happened there, which could have been a unifying experience for America,” Long said. “My 12-year-old sister and her friends held a food drive for first responders on the day after. They didn’t give a damn about whose religion anyone was.”