(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/9/14) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today said it has joined with concerned Muslims in Tennessee in welcoming cancellation of an anti-Muslim event scheduled for April 24 at a Knoxville high school.
A school official today told CAIR: "I am happy to announce that our Central Office has canceled the ACT event. Thank you for your concern and support."
"We appreciate the prompt and appropriate response to concerns of Muslim parents and others that hosting this event in a public school would send an implicit message of endorsement for the bigoted views of the speakers," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
"We welcome the decision by the superintendent of Knox County Schools to help ensure that they remain a safe place for all students," said American Center for Outreach Director of Policy Remziya Suleyman.
In a letter sent yesterday to Farragut High School Principal Michael Reynolds, Hooper wrote:
"I wish to bring to your attention our concerns about a program scheduled for April 24 at Farragut High School in which two anti-Muslim speakers are to appear to discuss 'Shariah Law.'
"'Bill Warner' (Bill French) is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a member of the "anti-Muslim inner circle."
"He will appear with Matt Bonner, the southeast regional director of the Crescent Project -- a group whose mission is to 'reach Muslims with the Gospel of Christ.'
"Note the anti-Muslim bigotry they both expressed at a previous event.
"The April 24 event in your school is sponsored by ACT! for American, another anti-Muslim hate group.
"ACT! for America leader 'Brigitte Gabriel' claims that an American Muslim 'cannot be a loyal citizen' and that Islam is the 'real enemy.' She once told the Australian Jewish News: 'Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.' She also claimed that 'Islamo-fascism is a politically-correct word ... it's the vehicle for Islam ... Islam is the problem.'
CAIR Islamophobia Backgrounder: ACT! for America and 'Brigitte Gabriel'
"We believe this event will be viewed as having the endorsement of school officials and has the potential to promote bullying and to create a hostile learning environment for Muslim students. It may also serve to create a negative impression of Islam and Muslims in the minds of students of all faiths.
"We support the First Amendment right to free speech -- even the kind of hate speech used by these speakers -- but believe, because of the need for a safe and inclusive learning environment, that a school is not the proper setting such an event.
"I therefore respectfully request that you review district policies to determine whether you high school is an appropriate venue for a potentially hate-filled program."
After receiving the letter, a representative of the school told CAIR that "Farragut High School does not support this event, nor do we share the presenters' views" and that a review of the "use of facilities" agreement was being reviewed by legal experts.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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