ST. PETERSBURG – Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday criticized remarks a Hernando County commissioner’s wife made calling Islam a “hateful, frightening religion.”

In an Oct. 23 letter to the St. Petersburg Times, Mary Ann Hogan objected to the county’s assistance to a mosque celebration of the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

“The stated goal of the Muslim faith is to kill us, the ‘infidels.’ By providing county employees for their use Hernando County is sanctioning this hateful, frightening religion,” she wrote.

Commissioner Tom Hogan Sr., a Republican, defended his wife’s comments in a story posted Wednesday on the newspaper’s Web site.

“I’m not seeing that as bigotry, because I don’t feel bigoted on it. It’s just a matter of fact,” he said.

Bush, who appointed Tom Hogan in August, condemned the couple’s remarks.

“He’s disappointed. He thought their comments were entirely inappropriate,” said Alia Faraj, a spokeswoman for the governor.

“Florida is built on its diverse background, different cultures and religions – it’s what makes Florida so strong,” she said. “The Arab-Americans living in our state are just as patriotic as the rest of us.”

Two other county commissioners, both Democrats, and the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Islamic advocacy group, have called for Tom Hogan’s resignation.


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