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C CAIR-FL In The News

Tampa Muslim reacts to “Islamophobic” joke by Florida legislator

By Sean Kinane, For WMNF, On 01 March 2016, Read Original
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This show is a look at Islamophobia in the Florida Legislature and on the presidential campaign trail; we spoke with a Tampa Muslim who says she was the victim of Islamophobic bigotry by a member of the Florida House of Representatives.

Laila Abdelaziz is Legislative & Government Affairs Director of CAIR-Florida, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. She’s also a board member here at WMNF.

We just had Abdelaziz on the show four weeks ago, and that’s not typical – but there are some updates to bills we talked about during that show as well as a very disturbing incident that happened to her in the state capitol Thursday.

Abdelaziz was in Tallahassee advocating against what she calls an anti-refugee bill. It passed its final committee that day in the State House.

Here is the summary of the bill from the House website:

Prevention of Acts of War: Prohibits state, political subdivisions, agencies & employees, & persons receiving state funds from assisting with entry into or resettlement in state of certain foreign refugees & immigrants; requires persons offering resettlement assistance to foreign refugees or immigrants through certain resettlement assistance programs to submit personal identifying information of such refugees & immigrants to FDLE; directs FDLE to conduct background screenings & report specified information to Governor, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, & certain persons; authorizes Governor to exercise certain powers; provides for assessment & payment of certain fees; authorizes Governor & Attorney General to challenge specified federal laws & regulations; directs Governor & Attorney General to prevent entry into or resettlement in state of certain restricted persons.”

After it passed, Abdelaziz found herself in an elevator with several member of the House State Affairs Committee who had just voted. She says RepTom Goodson (R-Titusville) made a joke about whether it was safe to be in an elevator with a Muslim like Abdelaziz. Here’s how she characterized it on Facebook:




WMNF News called Rep. Tom Goodson’s Tallahassee and Titusville offices and left voicemails inviting him on the MidPoint show, but got no response.

On Facebook the bill’s sponsor, Lake Ray (R-Jacksonville), takes issues with critics of the bill:

“To be clear, HB 1095 does not condone the use of military force against refugees. This legislation simply requires the Governor to verify the status and background of refugees attempting to settle in Florida. This is commonsense legislation to protect our economy and ensure our citizens are not put in danger. Please spread the word about the mischaracterization about this important bill.”

We looked at this Florida bill in the national context as well, including Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Drumpf’s call for keeping Muslims out of the U.S.

We also spoke about another bill that has passed the Florida House and Senate and is awaiting Governor Rick Scott’s signature. A letter signed by Abdelaziz and others asks Governor Rick Scott to veto SB 86 / HB 527 because it “would create a blacklist of companies that boycott Israel and would prohibit public entities from contracting with those companies.”

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