CLEVELAND -- The Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) applauded a decision by a school board in that state to cancel an anti-Islam Tea Party event featuring a speaker, Usama Dakdok, who claims all Muslims are "demons" and that "there is no good Muslim."
CAIR-Ohio, the NAACP and other civil rights and interfaith groups scheduled a news conference this morning at the Board of Education in Mansfield, Ohio, to address the negative impact anti-Muslim hate speech would have on district students.
Just before that news conference took place, Mansfield City Schools Superintendent Dan Freund withdrew permission for the Mansfield North Central Ohio Tea Party Association to hold the event tonight at Mansfield Senior High School.
CAIR-Ohio and the other groups participating in this morning's news conference said the perception of official endorsement of hate speech violated both the school board's "core principle" of providing a "safe learning environment" and its rental policy that prohibits use by groups that would "interfere with the educational program of the schools."
According to the school board's "Use of District Facilities" policy, "Under no circumstances shall the grounds or facilities be used to raise funds for political purposes." Despite that prohibition, a Mansfield North Central Ohio Tea Party Association organizer of the event told the Mansfield News Journal that "donations will be accepted."
"We welcome the school board's cancelation of this hate event and hope the entire episode will lead to a deeper discussion of issues related to tolerance and mutual understanding," said CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia Shearson. "We thank the NAACP for its actions in defense of Ohio students of all faiths."
Shearson said she supports Dakdok's free speech rights, but that the venue for his speech was inappropriate given that it appeared to conflict with the school district's facilities usage policy.
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.