The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) continues its epic struggle to understand the First Amendment.
In the latest incident, the Muslim civil liberties group has asked government officials in Brevard County, Florida to deny the use of a county-owned meeting room to a group CAIR has tagged as “an anti-Muslim hate group,” reports the Orlando Sentinel.
The group CAIR opposes is the local chapter of ACT! for America, an organization that stands particularly athwart the threat posed by radical Islam.
ACT! for America wants to use a committee room in the tiny coastal town of Viera to host a speech by Jonathan Matusitz, a tenured communications professor at the University of Central Florida down the road in Orlando.
Matusitz is slated to speak on Tuesday at a session called “The Islamic Threat to America.”
CAIR thinks the government should prohibit the UCF professor’s speech.
“It creates the perception of endorsement and approval by the Brevard County government of this group’s hateful views,” Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s communications director, told the Sentinel.
Hassan Shibly, a lawyer and executive director of CAIR of Tampa, said he is normally in favor of free speech.
“But this individual makes statements to incite violence against the Muslim community, so I think that the line has been crossed,” Shibly said of the professor at a major American research university. “ACT! is an extremist group no different than the KKK. And if the KKK wanted to use that room, there would be a protest.”
Brevard commission Chairman Andy Anderson pointed out that the county-owned meeting room is located in a public building which is taxpayer-funded and open to any group.
“It would be like a group renting out a room at the library to hold a meeting,” Anderson told the Sentinel. “The room is owned by the people and is open to anyone who wants to use it. Unless there was a reason for us to stop a group from using it because of some kind of issue that would be outside the protection of the First Amendment.
CAIR has targeted Matusitz before. In June, the group criticized him for teaching what it called anti-Muslim bigotry. CAIR officials charged that Matusitz propounded “Islamaphobic” views in front of students in a YouTube video.