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Attacks on Muslim class speaker unnecessary

Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 11:01


Steinbrenner High School teacher Kelly Miliziano received more than a mere parent complaint when she invited a Muslim speaker to visit her class.

The history teacher is now facing a battle with David Caton's Florida Family Association (FFA) after having Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Council on Islamic-American Relations, speak to her students, according to the Tampa Bay Times. 

This is not the first time Caton has been at the center of a controversy involving anti-Muslim sentiment. He was behind a December campaign against TLC's series "All-American Muslim" that successfully got Lowe's Home Improvement and other companies to drop advertising from the television show.

As with the "All-American Muslim" situation, Caton's actions demonstrate a still-lingering strand of anti-Muslim beliefs.Caton demanded to the Hillsborough County School Board (HCSB) that Miliziano either stop inviting Shibly to speak, according to the Times, or give equal time for Christian speakers to dispute his perspective.

To see how unreasonable this notion is, imagine if every Muslim scholar and professor at USF was forced to give equal time to someone of another sect — or if any type of scholar and professor had to provide equal space for a different viewpoint to denounce them.

Miliziano had also invited speakers of many different religious affiliations, including Christianity, to speak to her class, according to the Times. The goal of her class speakers seemed to promote diversity — something students will encounter as they continue their education.

As HCSB chairwoman Candy Olson said to the Times: "Our kids need to understand a lot of different perspectives. They're going to have to deal with everybody in the world, and they can't just be afraid of them because they don't know them."

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Alumnus writer
Mon Jan 30 2012 17:09
The editor makes good points. The FFA was out of line here. Shibly is just a speaker, who was invited to Steinbrenner High School to speak about a violent person that she stopped. If Sami Osmakac was not inspired by religion, he would have been simply labeled crazy. We have crazy serial killers, and even children who have plotted other terrifying attacks as well.

The other commenter from facebook, Lin Anderson, uses terrible logic here. I risk arguing with an ignorant commenter or possibly a cleverly disguised troll, but, if I use Lin's logic, if a "true" follower must follow all examples and behaviors in their holy book, it sets all "true" christians as terrible people. I don't think Christians today feel that slavery is okay or morally justifiable, but it is justified in the Old and New Testaments (1 Timothy 6:1-2, Luke 12:47-48, Exodus 21:20-21, Exodus 21:7-11). If a "True" Christian must follow the Old Testament as well, murder and rape are justified. In Deuteronomy 22:28-29, if a man rapes a woman, the man must marry the woman. No civilized person today would say that a raped woman should be forced to marry the man who raped her.

Not all Christians or Muslims alike follow their holy books word for word. Thankfully, many people try move beyond the literal gospel of their books and use contemporary human rights and values as a working point. If the faithful continued to follow religious texts literally, there would be no women's rights. While some Muslims in 3rd world countries still marry children, it is far from representative of the majority of the religion, and more culturally advanced Muslims denounce these practices. There is a comparison, and unfortunately Lin Anderson's attempt is sadly born of ignorance.

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