The Broward County Republican Party blocked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Florida spokesperson Nezar Hamze from joining its executive board last night, a decision that some see as a sign of anti-Muslim discrimination, reports McClatchy:
Islam and Tea Party activism clashed at a raucous meeting Monday night when a group of Broward County Republicans blocked a Muslim activist as a member of the party’s executive committee.
Republicans, who changed their rules to publicly vet Nezar Hamze and then vote on his application by secret ballot, said they didn’t oppose him because he was a Muslim – but because he is associated with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose Washington-area affiliate was an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal terrorism indictment. …
“I’m aligned with Republican values. And I want to serve the party,” said Hamze, who earlier told a reporter that any effort to block him was the result of anti-Islamic “bigotry.”
The McClatchy headline emphasizes the fact Hamze is Muslim, but the Broward GOP denies religion played a role. And based on the reports so far, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to doubt their argument.
As the face of CAIR Florida, Hamze has made a name for himself in the Broward conservative community – and not always a good one. You may remember him from this public spat he had with Rep. Alan West, which went viral a few months back (incidentally, that’s not the only clash he’s gotten into with West).
According to McClatchy, there are also questions over how long Hamze has been registered as a Republican. Party Vice Chair Collen Stolberg claims he’s only been registered since August, and had no affiliation before that, while Hamze maintains he’s been a registered Republican for the past 10 years. Whichever is accurate, it looks like Hamze’s interest in Republican Party activism started fairly recently. Earlier this month, Salon’s Justin Elliott reported Hamze had just submitted his petition to join the Broward GOP executive board in August. So there seems to be a slew of reasons the Broward GOP might be uneasy having him on the executive board, in addition to his CAIR ties.