Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wrong Time to Execute The Dictator Saddam Hussein

CAIR Tampa Executive Director Ahmed Bedier offers a Muslim perspective on the execution of Saddam Hussein on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. While Bedier believes that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator and that his crimes against humanity have caught up to him, Bedier thinks it is NOT wise to carry out an execution of a Muslim on the holiest day of the Islamic calendar. Just must be blind and should not be impacted by politics or revenge.



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ahmed Bedier Condemns anti-Holocaust Iran Conference

I condemn the recent shameful conference held in Iran that sought to deny the Holocaust, one of the lowest moments in human history.

No legitimate cause can ever be advanced by denying the enormous human suffering caused by the massacre of millions of Jews and other minority groups by the Nazis. Attempts to use Holocaust denial as a political tool in the Middle East conflict will only serve to deepen the level of mistrust and hostility already present in the region.

Muslims are commanded in the Quran to "enjoin in the good and forbid the evil," and clearly the genocide of European Jews was nothing but evil. It is a shame that the current government of Iran, which claims to be an Islamic State, would ignore Islamic ethical values and belittle evil. Responsible governments must encourage the study of the Holocaust and other human atrocities to ensure that they are not repeated.

Americans in general and the Jewish and Muslim communities in particular should know that those who spew anti-Semitic bigotry do not speak for Islam; Muslims denounce their views and their hatred. Islam acknowledges Judaism (and Christianity) as a true revealed religion from God; furthermore Muslims view Jews (and Christians) as fellow "People of the Book" who believe in the same Abrahamic Monotheism.

While the cynical conference was held in Iran, it included many non-Muslim participants like former KKK leader David Duke and French "scholar" George Tail, who called the Holocaust a myth. The diverse participation is a reminder that bigotry is not exclusive to any one group.

As "People of the Book" we must stand united and challenge those who would fan the flames of all forms of hate, including anti-Semitism.

Note: The above opinion is based on CAIR's official release, see CAIR CONDEMNS IRANIAN HOLOCAUST DENIAL CONFERENCE

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bill Nelson should be commended for speaking to Syria, others should follow

Mideast expert Ahmed Bedier quoted in today's Tampa Tribune on U.S. Senator Bill Nelson's plans to visit Syria. Bedier commends Senator Nelson for the bold move but it maybe "too little, too late."

Senator's Trip To Syria Lands Him In Hot Zone
Tampa Tribune, 12/13/06
TALLAHASSEE - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is scheduled to meet with Syrian
President Bashar Assad today despite President Bush's objections.
"We discourage the travel of members of Congress to Syria because we believe it
undermines the Siniora government" of Lebanon, White House spokesman Blair Jones said.

"He should be commended for reaching out and trying for dialogue," said
Ahmed Bedier of Tampa, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic
Relations. Syria, branded by the Bush administration as a supporter of
terrorism, could perhaps help bring stability to Iraq, he said.

"You don't have to agree on everything - but there are some common
interests for all countries in the region," Bedier said. "If you continue to
neglect and not speak to them, that will make your job a lot harder."

Although Bedier welcomed the trip, he added a note of caution.
"A lot of things that are happening now are too little, too late. These things should have been happening years ago," Bedier said.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Ahmed Bedier Receives 2006 Human Rights Award


(TAMPA, FL - 12/8/06) - CAIR Tampa Executive Director Ahmed Bedier today received the prestigious Human Rights Award at the 33rd Annual Awards Breakfast of the Tampa/Hillsborough Human Rights Council.

"I am grateful for this recognition and accept the award on behalf ofthe board, staff, volunteers, and members of CAIR who made it possible," said Bedier. Bedier added that the "true winner" of the award is the Muslim Community in the Tampa Bay area.



Other Human Rights Award winners included: Sheriff David Gee, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office; Dr. Sam Horton of the NAACP-Hillsborough; Rev. Beverly Lane.

Friday, November 17, 2006

FBI Tampa chief thanks Ahmed Bedier for helping protect civil rights and working to keep nation safe

Federal Bureau of Investigation - FBI Tampa Field office Special Agent in Charge Carl Whitehead praises and thanks Ahmed Bedier while speaking at the 2006 CAIR Tampa Annual Banquet.



"I wanted to say that we really appreciate the effort of Ahmed Bedier [Executive
Director, CAIR-Tampa] here in Florida and all the good work that he does on
behalf of CAIR in the community in the area of civil rights…Mr. Bedier has done
a great job in reaching out to law enforcement, establishing open forums for us
to exchange information in order to keep the nation safe.”

-Carl Whitehead, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Tampa Field Office, speaking at the CAIR 2006 Tampa Banquet

Thursday, November 16, 2006

FL Congress woman Brown-Waite defends Muslim Bashers and says All Terrorists are Muslim

Florida Congress woman Ginny Brown-Waite at her best, calling all Terrorists Muslim

Watch her embarrassing performance on WTVT Fox News:



Text Version courtesy of WTVT:



Last Edited: Thursday, 09 Nov 2006, 10:18 PM EST
Created: Thursday, 09 Nov 2006, 10:18 PM EST

Ginny Brown-Waite is defending a supporter's comments. We've got you covered

BROOKSVILLE - When Governor-elect Charlie Crist heard one of his
supporters call Islam a "hateful and frightening" religion, he kicked
her off his election team.

Governor Bush also condemned Hernando Commissioner Tom Hogan's and
his wife for the remark.

Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite didn't respond until after the
election, then she rushed to the couple's defense.

"Ms. Hogan is entitled to her views, and her husband stood by her
side as a good husband should," stated Brown-Waite.

The congresswoman also attacked the Governor and the Governor-elect
for condemning the comment.

"Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but every terrorist is a Muslim
except for Tim McVeigh," offered Brown-Waite.

"What about Eric Rudolph?" FOX 13 asked.

"Well except him too," said Brown-Waite.

"What about the Klan?" we asked.

"They're not doing terrorist activities right now. We're talking
about a group that wants to do away with our way of life. With all
due respect, I don't think there's any comparison," said Brown-Waite.

We can find many non-Muslim terrorists, but Islamic groups say that's
not the point.

"She's actually standing up on the wrong side of the aisle, defending
bigotry and hatred," stated Ahmed Bedier with the Council on American
Islamic Relations.

The Congresswoman says she defends anti-Muslim remarks on grounds of
free speech.

She wrote a scorching three-page defense claiming those who call
Islam 'hateful and frightening' just reflect her community.

"If this does reflect the views of your community, what will you do
to educate the community?" FOX 13 asked.

"I think it's up to the moderate Muslims," Brown-Waite responded

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

FAQ: How does blog have anonymous comments, when it is not allowed

On 11/8/06, American Crusader asks the following:
Why does a site that does not allow anonymous comments have so many?Out of
have five comments...four of them are anonymous.

ANSWER: Very simple, when I started this blog, the setting to accept Anonymous comments was enabled. After a flood of spam, I disabled it. Visitors in the past were able to post anonymous comments, visitors now can't.

I hope that clarifies things for you.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Reacting to the Pope's Comments: Muslims Must Not Use Violence When Accused of Being Violent

CAIR Tampa Executive Director speaking out against the violent reaction by a few Muslims in response to Pope Benedict's recent comments against Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In a statement Bedier "While I was upset by and disagree with the Pope's comments on Islam, I am more upset by the violent reaction by a few ignorant people." CAIR announced a new campaign to raise money for the damaged churches in the mideast that were vandalized in reaction to the controversy.

THREE VIDEO CLIPS: To Watch Select the clip from menu on right, then play:

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Police Audio: AirTran Removes Muslim Passengers Because "Iranian" Look

On August 20, 2006, two young Pakistani-American Muslim men returning home to Washington, D.C. from Tampa on AirTran flight 941 were abruptly kicked off (or removed) the aircraft and handed over to law enforcement for questioning. Minutes later they were cleared but could not re-board that same flight.

The incident upset me enough to dig deeper, because there is no justification to selectively remove passengers off flights. I decided to research further and what I found was a very disturbing case of racial or ethnic or religious (whatever you want to call it) profiling and maybe a troubling trend in the aviation industry.

I believe that the evidence (when available) will always lead to the truth, because evidence does not lie. In this situation the evidence would be any audio archives between the flight crew and law enforcement. I've tracked it down courtesy of the Tampa Airport Police Department. Below is a transcript of the brief phone call from "Jeff" at AirTran to the Tampa Airport Police dispatch.

The conversation clearly shows that AirTran had no justified reason to remove the two Muslims from the aircraft except that they acted "suspicious" and looked "Iranian." What's an Iranian look like? does that mean anyone who is percieved to be Iranian is a suspect?


Ahmed Bedier is Not Spokesperson for Al-Arian and Has Never Met Him

The anti-Muslim bashers are at it again, every chance they have to spew hatred at American Muslim leaders they maximize it by resorting to lies, defamation and fabrication. Today Florida's leading Islamaphobe blogger Joe Kaufman fabricated a story Campaign Cash from Al-Arian's Mouthpiece in FrontpageMag.com (a known extremist online publication) naming Ahmed Bedier, Dr. Sami Al-Arian's Spokesperson (also mouthpiece). For more about Sami Al-Arian click here. Kaufman could not be further from the truth.

What Kaufman fails to mention is that Ahmed Bedier has NEVER met Dr. Sami Al-Arian, NEVER spoke with Al-Arian on the phone and NEVER corresponded with Al-Arian via email/mail. So how can Kaufman claim that Bedier is a spokesperson of someone he has NEVER been in contact with??

Bedier is a community leader in Tampa and is the director of American Muslim civil rights group (CAIR) in that city. The Al-Arian trial was the biggest case in Tampa's Federal Judicial history, Bedier spoke a great deal to the media about the case, but so did everyone else. It was top news for several years. Bedier does NOT regret any of the comments he made surrounding the case. As a civil rights leader, Bedier speaks up on behalf of CAIR and its members calling for justice and due process. If Kaufman is upset that individuals are calling for the implementation of the U.S. constitution, than it is Kaufman who should answer whom does he speak for?

Kaufman's hatred for Muslims blinded him from looking at the true facts of the case. An American Jury of 12 who listened to all the evidence for six months overwhelmingly chose not to convict Al-Arian on a single count. Perhaps that's what Kaufman is so angry about, that a Palestinian Professor would get any justice in America. Kaufman is known for his extreme pro-Zionist sentiments which explains his hatred for Palestinians.

Joe Kaufman is recognized in the State of Florida for his hatred towards American Muslims and Arab Americans, just this year alone Americans United awarded him their infamous "Onion Award" recognizing his hatred and bigotry. If one is to review Kaufman's writings he would find that he has accused every Muslim he knows with terror ties, and has never written anything positive about a single Muslim. In his poor writing style, Kaufman attempts to link all Muslims to each other and labels them guilty by association (even if it does not exist, the mere fact that two people share the same religion is association in Kaufman's eyes).

In the same article Kaufman repeats an allegation he made last year that Bedier defended Palestinian Islamic Jihad on a TV show. A flat out lie which Bedier answered last year, for details read the posting Responding to the distortion: Bedier says "Nothing Immoral" About Islamic Jihad.

Finally, Kaufman recycles a FALSE claim that CAIR has some sort of terror ties. CAIR is a legitimate mainstream American organization with headquarters in Washington, D.C. and 33 offices nationwide with a combined staff of over 75. CAIR and Bedier have a positive working relationship with all levels of government and law enforcement including the FBI. If Kaufman believes his lies he should report them to the appropriate authorities so they can take appropriate action (or laugh at him).

If anyone is not familiar with the great work of CAIR or has concerns about the organization, feel free to visit www.cair.com and read What Public Officials Say About CAIR.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Remember CAIR's "Not In The Name of Islam" Campaign

With the recent foiled UK airline terror plot came the hype and attacks that Muslims condemn terrorism. Muslims around the world including the Council on American Islamic Relations have repeatedly condemn terrorism. In a May 2004 post I included the text of the "Not in the Name of Islam" campaign, here it is again:

“We, the undersigned Muslims, wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent. No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam. We repudiate and dissociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him."

View or sign the CAIR petition at:http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page=articleView&id=169&theType=AA

See also: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/not-in-name-of-islam-petition.html

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bedier Reacts to UK Terror Plot, Concern of Backlash

Tampa Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations Ahmed Bedier explains the American Muslim perspective on the foiled UK Terror plot (aug 2006) and the Muslim Community's fear of backlash. Islamic centers nationwide have and are encouraged to step security measures. Bedier condemned the terror plot as un-Islamic. Watch below.



SOURCE: BAYNEWS9

Feeling a great deal of fear
Saturday, August 12, 2006


Ahmed Bedier said the center has received hate e-mails.
While many Americans were shaken by the latest developments regarding a possible terror plot to blow up airliners, American Muslims are dealing with an additional fear.

They're afraid people who associate Islam with terrorism judge them because they're Muslim.

"There's a great deal of fear," Council on American-Islamic Relations of Tampa Director Ahmed Bedier said. "There's a great deal of uncertainty and it's a hostile environment."

This comes after charges of a plot to blow up jetliners from Britain to the United States. All 24 suspects arrested are British citizens and are mostly men of Pakistani descent.

American Muslims in the Bay area are now afraid of a backlash, something Bedier said has been the reality for Muslims since 9/11.

"There's been a number of incidents across the country and also the state of Florida as far as mosques being targeted and hate crimes directed at mosques," Bedier said.

In response to that past, security at area Islamic centers and schools like the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay was noticeably heightened during the Day of Congregation. Hundreds of Muslims made their way into the mosque for worship under a close watch.

"All gates are being blocked except some specific gates," Bedier said. "Cars will be blocking the gates individual cars or trucks cannot get close to the structures or facilities."..... MORE

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bedier Condemns Attack on Seattle Jewish Center

On July 29, 2006, Council on American-Islamic Relations Representative Ahmed Bedier appeared on WFTS ABC News to denounce the recent attack by a Pakistani-American on a Jewish Federation Center in Seattle, Washington.



The national office CAIR and American Muslim religious leaders in Washington also condemned the attack:

See:

CAIR CONDEMNS ATTACK ON SEATTLE JEWISH CENTER
Group says Mideast conflict must not be ‘transplanted’ to America

(WASHINGTON, DC, 7/28/06) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned an attack on a Jewish community center in Seattle, Wash., that left one person dead and several more injured. (A statement signed by representatives of the Seattle Muslim community, including CAIR-Seattle, is attached below.)

A lone gunman who reportedly said, “I'm a Muslim American; I'm angry at Israel," entered the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and began shooting. The alleged gunman was later arrested.

In a statement, the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said:

“We condemn this senseless attack on a religious institution and offer sincere condolences to the loved ones of those killed or injured. The American Muslim and Jewish communities must do whatever is within their power to prevent the current conflict in the Middle East from being transplanted to this country. We also urge local, state and national law enforcement authorities to step up security measures at synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions of both faiths.”

full release click here

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bedier Perspective on the Israeli Attacks on Lebanon and Gaza

CAIR Florida Tampa Director Ahmed Bedier appeared on Baynews 9 Political Connections Soapbox segment to comment on the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza and Lebanon. In the commentary Bedier urged the U.S. government to call for an immediate cease fire.



Council on American-Islamic Relations

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bedier Leads Tampa Delegation Calling for Immediate Cease Fire in Lebanon and Safe Passage for Evacuees

Ahmed Bedier of the Tampa office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, today called on the U.S. Government to pressure an immediate cease fire for Humanitarian and Evacuation purposes. Family relatives of American Citizens Trapped in Lebanon joined the News conference and criticized the slow and confusing Evacuation process. The news conference took place following a meeting with the Tampa office U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.

In the news clip a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman encourages the use of "word of mouth" as an effective communication method that spreads "quicker than email."



Other related Videos with Bedier on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1wODtn6OJo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYYz5QsmsUc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQjIytebv98
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GroMfpAFEM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FulWwLGDBQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWMV6ykKZKc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spv8ZMBsLSA


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Is Israel a strategic friend or spoiled brat?

The Washington Post today published published and long extensive article examining the U.S. - Israel relationship. The article also reflects on the much talked about and critically acclaimed paper "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by Stephen Walt from Harvard and John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago.

In light of the recent acts of War against Gaza and Lebanon, more and more Americans are questioning the liability of Israel's irrational behavior.

A brief side note: There is a clear distinction between the great religion of Judaism (recognized by the Quran as legitimate and from The One True Creator) and the government of Israel. Israel does not act in the name of Judaism and their illegal acts should not be seen as encouraged by Judaism. Criticism against Israel and the various Zionist parties should never be equated to the great Divine religion of Judaism. If Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was here today, I would imagine that he would have some serious issues with how Israeli leaders are misrepresenting their faith.

Just like if Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was here today he would have issues with what the violent extremist are doing (i.e. attacking civilians, corruption, injustice).


Ahmed Bedier

NOW HERE IS THE ARTICLE:

A Beautiful Friendship?
In search of the truth about the Israel lobby's influence on Washington
By Glenn FrankelSunday, July 16, 2006; W13

All David Ben-Gurion wanted was 15 minutes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's time.
Israel's founding father, one of the indomitable political leaders of the 20th century, came to Washington in December 1941 yearning to present the case for a Jewish state directly to the American president. He took a two-room suite at the old Ambassador Hotel at 14th and K for $1,000 a month and cooled his heels for 10 weeks, writing letters and reports and making passes at Miriam Cohen, his attractive American secretary. But Ben-Gurion didn't get the meeting. Not then, not ever. Not even a pair of presidential cuff links.
Now let's fast-forward 64 years to late May and a news conference in the East Room of the White House. That tall, freckled, slightly nervous-looking man with the rust-colored hair standing alongside President Bush at matching lecterns is Ehud Olmert, 12th prime minister of Israel. The two leaders and their advisers have just spent two hours together in the Oval Office. Bush is reaffirming the "deep and abiding ties between Israel and the United States" and praising Olmert's "bold ideas" and commitment to peace. Afterward, they'll adjourn for a private session without aides or note-takers and then go to dinner together. And the next day Olmert will address a joint session of Congress, whose members will interrupt his speech with 16 standing ovations. Ben-Gurion, whose remains rest in a simple grave overlooking the Negev Desert, would be stunned.
It's not that Olmert is a more commanding figure than Ben-Gurion. Far from it. No, it's about power. And not just Israeli power. It's really about the perceived power of the Israel lobby, a collection of American Jewish organizations, campaign contributors and think tanks -- aided by Christian conservatives and other non-Jewish supporters -- that arose over the second half of the 20th century and that sees as a principle goal the support and promotion of the interests of the state of Israel.
Thanks to the work of the lobby and its allies, Israel gets more direct foreign aid -- about $3 billion a year -- than any other nation. There's a file cabinet somewhere in the State Department full of memoranda of understanding on military, diplomatic and economic affairs. Israel gets treated like a NATO member when it comes to military matters and like Canada or Mexico when it comes to free trade. There's an annual calendar full of meetings of joint strategic task forces and other collaborative sessions. And there's a presidential pledge, re-avowed by Bush in the East Room, that the United States will come to Israel's aid in the event of attack.
On Capitol Hill the Israel lobby commands large majorities in both the House and Senate. Polls show strong public support for Israel -- a connection that has grown even deeper after the September 11 attacks. The popular equation goes like this: Israelis equal good guys, Arabs equal terrorists. Working the Hill these days, says Josh Block, spokesman for the premier Israeli lobbying group known as AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, "is like pushing at an open door."
Not everyone believes this is a good thing. In March two distinguished political scientists -- Stephen Walt from Harvard and John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago -- published a 42-page, heavily footnoted essay arguing that the Bush administration's support for Israel and its related effort to spread democracy throughout the Middle East have "inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized U.S. security."
The professors claim that our intimate partnership with Israel is both dangerous and unprecedented. "Other special interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest," they argue. They go on to say that the war in Iraq "was due in large part to the Lobby's influence," and that the same combine is "using all of the strategies in its playbook" to pressure the administration into being aggressive and belligerent with Iran. The bottom line: "Israel's enemies get weakened or overthrown, Israel gets a free hand with the Palestinians, and the United States does most of the fighting, dying, rebuilding and paying."
A sweet deal for Israel, in other words, but a very bad one for America.

Full article here

Monday, July 10, 2006

Was Racist Remark trigger of Zidane Head-Butt Foul at World Cup Final


Yesterday the world (over 1 billion of us) witnessed in slow motion the now infamous head butt fouled by French sports star Zinedine Zidane against Italy's Marco Materazzi. Whatever language you heard it in, all the announcers were saying the same thing pourqoi, pourqoi , why, why????

Today analysts, commentators and the world continues to ponder over the incident. Some news is filtering out, by the AP, European organizations and others that Materazzi might have triggered the foul by making a racist slur at Zidane.

I was disappointed that Zidane lost it and committed the foul. A star of his status should try to keep his cool, but there seems to be more to this story than just a player gone mad. Here are the articles:

AP:
The Zidane mystery: What set him off?


"The Italians did everything they
could do to provoke Zidane," France
defender William Gallas said.
Seconds before, Materazzi had wrapped his arm
around Zidane just as a
French attack on goal passed harmlessly by. The two
exchanged words as they
walked back up the field, well behind the play. Then,
without warning,
Zidane spun around, lowered his head and rammed Materazzi,
knocking him to
the ground.
The Paris-based anti-racism advocacy group
SOS-Racism issued
a statement Monday quoting "several very well informed sources
from the
world of football" as saying Materazzi called Zidane a "dirty
terrorist." It
demanded that FIFA investigate and take any appropriate
action.

See Also: Why Today I Wear My Zidane Jersey

Friday, June 09, 2006

VIDEO: Ahmed Bedier Reacts to Death of Al-Zarqawi

I (Ahmed Bedier) appeared on Tampa FOX affiliate WTVT to debate the Impact of the Death of Iraqi Terror Leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Bedier condemned Zaraqwi's actions as un-Islamic.



The Council on American-Islamic Relations - aka CAIR, the organization that I represent has released the following statement:

CAIR HOPES DEATH OF ZARQAWI LEADS TO DECREASED IRAQ VIOLENCE

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/8/06) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations
(CAIR) today said it hopes the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will help bring
about a decrease in civilian casualties and sectarian violence in Iraq.

In a statement, CAIR said:

"We hope the death of terrorist
leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will lead to a decrease in the skyrocketing number
of civilian deaths in Iraq and will help slow the downward spiral of sectarian
violence gripping that nation. The violent actions of al-Zarqawi and his
followers violated basic Islamic teachings and resulted directly or indirectly
in the deaths of many innocent Iraqis and foreign nationals."

Friday, May 26, 2006

Ahmed Bedier Debates Attorney on Religious Holidays in Schools

Ahmed Bedier debates New York Attorney Michael Gross on FOX News Channel "Fair & Balanced" segment on the topic of religious holidays in public schools.

Thou Shalt Not Lie: Pat Robertson Says he Leg-Pressed 2000 Pounds


People across the country are questioning claims by Pat Robertson's (founder of the Christian Coalition) claim that he has leg pressed 200 pounds. From the Associated Press (via Yahoo News):
According to the CBN Web site, Robertson worked his way up to lifting a ton with
the help of his physician, who is not named. The posting does not say when the
lift occurred, but a CBN spokeswoman released photos to The Associated Press
that she said showed Robertson lifting 2,000 pounds in 2003, when Robertson was 73. He is now 76.
The Web posting said two men loaded the leg-press machine
with 2,000 pounds "and then let it down on Mr. Robertson, who pushed it up one
rep and let it go back down again." The Web site said several people witnessed
the event, and shows video of Robertson leg-pressing what appears to be 1,000
pounds.

However most experts think Robertson is lying:
Clay Travis of CBS SportsLine.com called the 2,000-pound assertion impossible in
a column this week, writing that the leg-press record for football players at
Florida State University is 665 pounds less.
"Where in the world did Robertson even find a machine that could hold 2,000 pounds at one time?" Travis asked.

Why would anyone be surprised about Robertson's false witness. He does it all the time. Constantly attacking all non Judeo-Christian religions. He constantly bears false witness against God (Allah in Arabic) claiming that God and Allah are not the same. He defined Allah as the "moon god from Mecca." What an insult to all the Arabic speaking Christians who call upon God in their native tongue as Allah. If Robertson has no problem lying to the world about God, then there is nothing else he would not lie about.

Pat Robertson should practice what he preaches by following the bible and at least the 10 Commandments.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

USF Oracle Column: Walid Shoebat and Hillel Shock USF Audience by Preaching Violence and Hatred

Last week, I (Ahmed Bedier) asked the question: Why are some Florida "Jewish" Groups sponsoring anti-Muslim hate speech events?. I brought up the question because of an anti-Muslim event hosted by the Hillel (conservative Jewish Org. at college campuses) group at USF and funded by Greater Miami Jewish Federation where a known Islamophobe named Walid Shoebat declared "Islam is not a religion."

Today Sean Kinane, a contributor to the campus newspaper of the University of South Florida, The Oracle, replies to both Walid Shoebat and Hillel in a column titled "Walid Shoebat preached violence, not peace." In the Column Kinane tells both Shoebat and Hillel "more violence and killing is not the way to bring peace," more violence was Shoebats solution for bringing peace. Kinane recalls a troubling exchange between Walid Shoebat and a student in the audience looking for solutions to the Mideast conflict:
A student in the audience asked Shoebat for the advice he would give young
people on creating a world of peace. Shoebat replied, "Sometimes we have to
shoot brother wolf until he promises to stop eating sister sheep." I was not
alone in my shock at this evidently contradictory answer, so I asked him if he
really thought more violence was the way to attain peace. He replied that yes,
essentially, extrajudicial assassinations were acceptable.

Kinnane rightly added:
What a shame it is for Hillel to bring to USF someone who advocates hateful
assassinations and retaliatory violence.

As shame it is indeed, Hillel and Greater Miami Jewish Federation are not only doing a disservice to humanity by promoting hatred and intolerance, but they're also doing a disservice to their own Jewish community. Respectable Jewish organizations in Florida are always at the forefront fighting bigotry, racism and hatred, it's very troubling that they would sponsor events that contradict the work they advocate.

Troubled by these type of events, I recently brought up my concern to a couple of my Jewish friends. Their response was embarrassment and frustration, questioning the wisdom of groups like Hillel and Greater Miami Jewish Federation. They also told me that these groups don't speak for all Jews and they don't speak or act in their name. I am realizing more an more, that when it comes to the Jewish community, one-size does NOT fit all. Like other religions and groups their is diverse opinions among the followers. My Jewish friends explained that the hardliners and extremists tend to be more active voicing their opinion and silencing other views.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ahmed Bedier video commentary on religious Freedom, Islam and the case of Afghanistan's Abdul Rahman

Last month I joined CAIR in calling for the release of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan man who faced prosecution for leaving Islam. Even though many Muslim scholars and leaders spoke up against any earthly punishment for apostasy (leaving one's faith) the majority of the media failed to include the voices and views of mainstream Muslims in their coverage. The result, most Americans I speak to think that all Muslims supported the position of a handful of Afghan clerics who advocated for Abdul Rahman's death.

This past Sunday I was invited by a Tampa Bay television news station to provide commentary on the topic of Islam and religious freedom. It was a good opportunity to take the message directly to the people.

Peace, Ahmed Bedier



source: http://ahmedbedier.com/video/060403-bedier-religious-freedom.wmv

Friday, March 31, 2006

Why are some Florida "Jewish" Groups sponsoring anti-Muslim hate speech events? Speaker at Tampa event says "Islam Not a Religion"

***Note: I know better than to stereotype against an entire community. The reason I question the judgment of some "Jewish" groups in the below post is because both groups openly claim they're advocating on behalf of the Jewish community***


It is with great displeasure that I write this post. However, unless we openly discuss this type of hatred that exists within our community, then we will not progress.

Last night (March 30, 2006) the University of South Florida chapter of Hillel hosted a hate filled seminar during their 'Israel Week' featuring Walid Shoebat, a self-described "Former PLO Terrorist." Shoebat's fantasy story about being a former terrorists has never been independently confirmed, yet he tours the country and the world speaking to or hosted/sponsored by so called "Jewish" organizations and/or right wing groups, raking in thousands of dollars in speaker fees. Here is one of the hate messages Shoebat had for the crowd at USF (audio clip link available below):

"I began to understand that Islam as a religion is NOT a religion. Islam is a
system of government. Can anybody deny that? Islam is a legislation, civil code,
government, then a religion. That's what Islam is. So now you want to
fight Islamic fundamentalism and it's a problem because you're really talking
about a religion. And you're going to offend people... We must have Islamic
democracy. I said, excuse me, Islam is not a religion. It's like saying
capitalistic communism, is there such an oxymoron?" -Walid Shoebat at
USF

So Mr. Shoebat (not his real name by the way, he has consistently refused to provide his real name and/or age, place of birth or any other identifying information) wants to believe that Islam is not a religion, erasing the faith of over 1.2 billion Muslims around the world and the billions who lived before. Shoebat who has no formal education in theology, history or any other ligit study.

According to Hilled USF's website, the Hillel Shoebat hatefest event was unfortunately sponsored by Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

Which brings me to the question of the day for me, WHY ARE JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS SPONSORING ANTI-MUSLIM HATE SPEECH EVENTS? A question I think both groups and others that continue to host Walid Shoebat and other hate mongers like him, must answer.

Hillel's promotion for the Tampa event promised it would be

"Interactive dialogue" and "is going to be unbelievable."

They were partially accurate, the only description for the event is "unbelievable." However it was neither "interactive" nor a "dialogue."

Troubled by last night's event and the question on my mind. I visited the websites of Hillel and Greater Miami Jewish Federation to learn more about their mission and identity, to find out if anti-Muslim hate speech is part of their goals or agenda.

Hillel describes itself as:

The largest Jewish campus organization in the world,
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life provides opportunities for
Jewish students at more than 500 colleges and universities to explore and
celebrate their Jewish identity through its global network of regional
centers, campus Foundations and Hillel student organizations. Hillel is
working to provoke a renaissance of Jewish life.......

Hillel's mission is to enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.

Nothing about Islam or hate speech there, if you continue reading Hillel has some positive goals like:

-creating a plenvironmentnviornment; pursue tzedek (social justice); tikkun olam (repairing the world)

So that troubles me even more, where does the seminar of a hate monger and fraud like Walid Shoebat fit in all of this?

To have "unbelievable" and "interactive" dialogue, Hillel and Jewish Federations around the country need to pick-up the phone and dial-up a local American-Muslim organization, mosque or school. Coordinate a real forum with a real agenda that can produce results. Hate speech and rhetoric will only serve to divide our communities.

As conscience consience, Jews, Muslims, Christians and others must condemn hate speech directed at any group. And if not condemn, the least we can do is not actively promote bigots and hate mongers. We have to be consistent and not have a double standard, just as my Jewish friends want me to distance myself from anti-Jewish hate speech by Muslim radicals, I expect the same from them, to distance themselves from anti-Muslim bashers.

The irony is, Shoebat's website provides that "love" is the solution, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King (on the frontpage of this website)

"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy
into friend."

Perhaps Shoebat and his sponsoring organization can start practicing what they preach.

TO LISTEN TO A CLIP FROM WALID SHOEBAT'S HATE SPEECH AT THE HILLEL USF EVENT, PLEASE CLICK HERE (then cry).

Related link(s):

Shoebat telling his fake story on O'Reilly Factor: http://youtube.com/watch?v=x6dYXXdiBBA

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Afghan Court Drops Case Against Christian Convert

The Associated Press just reported that the case against an Afghan Man who left Islam for Christianity 16 years ago has been dropped, because of 'lack of evidence' and his 'mental status.'

A couple of days ago I (Ahmed Bedier) joined CAIR and others calling for his release.

Alhamdulillah (All praise is due to God) the Afghan authorities did the right thing by dropping this case, that should never have been one in the first place.

For over a week now news outlets reported that Abdul Rahman is facing the death penalty under Islamic Law for leaving Islam, however they failed to point out that this is not a unanimous opinion among all Muslim scholars. Also that there is not a single verse in the Quran that commands the killing of an apostate (a person leaving his faith). The New York Times did a better job in an article published yesterday (3/25/06) "In Kabul, a Test for Shariah."

The NY Times article provides more context and background on the apostasy in Islam and actually interviews Muslim scholars, where others like the AP simply repeated that Islamic Law mandates the killing of apostates. In the NY Times article John Esposito and others weighed in:

  • Progressive Muslim scholars argue that the meaning of those laws has been lost over time: When the laws were created, they say, apostasy was seen as the equivalent of treason. "To be a Muslim was to live in an Islamic state or empire, so the presumption was you were not only becoming the enemy of God but the enemy of the empire," said John L. Esposito, a professor of religion and international affairs at Georgetown University.
    Muslim jurists who support the execution of apostates often point to a hadith — a tradition attributed to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century — in which he is recorded as saying that a person who changes religions should be killed.
    But while the Koran mentions ridda, it never calls for the execution of apostates. There is no record of the prophet killing an apostate himself. And executions of apostates have been rare in Islamic history.
    "The common argument is that it clearly contradicts the Koran, which says there should not be compulsion in religion," said Khaled Abou El Fadl, an Islamic law expert and professor at the
    University of California, Los Angeles.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

RADIO: Ahmed Bedier talks to the Schnitt Show about religious freedom in Islam and the Afghan apostasy case of Abdul Rahman


Ahmed Bedier appeared today as a guest on the Schnitt Show, a Clearchannel syndicated radio show, to discuss the Afghanistan apostasy case of Abdul Rahman. Bedier called for the release of Abdul Rahman and said that Islam encourages religous freedom.

To listen to the segment, CLICK HERE

Why is an Afghani Man on Trial for leaving Islam?

** Muslim view and opinion on Afghan who converted from Islam to Christianity **


America's leading Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who I (Ahmed Bedier) represent in Florida, did the right thing by calling for the release of an Afghan man who claims to have left Islam for Christianity. A few Muslims might be scratching their head and asking "wait a minute why are Muslims supporting a man's right to leave their religion." The answer is clear in the Quran, the ultimate source of Islamic Law or Shariah. Now before I get a ton of email asking for my clerical credentials, I confess that I am not a scholar by any means nor do I have the authority to give any sort of fatwa.

But read for yourself:

  • 'Let there be no compulsion in religion.' (Quran 2:256)

Islam came to liberate mankind from oppressive nations/tribes who forced religion on the people. Since Islam came and wherever it spread people enjoyed freedom of religion. European Christians, who were forced to practice what the Church forced upon them, envied those living in the Muslim World who were free to practice their faith as they wanted to.

  • 'If it had been the will of your Lord that all the people of the world should be believers, all the people of the earth would have believed! Would you then compel mankind against their will to believe?' (Quran 10:99)
  • '(O Prophet) proclaim: 'This is the Truth from your Lord. Now let him who will, believe in it, and him who will, deny it.'' (Quran 18:29)3)

Both verses are divine testaments in the Quran on the concept of free will. Even God the Almighty has given mankind free will to choose their faith, will mankind restrict that free will on their subjects?? It doesn't make sense.

  • 'If they turn away from thee (O Muhammad) they should know that We have not sent you to be their keeper. Your only duty is to convey My message.' (Quran 42:48)4)


When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) passed away, Muslims inherited the message from the messenger (pbuh). Muhammad (pbuh), the beloved example, was not sent to force religion on people or be their keeper. His duty, which Muslims inherited, is to only convey the message. Let God be the judge.

Some folks reading this will say 'that's cool and all, but how is it that Afghanistan is justifying the prosecution (and possible death penalty) of a man who changed his religion? My only guess is, since I have not found any official position yet, is that they're interpreting Islamic Law based on ancient conditions, where Islamic scholars use to equate apostasy (leaving the religion) to treason. Back then Islamic scholars used to define earth/world in geo-political terms of 'Dar al-Islam' the abode of Islam and 'Dar al-Harb' the abode of war. Which meant that if a person was not among the Muslims or from the Muslims he/she joined the other abode and committed an act of treason against the Islamic state. However in many parts of the Muslim world this was considered a narrow interpretation. Since in places like Spain and India where Muslims ruled for centuries they rarely ever persecuted non-Muslims.

The bottom line is Islam is not hurting for numbers, it continues to be one of the fastest growing religions (if not the fastest) and is the 2nd largest religious community in the world. Numbers are not important, as my father always told me "Ahmed, it's not the quanity that we need, it's the Quality!" He couldn't be more right.

Islamic scholars in Afghanistan need to rethink their position on the issue of apostasy, and interpert the Quran and Islamic law in the context and reality of today. There is NOT as single verse in the Quran that commands death for those that leave the faith.

While some might rightly argue that it is premature to release any statements on the individual case of Abdul Rahman, since we don't have the facts of his case, we can still take a position on the issue of apostasy. In the coming days and weeks we learn more and more about Abdul Rahman and why he was arrested in the first place.

To Read what other scholars have said about the topic, check out the following links:

Afghan Tried for Christianity

Fatwa: Dr. Jamal Badawi and Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah on 'Freedom of Belief in Islam

note: Ahmed Bedier is not responsible for the content found on the above links and/or any other website.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Hosting Afghanistan National Army Delegation


Ahmed Bedier speaking to General Muhammad Amin Nasib of the Afghan National Army. Bedier hosted a delegation of 8 (including two women) of the new Afghan National Army at the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area. Bedier shared with General Nasib and the delegation the diversity and freedoms American-Muslims enjoy in the United States. General Nasib who is on multi-week tour in America informed Bedier about progress made in Afghanistan. The tour and the visit was arranged by U.S. Military Central Command.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

VIDEO: Ahmed Bedier View on Danish Cartoons and Free Speech

** American Muslim view on Danish Cartoons and Free Speech **

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) representative Ahmed Bedier offers a video commentary on Tampa's Baynews9 on the Danish Cartoon controversy and freedom of speech


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

This is how we do it: CAIR Launches "Explore Life of Prophet Muhammad(p)" Campaign

The non-profit organization (CAIR) I'm affiliated with has launched a new campaign that I'm very proud of. Recognizing that the blasphemous Islamophobic cartoons of Prophet Muhammad as an obstacle to the image of Islam, CAIR turned a challenge into an opportunity by launching a new worldwide campaign called "Explore the life of Muhammad" (peace be upon him).

The world is hungry for knowledge on the life of prophet Muhammad and what he stood for. To more about the beloved prophet, visit http://www.cair.com/Muhammad

Besides learning about Muhammad online, visitors can get either a free book or documentary DVD on his life.

http://www.cair.com/Muhammad

http://www.cair.com/Muhammad

Saturday, February 11, 2006

VIDEO: Ahmed Bedier debates Radall Terry on free speech, Danish Cartoons and Islam

** American Muslim opinion on Danish Muhammad Cartoons **

CAIR-FL Representative Ahmed Bedier debated Conservative Christian activist Randall Terry on Orlando's CBS affiliate WKMG Local6 on the global reaction to the Prophet Muhammad (p) cartoon flap.

Bedier corrected and answered Terry's baseless position that rioters in the Muslim world are reacting violently to the slander of Muhammad, because they're following His (Muhammad's) example of killing anyone who mocked him. Randall Terry is the founder of 'Operation Rescue' and 'Society for Truth and Justice.' Terry most recently acted as spokesman for the parents of Terri Shiavo.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

VIDEO: Bedier's Reaction to the Danish cartoon hysteria on NBC Tampa Affiliate

CAIR-FL Rep Ahmed Bedier appeared on Tampa's NBC affiliate WFLA to offer reaction to the Prophet Muhammad (p) cartoon controversy.

Monday, February 06, 2006

RADIO: Ahmed Bedier answers Questions on Prophet Muhammad Cartoons and Islam on the Schnitt Show



I was a guest on one of Tampa Bay's most listened to (I think, at least that's what they claim) radio talk shows knows as the Schnitt Show. Which is syndicated by Clear Channel in Tampa Bay, Miami and Charleston, SC. This was the first time I met Schnitt in person and was pleasantly surprised with his attitude on that day. I have to admit prior to being on his program I did have some pre-conceived notions about his show, because the couple of times I listened in he was bashing Islam.

On the show I told Schnitt and his listeners that Muslims reject the violent protests in reaction to the insulting anti-Muhammad (p) cartoons. While the cartoons are offensive, the violence is un-Islamic and counter productive. I also gave some examples on how prophet Muhammad responded to attacks.

Anyway it was fun to share the conservatives with Mr. Radio himself. Scroll down to listen to my appearance..... Ahmed Bedier


CAIR-FL Representative Ahmed Bedier appeared as a guest for a two-hour segment on Clear Channel's syndicated "Schnitt Radio Show." Bedier discussed the Muslim reaction to the Muhammad (p) cartoons and took live calls from listeners, including his favorite Michael Allen the "toilet man."

To listen to the show, follow the below link click here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Monday, January 16, 2006

The 2006 Tampa Annual Marting Luther King Interfaith Memorial Service

This is the fourth year that I participate as a speaker in this wonderful event where the Tampa community comes together to remember one of the greatest American heroes. All praise is to the Almighty God and thanks to Dr. King's struggle that we enjoy our liberties today.


Remembering Dr. King's legacy. CAIR Rep. Ahmed Bedier (me) addresses diverse Tampa worshipers from the pulpit of Beulah Baptist Church in Tampa, at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Interfaith Memorial Service. Behind Bedier are religious leaders from the Christian, Jewish and Bahai Communities. After speaking of Dr. King's legacy, Bedier offered a prayer for peace from the Islamic tradition.


The Rabbi (name not mentioned for their privacy) is laughing at something I said. A little humor goes a loooooong way.


On stage listening to City of Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio as she shares her thoughts on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It's been a loooooooong day, but we're still hangin in there. It's 8:00pm right about now!


Bedier (me) Laughing w/ the all male choir at Beulah Baptist Church in Tampa, at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Interfaith Memorial Service.


A wonderful local Jewish choir chanting "Shalom, Salam"




(c) 2005 Ahmed Bedier, all photo rights reserved.

6:45AM: Celebrating Dr King's Legacy in Tampa

At the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs, 26th Annual Leadership Breakfast



Meeting up with the Millers.
Mrs. Tampa City Council, the elegant Gwen Miller, Chairwoman of
City Council of Tampa and her husband none other than Les
Miller. All the who's who was at event to celebrate Dr. King's
legacy.




Enjoying the morning with City of
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio at the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs
(TOBA) 26th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership
Breakfast.


NewsPaper Interview: Quoted in the St. Petersburg Times on Anti-Muslim Hate Blogs (my blog is mentioned)

Are bloggers against hate, or feeding it?
Blogs dedicated to protecting America against terrorism are troubling the Muslim community.
By S.I. ROSENBAUMPublished January 16, 2006

It's 4 a.m. Somewhere near Coral Springs, Joe Kaufman is still at his computer.
Blurry with fatigue, he types:
It has been said that 80 percent of all the mosques ... inside the United States are ... tied to a radical form of Islam. ...
One of the American locations that ... influence has been prevalent is the Tampa-St. Pete area of Southwest Florida.

Kaufman is 35, clean-shaven, a lawyer's assistant. He goes inline skating and writes love songs on guitar. But his passion is his Web site, AmericansAgainstHate.com, where he monitors the activities of Florida's Muslim community, looking for terrorist links.

Kaufman's site is only one of a constellation of blogs with names like JihadWatch.com, MilitantIslamMonitor.org, and WesternResistance.com that are dedicated to the surveillance of American Muslims. The blogs link to one another, with more-traveled sites amplifying stories from more obscure ones, like Kaufman's.
He claims he has not found a single mosque in Florida that is not linked to terrorists.
A lot of people are listening.....

Muslims say the blogs breed hate.....

"He's spreading lies, slandering individuals," said Ahmed Bedier, spokesman for the Tampa Bay chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "These are vigilantes." ......

"It's a clearinghouse for defamation and attacks against Muslims," Bedier said.
"I like to go out and reach out to folks and build bridges," he added. "These types of people, they want to be able to wedge a gap between Muslims and the rest of society."
To fight back, Bedier is starting his own blog, AhmedBedier.blogspot.com. He said he wants to set the Internet record straight.

"Nowadays when you meet people, they go home and Google your name," he said. On the search engine, the top hits for Bedier's name are articles by Kaufman.
"I'm not going to let bigots like that define who I am," Bedier said.......

Original source at the St. Petersburg Times Click here

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Islam's Ambassador: Bedier Trying to Teach not, Not Preach

Ahmed Bedier, who sparked a move to get Muslim holidays on the school calendar, works to promote understanding.

By SHERRI DAY, St. Petersburg Times, Published November 16, 2005


[Times photo: Ken Helle] Ahmed Bedier, Central Florida director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, walks his son Jacob, back left, and his friend Laith, front left, to class. Bedier's days are busy with media interviews, helping other Muslims and taking Jacob, 9, to school every morning.


TAMPA - He sat in a conference room at Tampa General Hospital, surrounded by Christian chaplains in training. The lone Muslim in the group, Ahmed Bedier was there to teach.

"What comes to mind when you hear the word Islam or Muslim?" he asked, scanning the room. No one answered, but he knew what they wanted to say. It was okay to be offensive, he told them.

"Terrorists," several said at once. Bedier smiled.

Now they were getting somewhere. "After that, what else?" he asked.

At ease, group members spit out responses. "Oppressive," they said. "Aggressive." "Dangerous." "Uneducated."

Then it was time for Bedier, who is Central Florida director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, to speak. "Imagine if you put yourself in a Muslim's shoes in America these days, and you go to Wal-Mart and everybody thinks that about you. It's not a comfortable feeling."

Bedier, 31, had only just begun. He works daily to dispel stereotypes and seek equal treatment for Muslims who face discrimination. Recently, his push to include Islamic holidays on the Hillsborough County public school calendar launched a national debate. In October, when the board voted to cancel all religious holidays, Bedier was at the forefront of the discussion again, urging restoration of Judeo-Christian holidays. Muslim inclusion, he said, should not harm others. But Bedier isn't giving up. He has already vowed to try again next year. Many local Muslims are glad he's on duty. "He at least speaks and brings out their issues," said Mohammad Sultan, imam for the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area Mosque in Tampa. "They see at least some kind of hope."

* * *

Born to an economist and statistician in Cairo, Bedier (pronounced Beh-DEER) immigrated with his family to the United States when he was 8. As a boy, he thought all Americans were rich. He knew about cowboys and oil tycoons from the television drama Dallas, which had aired in Cairo. The family landed in West Lafayette, Ind., where Bedier's father worked as a researcher at Purdue University. Bedier spoke Arabic and French but struggled with English. Other children made fun of him, calling him ugly names. He was often in the center of schoolyard brawls. By high school, he found popularity. A running back for the football team, he envisioned a career in the National Football League. As his family moved from one agricultural research institution to another, Bedier soaked up American culture.

When his parents returned to Egypt, Bedier and one of his three younger brothers stayed behind. They felt at home. By the time Bedier moved to St. Petersburg in 1994, he had almost forgotten his faith. In St. Petersburg, he worked as an operations manager for a dental group and eventually opened a dental laboratory. He bought two apartment buildings. By many accounts, he was successful, financially and otherwise. He enjoyed good food and spent hours at the gym. He drove a silver BMW 5 Series and fed his shopping jones at Saks Fifth Avenue. But something was missing. "I felt like I was living a fake lifestyle, like I was living to get pleasure because of what people would say about me or about what I had," Bedier said. "It wasn't fulfilling."

Seeking purpose, he began to spend more time at a mosque, the Islamic Society of Pinellas in Pinellas Park. In 2000, he vowed to read the Koran every day and committed to becoming an observant Muslim. As Bedier's faith deepened, he questioned his decision to remain in a non-Muslim country. Around him were myriad temptations. Ultimately, Bedier decided to stay - but to work on behalf of Islam and American Muslims.

He volunteered at his mosque, which eventually led to work with CAIR. His first brush with the media came after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The St. Petersburg Times called his mosque to learn how it felt to be a Muslim in America in such times. Bedier offered to share his view.

When CAIR opened a Tampa office in December 2003, he became director. He sold his business, got rid of the BMW and now listens to the Koran from the CD player of a Chrysler minivan. "He's very strong in what he does," said Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director at CAIR's Washington, D.C., headquarters. "I wish I had him here in Washington, but then I don't know what we'd do in Florida."

* * *

Ask Bedier about an issue facing Muslims, and he can speak for hours. Probe him about himself, and he shows reserve. He's happy to be in the background. He has been on television enough to want to share the spotlight with other Muslims.

Local religious and political leaders applaud his efforts. "I've been able to see his heart and know that he really is looking for peace and understanding amongst people," said Rabbi Kate Fagan, a chaplain at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.

Hillsborough County School Board member Doretha Edgecomb has learned that Bedier is not always as serious as his subject matter. In October, she watched him deliver lighthearted banter as emcee of CAIR's banquet. "I was just really shocked," she said. "I had not seen that side of him. The next time we need a funny emcee, I'm going to remember him."

Bedier so impressed the Rev. William Baugh, director of pastoral care at Tampa General Hospital, that the minister invited him to conduct hospital-wide diversity training.

Even people who disagree with Bedier wind up speaking well of him. Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair, who supported the restoration of a Judeo-Christian public school calendar, calls him a "nice person" and a "gentleman." "He smiles a lot, and he says he loves Jesus," Blair said, noting Bedier's explanation that Muslims revere Jesus, too.

After meeting Bedier, Pinellas Park resident Mike Allen temporarily withdrew an anti-Islamic display from his yard. It featured a toilet and a promise to flush the Koran to protest terrorism. Allen said he took it down because he thought Bedier was a nice person. "That Ahmed Bedier, he could charm the socks off a rooster," Allen said. "He doesn't raise his voice or fly off the handle. He's married and got kids and all that. He's not going to be strapping bombs on his kids. I'm sure he would never condone that."

Norm Gross, head of the media watchdog group Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting, expresses admiration for Bedier's delivery, but questions CAIR's motives. "We're asking questions that we'd like to get answers to, and we haven't been able to," Gross said. "What is his mission? Who funds him? Let them tell us." Bedier said he has nothing to hide and maintains that he is simply an activist dedicated to integrating Muslims into the mainstream.

CAIR's 31 local chapters are funded by private donors. By no means, he says, does he or CAIR condone terrorism. Repeatedly, the organization has publicly denounced terrorist attacks.

Bedier sees himself as a regular guy. He is a car-pool dad who drives his son, Jacob, to school; a devoted husband who watches reality TV with his wife, Kelly; a father who must protect his family, including 2-year-old Amira, from harm. As a precaution, he has an unlisted phone number and gets his mail at a post office box. Strangers once accosted his wife at Wal-Mart. Bloggers disparage him on the Internet.

Bedier accepts his call to activism and has no plan to back down. "I'm doing it because I have to, not necessarily because I want to," Bedier said. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done, and Muslims are now feeling empowered. They know that somebody's got their back."

source: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/11/16/Tampabay/Trying_to_teach__not_.shtml