Florida Family Association protests Muslim speaker’s visits to school

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TAMPA — A history teacher who sought to broaden her students’ horizons got more than she bargained for when she invited a Muslim leader to Steinbrenner High School. Kelly Miliziano now finds herself in the crosshairs of David Caton’s Florida Family Association.

Caton, a well-known conservative leader, is calling on the Hillsborough County School Board to end visits by Hassan Shibly of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or allow time for speakers who could counter Shibly’s message. Stephen Hegarty, a spokesman for the school district, said he cannot imagine inviting one speaker to argue against another’s religion.

Candy Olson, chairwoman of the School Board, said, “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.”

According to Hegarty, Miliziano has invited numerous speakers to the school’s history classes, representing a variety of religions including Christianity.

An exchange of emails, which Hegarty provided to Caton, indicates Shibly was to speak about stereotypes, human rights, women in Islam and other topics.

Caton contends that Shibly is a defender of radical Islamic organizations and clerics. He insists that if Shibly’s visits aren’t stopped, the school district is obligated to allow equal time to speakers who can present a Christian point of view and paint what Caton calls an accurate picture of Shibly and CAIR.

Tampa Bay Times, 10 January 2012

Caton is the right-wing crank who was behind the campaign that led to Lowe’s withdrawing advertising from the All-American Muslim TV show. In his article on the Florida Family Association website denouncing Kelly Miliziano, Caton cites Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch and Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism as sources.

Update:  See “Muslims’ key role in snagging terror suspect”, Tampa Bay Times, 11 January 2012