Thursday, 18 July 2019

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Tallahassee Legislators Attack First Amendment

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Florida Legislators Are Fast-tracking A Bill That Targets Constitutionally

Protected Free Speech

 

(TALLAHASSEE, FL; 1/19/2016) -In an effort to suppress political speech, Florida legislators are considering a bill that would effectively sanction Florida businesses or organizations for their constitutionally protected political speech.

Senate Bill 86, sponsored by Senate President Senator Joe Negron, would place businesses or organizations that endorse Palestinian civil society's call for the boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) of Israel on a "Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List."

The bill, if passed, would deny public investment and public contracts to businesses and organizations that endorse the Palestinian human rights campaign, effectively blacklisting groups for their constitutionally protected political speech.

 "What Senator Negron is effectively saying is that if a business or organization in Florida endorses a political view that Senator Negron does not agree with, the state will blacklist that business or organization, and that is a very dangerous precedent," said CAIR Florida's Legislative and Government Affairs Director, Laila Abdelaziz.

Senate Bill 86 has already cleared all three of its committee stops, passing before the 2016 legislative session even officially began. The house companion bill, House Bill 527 goes before the House Government Operations Subcommittee Wednesday, January 20th at 9:00 AM and is expected to pass.

This effort comes at a time when Human Rights Watch, an international NGO that advocates for human rights, released a 162-page report, "Occupation, Inc.: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel's Violations of Palestinian Rights."

Human Rights Watch, one of the most prominent human rights organizations in the country, says in the report that, "businesses should stop operating in, financing, servicing, or trading with Israeli settlements in order to comply with their human rights responsibilities."

The findings of the report continue by declaring that, "those activities contribute to and benefit from an inherently unlawful and abusive system that violates the rights of Palestinians."

The nonviolent, human rights campaign for the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) of the state of Israel until it complies with international law was initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005 to shed light on the apartheid conditions in which Palestinians are subject to under Israeli military occupation. Supporters of BDS include South African social rights activist and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and "The Color Purple" author Alice Walker. The Association for Asian American Studies, the American Studies Association, and the American Anthropological Association have all also endorsed some form of BDS. Leadership and/or the general bodies of both the Presbyterian (USA) and United Methodist churches have taken action on the national level in favor of divestment from companies involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and both church's national bodies have voted in favor of boycotting Israeli settlement products.

CAIR Florida is the state's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties of all people, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.