CAIR-Florida Denounces Florida House Bills Limiting Free Speech, Failing to Protect Religious Minorities – CAIR Florida
Wednesday, 12 June 2024

CAIR-Florida Denounces Florida House Bills Limiting Free Speech, Failing to Protect Religious Minorities

Muslim civil rights group calls for constituents to contact their legislators asking their rejection

 

(TAMPA, FLA, 1/10/24) – The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Florida), the state’s largest civil rights and advocacy organization, today strongly condemned Florida’s House Bill 187 and Senate Bill 148 as a threat to civil liberties, particularly the constitutional right to free speech for all Floridians.

These bills adopt the controversial IHRA definition of antisemitism, restricting the freedom to criticize Israel’s policies and consequently undermining the fundamental right to express dissent.

Antisemitism encompasses prejudice or hatred directed at individuals identifying as Jewish or affiliated with Judaism. The IHRA’s expanded definition includes criticisms of Israel, such as its settler colonialism, West Bank occupation, apartheid against Palestinians, ethnic cleansing, oppression, and the recent war crimes resulting in the loss of innocent lives, including children, women, and elders in Gaza.

Several human rights groups, including B’Tselem, a major Israeli human rights organization, have identified these actions as violations of international human rights law.

 

[NOTE: Beginning tomorrow, the International Court of Justice will hold hearings on South Africa’s case accusing Israel of carrying out a campaign of genocide in Gaz.]

 

Imam Abdullah Jaber, CAIR-FL Executive Director, said:

“The proposed Florida HB 187/SB 148 legislation not only infringes on our constitutionally guaranteed free speech rights to critique unlawful Israeli policies, but also disregards the plight of other religious minorities like Sikhs, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Muslims facing significant bullying and hate crimes across the state.”

“Of grave concern is that this legislation is not an isolated case, as numerous similar discriminatory and unconstitutional bills have been introduced not only in Florida but also in other state legislatures nationwide.”

In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution opposing legislation akin to FL HB 187 and SB 148, highlighting redundancy with existing federal and state legal safeguards. The ABA emphasized that initiatives targeting entire religions or stigmatizing religious communities, such as those explicitly aimed at ‘Sharia law,’ contradict core principles and ideals of American jurisprudence.

CAIR-Florida is calling upon all state residents to contact their state legislator and voice their opposition to this and any other legislation that curtails our constitutionally protected freedom of speech, and that ignores other persecuted religious minorities suffering bullying and hate crimes.

 

ACTION NEEDED: Email your State Representative and Senator:  

 

Ask Your Florida Legislators to Protect All Religious Minorities and Reject Freedom of Speech Suppression Bills: https://cairfl.salsalabs.org/votenohb187-sb148/index.html

 

About CAIR-Florida:

CAIR-Florida is the state’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, foster dialogue, safeguard civil liberties for all, empower American Muslims, and form coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR-Florida es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.  

  

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CONTACT:  

Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, Media and Outreach Director, Ph. (305)502-6749, E: [email protected]

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