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Muslim group leader steps down

Ahmed Bedier did not offer details about his new organization but says he will stay in the bay area.

Ahmed Bedier did not offer details about his new organization but says he will stay in the bay area.

TAMPA — Ahmed Bedier, founder of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has stepped down as executive director to establish a new peace-building initiative.

Bedier, 34, has spent the last five years serving as the face of the local Muslim community. In his role as executive director of CAIR's Tampa chapter, Bedier led the organization's charge in seeking justice for local Muslims who faced discrimination.

"I'm going to expand on and build upon my work as a civil rights and human rights leader into broader areas of peace building, interfaith dialogue and reconciliation," Bedier said Monday.

He did not give details about his new initiative or what the organization will be called, except to say he will remain in the Tampa Bay area while doing work on a local and national level.

"The details of it will soon be announced," said Bedier, who also serves as president of the Tampa/Hillsborough County Human Rights Council.

CAIR's local profile and visibility in the community grew noticeably under Bedier's leadership. Last year, the organization rallied against the Pinellas County school system and law enforcement after a sixth-grade girl claimed a classmate ripped off her head scarf and threatened to shoot her. Police dropped the investigation, saying there wasn't enough information to substantiate the girl's claims.

Bedier also cautioned the public not to rush to judgment when two University of South Florida students were arrested last summer in South Carolina on federal explosives charges. And when a Muslim mechanic died in a gas station explosion earlier this year, his family asked Bedier to follow the investigation.

The new venture is something Bedier said he's contemplated for the past year. He said he's looking forward to being more proactive in civil rights areas and bringing people together.

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or

(813) 226-3433.

Muslim group leader steps down 05/19/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 26, 2008 2:20pm]
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