TALLAHASSEE — The leader of state House Republicans is sounding the alarm about a group of activists who want to host Florida Muslim Capitol Day.
"By now, I can't imagine you haven't heard about this upcoming lobbying day for Muslims in Tallahassee," Rep. Adam Hasner of Delray Beach wrote in an e-mail forwarded to more than a dozen Tallahassee lobbyists who are Jewish.
"Do you all intend to be part of an information campaign in opposition to it?" he asked in the e-mail.
Hasner, the House majority leader, would not say to whom he had sent the e-mail originally and speculated that the Muslim group United Voices for America will try to "push back" against a resolution he proposed during the January special session calling for solidarity with Israel.
Not so, said the group's founder, Tampa resident Ahmed Bedier. He said the group, like many others during the legislative session that starts Tuesday, plans to talk to state lawmakers about education, health care and the economy during the March 10 visit.
In a follow up e-mail to the Herald/Times, Hasner, who is Jewish, suggested Bedier was tied to the terrorist group Hamas because he once led the Tampa office of the Council of American-Islamic Relations. Bedier called the criticism ridiculous and nonsense, saying that CAIR advocates for equal rights for Muslims.
"This has nothing to do with me," Bedier said. "This is about Floridians who happen to be Muslim coming up to engage their politicians."
In his e-mail, Hasner pushed for a meeting of a "Jewish caucus," which doesn't yet exist, to determine a response to the Muslim lobbying effort.
Other Jewish lawmakers said they hadn't heard of Florida Muslim Capitol Day; some said they're not sure it's a problem.
"I certainly don't see why you'd need to have a meeting of the Jewish caucus just because Muslims are coming to Tallahassee," said Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek.
"They have as much right to represent themselves as anyone else."
Breanne Gilpatrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.