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Councilman Yarborough Issues Statement on Ahmed Vote

clayDuring last night's City Council meeting, Councilman Clay Yarborough read the following statement to explain his reason for opposing the appointment of Dr. Parvez Ahmed to the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission. 

The following is the complete text of Yarborough's statement to the council.

The Resolution to confirm the appointment of Dr. Parvez Ahmed to the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission was introduced on the March 9, 2010, Council agenda.

Given the number of nominees for the City’s various boards and commissions appearing before the Council Rules Committee on a regular basis, unless a Council Member is personally acquainted with a nominee, it is difficult in a sometimes less than one minute introduction to have a good understanding of one’s background, affiliations, experiences, and motivations for desiring to serve on whichever board or commission they have been nominated for. In light of this, and in an effort to better get to know Dr. Ahmed prior to the Rules Committee meeting on April 5, I emailed him some questions.

Though I inquired specifically about Dr. Ahmed’s recent service as national chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, and also about his service on the board of the Florida ACLU, the questions posed were based solely upon the current ‘Vision and Purpose’ of the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission, which lists those groups it seeks to create understanding among and eliminate antagonism between. It was my understanding that the commission could potentially have influence over the issues I asked questions about. After conferring with the City’s Office of General Counsel, I was assured that, though discretion should be exercised, Council Members retain the ability to ask a wide range of questions of Mayoral nominees for boards and/or commissions.

Dr. Ahmed replied back that he did not see the relevance of the questions, but he nonetheless answered them, and in my opinion satisfactorily. At the April 5 Rules Committee meeting, I joined three other Council Members in recommending approval of his nomination to the full Council.

Between the April 5 Rules Committee meeting and the April 13 City Council meeting, various correspondence received by the Council suggested taking a harder look at Dr. Ahmed’s affiliations. This is also what led to my support at the April 13 Council meeting of the motion to re-refer the nomination back to the Rules Committee for a second vote. From the April 13 Council meeting to the April 19 Rules Committee meeting, more correspondence from several different sources was received. At the same time, I was doing research. Among all of the documents I reviewed, there is a letter co-written by four members of the U.S. House of Representatives that stood out (and continues to stand out) and gives me reason to pause when considering the nomination.

The letter is dated October 21, 2009, addressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and signed by Congressional Representatives Sue Myrick, John Shadegg, Paul Brown, and Trent Franks. The letter highlights their concerns about evidence produced by Department of Justice (DOJ) federal prosecutors in the U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation case, which began in 2007, that they believe points to a relationship between CAIR and terrorist groups.

Directly from the letter is the following:

“As a result, the (FBI) formally cut ties with CAIR. On February 24, 2009, Senators Kyl, Schumer, and Coburn sent a letter to the FBI praising their decision to cut ties with CAIR. On April 28, 2009, the FBI responded with a letter explaining why they cut ties with CAIR:

“During that trial, evidence was introduced that demonstrated a relationship among CAIR, individual CAIR founders…and the Palestine Committee. Evidence was also introduced that demonstrated a relationship between the Palestine Committee and HAMAS, which was designated as a terrorist organization in 1995. In light of that evidence, the FBI suspended all formal contacts between CAIR and the FBI.”

Mr. President and fellow Council Members, regardless of who the nominee is, I would have serious concerns if that nominee was the recent head of an organization under this type of scrutiny from the U.S. government and the FBI.

Therefore, after careful deliberation and in the abundance of caution, I cannot reconcile that it is in the city’s best interests to support the nomination before us and, as I did in last week’s Rules Committee meeting on April 19, I must oppose.

Clay Yarborough
Councilman, District 1
Jacksonville City Council

11 Responses »

  1. Mr. Yarborough, I agree 100% with your explanation. Muslims are a protected species these days. They should not be discriminated against, but neither should they be "protected" just because of their religion. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to Christians. They are the favorite "whipping boy" of the MSM.

  2. Mr. Yarborough. Thank you for voting no and thank you for your explanation.

  3. I too agree with the explanation but am saddened by the degradation of esteem shown by the council in accepting the appointment by groveling in the bowels of racial discrimination and making personally pointed statements of derision toward citizens who were in legitimate opposition.

    To those on the council who don't understand, just let me say that your "cherry switch" was worn out years ago and your itch will never heal if you keep scratching it. I would have expected much more mature rhetoric from elected officials, who's job it is to listen to all of their constituents.

  4. Mr. Yarborough, it was brave of you to stand up for the truth. Recently, the FBI responded to questions by the Edmond Sun in Oklahoma about CAIR:

    In What's the Truth About CAIR, the FBI stated on March 6, 2010:

    “CAIR has been advised of the reasons behind our suspension of formal partnership,” the FBI stated. “These reasons include the fact that CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in United States v. Holy Land Foundation and CAIR’s failure to answer our questions about a connection between their executives and Hamas. Until these questions are answered, the FBI does not consider CAIR an appropriate partner for formal liaison activities.”


    CAIR also has a long history of standing with terrorists or their supporters, such as convicted terror supporter Sami Al Arian, a former Florida professor. Their action alert issued on March 19, 2008, asked for others to write letters in support of Al-Arian. CAIR participated in an April 15, 2008 press conference calling for his (Sami Al-Arian) release (video and press release). All done while Ahmed was the national chairman.

    Ahmed's approval to the Human Rights Commission is a large stain on the City of Jacksonville because of his long-standing association with CAIR, which was formed by the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas infrastructure in America.

    I applaud your brave and honest stand.

  5. I agree with Mr. Yarborough's conclusion on this although I do not agree with some of his other views. You certainly know where he stands which is not true of many politicians who operate under many veils. Mr. Ahmed's appointment is likely to lead to disunity within the Commission and Jacksonville. I hope not. Another Muslim candidate, less controversial, more qualified and transparent, should have been submitted or another appropriate candidate identified. Mr. Ahmed remarks on the existing controversy exhibit a certain arrogance or, to those who believe differently, a professorial bent when he says the controversy will be a teachable moment for Jacksonville. Jacksonville taxpayers look forward to the lesson and will judge its veracity.

  6. This is really a shame, Mr. Ahmed's appointment was met with nothing but antagonism from the beginning. Between that and Mr. Redman's unconstitutional showmanship at last night's city council meeting, it really makes me wonder if our city will ever shed this back water narrow minded mentality that keeps it from growing. If this doesn't stop you will see more companies leaving Jacksonville then moving in.

  7. Thank you Mr. Yarborough.

  8. Last time I checked, Wade --- there was still a "Christian" church on almost every street corner.

    Just exactly were is this supposed "discrimination" evident?

  9. I am not a resident of Jacksonville so perhaps people will dismiss my opinion. But I am 58 years old. I grew up in Virginia. I know discrimination when I see it and hear it. It is quite telling that the people who claim that this had nothing to do with anti Muslim bigotry could not find suggest another person of the Muslim faith as an alternative. Has Mr. Yarborough ever subjected an evangelical Christian to this kind of scrutiny? There is nothing "legitimate" about prejudice. When I see Mr. Yarborough treat a Chrstian nominee in the exact same manner as he treated Mr. Ahmed, then and only then I will believe that this has nothing to do with prejudice.

    Those 4 Congressional representatives are as credible on the issue of Muslims as Joe McCarthy was about communists hiding under your bed. Last year they were claiming that CAIR was planting terrorist spies among the Congressional Pages. Now we are supposed to believe that their letter about Mr. Ahmed is a legitimate reason to vote aganst his nomination.

    For some people it is the 1950's all over again. It saddens me that in our great republic has yet to live up to the standards that we preach. A Muslim Congressman taking his oath of office on a Koran, or a Muslim citizen being nominated to a city Human Rights Commission should be no big deal. Unfortunately, guilt by association is alive and well. However it is a dangerous double-edged sword. After all ,Oklahoma city terrorist Tim McVeigh was a member of the NRA. Maybe we should also subject NRA members to the same kind of scrutiny that Mr. Ahmed faced.

  10. Fussell Bishop Clark Shad Gaffney Lee Jones Brown Grayham Corrigan Cresembeni Joost Hyde

    Those who vote AGAINST appointing Mr. Ahmed to the Human Rights Council:
    Davis Yarborough Holt Redman Webb Johnson

    it is important to know your Council representation and if you have been represented well.

    I've noted mine, and will use future elections as tools to evaluate their job performance. This issue was 55% of the evaluation.

    Jim Davis
    Morning in America

  11. First of all, Having this man, who is also an apologist for Iran, on any commission is appalling. Second of all, the very existence of such a commission is a waste of time and money. We don't need commissions because we have a constitution and courts.