|Hassan Shibli and Pam Geller|
Controversy over an on-again, off-again speaking invitation to a Muslim group has spiced a tea party convention set for this weekend in Daytona Beach.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations complained to convention planners when it learned that Pam Geller, a prolific critic of radical Islam, was on the speaker list. One of the organizers then proffered an invitation to give CAIR equal time.
"We accepted only after guaranteeing we would receive (the) same treatment and respect as other speakers and that 'Muslim-bashing would not be tolerated,'" said Hassan Shibly, Tampa executive director of CAIR Florida.
But amid continued jousting over the program and the ground rules, simmering suspicions boiled over, with Geller threatening to pull out.
Pam Dahl, the chief convention organizer and head of the Tri-County Tea Party, told Sunshine State News on Wednesday that Geller is in and CAIR is off the agenda.
"This was never my intention," Dahl said of the CAIR invitation, which was extended by fellow organizer Geoff Ross.
Ross said he wanted to offer CAIR "equal opportunity" to air its views. "But when a CAIR leader in Washington called Geller 'a ranter' and 'a liar,' this was clearly not the intention of my invitation," he said.
"If you're not going to show restraint and respect to our speakers, then I will disinvite," Ross related. More Here