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Broward GOP blocks Muslim activist from top committee at raucous meeting

Islam and tea-party activism clashed at a raucous meeting Monday night when a group of Broward County Republicans blocked a Muslim activist as a member of the party’s executive committee.

Republicans, who changed their rules to publicly vet Nezar Hamze and then vote on his application by secret ballot, said they didn’t oppose him because he was a Muslim — but because he is associated with the Center for American-Islamic Relations, whose Washington-area affiliate was an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal terrorism indictment.

Hamze, CAIR’s South Florida director, said his local group had nothing to do with the suspect activities in Washington. He said CAIR advocates for civil rights for Muslims, who have been unfairly targeted ever since 9/11.

“I’m aligned with Republican values. And I want to serve the party,” Hamze said, who earlier told a reporter that any effort to block him was the result of anti-Islamic “bigotry.”

At times, when he addressed the packed room at the Sheraton Suites in Fort Lauderdale, a few members shouted out among the crowd of about 300.

“Terrorist!” said one man.

“Let him speak!” said another.

Members of Broward’s Republican Party said Hamze was making a mockery of their rules and was trying to become a member as a publicity stunt.

“I don’t have a positive impression of Mr. Hamze. I don’t think he will be an asset to our party,” said Scott Spages, who is involved in programs concerning radical Islam at his church, Cavalry Chapel Fort Lauderdale.

In the end, the Broward Republican Executive Committee voted 11-158 to block him from committee membership. He can still attend meetings, but as a general member of the public.

Story here