Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Catholics support CAIR

TAMPA - White paint and religious art now cover the wall inside tiny Christ the Servant Apostolic Catholic Church on Nebraska Avenue.

But for Ahmed Bedier, the hate remains from a message scribbled on a church wall during the weekend.

Just before 6 a.m. Saturday, the church's pastor, Bishop Chuck Leigh, received a call from Tampa police that someone had broken down the front door to his church.

When Leigh arrived, he found framed pictures smashed on the floor and "Traitors Support Terrorist" written in black marker on the wall.

To Bedier, the executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the act was more than just vandalism - it was a hate crime.

During a news conference Tuesday, Bedier called the incident a "deliberate act" targeting a congregation and pastor who have supported the local Muslim community on local and international issues.

"The writing's on the wall," Bedier said. "This was not some sort of random act."

Leigh supported a failed proposal two years ago to add the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Fitr to the Hillsborough County school district calendar.

Leigh also supports the release of former University of South Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian, who is awaiting deportation and remains imprisoned on federal contempt charges for refusing to testify about Palestinian charities.

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