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More Letters of Support

Florida Times Union, April 27, 2010

Support from UNF

Representing faculty and the senior administration of the University of North Florida, we want to go on record as supporting the nomination of Professor Parvez Ahmed to the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission.

Ironically, much of the controversy around Ahmed's nomination proves just how urgently we need to appoint men and women like him to this commission.
Regrettably, to be "different from" too often is regarded as being "less than" or "more dangerous or threatening than."

When that is the case, an occasion for learning is supplanted by fear, prejudice and stagnation.

Since first moving to Jacksonville and the University of North Florida, Ahmed has worked tirelessly to help open dialogue about such differences.

He has met with numbers of community and church organizations, helping many of us understand the similarities between Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and the differences between Islam and Muslim extremists.

When we have looked behind the quotes taken out of context that have been offered in opposition to Ahmed's nomination, we found a message of respect and a belief in honest dialogue among all parties.

These are the characteristics that would make him an incredible and much needed asset to the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission.

JOHN A. DELANEY,
president,
University of North Florida,
and
KATHERINE M. ROBINSON,
president,
UNF Faculty Association

Florida Times Union April 23, 2010

An excellent choice

Having concluded eight years as a member of the Human Rights Commission, I speak with some experience in writing that Jacksonville needs commissioners like Parvez Ahmed to serve this city.

The commission is concerned about the human rights of the entire community - blacks and whites, women and men, young and old, Asian and Latinos, Arabs and Jews, gays and straights, religious and non-religious.

Ahmed is uniquely qualified. He is a man of Indian birth, Muslim faith and American citizenship.

He will join with other commissioners of diverse backgrounds to support freedom and justice for all.

Like many Jacksonville residents, I regret the narrow-minded views of a few council members who fail to appreciate the larger patriotism that Ahmed expresses.
As a student of Jacksonville history, I am hopeful that these views increasingly are outside the mainstream in this city.

My 38 years here have seen a growth of tolerance, greater acceptance of diversity and a realization that there are no real alternatives.

Our city remains an imperfect expression of human rights and social justice, but in Mayor John Peyton's appointment and City Council's confirmation of Ahmed, Jacksonville will have taken a small step toward becoming a world class city.

JAMES B. CROOKS
Jacksonville

Intolerant statement

The comments by Jacksonville City Council member Clay Yarborough in The Times-Union are not only troubling because they reflect an intolerance for individuals of a different religion, but because they reflect an increasing trend that endangers a core strength of our nation.

Yarborough indicated that he would consider opposing an individual, not based on qualifications, experience and philosophy, but whether that individual was a member of a particular religion.

Yarborough and other members of the City Council should set an example of the importance of the Constitution in every day American life.

They should approve the appointment of Parvez Ahmed to the Human Rights Commission rather than give credence to groups that advocate intolerance.

DAN DUNDON
Jacksonville

Minister supports Ahmed

I have been a resident of Jacksonville for the past 12 years, serving as both a minister and a community volunteer.

I know many teachers, community volunteers, religious leaders, police officers, parents, students and individuals in our city who work hard to create an environment of peace, progress, and prosperity for Jacksonville.

I am a fan of Jacksonville and have consciously chosen to raise my family in this fine town.

Yet, I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the overt, blatant, intentional and unapologetic religious discrimination by some on the Jacksonville City Council toward Parvez Ahmed and his appointment to the Human Rights Commission.

Councilman Clay Yarborough's "moral vetting" of Ahmed represents an attitude of discrimination, profiling, stereotyping and extreme narrow-mindedness.

Although I do not know Ahmed well, I do know him to be a person who is deeply committed to both education and human rights.

In my opinion, he is a much-needed asset to the Human Rights Commission, and would bring a great deal of experience, wisdom, and compassion to the commission.

For our city to continue to be a place of peace, progress and prosperity, we've got to acknowledge, accept and appreciate religious and racial diversity and call out those who fight against it.

BRETT FOSTER,
Baptist minister,
Jacksonville

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