CAIR-Tampa Update: Which is it?
May 21, 2008
The report noted the sudden change in Bedier's public profile and the silence about the move from both sides.
This week's newspaper reports raise as many questions as they answer. Taken together, CAIR chose to "go into a new direction" at the same time Bedier wanted to create a new interfaith outreach effort. But that new direction was taken without lining up a replacement for Bedier, who has not formally incorporated his new venture and who has offered a sparse description of its mission and scope.
One report indicates CAIR was ready to sever ties with Bedier, although no reasons were given. Bedier, meanwhile, indicates this is all his idea.
The Tampa Tribune quotes CAIR-Florida civil rights coordinator Ramzy Kilic saying CAIR's Florida leadership "decided to make a change and go into a new direction."
Bedier had been one of CAIR's most high-profile local executive directors, publicly commenting frequently on a variety issues ranging from the staunch defense of convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist Sami Al-Arian to the wearing of Islamic garments such as the hijab in public schools. The question remains as to what CAIR National felt was missing from Bedier's performance.
CAIR, itself is an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas-fundraising case, and its leadership has been equally pro-Sami Al-Arian, frequently trotting out the convicted PIJ operative's story at fundraisers. It seems unlikely this parting of the ways has to do with ideological issues, as Bedier was seemingly in lock-step with Washington DC-based masters.
The St. Petersburg Times reports that Bedier chose to leave CAIR to start "a new peace-building initiative." The story noted Bedier offered no details about the new venture, except to say it could have a national scope.
"I'm going to expand on and build upon my work as a civil rights and human rights leader into broader areas of peace building, interfaith dialogue and reconciliation," Bedier said Monday.
Bedier told the newspaper he's been thinking about making the move for about a year.
It's all a little odd. Even giving Bedier the benefit of the doubt, why would he leave a reasonably well compensated job to launch a start-up? Why would CAIR decide on a new direction without lining up someone to steer it there? The Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times may have taken tiny steps forward in at least keeping some oxygen in the story of Bedier's departure, but neither paper has solved the "Mystery at CAIR-Tampa."
For our original report on Bedier's apparent departure from CAIR, see here.