Florida GOPer Claims Prez Of Mosque Removed As Poll Site ‘Espouses Sharia’

As a south Florida community grapples with an election official’s decision to relocate a polling site from a local Islamic center, one local Republican has come out squarely against the mosque.

Christine Spain, who is running against Palm Beach Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, charged that the president of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton espoused “Sharia law.” In light of recent terrorist attacks in Orlando, Florida and Nice, France, she told TPM in a Thursday phone interview that Bucher showed “very poor judgment” by asking the center to serve as a voting center.

“I thought it was rather insensitive as well as just poor due diligence and poor judgment to even identify that as a polling site in the first place,” said Spain, who previously served as the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Broward County.

“Why should people be put in harms way or feel uncomfortable or insecure or who knows what in this day and age?” she asked. “Why even invite the risk? As a candidate for supervisor of election, I would never have made that decision and now its created a firestorm. Everyone wants to look at this in a vacuum and call it Islamophobia and religious discrimination but you’re all being played here.”

To the dismay of mosque leaders, Bucher on July 7 revoked her invitation for the Islamic Center to serve as a polling location, citing anonymous complaints from residents who felt “uncomfortable” visiting the Muslim house of worship. While local clergy and civil rights groups have branded this a blatant example of bowing to Islamophobia, Bucher said in a statement that she was concerned about callers’ threats to impede voting on Election Day.

Some groups, including the Florida Family Association, have used fringe websites like Creeping Sharia to push their claims that Bassem Alhalabi, the president of the Islamic center and an engineering professor at Florida Atlantic University, has ties to Islamic terrorism. Alhalabi vehemently denied those claims in a Tuesday interview with TPM, and the university has affirmed its full support for his reputation.

Spain repeated these claims to TPM, and faulted Bucher for failing to choosing a different site from the start. The polling site was ultimately relocated from the Islamic Center to Spanish River Library.

“People have a right to have a sense of insecurity in view of everything going on, in view of the history of that specific site. So I applaud and support her decision to pull that site and name another site that is two miles away which is a library and totally neutral. It should have been the site all along.”

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