Frank Ortis, who since 2004 has served as mayor of Pembroke Pines – a city of 171,000 located in Broward County, Florida – has refused to discuss his decision to host an Islamist-dominated breakfast meeting with principals to discuss cultural diversity and sensitivity in schools. Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Thomas Good, who also attended the breakfast, refrained from commenting on his participation.
The event was promoted as an opportunity to fight bigotry in local schools, but two groups that participated in it – the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the South Florida Muslim Federation (SFMF) — have long histories of their own of spreading intolerance, bigotry and hate of the most blatant and extreme kind.
The South Florida Muslim Federation is an umbrella organization for South Florida’s many radical Muslim institutions, including CAIR. One Federation member, Masjid Jamaat al-Mumineen (MJAM), posts material on its website calling Jews and Christians “enemies,” sanctioning domestic violence against women, and mandating death for gays. Another member, Darul Uloom, an Islamic center in Pembroke Pines, has an imam/founder, Shafayat Mohamed, who has been thrown off many Broward County boards for spouting hateful rhetoric targeting homosexuals. Mohamed has claimed gay sex causes natural disasters.
CAIR was founded in June 1994 as a part of the Palestine Committee, a Muslim Brotherhood-created group whose U.S. division was led by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. The seed money for CAIR came from the Hamas charity and fellow Palestine Committee member, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), which was shut down by the US government in December 2001. When the HLF Hamas financing trials took place, CAIR was named by the Justice Department as a party to the crime, though unindicted. CAIR has, as well, had a number of its officials convicted of and/or deported for terror-related activities. CAIR’s national director, Nihad Awad, recently eulogized the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a notorious anti-Semite who once said that the Holocaust was “divine punishment” on the Jews for their sins.
The Florida chapter of CAIR, not unlike its parent organization, has its own terror-related history. In July 2014, CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally in Downtown Miami, where attendees repeatedly shouted, “We are Hamas,” “Let’s go Hamas,” and “Hamas kicked your ass.” CAIR-Florida later denied having any role in organizing the rally, despite numerous data points indicating its involvement.
CAIR-Florida’s former Executive Director Hassan Shibly, who recently left the group in scandal, spent years on the US government’s terrorist watch list. CAIR-Florida’s former Communications Director Ahmed Bedier, while with the group, was also a spokesman in the media for soon-to-be-convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader, Sami al-Arian.
The city organized the meeting, which served to legitimize and mainstream the organizations in question, after the firing of a teacher at Franklin Academy, a charter school based in the city. This past December, the teacher had disrupted a group of Muslim students as they were praying. The teacher was caught on video stepping over the students, accusing them of performing “magic,” and telling them that she was disrupting their worship in the name of “Jesus.”
Following the incident, video of which went viral, several news stories came out featuring Florida representatives from CAIR, setting the stage for the group’s involvement in the breakfast. Representing CAIR at the principals breakfast meeting were CAIR-Florida’s newly appointed Executive Director Abdullah Jaber, who took the place of Shibly, and CAIR-Florida Communications Director Wilfredo Amr Ruiz. Ruiz’s own connection to hate is substantial.
Besides CAIR, Ruiz is also involved with the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA) and founded AMANA’s Puerto Rico and Connecticut chapters. In July 2010, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) slammed AMANA for promoting a “venomous” anti-Semitic video featuring white supremacist David Duke. AMANA’s President Sofian Zakkout has, himself, promoted Holocaust denial. Ruiz warmly refers to Zakkout as “my dear brother.” In April 2010, three months prior to the ADL condemnation, Ruiz wrote an article vilifying the Jewish religion and citing a Lithuanian Catholic priest infamous for advancing a blood libel claim against Jews.
Officials from the South Florida Muslim Federation also attended the breakfast.
Appearing on behalf of the Federation were SFMF Vice President Sheryar Wahid, SFMF Field Coordinator Gibson Lopez, and SFMF Broward Representative Yunus Ismail.
In May 2021, Wahid and Naima Khan (another breakfast meeting attendee) were the contacts for an event featuring a speech by founding Imam of (Federation member) Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR) Ibrahim Dremali, titled ‘LET’S TALK PALESTINE.’ Throughout the lecture, Dremali incited against the Jewish community, telling the crowd, “The Jews… want to destroy the Dome of the Rock,” the Muslim shrine. Days prior to the event, Dremali urged others to fund Hamas; implored people to read the anti-Semitic fraud, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; and said, “If the Arab leaders open the borders for Palestine… the Jews they’ll be inside that ocean.”
According to CAIR, the breakfast meeting was hosted by Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis and Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Thomas Good, both of whom happily stood for photos with all the Islamist attendees. Mayor Ortis has a disturbing history with CAIR. On October 26, 2019, the Mayor spoke at CAIR-Florida’s annual banquet and, in his capacity as Mayor, officially proclaimed the day, CAIR-Florida Day.
In addition to reaching out to Ortis and Good (who did not respond), FWI also solicited comment from both CAIR and SFMF. They did not respond.
Joe Kaufman is a writer for the Counter-Islamist Grid, a project of the Middle East Forum. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.