GOP candidate’s email says Islam is ‘not a religion’

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In an email, Scott Barrish wrote, “Islam is NOT a religion, but rather a theocracy.”
TAMPA — Scott Barrish, a Republican candidate for Hillsborough clerk of circuit court, has stirred up a fuss with an email to an Islamic group saying Islam is not a religion but an anti-American, totalitarian ideology “littered with human rights violations.”Barrish signed his email as a member of the Hillsborough County Republican Party executive committee, prompting a rebuke from county party Chairman Debbie Cox-Roush.

“He was absolutely in error using his title as a member of our committee – he does not speak on behalf of the Republican Party or Republicans across Hillsborough, and I have told him that,” Cox-Roush said today, after a conversation with Barrish.

Cox-Roush said she expects no further party action on the matter.

Barrish sent his email to Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

He was responding to a Tampa Tribune opinion piece by Shibly that criticized the Hernando County Republican Party for hosting U.S. Rep. Allen West and Senate candidate Adam Hasner, who have voiced anti-Islamic opinions.

In an email to Shibly headed, “Dear Hizballah Apologist,” a reference to a Middle Eastern terrorist group, Barrish wrote, “I have done my research and can see right through your feeble attempts at promoting Islam as a religion of peace and under persecution by non-believers.”

“Your tactics are exposed. Islam is NOT a religion, but rather a theocracy. … It seeks complete domination; to say otherwise is a complete and utter lie. It is totalitarian and littered with human rights violations. … This is us vs. you.”

The email was signed, “Scott D. Barrish, BSW, Executive Committee Member, Hillsborough County Republican Party,” and included a note saying government email communications are subject to Florida’s open government laws.

“BSW” stands for bachelor of social work. Barrish said the open government disclaimer is because he sits on two local government advisory boards.

The party’s county executive committee is an entry-level post for party activists, including positions for two or more representatives from each voting precinct.

Its members don’t speak for the party unless they’re authorized by the full committee or other party governing board, said Cox-Roush, who has resigned as county chairman but holds the post until Nov. 15.

In an interview, Barrish said he responded to Shibly’s criticism of the Hernando party group on his own initiative because others who share his views “aren’t as courageous and comfortable in talking about a very sensitive discourse” as he is.

“Am I opposed to Islam? Absolutely!” He wrote in an email.

Barrish equated Islam to communism, and said the U.S. should take the same approach to Islam it did during the Cold War. He said because it is not a religion, it doesn’t deserve the protection of constitutional freedom of religion, but didn’t advocate banning it because, “You can try to ban something, it will never go away.”

“Are there good Muslims out there? Yes but they’re considered second-class in Islam,” he said.

Barrish, a private security guard from Valrico, filed last month to run for clerk of circuit court. He ran for the school board in 2010, but withdrew because of illness, he said.

CAIR is a national organization which says its mission is to promote understanding of Islam in America and protect civil liberties of American Muslims.

Government investigators have accused the group in the past of ties to Hamas, but CAIR says it opposes terrorism.

( / 01.11.2011)

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