The group CAIR opposes is the local chapter of ACT! for America, an organization that stands particularly athwart the threat posed by radical Islam.
ACT! for America wants to use a committee room in the tiny coastal town of Viera to host a speech by Jonathan Matusitz, a tenured communications professor at the University of Central Florida down the road in Orlando.
Matusitz is slated to speak on Tuesday at a session called “The Islamic Threat to America.”
CAIR thinks the government should prohibit the UCF professor’s speech.
“It creates the perception of endorsement and approval by the Brevard County government of this group’s hateful views,” Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s communications director, told the Sentinel.
Hassan Shibly, a lawyer and executive director of CAIR of Tampa, said he is normally in favor of free speech.
“But this individual makes statements to incite violence against the Muslim community, so I think that the line has been crossed,” Shibly said of the professor at a major American research university. “ACT! is an extremist group no different than the KKK. And if the KKK wanted to use that room, there would be a protest.”
Brevard commission Chairman Andy Anderson pointed out that the county-owned meeting room is located in a public building which is taxpayer-funded and open to any group.
“It would be like a group renting out a room at the library to hold a meeting,” Anderson told the Sentinel. “The room is owned by the people and is open to anyone who wants to use it. Unless there was a reason for us to stop a group from using it because of some kind of issue that would be outside the protection of the First Amendment.
CAIR has targeted Matusitz before. In June, the group criticized him for teaching what it called anti-Muslim bigotry. CAIR officials charged that Matusitz propounded “Islamaphobic” views in front of students in a YouTube video.
A YouTube search using the term “Jonathan Matusitz” turns up a slew of videos. It seems reasonably safe to say CAIR could talking about the one uploaded about a month ago by CAIRtv — called “University of Central Florida Professor Spews Anti-Islam Hate.”
Officials at UCF indicated that the public school would not punish the tenured professor or review his activities.
“Dr. Matusitz is expressing his opinion, which is his right,” UCF spokesman Grant Heston told the Sentinel. “He is not speaking on behalf of the university, and we do not endorse his views.”
UCF also notes that the video in question was not taped during a UCF class.
In the video, the Sentinel says, Matusitz analyzes the link between Islamic culture and terrorism.
“Why do so many Muslims, relative to other religions, want to kill us?” he reportedly asks. “The answer is easy, very easy. It is seven letters: culture.”
According to his faculty webpage, Matusitz has a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma. He claims 95 academic publications and more than 100 conference presentations. Also, in 2010, he taught at a NATO-affiliated military base in Belgium.
He lists “globalization of terrorism” and “globalization of cyberterrorism” among his research interests.
At the website Rate My Professors, Matusitz gets generally stellar ratings from students (a 3.7 overall out a possible 4.0).
“This man is extremely informed and cuts straight to the heart of many problems,” praised one student.”One of those few people, who if you bring an effort with you, you will gain so much. He should be advising the President.”
“He’s always available by email and never forgets a name or face,” observes another student. “Seriously, it’s crazy.”
The main complaints against Matusitz are that he can be arrogant, that “his accent is difficult to understand at times,” and that his courses are “hard, hard, hard.”