CAIR and the Muslim American Society are both designated terrorist groups in the United Arab Emirates.
Controversy that erupted over a Muslim float in last year’s Veterans Day Parade will not be repeated this year, the director of Friday’s downtown parade said Monday.
An application from the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oklahoma to be in the parade was turned down.
“Nothing I have seen or heard indicates we will have any controversy,” said Steve Porter, president of the newly formed Greater Tulsa Veterans Organizations Association.
Last year, when CAIR applied for and received a permit to have a float in the parade, the Tulsa Veterans Day Parade Association received numerous calls of protest but did not rescind the permit, saying that CAIR had a constitutional right to participate.
Porter said the controversy prompted the creation of the new organization to oversee the parade, as well as the development of rules for inclusion in the parade.
“It turns out there weren’t any written rules about who should and should not be in the parade,” he said.
“We were in danger of having the parade hijacked by political groups, social groups, who really have no ties to veterans but just want to put their ideas … in front of a crowd of people.”
He said CAIR-Oklahoma did not meet the new criteria because it is a political advocacy group and has not been involved in veterans affairs in eastern Oklahoma.
Porter said the new parade organization is “politically neutral.”
“We don’t want anyone marching under a banner of racism, or anti- or pro-abortion, or anti- or pro-gay rights. … The nightmare scenario would be to have a Westboro Baptist Church in the parade.” Westboro is a Topeka, Kansas, church known for staging anti-gay protests at military funerals.
Adam Soltani, executive director of CAIR-Oklahoma, said the group was disappointed that its application was rejected.
“We’re unhappy that we’re not in it, but we didn’t want to make a big fuss about it and create unnecessary controversy like last year. … We didn’t want to take focus off of the parade and the fact that we need to honor the veterans,” Soltani said.
Porter said the veterans groups that make up the new parade organization — Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 577, American Legion Posts 1 and 308, and the Royal British Legion — do not discriminate against people based on religion and in fact have some Muslim members. VFW Post 577 has a Buddhist chaplain.
“Someone along the way will say, ‘You’re discriminating against Muslims.’ That’s just not the case,” Porter said.
In August, he said, he talked with Raja’ee Fatihah, a Muslim U.S. veteran who was on the CAIR-Oklahoma board, suggesting that if CAIR wanted to be in the parade, it should take on some projects in support of veterans.
To his knowledge, that has not happened, Porter said.
Tulsa’s annual parade will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, taking its traditional downtown route, with some 350 vehicles and 3,800 participants, Porter said.
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