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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Florida Democrats call on Seminole County tax collector to resign over Islamophobic post

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2018 at 6:25 PM

Florida Democrats from across the state are calling on Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg to apologize and resign over an Islamophobic question Greenberg posted on social media.

The Seminole County Republican has faced public backlash after posting on his personal Facebook, "Very simple question...Name just ONE society in the developed world that has benefited in ANY WAY from the introduction of more Muslims. Just one. Asking for a friend." Greenberg, who has a long social media history of bigoted posts, also included in his question a link to Jihad Watch, a site that critics have called anti-Muslim propaganda.

On Tuesday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King called on Greenberg to resign while attending an Eid al-Adha festival at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

"As Muslims across Florida gather to celebrate Eid, these are the moments when leaders in our state must come together to condemn these type of hateful remarks," the Winter Park businessman said in a statement. "The Seminole County tax collector should obviously resign, but we must go a step further and lift up a new kind of politics that offers a seat at the table for people of all faiths and no faith tradition."

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, another Democrat running for governor, also condemned Greenberg's "anti-Islamic" comments in a statement recognizing the Islamic holiday.

"Unfortunately, as we mark this important holiday, we are confronted with another ugly, divisive elected official who thinks Muslims are harmful to our state and society," Gillum said. "Let me be clear: as our next Governor, I welcome people of all faiths, and especially Muslims, to the Sunshine State. I was proud to be joined on the campaign trail last weekend by Khizr Khan, whose son Humayun gave his life in service to our country. Mr. Khan spoke passionately about the need for a loving, inclusive society that values the dignity of each one of us. I echo his calls, and urge the Tax Collector to resign his seat at once."

U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park, and Darren Soto, D-Orlando, have called on Greenberg to apologize.

"I'm very concerned about statements made by a local tax collector that were clearly anti-Muslim in nature," Soto said. "I can tell you there are so many communities that have been improved by the Muslim American community, including right here in Central Florida. Our strength is on our diversity. Our strength is in many religions coming together in peace and harmony. And we will not stand for these types of discriminatory statements being made."

Greenberg has also been called out by state lawmakers, including state Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Amy Mercado, both Orlando Democrats.

Orlando Weekly has reached out to the Seminole County Republican Party and the Republican Party of Florida for a response to Greenberg's comments, but we have not received an immediate response.

Seminole County GOP chair Kathryn Townsend told the Orlando Sentinel that the Republican Party has a "proven history of being the party of inclusion."

"The party supports its Republican elected officials," Townsend told the Sentinel. "However, we are not responsible for their actions. Nor do their opinions necessarily represent the Republican Party. … If the residents object to his behavior, they can voice that at the ballot box in 2020."

The Sentinel also reported Tuesday that two candidates for Orange County sheriff plan to return or donate contributions Greenberg made to their campaign.

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