More controversy with Ahmed reappointment?

Mayor wants human rights commissioner to serve 3 more years

Dr. Parvez Ahmed
Dr. Parvez Ahmed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The man who set the Jacksonville City Council into a religious and racial tailspin when he was nominated to the Human Rights Commission is set to be reappointed to that position.

Parvez Ahmed has served three years on the commission, and Mayor Alvin Brown wants him to serve three more.

Those who opposed Ahmed on the first go-round as well as his supporters spoke out Friday. It appears his reappointment won't be as controversial, but that could change.

During the first nomination, the opposition was not vocal at first, but it grew.

During his three-year term on the commission, Ahmed has spoken out on issues that have faced Jacksonville, such as the mosque bombing on St. Johns Bluff Road two years ago. But it was his nomination to that commission that most people recall.

It put religious rights and tolerance to the test in Jacksonville. Some claimed he had controversial ties to Muslim groups. Many recall the time Councilman Don Redman ask Ahmed to pray at a council meeting.

"I would like you to say a prayer to your God. Could you do that for us here," Redman said.

Other groups were pressuring the council not to appoint Ahmed, but after long debate and emotional discussion, Ahmed was approved.

Mayor Brown was not in office then, but has put Ahmed's name in for reappointment.

"I see no issue. I don't have any issue," he said, adding that he's hoping there won't be any problems.

Redman said he will vote against Ahmed's appointment again.

"I can't really say he has offended anybody," Redman said. "I can't say he has done anything worthwhile since he has been on the Human Rights Commission."

Redman doesn't believe there will be as big of an outcry this time around, and other council members agree.

"The council has grown, and those that had concerns about that recognize the majority of the council supports his nomination," councilman Warren Jones said. "They did it before, and I am sure they would do it again."

Redman has set a wider target -- not just Ahmed, but the entire commission.

"I don't think we need the Human Rights Commission in the city," he said. "It's duplicated, it's triplicate. We have the same thing with the federal government. We have the same thing with the state government."