Council votes to reappoint Parvez Ahmed

Controversial member of Human Rights Commission approved by 13-6 vote

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville City Council voted 13-6 Tuesday evening to approve the reappointment of Parvez Ahmed to the city's Human Rights Commission.

Ahmed's appointment and reappointment had been the topic of controversy.

Ahmed joined the board three years ago. He is Muslim, and his religious beliefs and ties to some controversial organizations sparked protests during council meetings while his appointment was being debated.

Last week, the council's rules committee voted to approve Ahmed's reappointment by a 4-3 vote.

Many people were expected to talk about the issue during the public comment portion of the meeting.

"We're not trying to single out somebody in the Islamic faith," said Raymond Johnson, who opposes Ahmed's reappointment.

"I'm not happy, definitely not happy, especially with all the documents that have been presented," said Bonnie Kleinik. 

"Hopefully the debate tonight will be very civil," councilman Warren Jones said before the vote. "And Dr. Ahmed has done nothing in his three years on the Human Rights Commission to convince anyone of reason that he should not be reappointed."

"It shows a shift, a shift toward acceptance. Toward understanding difference. Shows a shift toward accepting diversity in the community. It's not where we want to be. I'd like to have it 19-0," said Thomas Serwatka.

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