Local Islamophobe David Rosenthal Running for Broward Sheriff to Rid Police of "Sharia-Compliant Muslims" | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Broward Sheriff Candidate Wants "Sharia-Compliant Muslims" Off Police Force, School Board

For quite some time now, Broward County has been besieged by a contingent of Islamophobes who claim our local police departments, schools, and city governments have been "overrun" by "terrorists" looking to institute Sharia law across America. Notable among these: Joe Kaufman, the lead Republican running against Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova for Florida's 23rd Congressional District.

Kaufman's hate-spewing compatriot is a white-haired man named David Rosenthal. In December, New Times chronicled the two men's quest to rid the Broward Sheriff's Office of a single Muslim employee, Nezar Hamze, who moonlights as an activist with Florida's Chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, which fights for Muslim civil rights. Both Kaufman and Rosenthal believe CAIR raises money for terrorist organizations, though the claim has been repeatedly debunked.

But now, Rosenthal has become so infuriated about the CAIR activist working as a cop, he says he's running for Broward sheriff, in order to "remove the terrorist deputy sheriff" and "investigate other Sharia-compliant Muslims now in official posts in Broward." He hasn't yet filed necessary paperwork with the elections division, but on Friday, he launched a GoFundMe page to crowdsource cash to pay his campaign filing fees.

"What got me interested in this issue is that from last fall until now Sheriff Israel has been unwilling to answer questions or respond to our concerns," Rosenthal told New Times. "The sheriff, on the air, said it’s not a problem, but we think it’s a major problem that must be talked about, must be resolved. So I decided to run for sheriff, so that in the unlikely possibility that I win the office, I could do something about it."

Local 10 aired video of Rosenthal and Kaufman grinning like idiots as they protested outside the sheriff's headquarters last year. (Despite Kaufman's age, he manages to always look like he's been shrunk by Zoltar the fortuneteller.) Rosenthal insists he doesn't hate all Muslims, but he confirmed to New Times something he's said publicly in the past: He thinks Islam, as a religion, is evil.

"Absolutely," he said when we asked about it. "As a whole, Islam is evil."

He and Kaufman harp upon the fact that CAIR — which maintains legally separate chapters all over the country — was named an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the federal government's case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which actually had been funneling money to Hamas. But CAIR insisted the accusation was an Islamophobic smear, and in the time since, a federal judge has also accused the government of needlessly attacking the organization. 

That hasn't stopped Rosenthal or Kaufman. Both men have accused Hamze and Broward Schools Human Rights Chair Ghazala Salam, who also volunteers with CAIR, of being "terrorists."

"All of it is bullshit," Hamze told New Times in December. "Every word of it is just bullshit."

In an interview with New Times, Salam said colleagues had forwarded her photos of people protesting outside county government buildings. Kaufman has penned columns accusing her of being a terrorist, and Rosenthal has filed freedom-of-information requests to see what Salam was doing with the school board. Her job duties focus on ending Islamophobia in Broward County.

In our interview, Rosenthal accused her of promoting Sharia law — the hard-line, extremist, anti-women "code" that nations like Saudi Arabia follow.  Except: Salam is a passionate fighter for women's equality.

"These people are bigots," she said. "I'm not sure what their concerns with me are. I'm a very, very liberal woman. I'm an advocate for women’s rights and women’s issues. They don’t know me at all; they're just targeting me." She said she was considering getting legal advice about the harassment.

(Rosenthal was unable to name all the groups that Salam volunteers for, nor was he certain of the name of her Broward Schools committee. "She's the co-chair on a committee in the Broward schools, but the name escapes me right now," he said. "It's something like 'human relations committee.'")

On his Facebook page, he ranted against current sheriff Scott Israel: 

In the meantime, he says he's working on a presentation that "proves" that practicing Islam is somehow illegal in the state of Florida.

Whatever the opposite of an "endorsement" is, he's gotten it from us.
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Jerry Iannelli is a staff writer for Miami New Times. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. He moved to South Florida in 2015.
Contact: Jerry Iannelli

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