Letter to the editor: Veterans Parade open to all who served
For the first time, Oklahoma Muslims will have a float in the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Tulsa on Nov. 11, and not all parade participants are happy about it.
“It’s something we have been wanting to do for years,” said Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Oklahoma City.
Soltani said the float is sponsored by CAIR-Oklahoma but will “represent the Oklahoma Muslim community, which is a very diverse community of people from all walks of life, immigrants, indigenous people.”
“We support all veterans, and we support our country, so I don’t see why anyone should have any concerns about CAIR being involved,” he said.
“We are an American Muslim organization, and American Muslims support their government, support their country and definitely support our troops who are working to defend our constitutional rights and our freedoms,” he continued.
Soltani said many U.S. Muslims have served in the armed forces and that two veterans are on the CAIR-Oklahoma board.
Larry Williamson, a member of the Tulsa 912 Project, a conservative organization, said it is “atrocious” to ask veterans to “march alongside people who represent our enemies in a current war.”
“I believe all American entrants who the parade is intended to honor should be made aware as soon as possible that they are being asked to share their honor with the Muslim Brotherhood, sworn enemy of the United States and our ally Israel and an enemy in our current war on the Islamic jihad in which American soldiers are fighting and dying,” he said in a letter to the Tulsa World.
Williamson said he has been told that his Tulsa 912 Project float is scheduled to be in line next to the CAIR float in the parade.
“I’m not a spokesman for Tulsa 912, but I won’t march alongside the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.
Asked why he uses the term Muslim Brotherhood instead of CAIR, Williamson said the FBI has identified CAIR as an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. CAIR has consistently stated that it has no connections with any terrorist groups.
Patsy Varnell, vice president of the Tulsa Veterans Day Parade Association, confirmed that CAIR-Oklahoma’s application to be in the parade has been accepted.
“The parade is nonreligious,” she said.
“We feel that we are exercising the rights established by the Constitution of freedom of speech, and this group has the right to participate. We do not want any problems, but we have to be fair to everybody,” Varnell said.
Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, president and founder of the Tulsa 912 Project, said the group is not asking that CAIR be removed from the parade but that parade organizers “be honest and open and let people know that they are in.”
“My concern is that the parade committee was trying to keep this information out of the public eye,” she said.