Wakulla County, Florida Residents Freak Out Over Muslims Praying On The Beach

wakulla county prayer pictureA Florida county is freaking out over Muslims. Wakulla County (which is to the south of the state’s capital of Tallahassee) is collectively losing it due to a photo of people praying on the beach. The photo was posted to Facebook by County Commissioner Ralph Thomas who came across some Muslims praying at Mashes Sands, a public beach area on the Apalachee Bay.

There was an almost immediate freakout by residents of Wakulla County, and a local radio host, Will Dance (who is also a candidate for sheriff) was quick to defend the xenophobia.

“It’s not about singling them out. It’s not about xenophobia. This is not anti-Muslim. This is not a Muslim family having on the beach a barbecue. This wasn’t a Muslim father fishing with his sons. This was a group of military-aged Muslims who are on the beach praying and the question needs to be asked, ‘Do they adhere to sharia law or the constitution?'” Dance said.

The photo was snapped and posted to Facebook by County Commissioner Ralph Thomas. Thomas says he took it simply because he’s never seen the prayer take place in the County.

“It was just an unusual event. I thought it was an interesting photo. I put it out there. I made no negative comments. I made no insinuations, I made no attacks on their religion on their being there,” said Commissioner Thomas. (Source)

On Monday, a number of people showed up at the Wakulla County Board of Commissioners meeting at Dance’s urging. After the meeting is opened with Christian prayer, the first citizen to speak rattles off a series of statistics from a piece of paper about Muslims to make the claim that people had every right to freak out. The woman who follows him absolutely torches Commissioner Thomas and states that he is responsible for stirring up religious hatred and hiding behind the First Amendment when he was called out for it.

Around the nine minute mark, Will Dance himself comes to the podium to voice his opinion on Muslims, and repeats the same retracted Fox News story about “no-go zones” that Bobby Jindal parroted back in January. He questions why Muslims from Leon County would choose to pray on the local beach and states he is worried about his wife and daughter. (The answer: it’s the nearest accessible beach to Tallahassee residents, and it faces east. How hard is that to figure out?)

The last person to speak on the issue is a younger guy about my age. Despite his ignorance of Islam, he still manages to make the point that they have every right under the Constitution to pray on that beach, or any other public place they wish to.

When people who don’t live in Florida think of the Sunshine State, they probably think of Orlando and Disney World, Miami, and perhaps Tampa. All of those places are fairly progressive, but once you get outside the bustling metro areas, it can get very conservative and very racist quickly. There are two Floridas, and the northern part of it where this story happened is extremely conservative.

Last December in Wakulla County, three different black churches were spray painted with KKK graffiti and the county code enforcement chairman was previously suspended for hate speech. Guess who was one of the first to defend Ralph Thomas?

Earlier this year, the commission put its code enforcement chairman Steve Cushman on probation after he made what some called anti-Semitic remarks on a Facebook thread.

Cushman was one of those quick to comment on Thomas’ post.

“Don’t worry they said,” Cushman wrote. “It won’t happen here, they said. Good awareness I say. Thanks Ralph.” (Source)

There is currently at least one active KKK group and one Neo-Nazi group in the nearby area according the Southern Poverty Law Center, but guess which one the county commissioner is worried about?

You can watch the entire video of the Wakulla County Board meeting below, it really is something else for the first 20 minutes or so.


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