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Supervisor of elections to speak on ‘Radical Islam’

By GARY ROBERTS

STAFF WRITER

CHARLOTTE COUNTY — As part of an annual voter education program, Charlotte County Supervisor of Elections Paul Stamoulis will present a talk Thursday on “The History of ISIS, al-Qaida and Radical Islam.”

Although this can be a highly controversial topic, Stamoulis said people should attend this free event because it is a subject that is often misunderstood.

“I think it’s important to inform voters of the dangers associated with radicalism, but don’t let this small radical group interfere with how we treat refugees,” he said. “We should not allow radicals to make us afraid of admitting Muslims into our country. But we must also be on guard that terrorists don’t use our refugee laws to infiltrate our country and cause us damage.”

This class is part of a 10-week course, entitled “Politics and Government: Strange Bedfellows,” which is designed to better educate voters. Thursday’s session is the second half of a class on immigration and refugee law.

Stamoulis said there is increased interest this year in the course and, in particular, the upcoming class. Last year’s class drew an audience of 115, with the first part of this year’s class attracting 150. The course enjoyed its largest attendance ever last year and the current program promises to be even more well-attended.

He attributes the big turnout to people wanting to know what motivates individuals to become terrorists.

However, with a Muslim population of 1.7 billion worldwide, people must be careful not to judge the followers of an entire religion by the acts of a few, he said.

“The overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful, contributing members of society.

This small radical group should not upset a U.S.

refugee program that protects people from being discriminated against in their host country,” he said. “This has nothing to do with immigration policy.

Refugee laws are about doing the right thing and not forcing people to go back home, where they are persecuted and discriminated against.

“This is one of the biggest issues facing voters today. I try to present it objectively and from both sides,” he said. “I don’t believe there’s anything we should not talk about in this country. People should not pre-judge what this class is about.”

The class will be presented from 7-9 p.m.

Thursday, in the Cultural Center Theater, 2280 Aaron St., Port Charlotte.

Admission is free.

Email: groberts@sun-herald.com

STAMOULIS

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