PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – David Rosenthal said he doesn't necessarily want to harm Muslims. He just doesn't "want them around."
"I hate Islam. Islam is evil," Rosenthal said. "Ideally, I would ban Islam in the United States."
Rosenthal is now on something of a jihad against one particular Muslim, Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Nezar Hamze, saying Hamze, who also serves as a director at the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is unfit to serve in law enforcement, in part, because he refuses to renounce Islamic law, or Sharia. They also call for Sheriff Scott Israel, who refused comment for this story, to resign for hiring Hamze last year.
"I am against Sharia-compliant Muslims having any position in government, law enforcement or the schools," Rosenthal said.
That might sound like outrageous religious bigotry, but Rosenthal is not alone. He said 50 people attended a rally he organized outside the Broward Sheriff's Office in October. Among those in attendance were Tea Party Fort Lauderdale founder Danita Kilcullen and congressional candidate Joe Kaufman.
Radio host Joyce Kaufman, of 850-WFTL, has criticized the hiring of Hamze on her show, and a post critical of the hire of Hamze placed on a BSO forum at LeoAffairs.com has received a whopping 70,000 views, making it one of the most-clicked posts ever to appear on the forum.
Wilfredo Ruiz, an attorney who works with Hamze at CAIR Florida, said it's just another example of the rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric and needs to be exposed as hate speech, as do the words coming from the mouths of presidential candidates like Ben Carson and Donald Trump, who called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."
"We don't want to make the same errors like putting people in the camps, like we did to the Japanese [during World War II], or segregating schools like in the '50s here in Florida," he said. "We are far past that."
Hamze was not given authorization by BSO to speak about his employment for this story, but he has been outspoken in the media about the need for Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement about possible extremism at local mosques. Ruiz said he personally is cooperating with the FBI in a case involving recruitment by the Islamic State group on a local level.
"These ISIS clowns murder more Muslim men and rape more Muslim woman than anyone else," Ruiz said.
He said Hamze is a dedicated deputy, who is being treated unfairly.
"Like him, thousands of other Muslims in America today are wearing the uniform. ... I was, myself, a naval officer. Nobody from a desk can tell me what patriotism is when I have worn my uniform."
Rosenthal and his fellow protesters said it is Hamze's work with CAIR that should disqualify him from working for BSO.
"CAIR has been named by the United States government as a co-conspirator in the funding of terrorism," Rosenthal said.
He is referring to a 2004 federal case that named a CAIR leader in Washington as an unindicted co-conspirator involved in illegal fundraising for the Palestinian group Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organization. Ruiz points out that CAIR Florida is a separate entity and that it has never "been related in any way to any terrorist organization to any case whatsoever."
Rosenthal said he believes Hamze is one of many Muslims infiltrating local government in a bid to turn the country over to Sharia law.
"The Islamization of Broward County has begun," he said.
He trots out examples of verses in the Quran, calling for harsh punishments and death to non-believers, but Ruiz points out that those verses were written during war time and not meant to extend beyond a specific historic battle.
"Ironically, these people [like Rosenthal] are doing the same thing the terrorists are doing: Taking some part of some specific verse of the Quran out of context," Ruiz said.
When it comes to parts of the Bible that call for similar punishments, like the stoning to death of women who commit adultery, and in some cases, the mass murder of everyone living in entire towns (except for virgin girls), Rosenthal had a pretty similar explanation.
"That was for that time," he said. "That is not routine practice today for anyone in Israel."
While acknowledging both the Bible and Quran may have similar patterns of violence, he said it doesn't apply to him because he is a Christian and doesn't necessarily have to follow teachings from the Old Testament.
"Just because I believe in the Bible doesn't mean I'm called to follow everything in Deuteronomy," he said.
He saw no irony in his call for Hamze to denounce Sharia, which Ruiz said demands that all Muslims first and foremost obey all laws of the place in which they live.
"If he says he wants to ban a religion in this country, then he doesn't know the history of this nation," said Ruiz. "Our founding fathers were looking precisely to find a place on the earth where they can freely practice their religion."
But Rosenthal goes beyond even wanting to ban Islam. He said Hamze and others who follow Sharia should leave America.
"You don’t think he has the same right to be in this country as you do?" asked Local 10 News investigative reporter Bob Norman.
"No," Rosenthal said, repeating that he wants the religion banned in the United States.