An elected official in the Orlando area is facing calls to resign after he wrote a post on Facebook questioning whether Muslims add anything to society.
“Very simple question,” Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg wrote on Saturday. “Name just ONE society in the developed world that has benefited in ANY WAY from the introduction of more Muslims. Just one. Asking for a friend.”
He also linked in a comment to the prominent anti-Muslim website JihadWatch.
“Joel Greenberg posts derogatory and Islamophobic comments,” local Muslim civil rights activist Rasha Mubarak wrote online. “This feeds into the anti-Muslim rhetoric that not only is dangerous for the Muslim community…It’s divisive and hazardous – there is no room for any kind of discrimination in office. Joel Greenberg needs to resign if he fails to release a public apology.”
Greenberg was also condemned in an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel by the director of Orlando’s Jewish Community Relations County, Ben Friedman. “In addition to displaying bigotry and ignorance, Greenberg also betrayed his position as an elected official of public trust,” Friedman wrote. He also condemned people who criticized Greenberg using anti-Semitic language of their own.
Greenberg, a Republican who was elected in 2016, told local media that he was not Islamophobic and was literally asking the question for a friend — former talk radio host Neal Boortz, who had posted the question on Twitter earlier that day.
“One of my best friends is Muslim, and I have a black brother,” Greenberg told Orlando Weekly. “I’m Jewish, which is probably one of the most hated groups. I don’t go out there to be a demagogue against anyone else. I think it’s fun to have a discussion. … There was not a single thing that was derogatory or slanderous. It’s kind of ironic coming from people who claim to be part of a religion of peace and a political party of tolerance don’t tolerate somebody asking a question.”
Greenberg was also publicly criticized last December when he tried to pull a woman over for speeding by using his tax collector’s badge, the Sentinel reported. The following month, police body camera footage caught Greenberg trying to use his status as an elected official to talk his way out of a speeding ticket of his own.