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Student video sparks complaint

A complaint accuses the film of portraying Middle Easterners as terrorists plotting against a Pasco school.

Published May 24, 2006

An American Islamic civil liberties group is investigating a complaint about a video produced by a Seven Springs Middle School student that allegedly portrays Middle Easterners as terrorists plotting to blow up a Pasco County school.

The film won second place at the district level of the Florida Association for Media in Education award and was shown on the campus' morning news program, said Chris Christoff, principal of Seven Springs Middle School in New Port Richey. But Christoff said the video, a comedy, was a satire of the show 24 and said he hadn't received any complaints.

"It was taking the events of the show and dramatizing it," he said.

Christoff said the only copy of the video was returned to the student and was not available for viewing.

Ahmed Bedier, director of the Tampa office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was trying to obtain a copy of the video.

"We respect free speech. However, we should not be encouraging hatred and bigotry in our schools," Bedier said. "Hate speech by students should be condemned, not rewarded."

According to the complaint, which was filed with CAIR on Monday, children in the video pretending to be Middle Easterners were shouting, "I love Mohammed, I love Mohammed," Bedier said.

The complaint also said students in the video were pretending to be plotting terrorist activity and speaking English in an "Arabic accent" as well as mispronouncing words. Depending on the video's content, Bedier said, CAIR may file a complaint with the school district and possibly the state.

Tina Tiede, the district's assistant superintendent for middle schools, said Pasco County schools would like to speak with the complainant.

"An important part of sensitivity is listening to somebody else," she said.

A version of this story ran in some regional editions of the Times.

[Last modified May 24, 2006, 04:30:24]

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