Amid Controversy, Muslim Group Participates In Tulsa Parade To Honor Veterans
TULSA, Oklahoma - More than 10,000 people will pack the streets of downtown Tulsa during Wednesday’s 97th-annual Veterans Day Parade.
They’ll see a new float this year that’s drawing a lot of controversy because it’s sponsored by a Muslim group.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations Oklahoma Chapter, a Muslim non-profit group, will have a float in the parade. Group members said they want to celebrate all the veterans who have served America.
Some people said CAIR-Oklahoma’s participation is inappropriate and even disrespectful; but others, like retired colonel Ray Bachlor, would rather let them join.
Bachlor had a long, decorated military career — 35 years in the Army - and to the World War II veteran, November 11 is about including everyone.
“It upsets me to see people jumping on that bandwagon and condemning a whole group of people that are good people," Bachlor said.
He is referring to the several local veteran groups that believe CAIR-Oklahoma should not be included in the festivities.
Some, like Marine veteran, Mitch McVey, and others said a Veterans Day parade is not a place to blast political or religious beliefs.
"I think it's a strike towards us, personally,” McVey said, “or it's a personal gain for them, recognition of their club.”
Despite the outrage, the parade will allow CAIR-Oklahoma to participate, as long as the group does not display religiously charged messages.
"This parade is about honoring our veterans, and that's what this parade will always be about,” said Ralph Henderson, the parade’s spokesperson. “It will not be a platform for anyone to make a political or a religious statement."
But CAIR-Oklahoma said that’s not the group’s intention, and it never expected this backlash. All it wants is to honor America’s veterans as fellow Americans themselves.
"[There are] other people who have decided to focus on our identity as Muslims instead of our identities as American,” said Raja’ee Fatihah, a member of CAIR-Oklahoma as well as a Civil Affairs Specialist for the Army. “As far as we're concerned, we're Americans showing appreciation for people who protect our freedom."
Several veteran groups have decided to pull out of the Tulsa Parade and join other celebrations instead because of CAIR-Oklahoma's participation.
Henderson said the parade will have added police protection this year.