Community College To Replace Imam As Instructor

CLEVELAND (AP) - An Islamic cleric criticized after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for anti-Semitic remarks he made 10 years ago has been told he can't teach a class on Islam at a community college.

Fawaz Damra, imam of the Islamic Center of Cleveland's mosque, was expected to teach the Understanding Islam course beginning Feb. 6.

Lakeland Community College President Morris Beverage said Tuesday that because of the recent controversy surrounding Damra and videotaped comments he made in 1991, the college has asked another instructor to teach the class.

"We believe he is very qualified to teach the course but we are concerned that the issues surrounding him could be a distraction," Beverage said. "The intent of the course was to foster understanding, and we felt the recent controversy would only get in the way."

A message was left Wednesday for Damra.

The airing of a videotape from 10 years ago stirred up controversy for Damra, who is seen on the tape raising money for Islamic Jihad and making slurs against Jews.

Damra apologized for the remarks.

In Cleveland since 1991, Damra was questioned by the FBI after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 because of his ties to the Al-Farooq mosque in New York. Al-Farooq was a gathering place for several members of the group who were convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center case.

(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)