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ONLY ON 3: Pantano misleading about rally against Iman speaking at UNC

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) - Congressional candidate Ilario Pantano claims that UNC Chapel Hill is paying Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric who wants to build a mosque at Ground Zero, $20,000 to speak Wednesday night on campus.

In a recent news release, Pantano wrote the following:

“While I have fought two wars to protect our God-given rights, including the Freedom of Speech, I cannot understand why the Governor and the chancellors of North Carolina’s public university system thought it prudent to award $20,000 to Imam Rauf, an individual that has done so much to hurt so many. Given the budgetary crisis we are facing in South Eastern North Carolina, there could not be a less compelling use of scarce educational funding. Wouldn’t that $20,000 be better spent as a merit scholarship or as a contribution in support relief efforts to a tsunami ravaged Japan?”

However, a news release distributed by the Institute for Arts and Humanities says the lecture is supported by "private funds." (http://iah.unc.edu/news/newsarchive/2011/weil2011)

Here is a copy of Pantano's full release:
Pantano Invited to Speak at Protest of Ground Zero Mosque Founder at UNC-Chapel Hill

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the controversial cleric behind the mega mosque at Ground Zero, is being paid $20,000 by a public North Carolina University to speak on March 16th, 2011. The Christian Action Network is staging an opposition rally and candlelight vigil and has invited a number of speakers including US Marine combat veteran and congressional candidate Ilario Pantano.

The Christian Action Network (CAN) will show its groundbreaking documentary opposing the controversial Ground Zero Mosque on March 16 (5-8pm) at the Carolina Hotel just a short distance from where Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will be lecturing at UNC-Chapel Hill. CAN is conducting a nationwide tour with the film and survivors of 9/11 targeting cities specifically where Imam Rauf is visiting.

Pantano’s advocacy for the 9/11-victim families and opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Times-owned regional papers. On September 11, 2010 Pantano spoke at a demonstration organized by activist Pamela Geller which included 9/11 family members, first responders and former UN Ambassador John Bolton. 40,000 citizens rallied at the site of the proposed mosque near Ground Zero in NYC and after his speech Pantano discussed the mosque on FOX News’ “Sean Hannity Show.”

Today Pantano issued the following statement:

“While I have fought two wars to protect our God-given rights, including the Freedom of Speech, I cannot understand why the Governor and the chancellors of North Carolina’s public university system thought it prudent to award $20,000 to Imam Rauf, an individual that has done so much to hurt so many. Given the budgetary crisis we are facing in South Eastern North Carolina, there could not be a less compelling use of scarce educational funding. Wouldn’t that $20,000 be better spent as a merit scholarship or as a contribution in support relief efforts to a tsunami ravaged Japan?”

Ilario Pantano has also been invited to speak at Ground Zero on September 11, 2011 on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks and is currently a 2012 candidate for the US Congress.

On the morning of September 11th 2001, Pantano was on his way to work in downtown Manhattan when he saw the twin towers burning. Having previously worked at 4 World Trade Center, Pantano lost friends in the attacks and since he fought as a US Marine infantryman in Desert Storm (1991), he knew immediately that America was at war. Pantano rejoined the Marines as a 32-year old officer and commanded a platoon of Infantry Marines during the insurgent uprising in Fallujah 2004. Pantano chronicled both his war and 9/11 experiences in "Warlord," a memoir published by Simon and Schuster (2006) and he has served as a Sheriff's deputy in North Carolina. In 2010 he ran against a 7-term incumbent democrat for the US Congress in what was one of the most closely watched races in North Carolina (NC7).

Pantano was among the first to sound the alarm with his June 2010 editorial* and has joined with many 9/11 families in opposition of this insensitive martyr marker at Ground Zero.

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